Real Estate Agents: Do We Really Need Them?

By Carlos Portocarrero on 19 October 2009 (Updated 6 July 2012) 81 comments
Photo: Casey Serin

M and I have been looking to buy our first place for just under two years now. Then our real-estate agent insulted my wife and we decided to put the search on hold (besides, we need to save more money).

The incident with our agent, along with the whole search process, got me thinking about why we even need these people to "represent us" when we buy and sell homes. With all the tools available online and the prevalence of social-media sites that allow everyone to share what they know, all the information you could possible want is available to you if you just do a little digging.

I understand the argument that a real-estate agent can get all this information for you — that's his/her job. But why wouldn't you be willing to do the research yourself when you're about to make the biggest purchase of your life? It's almost like going through a travel agent — does anyone do this anymore? Typically, you can find a better price by just going online and booking the trip yourself. No need to go through a middle man. (See also: The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash)

For Example

Let's say I want to buy a house in a certain neighborhood. I could use Redfin to get all the basic details about the property, and even stuff like recent price drops. That's everything you'd find on an MLA listing. If I want to see what the facade of the building is, I'd use Google's Streetview function.

Still not convinced? Do what M and I did — we hopped on our bikes and rode around for ourselves. Sure, it was research, but it was also fun. And like I said, this is a big deal, so why wouldn't you put in some work yourself? After all, it's your money and it's going to be your house.

What else would you need an agent for? To tell you that the building across the street is owned by a guy names Stan who is "great" and will never build up to block your great view? Is that worth thousands of dollars in commissions? Not to me it isn't.

Just like Yelp can give me tons of feedback about a restaurant, I can get just as much feedback about a neighborhood or an area by doing a little research online. It's all out there, you just have to find it.

What About Viewing Places?

Here's how viewings typically went for us: we found listings on Redfin or other real-estate sites and sent them to our agent. He called the agents on the other end and scheduled (his assistant scheduled them, actually) viewings one after the other so we could go see four or five places in one night. Awesome!

But it was still us sending him new listings that we were interested in. We were doing the work, he was doing the "scheduling." Then one day we were out and about and I saw a For Sale sign (these become like catnip after a while) in a nice neighborhood. I really wanted to check the place out so I just called up the phone number on the sign and left a message. The agent called me back the next day and said she could show us the place the very next day.

No agent, no fuss.

Why would I go through an agent when I could just do this myself?

I Know, I Know

I know that I'm probably a little bitter right now because of the recent incident I had with our agent. I know that having someone with experience help you out with what is a huge deal can be very helpful. But are they really worth the thousands of dollars they get for basically doing the busywork that you or I or anyone could do?

All because we're afraid to do it ourselves?

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Guest's picture
Jasper

A real estate agent is not only supposed to sell homes, but to get the best price for the client.

When I was young and was a real estate agent, we can get the price at around 20% lower than advertised. This would cut into our commissions though.

Even if the client is not an immediate buyer (or doesn't even buy one), the contact itself with a potential client is worth the trouble.

Compensation can come in the forms of referrals and potential future transactions or if someone ones to get a bigger house.

I agree, the agent was an a-hole. However, you know some people are like that.

My rule is, never trust someone who has a conflict of interest. This includes salesmen, agents, brokers, etc. Their main priority is to make the sale, client's interest is only secondary.

Sorry if I sound scattered, tired. Heading for bed. ^_^

Guest's picture
successful fizbers

The real estate industry has done a good job of trying to convince us that we need their services to buy or sell a house. The truth is, most of us do not need their services, any of them. We have bought and sold several houses ourselves. It is incredibly easy. If you're nervous, and who wouldn't be with so much money at stake?, buy a book on the process, read it and follow the instructions. The title company does nearly all of the necessary paperwork. We have worked with real estate agents and brokers all over the country. We are really sorry to say that we've yet to find even 1, yes one!, that can do a better job than you can of selling or helping you to buy a home. Who knows your needs or your home better than you for buying or selling? Computers today are going to change their industry completely and the statistics prove it. Check out these types of sites to see how easy it is: www.fsbo.com or www.BillingsByOwner.com for two good sample sites.

Guest's picture
Lisa

Honestly, you'll appreciate having a good agent on your side if (when) contract negotiations get hairy. There is much more to a real estate transaction than finding the right place. Finding the house that suits your needs is the easy part. A good agent who has lots of experience with contract and repair negotiation can be invaluable. And, the seller pays for the buyer agent commission, so why wouldn't buyers utilize a good agent to protect their interests in the transaction?

And, no, I am not a real estate agent, just a person who has been through several buy/sell transactions. There's no way I'd go through those negotiations alone. In one transaction, the agency's legal department came into play during a very ugly contract situation. That experience taught me how critically important good representation can be. That's my perspective.

Guest's picture
Cat

I'd say that you don't need a "real estate" agent so much as a specific "buyers agent". I'm happy to do the legwork, I LOVE the "window shopping" but I feel like I need a buyers agent to represent me throughout the deal, to ensure that we negotiate down to the best price and to make sure that things like the home inspection, land deed, home loan details, etc. are all correctly handled.

If I were a licensed, practicing realtor, or -HAD- been one in the past I'd feel much more comfortable doing it myself, but I'm not so there you have it...

Guest's picture
Rick

I bought my first home 22 years ago without a Realtor. We started with a Realtor but dropped him when he wasn't showing us the properties we liked.

We decided to look in the newspaper and drove to homes in areas we wanted to live in. One seller wanted $8,500 to assume his FHA mortgage at 8.5% (a good rate back then) on a three year old home. We put $500 down and he went to a lawyer who drew up a contract. It cost the seller $50 for the lawyer. I had no other costs.

The title search was 6 months old so I agreed to go by that. It turned out that the seller had a lot of non-mortgage debts that I didn't know about but the mortgage was transferred to me before his creditors could catch up with him.

The lawyer later sent me a letter saying he wasn't paid enough for drawing up our contract and wanted a contribution from me. I ignored the letter. There is indeed something ironic about a lawyer whining he wasn't paid enough. I was tempted to write back and tell him I wasn't paying and for him to get a good lawyer.

By the end of the month we were in our new (to us) home. 22 years later we are still here and the mortgage was all paid off three years ago (yippee!).

I may end up living and dying having never bought a home through a Realtor.

Guest's picture
Kevin

We just bought our first house and used an agent. For the first house purchase, I don't see why not.

He knew the pitfalls that we had never encountered or thought about. He got us into places that were freshly listed before they even made it onto the public MLS site. Good thing too, because in my town, some of the houses we liked were sold before they made it to the public site. Yep, the housing market has been clipping along tickety-boo around here, in spite of what's been going on down in the US.

It was our fault we missed them, we hesitated. Our agent did his job and got us in to see them.

For our second purchase, we might not use an agent. Or maybe we will, it's not like we have to pay him. Well, not directly. We got a free potted plant and a home depot card out of him too, that's alright.

Guest's picture
Aryn

We often searched for homes on Redfin, but my agent also sent us listing we didn't see on Redfin. She could get access to homes very quickly, quicker than waiting for the listing agent to call back or for Redfin to arrange the tour.

But she really earned her commission by dealing with all the paperwork once we went into escrow. There was so much to keep track of, so many forms we had questions about, so much negotiating to do. Yes, you can pay a lawyer for that, but unless the seller doesn't have a listing agent, not having an agent yourself isn't saving you money and could cost you more because you don't know what you're entitled to or what needs to be done when.

Guest's picture
Brent

There a quite a few things that I think an agent is useful for, assuming you use them for everything it is probably worth it. If you end up being really particular about investigating everything yourself its not. I personally didn't know which inspectors were thorough or reputable, didn't know what types of fees or costs were standard practice in the area, Didn't know about how certain laws worked in the state. Now I could have done a decent amount of digging, but some things I simply wouldn't have known to ask. For a buyer I didn't pay anything (except indirectly) for the agent.
Also I assume that if you were moving from one region to another having an agent in your new region would be invaluable. The laws are different, the taxes, the standard practices, the neighborhoods/schools, arranging the inspectors, appraisers and everything, its a lot to manage and its hard to be physically there.

Guest's picture
Lindsey

I disagree. I bought my first place two months ago and my Realtor was indispensable. Although I did a lot of legwork myself in terms of identifying properties, he has access to more detailed listings, comparable homes in the neighborhood I was looking in and was a very reassuring presence during the entire home search.

And when it came to putting in offers on homes, I couldn't have done it without him. He helped me determine fair starting prices and counter offers on three properties before getting me a great deal on the home I now live in. It helps that my Realtor is an attorney who does real estate on the side because he loves the art of the deal, but there were details like the home inspection that would have been lost on me as a first time home buyer.

Guest's picture
Brent

The argument that the costs of a real estate agent are exorbitant for what you get, or that they are "unneeded" seems to hinge for me on what your time is worth, either to you or on the market.

If I am going to spend 50 hours doing the legwork myself, and I would otherwise have spent that time working, then the agent might be a great deal. If my free time is very limited, and a house search will suck all of it up for a year, then the cost of the agent may be a good value for me.

Regardless, the agent you interacted with sounded like a real jerk, so I can understand while you think he isn't worth it!

Guest's picture
Guest

In my state, you have to have a real estate agent in order to have access to some information on the house. Some info is not given out for everyone to see. That is a real pain.

Guest's picture
Lorenzo

If you are a trusting sort, or can't be bothered to find things out for yourself, a real estate agent is indispensable. That being said, you've got to remember what their incentive is. They get paid a percentage of the purchase prices. They maximize their earnings by selling you the most expensive house at the highest price they can get you to swallow, in the least amount of time. When doing the right thing does not line up squarely with doing the most lucrative thing it is trusting, but not particularly wise, to assume they will "do the right thing".

If you feel up to it, do your own research. Do your own negotiation. The only thing we found an agent irreplaceable for is opening doors for viewing.

Guest's picture
DenKue

To get an idea of how real estate agents do their economics in the marketplace, read the first "Freakonomics" book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Economics is about incentives and real estate agents do have incentives to use their expertise as leverage. And sometimes they have leverage to do what is in their own best interest to the detriment of their clients.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Of getting an agent. Especially for a first time buyer. I'm sure I'll change my tune once I get an agent that I'm happy to work with. That I'm happy is getting paid for helping me out. 

But man, one bad experience can definitely turn you off of these guys.

The Writer's Coin  |  Follow me on Twitter

Guest's picture
GE Miller

I've bought and sold FSBO. I've found that selling a house on my own is very fun and it saves you 6% every time, which is huge! Buying FSBO is good if you can use it to leverage in negotiations. Otherwise, you do need an agent to get in houses. If you're buying a non FSBO house, you might as well go with an agent.

Guest's picture
ryan

I totally agree with you that any marginally intelligent adult does not need a realtor. And I guess if you aren't marginally intelligent you probably shouldnt be buying property.

I have never spent a dime on one, though I will use one's services when the other side is paying (allowing the agent to have both commissions, trying to increase my odds of getting a lower price).

In general though I have not come across one of the good ones I hear about (except commercial). Residential, wow, some of them are an ethics lawsuit waiting to happen. There really isnt any need for them, as your lawyer can handle the negotiations, at an hourly rate, not a % of sales price.

unfortunately, as with most things, the National Assoc. of Realtors lobby in Washington is HUGE! So they will fight to the death to make sure that people cannot list houses on the MLS (or equivalent) without them getting their cut.

full disclosure, we are 28 and have purchased 6 houses, and looked at/met reators at tons more.

Guest's picture

As a former realtor and loan officer, there's no doubt it's important for buyers and sellers to be educated on the home buying/selling process. Experience doesn't always equal a great agent.

Find a good agent and do your own leg work too. A big part of this economical crisis is because we trusted "professionals" too much! Always remember, agents don't get paid unless they sell!

Buyers please beware.

Guest's picture
David

As the internet progresses it will become more and more obvious that middlemen like real-estate agents are not needed. The internet lets people connect directly and search much more quickly and cheaply than hiring a person to do the same role. Why hire someone for a huge amount of money when I can search through all the places I want to live instantly, then go visit only the places I want to go? Real Estate agents are a dying breed and I hope the internet will make them completely obsolete in the next few years.

While it's true that real-estate agents have a lot of knowledge about buying and selling homes, again, the internet wins. Sharing knowledge is what the internet is all about and as websites and web communities that deal specifically with real-estate develop it will be possible to get the same knowledge and advice that a real estate agent would offer through the web.

Guest's picture
Karl

Once you have bought a few homes, you'll understand when you need one and when you don't. Sometimes, Real Estate agents are indispensable and other times you just don't need them. If you are buying your first home, I would suggest you get a good one. The difference with the Real Estate agents and travel agents is that if your travel agent screws a ticket up, its a minor annoyance but if your Real Estate Agent does it, you're paying for it for years.

I think there is a really excellent article on this that goes into more detail at Do You Really Need a Realtor?
from a guy that has bought and sold a number of houses and its pretty balanced.

From my experience, some of the houses that we have bought you wouldn't have even have gotten any consideration without a full service broker. They protect their own turf and if you are the selling broker with two even offers but one if from a buddy of yours and one is from Redfin, who do you think gets the nod. When you are buying, its true the broker doesn't have to do a ton of work especially when you know what you want, but some of these markets are collusive. I've had this happen one time with a discount broker and our bid wasn't even considered and we got no feedback. When I used a full service broker that knew the selling broker, we got tons of insight and we probably paid $25K less than I would have without the knowledge. We also got concessions. Maybe the market is so weak right now that this is less of a problem, but for an average $250,000 house, a percent difference between full service and discount might not be worth the $10 grand you might give up on the purchase price.

I think the article that I link does a better job than I can articulate in a post, so check it out.

Guest's picture
Guest

Every situation is different...there is no one answer on this issue. The best 5% I ever spent was for my RE Agent. She handled everything, found the buyer and got me out before the market tanked.

Guest's picture
homebuyer

bought my first house without an agent and did a good amount of research and definitely should've used one...bought my second home with an agent and not only saved time, saved 30k since that's what she got me off the house-never would've done that on my own...worth every penny i didn't pay her---why would i make that kind of investment and not have a competent and experienced person help me to make the right choice? yeah there are bad people in every industry but there are good people too...saying agents are not worth it is crazy imho..i really like my agent and i'd recommend her to everyone i know who wants to get a great deal....and i got a terrific friend too....(by the way-if she was trying to make MORE money off me, why'd she negotiate like that? i was willing to pay more and i told her that, she just wanted me to get the best deal i could)

Guest's picture
Guest

We tried to buy a house in 2004. One of the crazy bubble years we were approved for much more house than we could afford. Picked up an agent that sounds a lot like yours. He showed us a lot of houses that were simply unsuitable. Either too high cost or really awful for the cost. He made us feel like he was doing us a huge favor by taking our low price range and constantly tried to upsell us. He sounded a lot like yours. We didn't hate him (there were no insults) but we were distinctly unimpressed by the whole affair. If it hadn't been for the fact that some listing agents refused to show unless we were represented or consented to letting them represent us for all sales we'd have skipped one for sure. In the end we were so unimpressed by what he had to show us that we simply opted out of the market.

Knowing what I know now- he could have earned a commission by being blunt and telling us that we were barking up the wrong tree- the kind of neighborhoods we wanted weren't in our range. The neighborhoods close to those neighborhoods that *were* in our price range were there for a reason. With our budget and demands our only option was to go to the suburbs. Instead he showed us a lot of terrible houses and a lot of out of our price range houses.

We had a house picked out when we got a realtor this spring. We failed at contacting the listing agent and picked up a family members realtor to help us broker the transaction. Told her it'd be a quick sale and the easiest commission she'd ever earned. 4 months, 3 contracts (one broken the week before closing by the seller), about 50 shown houses, and 4 lunches with our realtor (who actually listened to what we wanted and who was not shy about telling us where she thought we could find it even if it cut her commission) later- we bought a sweetheart of a deal. She knew the forclosure was coming on market- knew that it'd be a good fit before the for sale sign went up- and arranged for a showing within 12 hours of the sign going up in the front lawn. She knew the representing agent and called in a few favors to get our contract in the banks hands less than 24 hours after the property went on market. Which is the only reason that we managed to get a house 20k under neighborhood market with 15k in upgrades- whistle clean and exactly what we wanted. A higher bid went in a few hours after ours- but we already had verbal confirmation. She negotiated with the bank to get us a long laundry list of cosmetic repairs, arranged for us to have access through the entire deal so that we could get contractors in (the kitchen isn't as updated as we wanted) for measurements and such before closing, and kept track of the seemingly hundreds of documents we needed as first time home buyers.

The house was 35k less than the one we'd originally called her in to negotiate for us and she not only accepted a lower commission without a single comment- she paid our home warranty out of her commission when there was a mess up in the paperwork.

There are agents who aren't worth the time of day. And then there are agents who are worth every cent of their commission.

Guest's picture
Guest

The book "Freakonomics" second chapter has a section devoted to Real-Estate agents. This book helps to crack the Real-Estate code. What does "well maintained" really mean. The book also cites a study that compares how Real-Estate agents sell their own homes vs. those of their clients. The chapter is a very interesting read for anyone considering the use of an agent.

Guest's picture

with the advent of the Internet some professions will be phased out. first the real estate agent and who knows maybe the stock brokers as everyone will have all they need at their fingertips. it may be time to think ahead of time before things catch up and you bear the full force of a developing society

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

It's interesting that travel agents are still around. Can they still get better deals than you and I going on the Internet or are people who don't want to deal with the computer using them?

The Writer's Coin  |  Follow me on Twitter

Guest's picture
Lucille

After having a couple of bad real estate agents over the years, sometimes they can actually be worse than if you did it yourself. We have gotten some very bad information from people who had their own interests before ours.

The people that mentioned that agents protect their own turf is right. We looked at a house (open house) early in the process before we had signed an agent. The person who was the sellers agent would not even return our calls when we tried to start the process of making an offer. That house sat on the market for almost another year. We really liked the house but were so frustrated with the agent that we just moved on and kept looking.

Having bought and sold a number of times I could probably do the whole thing without an agent the last time.

If agents want to keep some sort of relevance and job security they need to find a way to be useful and clean up all the bad agents and behaviors that are a detriment to clients. They have started to be more like used car salesmen.

Guest's picture
Julia

I've either purchased (or did all the work but pay) for three houses. I didn't use an agent for two times (where I was buying directly from the seller without an agent), and the third one I used an agent because the sellers agent said they'd assign me one if I didn't have one. I didn't want them getting any more of a cut of the money than they already had and I didn't want to fight/argue it, so I got a ziprealty.com agent who would refund part of the commission to me.

I'd have to say the worst experience was the time there was a seller's agent involved. By the time I got an offer in, there was an offer under contract and a backup offer. The agent didn't even want to hear my offer or present it to the buyer. My agent insisted that we had a good offer, and finally they did. It was ridiculous! How dishonest! The seller's agent also pushed them to seller months sooner than they actually wanted to sell, and also accept the first offer that came along the first week it was up for sale. (and counter offer a lower offer, even though two higher offers came in later!!) I tell you, a good realtor is probably great under the right circumstances, but there seem to be a lot of shady folks out there who care more about making some quick money than actually making things more profitable and easier for their client. Having been through two home purchases with no realtors involved, I'd have to say that this is likely to become more common in the future. Why do we need MLS when we can put up our own Google ads or sell through word of mouth (facebook, website, email, etc). Sure some home buyers are picky and high needs, and some sellers face difficulties selling, but when that's not the case, there can be huge benefits by selling and buying directly for those willing to do the research and paperwork themselves.

Guest's picture
Guest

The agent also serves as a "screener" for the seller... I agree that the buyers' research can all be done without an agent... but if I am a seller, I want to know the people coming through my house are somewhat qualified/serious buyers - as opposed to having unknown people coming through craigslist-style.

Guest's picture
Dr. Dean

Real Estate agents as a profession are similar to many in that the 80-20 rule applies. Twenty percent of agents do eighty percent of the business. They are true professionals, and will actually save you money. If you truly measure the value of your time, and the time and mental anguish a good agent can save. For every simple transaction their are probably five disasters.

Most people also can negotiate better with a third party to act as middleman. Helps keep the emotions out.

To find a good Realtor, check with the local real estate association and find out who wins those million dollar and above sales awards, year in and year out, then call them and set up a consultation. If you don't get a good vibe, walk away and check with the next one on your list.

So in summary, I partially agree in that "no agent" may be better than a "bad agent". A good agent is well worth their commission.

And no, I am not a Realtor, married to a Realtor, parent of a Realtor. I have done my share of real estate investing.

Guest's picture
HollyP

A good agent is worth his/her fee. When my last sale ran into issues with quality of offers, with preexisting conditions at the property, our realtor was a fabulous adviser. She helped us evaluate the different offers we received, helped us locate several contractors to fix our foundation, and actually helped us work with the contractor we selected. She also helped advise us on how to negotiate how the work would factor into the P & S agreement.

Guest's picture
GermX

I've been looking for a home to buy for over about two plus years now and worked with two agents. ALL were horrible. The first refused to show me houses that were less than 35k over my budget. She refused to show me some neighborhoods because "there weren't any houses available there"... There was, Plenty!
The second Realtor: well I did all the work for her. I looked up the houses - she didn't know about many of them. Sometimes she even asked me to call the seller and get an appointment! really?!
I later found out that she was looking for a couple of places for herself in the same area and same price range I was looking for her. I was competing against my Realtor and actually doing a lot of the research for her.
Also like the first agent, she sometimes would not show me a place because it wasn't 'nice' enough or needed work (I specifically asked for a place that needs some work). The best excuse, though, she gave me was: that my parents would not approve of it. I'm an adult paying in full and my parents aren't even co-signing so what the ***?
Too frustrating. I gave up on Realtors. I took a break and will resume the search by myself, thank you very much.

Guest's picture
successful fizbers

We're very surprised that there have been so many favorable comments about realtors. We suspect that at least some of the messages are "plants" to counter their bad press. Are you folks aware that many states have non-disclosure laws regarding information available to the public on the prices houses have sold for? We found out by trying to do research by doing our own CMA (comparative market analysis). We asked the county records department how realtors could do a cma if the house sales prices were private. We were told that they could only do them with info from their own office or if they happened to know some other agent who would share the price with them. We find it most interesting that no agent will ever tell you this. That's why so many cmas have comparables that make no sense. The agent can't get a real comparable.

Guest's picture
Guest

Not true. We pay a lot of money for access to the MLS in our area which has most of the homes that have sold locally. Also, in Florida our public records are just that, public.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am always flabbergasted when I see people say things like "why wouldn't a buyer want an agent when it's free for them (the buyer)??" That is complete nonsense. IT'S NOT FREE FOR THE BUYERS!!! The seller must consider the cost of the listing and buying agent fees into the listing and selling price of the home. It's basic economics. The buyer is actually the one buying the home, paying the listing price, and at the end of the day, paying BOTH the agent's commissions. It is the most ridiculous arrangement I can imagine, a seller signs a contract roping the buyers into paying for an agent they had no say in hiring. Go ahead and keep making your silly "seller pays" argument, but it isn't the way it actually works.

Financial Samurai's picture

WC - If you do you work, you can hunt on your own during open houses. I've bought two properties WITHOUT an agent, so I can have more wiggle room in negotiations by 3% (what the selling agent pays the buying agent).

Selling, on the other hand is important you have someone represent you. Connections and marketing is key!

Keigu,

Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture
Guest

And did you do all of the work that the buyers agent would do?? All of it??? If not, and even then, just because you decide not to use an agent does not entitle you to any of the commission. That is negotiated between the seller and the buyer long before you come on the scene. So don't assume that you are going to get part of it. In most cases, when there is no buyers agent, the listing agents ends up doing twice the work since the buyer has no idea what they are doing. Also, you have had no investment in your work, computers, telecommunication costs, MLS dues, other dues, gas, advertising, lockboxes and on and on. Sorry, but you have no right whatsoever to my commission unless you do EVERYTHING that a buyers agent would do and accept ALL of the risk of doing it yourself. And afterword, all of the blame if you screw up.

Guest's picture

I bought my first house a year ago with the help of a real estate agent. A 'good' agent is a huge asset when buying or selling a house, and is worth their fees.

Just like a good lawyer or accountant, a real estate agent is a professional that should add value to the situation. If they don't then you've got the wrong person. It's just plain bad advice to tell people they don't need a real estate agent.

Just because you are computer savvy and can look up houses online does not give you the experience and guidance of a professional agent. That's foolish. It's like thinking that you are a chef just because you can google a Bobby Flay recipe. Or that you are a designer just because you can look up some Photoshop tips.

We need to respect and appreciate true professionals in any field that have been educated, paid their dues, and truly know their craft. An internet connection does not equal an expert.

Guest's picture
ajones

Tell me one thing that only a realtor can do - anything at all that my 11 yr old son can't do and you win the argument. How many years of schooling (post high school) is required in order to be a real estate agent.
I don't think any of them have law or MBA degrees from Harvard or Yale and yet they charge as much. A physician has to go through 12 yrs of schooling (post high school) before becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon and yet for an open heart surgery he charges less than what my realtor is charging for helping me buy a 800,000 house.

Guest's picture
Tom

I applaud everyone willing to do the kind of legwork necessary to purchase (or sell!) without an agent. I am aware of some companies that will even draw up a formal contract for an FSBO deal for less than 1% commission for the peace of mind of all involved.

That said I'll make the following analogy:
I'm a chemist. I can admit most bench chemistry could be tought to anyone with good motor skills and a basic understanding of math. So why would a company hire chemists with college or graduate degrees to do simple work?
Answer: They are/(can be) worth the investment. They know rules, through past experience they make things more efficient. They catch a lot of seemingly minor details that can be all the difference. They know procedure and operate in a quality manner. A realtor worth his salt has all the same qualities: experienced for negotiations, likely not to propose offensive/unethical/illegal tactics, knows the little things a virgin buyer doesn't. Hopefully they know your target area better than you, and can give you some historical perspective. Most importantly, you can assume they'll do all this more efficiently than the untrained buyer.

Just my two cents on real estate agents. My wife and I did switch from the first RE agent we used when we didn't really like her vibe, but our 2nd was a great guy. Lots of information is available for first-timers and DIYers, but I'm not unhappy that I used one.

Guest's picture
Emily

I think your being kind of an A-hole yourself to tear down a whole industry of people. I think that wisebread needs to screen their articles better so they aren't just dumb rants that have zero validity.

Guest's picture
Guest

While I agree Redfin is an awesome site that is extremely helpful in viewing properties I just want to point out that it is not nationwide. It currently only has listing for about 10 metro areas so it's only useful if you are searching for homes around Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, Sacramento, etc.

Guest's picture
Kim_Mango

I have sold a house on my own once and used Realtors the other times to buy/sell homes. I have to say, selling my house on my own took awhile and it was frustrating to have people ringing my doorbell all time time without an appointment. Being single and letting strangers into my home really made me uncomfortable. I hired an attorney to assist me in the contract negotiations and closing for a flat fee of $500. It sure beats the huge Realtor commission!

There was definite comfort and convenience in allowing my Realtor to sell my home for me during my most recent transaction. However, it frustrates me that I wasn't successful in negotiating the 6% rate. I just wanted out of this house. I wanted to put my failed marriage, all my dreams and expectations of having a family, and memories of this house behind me. I feel that the commissions are really quite high for the amount of work that they actually do.

I've sold a house both ways and feel that if you want the convenience and safety go with a reputable Realtor.

If the house is listed with a known real estate company, I would rather buy the house on my own without a Realtor representing me. If the contract negotiations aren't easy, I will walk away from the deal. There are such a huge amount of inventory that I don't need the headache.

Best,
Kim

Guest's picture

Adam Welling from the Boston office was a fantastic agent. I got a hefty rebate on the overall commission, lowering the buyer's agent commission to an effective 1.25%, which was *very* well-earned. He helped me figure out a negotiating strategy that allowed me to end up saving 3.1% off the list price, and 9.2% off the original listing price, even in a situation with multiple bids. Adam handled chasing down all of my loose ends very effectively, including making sure every 'i' was dotted and 't' crossed for the contingencies. Besides all of that, he was very accommodating for the fact that I was relocating into Boston - we worked very similarly, with plenty of e-mail and phone contact, and as soon as I arrived in Boston for closing he helped me get settled in by picking me up at the airport, helping me move my bags into the new house, etc. He knew all of the local real estate customs (MA is very different from other states, especially CA where I come from). And rather than being paid directly on commission, Redfin pays bonuses to agents based on satisfaction so he had no incentive to steer me to higher or lower cost houses.

The sellers' agent well deserved his commission - after three months of showing the house to anyone while the sellers were at work, over at their new house, etc. and marketing the desirable aspects of the property, being there for every inspection and tour...

In short, I think that good real estate agents are well worth their money. I wouldn't use a full-service agent ever since I'm comfortable figuring out what I want to tour, but having an ally for negotiating up to closing is fantastic. We closed a few days ago, I'm in my new house, and couldn't be more delighted. Nickel and diming that last 2%-5% just doesn't make sense when real estate is so complicated - I'm hopefully only doing this process maybe every 10-20 years or so (or never!) from now on, but Adam closes pretty much a deal every 2 days and has plenty of experience and practice to save me from potentially very expensive pitfalls. I educated myself as well during the process, but I still wouldn't feel comfortable doing it on my own.

Guest's picture
Guest

The reason you would use an agent to help you buy a home is quite simple. Obviously from the experience you received you were not using a true professional. This is the reason why Organized Real Estate has been around forever and still is the best way to buy and sell homes, The Power of MLS. A for sale by owner can only attract 10% of the buyers searching for a home. 90 % of homes are sold by using a Realtor and MLS. As for using an agent to help you buy a home it's a total no brainer. If you get a good agent here's how it works. You explain to the agent what you want and need. He/She listens and takes notes. The agent get's off his or her ass and hunts you down a house. They send you listings that they feel are what you want and arrange to see these homes driving you around in their car using their fuel. Once they find you the home of your dreams they research it's value for you, recommend excellent financing options, lawyers to facilitate the sale, arrange other ancillary services such as movers, cleaners and other trades, HOME INSPECTORS ( some Realtors often pay their fee for you ). NEGOTIATE on your behalf, execute a legal contract and assume liabilities, walk you through the closing process, visit you after the sale and buy you a nice closing gift and here is the kicker............ They do all of this for you completely FREE!!!!!!! of charge . That is why you should use a Realtor to purchase a home. Now go find a good Realtor and fire that amateur you have.

Guest's picture
Guest

well said....we all need a good real estate agent working for us.

Guest's picture
Guest

The reason you would use an agent to help you buy a home is quite simple. Obviously from the experience you received you were not using a true professional. This is the reason why Organized Real Estate has been around forever and still is the best way to buy and sell homes, The Power of MLS. A for sale by owner can only attract 10% of the buyers searching for a home. 90 % of homes are sold by using a Realtor and MLS. As for using an agent to help you buy a home it's a total no brainer. If you get a good agent here's how it works. You explain to the agent what you want and need. He/She listens and takes notes. The agent get's off his or her ass and hunts you down a house. They send you listings that they feel are what you want and arrange to see these homes driving you around in their car using their fuel. Once they find you the home of your dreams they research it's value for you, recommend excellent financing options, lawyers to facilitate the sale, arrange other ancillary services such as movers, cleaners and other trades, HOME INSPECTORS ( some Realtors often pay their fee for you ). NEGOTIATE on your behalf, execute a legal contract and assume liabilities, walk you through the closing process, visit you after the sale and buy you a nice closing gift and here is the kicker............ They do all of this for you completely FREE!!!!!!! of charge . That is why you should use a Realtor to purchase a home. Now go find a good Realtor and fire that amateur you have.

Guest's picture
Marko

Good god, you guys actually need to pay someone to look for a house? Talk about laziness and ignorance.

And 6% to get some fool to sell your property..thats some crazy stuff. Thats double what people pay in Australia. People rarely get real estate agents to buy their property here, in fact its unheard of, its just a waste of money...your lawyer takes care of you.

In Australia we are in the process are getting rid of the middle men in selling property. Private sales are growing with greater awareness of what is really needed in selling real estate. Real estate agents are paying big advertising dollars to brainwash the public with fear when selling your own house. But with greater awareness and resources they are slowly losing the battle.

It is impossible being a real estate agent and not be in a conflict of interest with the client. Anyone with half a brain is waking up to that.

I thought the real estate brainwashing was bad here in Australia, but by the sounds of it we are light years ahead of you guys.

Good luck.

Guest's picture

Lisa said, "A good agent who has lots of experience with contract and repair negotiation can be invaluable. And, the seller pays for the buyer agent commission, so why wouldn't buyers utilize a good agent to protect their interests in the transaction?"

My real estate lawyer and my home appraiser (both good friends who protect my interests) filled both the need for contract and repair negotiation.

Guest's picture
Patrick

If you see a for sale sign and call the number and receive a return call realtor to schedule an appointment with you to show you the property, the odds are that the realtor showing you the property is representing the sellers. Make sure that you ask them to clarify this important detail. If they are not the realtor for the seller, then they are probably someone from the sellers realtors office that they referred to work the other side of "the deal." The point is that you lose either way. If the seller has a realtor, they signed a sellers contract before the realtor listed the house. In that contract, they had to agree to both sides of the commission. For example 5% with 2% going to the selling agent and 3% going to the agent that brings the buyers. If you end up buying the house through the realtor that is listing the house, you may think that you are getting a better deal without have to pay "commission," but the fact is that is not the case and if you buy that way, that realtor just earned that entire 5% and did not have your best interest or the best interest of their seller at heart. This is called dual agency and is highly debated as being unethical, though still practiced in many places. I would recommend that you find a trustworthy realtor and allow them to assist you with finding a home. You will still guide them but even with the internet, there is no substitute for old fashion real world experience.

Guest's picture

Having been in the real estate industry - not currently - there are a couple points that you missed.

-Yes you can book a trip on expedia nowadays and research online - however, if you screw up the trip you're out a few grand. If you screw up your negotiations or even title work on your house, it's going to hurt a lot more.

-People are emotional with their homes - There needs to be a third party here often because of that reason. People by default are horrible negotiators - especially Americans. I've seen several transactions within several grand of each other vanish in thin air because of emotions. Realtors make this much easier and can objectively explain best options during this process.

I think it all depends on the situation. There are A LOT of crappy Realtors out there, so make sure to screen who you use. Obviously if someone is insulting your wife that's a matter of personal integrity, not a reflection on an industry. If your butcher insulted your wife, would you stop buying meat?

If you know the ins and outs of real estate and feel comfortable navigating contracts and negotiating with emotional sellers, feel free. If not, a Realtor's your best bet.

Guest's picture
Bookish Kai

Porter, dude, I know you are quite angry now about your ineffectual and foolish former real estate agent, but make no mistake that the act of purchasing a home or selling a home is one of the most complicated, involved and intense interactions of your life and that you should use a real estate agent for!

I am not an agent myself, I am a graduate student in the humanities, but my father is a real estate agent and the training he had to undergo and that he must continually undergo to maintain his licensing and keep up with ever-changing legislation regarding property law (state and local) is very involved.

Your 'assessment' of why you don't need an agent neglects many of the elements of what the real estate agent does to help you and neglects the actions an agent is NOT allowed to do and which could cost them many thousands of dollars in fines! For example, Agents are not allowed to lie to you regarding the make up of the neighborhood or situation of the seller, or tell you any truthful info about the house or neighborhood be it biased. This sort of information you find out on your own. What you can only ever do poorly on your own is the series of complicated assessments regarding the aforementioned ever-changing legislation and judicial rulings regarding property! I can't tell you how many people have come to my father exasperated and exhausted from trying to maneuver this process by themselves and have gratefully turned over the reigns his professional expertise!

There may be many things that in our information age you no longer need someone else to do for you - booking a flight to Tahiti is in fact one of them. But to compare selling a home to buying a plane ticket and some hotel rooms is darned foolish and to advise others to do so is close to criminal! Why? Because buying a home, unlike a plane ticket that can be charged to credit card on travelocity, is a process which (as I know from personal experience), between putting in the offer and signing the last form, requires multiple lawyers, banking officials, property assessors, secretaries and witnesses to official documents!!

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

You'll be happy to know that we wound up sticking with our broker and bought a place about a month ago! You can read all about it here.

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marista

99% of real-estate agents are greedy, lazy, incompetent and unprincipled low-lifes.  Thanks to the Internet we're now doing the work for them as well.  They exist simply to subtract some value from every real-estate transaction.  Thanks to their effective lobby, they own most of the state legislatures in the USA which is how they attack discount brokers and prevent access to the MLS.  Legalized robbery. 

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Bob Freeman

I agree

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Guest

Shame on you for making blanket statements about a business that you obviously know nothing about. You also have only met an infintesimal number of agents. To say, for all practical purposes, all of them are evil, etc is more the behavior of a school yard child who has an axe to grind. And in all likelihood created the very situation that caused her to go sour toward Realtors. Not to worry, if I had a customer like you, I would be more than happy to have you find and buy your own home. I have the luxury of working with great customers who appreciate all of the extra things I do to help them sell their homes or buy new ones.

Guest's picture
Guest

Do you personally know 99% of the real estate agents in the industry? No? Then your comment is not only foolish but ridiculous in and of itself.

Don't like agents? Don't use one. But don't cry about the fact that you find out later you could've negotiated more on the asking price, or messed up on a legal form somewhere that cost you thousands in fines or other expenses, or that the neighborhood you thought looked perfect from your "professional" perusal turns out to be a high-crime, low-quality area.

Guest's picture
cathy

Here's the thing. Just because you have a compound miter saw, doesn't make you a carpenter. A desk-top publishing program doesn't make you a designer. A money management program doesn't make you bookkeeper. Film editing software doesn't make you a video expert. Illustration software doesn't make you an illustrator. A bunch legal forms doesn't make you a lawyer. Tax prep software doesn't make you an accountant. Gosh if everything were that easy, we would all have to find new careers.

Expert in a box. Sure you can do it yourself, some things are worth investing in and some things not so much. Regardless, you should be willing to do a bit of research regarding any big decisions or responsibilities and decide for yourself when a pro could really save you time and money. Heck, I still think I can design my own garden and to this day it still looks a bit sad. The money I have spent trying to create my vision could have paid for an expert a few times over. I have learned to appreciate the skills and expertise of others and I totally believe they should be fairly compensated. Because frankly, I know I deserve to be fairly compensated for my skills and experience. Don't you?

Guest's picture
hoberlander

We just recently bought our first house and our real estate agent was a LIFE SAVER.  He saved us money, made sure that we understood everything that we were signing, and made sure all the paperwork got signed and sent to the right place.  I would never buy a home without an agent, even if it was our 20th home!

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Tulasi Reddy

we need real estate agents urgent requirement. for other clarification plz call 9052392842.(vijaywada) 

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Bob Freeman

Realtors are obsolete.

Guest's picture
Equifaxpfb

Real estate agents bring to the table the experience and expertise that people who rarely buy and sell property don't have. It's nice to have someone on your side who knows how to play the real estate game.

There are ways simple ways to find a realtor that is right for you. Check out Ilyce Glink's article: http://bit.ly/a7Wf5I

Guest's picture
Guest

Well, go right ahead on your own if you know so much. But every day I have people come to me with issues that they would not have if they had used the services of a good agent. People who got a quit claim deed instead of a warranty deed, people who did not realize that they needed survey to know the boundaries of their parcel, buyers who never bothered to get title insurance, people who did not realize that if they are buying a land AND a mobile home they need to get a deed AND a title(s) to the mobile, others who were not informed that the property was in a flood zone, and on and on. At this point, I cannot help them since I am not an attorney. They have to put out a lot of money to undo the damage that has been done. And sometimes it cannot be undone. They just have to swallow, accept and go on. So do it yourself. And while you are at it, why not try to give yourself an appendectomy. Makes about as much sense. Oh, and by the way, in our area the buyer does not pay the commission, so what money are you saving for taking so many risks? $0. But if it makes you happy, do it. Just don't come whining afterwards.

Guest's picture
Guest

Showing properties is an easy task for an agent; knowing real estate laws and dealing with problems are the primary reasons that buyers and sellers need them. Being lucky on one property does not mean that you can do it by yourself all the time.

Guest's picture
JMB

I think you're very mis-informed when it comes to what realtors do. I've been around the real estate industy for years, and I personally know a lot of great agents. Even Suze Orman says "a good real estate professional is worth their weight in gold"
For starters, as a buyer, you do not pay thousands in commissions. You don't even pay hundreds in commissions. You pay nothing. If you're a buyer, and you use your own agent to buy a house, the home seller pays your agent's fee. So this means you get all of the services from your realtor for free. Furthermore, yes it's very common now-a-days to look for homes on line yourself. Everyone is doing it. It's out there so why not? But who knows what house you'll want to buy more, you or your agent? Of course you. Just because you're finding the house and bringing it to your agent's attention doesn't mean that you're doing all of the work. Come on. It's the agent that then schedules the appointments, gets you inside for a tour, and that's just the very first step. If you like the house and want to buy it, it's the agent that will write the legal documents. They'll try to get you the terms in which you desire (purchase price, closing date, appliances, inspection corrections, etc) The buyer's agent also orders title insurance, opens escrow, and deposits your earnest money. Once the transaction is under way, your agent will help you to secure acceptable financing. They'll also assist with the inspection, the appraisal, homeowners insurance, etc. AGAIN THIS COSTS YOU NOTHING. THEIR SERVICES ARE 100% FREE TO YOU. The reason travel agents have gone away and realtors haven't is because anyone can book a flight on line. Buying a home, which you admit is a huge investment, usually takes guidance from a licensed professional. The very start of your article shows me just how out of touch with reality you are. Can you imagine working with a client for 2 years and not getting anything out of it? Remember, realtors are only paid when you buy a house. I'd like to see you go to work for 2 years straight and never receive a paycheck. Your committment and loyality is beyond words. I feel bad for your agent who's probably a spouse, parent, and quite possibly a grandparent. You owe them your business when you buy!

Guest's picture

Sounds like a typical scenario where two parties entered in to a relationship with different expectations. As the relationship progressed, neither party gave the proper feedback about how the others expectations were not being met. I would have also been offended by the "just between you and me" comment but it seems like you had an experience with someone who had allowed a lot of resentment to build up and didn't know how to deal with it. Personally I would had spoken up and clarified my expectations at a much earlier time, (the realtor should have) but I also have a lot of experience. May be he's just a jerk or maybe he isn't hard to say reading about this here.

That being said I'll get to the issue of hiring a Realtor.

I am very aware of technology and how information is changing the whole world; it impacts way more than just professionals who hold licenses. I don't think it will replace experts.

Example: I know a lot of poor to middle class people who use Quicken and other ways to do their own taxes heck software is everywhere.
I know a lot of rich people too. Every one of those people, have a good experienced tax advisor and or accountant.
The first time I paid an attorney 200.00 and hr to sit and chat with me about a Real estate deal I was doing, I thought WOW he just saved me thousands of dollars. Not because he was smarter than me, but he was looking at contracts and lawsuits all day, every day. Same goes with my accountant.

My eyes were opened wide: People who are poor or middle class normally do things differently than the rich. Mostly they look at what someone is charging, ASSume that they know everything and then decide that person is charging too much for what they do, and think "heck I can do that myself". BAD IDEA!
Rich people search out the best professional they can find, pay their price, and then go play golf and get richer, and enjoy their free time.

The way I know that lesson so well, is that I used to be the guy that knows it ALL I did everything myself, I mean heck things aren't brain surgery....we'll except for brain surgery. Of course brain surgeons make too much money.

Guest's picture

For some reason my comment got cut short: so heres the rest.

...Of course Brain surgeons make too much money. ((Tongue in cheek)).

My advice:

(Please take it, I charge people good money to travel to their towns and help them make Real Estate decisions ;-))

Spend your time looking for a good Honest, experienced, team member (agent in this case) for things that can really have a major impact on your life if things go haywire.

1. EVERYTHING is more complicated than it looks...do stuff yourself and those complications may not be apparent immediately, but at some point you’ll learn that it was.
2. If you want to do something for the education, go ahead, although your savings (education), will probably turn out to be fairly expensive in the end, and if you never use that education again, seems kind of useless to me.

I'm a skeptical person by nature, but I've learned that if you look at mostly eveyone as crooks with,a good guy or gal mixed in every once in a while, instead of the opposite, you'll probably be very limited in your success in life, will probably be very busy all the time with very little to show for it, and you'll be a lot more stressed.

I've been through many Real Estate deals, some with representation, and some without. I've been through the hard knocks, and gained a lot of experience. (Which is good in my case because that’s what I do). But if I were just going to be involved in a Real Estate deal a very few times in my life, knowing what I know now, you'd better believe I'd be looking for a good Real Estate Agent to bounce things off of, and help me navigate through the process.

Guest's picture

heres the last part.

Read the fine print on the websites that give values of Real Estate, even they will say "do not rely on these"
As an investor I put exactly zero weight on the values generated by the automated valuations that are used by every website that I know of. Valuating property is relative, and one of those things that you will absolutely learn the hard way, that it is much more complicated than it looks!

Remember, no matter how smart you are, (or think you are) if you haven’t done something before, you are an amateur at that activity. Be prepared to pay one way or the other if you decide to take a stab at it.

There are other reasons I wouldn't just use an attorney to do paper work, even though they are very capable of doing that, unless you personally know what your objectives are and the risks you are willing to take. Attorney’s jobs are to eliminate risk, and to that end, a good attorney will most likely kill a deal. I won't go into that discussion here.

--My .02 or 2,000,000.00 however YOU choose to look at it ;)

Guest's picture
Guest

I think it is tough for agents with the internet age. Some do a fantastic job. But I think most don’t do anything more than upload the home to the MLS system in their area. I have seen some pretty cool Flat Fee Companies crop up lately. Here is one I like most: http://www.listtrue.com

It looks like they do a ton of things to market your home. I will go with a Flat Fee MLS company when I am selling my home in about two years. Maybe the price and technology will be better then anyways?? Buying a home is different...I would go with a Real Estate Agent for sure!

Guest's picture
Guest

As soon as I saw typos on the opening page of that link, it lost all credibility with me.

Guest's picture
Renee

I am currently about to close on our home and I must say I wish we didn't have our listing agent. He is a nice guy and all, but I have found that I can get stuff done more efficiently than he can. For example, our home inspection was taking forever, after questioning my agent about this, he said there is just nothing we can do, we have to wait, so I decided to take matters in to my own hands and I looked at my bank statement to get a company name. I called them myselves, and long story short, they happily reassigned our inspection and it was done the next day. Had we waited, it could have taken weeks longer, thus only delaying the process. Same situation is happening now, we are held up by a title commitment, instead of "waiting" I simply called the title company myself to check the status, they basically didn't realize that we didn't have the tital commitment yet, so it is being taken care of today. I don't mean to step on anyone's toes, but I get things done quicker.

Guest's picture
chris

No, we do not need them. They need us. I, too have purchased and sold a number of homes myself, in two states. California has more paperwork than any other state in the US and we had no problem as a seller. One deal was done across my kitchen table with a handshake, just two parties negotiating and explaining their positions on their offer. I have had nothing but bad experiences in allowing a third party to negotiate for me. Their is definitely a conflict of interest. The agent only gets paid if the deal goes through. The title company handles all the paperwork, or if that makes you nervous, you could hire an attorney. I have used a agent as a purchaser, which costs me nothing, but also had to find all my own listings. As a seller, I used for sale by owner websites and signs and split the commission I would of paid a agent with the buyer. Their happy to get a deal and so am I. Goes a long way in the negotiations.

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Guest

Maybe it's inconsequential, but it's hard to take seriously comments others make about a profession when they fill their opinions with typos and incorrect grammar. Even more noticeable is the prevalence of outright spelling errors.

Guest's picture
Jo

We are house hunting. I went through and look at a ton of houses on line and found a bunch I wanted to look at. We were unsure how to do look at them, so we contacted an agent and told e-mailed the addresses we wanted to look at. She spent the day and took us around to look at the houses. Other than that she has really not done any other work. If we want to see a house we ask and she sets up the times. About a week or so ago a friend of ours contacted us cause he heard we were looking at houses. He said he has a house that is being rented and he wants to sell it. It is not on the market and it is not listed. We met with him and he showed us the house. We really liked it and he is willing to come down to our budget. He does not have an agent and wants to just sell it to us. We too just want to buy it from him without having to list. We already gave him an offer and he accepted it. How do I tell my agent that we are going to buy without an agent? Is this a horrible thing to do? Please give me advice on this process.

Guest's picture
Guest

Offer to pay her for her time taking you around and showing you houses, or at least let her write up the contract and pay her a decent fee. That is the only decent thing to do. And yes it would be a horrible thing to do to get someone to drive you around and waste their time and gas, and then cut them out of the picture when it comes time for them to get paid. It's equivilent to hiring someone with the understanding that they will be compensated, then on payday, you decide to give a bonus check to your supplier instead of paying that employee because you "changed your mind".

Guest's picture
Jo

Its not that we "Changed our minds" but that is how it worked out. She only spent about 10 hours helping us, other than that we did the rest of the work. She did not drive us around, we drove. We planned on compensating her somehow, but were unsure how much. We were unsure if this happens alot or how we might go about telling her we no longer need her assistance. Yes I do feel bad about not going through her, but that is how the cards played out.

Guest's picture

Then I would say, be upfront with her and outline what you have outlined in here ( unless you have signed an agreement with her before she went to work showing you houses, which smart realtors do for this exact reason) Tell her we have found a house on our own and are probably going to close with an attorney, I realize that you have spent some time and effort to show us some houses and we want to compensate you for your time, what would you consider a fair amount for the time you spent on our behalf. You may be surprised at the answer. Most agents aren't used to people being up front and recognizing their efforts and being willing to compensate them fairly, usually people just try to justify cutting them out and stealing their time and figure out how to cut them out underhandedly.

Guest's picture
Nivia

I understand...but guess what? Those thousands of dollars were still given to the listing agent because if you are not represented by a Realtor the sellers Real Estate Agent just gets BOTH sides of the transaction for doing absolutely nothing for you. Also, you are now in a transaction where the seller has someone looking out for their best interest but you are all alone doing research and an easy pray to take advantage of on things that you would never even think to research. I understand having personality clashes with a Real Estate Agent, as I know first hand some Real Estate Agents are definitely not very helpful or even enjoy working with people...But it does not mean they are ALL like that. Some of us actually like educating our buyers and sellers so that they can make informed decisions...an love I build relationships where their clients feel so at ease with us that they keep in touch with us even after the sale is finalized. *just giving a little perspective*

Guest's picture
Guest

Hello! A real estate agent here :) I of course would have to disagree with your statement and say that what I do for my clients is very worth my commission. Lets say you're the buyer and I'm the agent, first of all the buyers in the state of ky do not pay the commission unless agreed upon when they are purchasing a for sale by owner and the owner refuses...the sellers pay the commission of both agents. A good agent will number one do the leg work for you after you have been approved for your loan, you as the buyer should not be showing the agent which houses you want to see, they should be coming to you with what they found that meets your search criteria. However that being said as a buyer you should be aware that a buyer thinks about buying a home pretty much everyday until it happens so if you happen to find something before the agent does then that would be when the agent would make an appointment for you to see it..and the fact that you saw it first does not mean they are not looking out for you it just means they too have a life. Real estate really is a 24 hour job, you can never be truly disconnected and when you are you have to have a back up agent willing to help your clients while you're away. An agent puts in a lot of hours learning their trade and a lot of money affiliating with memberships that require honest dealing. Your agent should also be proficient enough in contract writing that they don't miss something that could possibly cost you thousands or the entire house; they can advise you about inspections and how to go about asking for repairs, and they do the negotiating for you so that an argument between the buyer and seller is avoided. You could buy your own home or sell your own home without an agent but this is what we do for a living and we are experts in our field.

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Guest

In today's information age, real estate agents are unnecessary. In my experience with agents is that they mostly interferer, know nothing about " the pulse of the market", know nothing about the internal working of a home. They are going the way of the dinosaur. Any information about an area or particular home in which your selling or buying a home can be gleaned from the internet ( PUBLIC RECORD). They will tell you that they bring qualified buys to the table, this is totally false, only a bank can determine that. Their fees(commission)n are outrageous considering most of the work is done by the buyer/seller(submitting paper work to banks)and attorneys( contracts drawn up)..Real estate agents basically take money out of the pockets of both the buyer and seller for a service that is unnecessary.

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The Internet and social media have taken real estate out of the stone ages. Buyers and sellers are leveraging this change and dealing direct with no middleman. Social media has become the new MLS. It not an attack against real estate agents, its just reality. According to the National Association of Realtors own numbers. The number of real estate agents has dropped over 26% in less than 5 years. And even as sales are on the rise, this number continues to drop.
There is a short book called "Simple and Sold" that walks you through the process. You can get it on Amazon. Very easy to follow.

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I have been buying and selling real estate my entire life without the aid of a real estate agent. Title companies and attorneys do most of the work. For those people that are unable or willing to go through the process (an easy process) then they should have access to someone who will provide the services. The services should be offered at a flat fee 500 to list, 500 for a lockbox etc. I have seen agents who walk away with ridiculous commissions on real estate for doing absolutely nothing. Time for a change...