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The Benefits of Working with a Real Estate Agent

When initially start thinking about buying or selling a home, many people wonder whether they really need a real estate agent. After all, they reason, there is a wealth of information on the subject online, and the bookstores and libraries are full of guides that claim everyone can "be their own real estate agent." Some people feel that they can learn all they need to know in their spare time over a two- or three-week period.

It is not completely impossible to acquire just enough information to make it through the transaction. It is, however, improbable that a novice will be able to close the deal without encountering challenges, some of which can be quite costly. A professional real estate agent has much to offer, whether clients are selling a home for the first time or downsizing to a smaller home for retirement.

Training and Education

Not everyone is legally entitled to use the title "real estate agent." Like other states, Massachusetts has specific laws governing the occupation. A real estate agent must complete a formal course of education in real estate, including federal and state laws, and then pass a comprehensive exam to earn a real estate license. To keep their licenses, real estate agents in Massachusetts must complete a set number of hours of continuing education every two years. What this means is that a real estate agent has the training needed to provide the best service to clients.

Experience

Most people buy or sell one home every few years. Real estate agents, on the other hand, are helping people sell or purchase homes every day. Agents "live and breathe" real estate -- they are constantly seeking information on the market, networking with other real estate professionals and researching trends.

Knowledge

Agents know -- or know how to find -- details about each neighborhood. They know what comparable homes have sold for recently, how long they were on the market and what the final selling price was. For current listings, agents can trace the ownership of the property, determine whether escrow fell through on a previous contract and whether the selling price has been reduced since the property went on the market. Agents will know whether the neighborhood matches a buyer's requirements, such as proximity to schools or mass transportation.

Efficiency

The Boston real estate market is very fluid. By the time that a potential buyer learns about a great property, it may already have a pending sales contract. Buyers may spend a lot of time calling about properties that are no longer available or viewing homes that prove to be unsatisfactory. Sellers who try to market their own homes must field phone calls from interested, qualified buyers as well as those who are merely curious. Agents make the entire process more efficient, whether buying or selling. They know which listings are no longer available, concentrate on showing clients only the available listings that meet their stated requirements and weed out the calls from people who have no intention of buying.

Negotiation

Real estate agents act as a buffer between buyers and sellers. People can be very emotional about their homes, whether they are buying or selling. Agents can remain more detached -- a helpful quality when negotiating selling price or other terms. Furthermore, real estate agents are skilled, experienced negotiators. They know how to present an offer or counteroffer in the best possible light.

Advice

Contrary to what some people believe, real estate agents do not dictate prices. They offer their professional advice on what a home should reasonably sell for, based on current market conditions, recent sales of comparable houses in the same neighborhood and other factors. They can suggest the maximum that buyers should spend on a home, based on each buyer's credit, work history and financial obligations. For sellers, agents can suggest ways to stage a home to make it more appealing or recommend specific cosmetic repairs.

Paperwork

The file on a single real estate transaction is normally at least one inch thick, and files that reach three inches in thickness are not all that uncommon. In other words, there is a lot of paperwork involved in buying or selling a home. Agents make sure that all documents are present and that they are completed properly.

Guidance

Buying or selling a home is not a simple process. Interest rates and the types of loans currently available can have a major impact on how much a buyer can spend. Title searches and home inspections will need to be conducted. Typically, buyers must pay earnest money to prove that they fully intend to purchase the property before the seller will take the listing off the market. Property tax records must be examined to determine whether there are any unpaid taxes due on the home. Part of a real estate agent's job is to guide clients through all the lengthy "to-do list" that is required to complete the transaction.

Marketing Expertise

Real estate agents know how to market a home. They know how to take photographs that highlight the home's best features or create virtual walk-throughs. Agents stay current on how well open houses are working in specific neighborhoods or for houses in certain price ranges. They know which publications are best for advertising a property. Real estate agents also know how to help sellers present their homes in the best manner.

Value

As a rule, sellers pay the real estate agent's commissions. Many sellers think that they can improve their net gain on a home by handling the sale without an agent. However, the NAR reports that comparable homes sell for nearly 22 percent more when the seller uses the services of a real estate agent. Even after subtracting the agent's commission, the net gain is still substantial.

In Conclusion

For most people, a home is the largest single investment they will ever make. Although some manage to buy or sell a home on their own, it makes sound financial sense to utilize the services of a real estate agent. After all, agents are real estate professionals who spend all day, every day immersed in the business.

To Learn More

Whether you are interested in downsizing to a condominium or purchasing your first home, the professionals at Boston City Properties can help. We are one of Boston's top agencies, and we are also the #1 volume office in Massachusetts for volume of apartment rentals from 2010 through 2014, according to MLS statistics. Contact us today to let us get started on making your next real estate transaction an efficient, pleasant experience.