But why, you say, would you possibly need a real estate agent to help you find a home when there are tons of internet sites that show homes for sale??? You can go online and find out just about anything you could possibly ever want to know about homes for sale, right?
No doubt it does seem that way. You can find homes currently for sale, see what they cost, see pictures (sometimes good ones, sometimes not so good ones). You might even be able to see a few neighborhood statistics. So what can an agent do for you that you can’t do for yourself?
1. Having an agent can save you time. By working with you and looking at homes with you, they get to know exactly what kind of home you’re looking for as well as what type of neighborhood you want.
2. Agents generally know way more about specific neighborhoods than you’ll ever find online since most of them tend to work in areas close to where they live. They can tell you about the history of the neighborhood and even more importantly, about future planned changes to the neighborhood. They also generally know about schools, shopping, entertainment, transportation, etc.
3. If you’re considering a townhome or condo, agents usually can inform you about the health of the homeowners association. Believe me, they’re not all created equally. Some are in dire straits while others have money to burn. It helps if you know something about the association before you sign on the dotted line – and you won’t find that info on the internet. By the way, you will normally have the opportunity to review association documents after you make an offer and the seller accepts it.
4. If you’re working with an agent, they will probably (they should) want you to be pre-approved (not pre-qualified – there’s a difference) for a mortgage before you spend too much time looking at homes. That saves them and you time by not looking at homes that you may not be able to afford. They can also provide you with info on financing or at least point you to a mortgage specialist who can.
5. By working with an agent, you don’t have to wait for open houses. Simply contact your agent and ask them to set up a showing appointment for you when you find something you want to see. Couldn’t be easier.
6. Tired of pesky agents hounding you when you visit an open house? If you’re already working with an agent, just tell them about it. They’ll still show you home but they won’t be quite as pushy!
7. If you currently have a home to sell, your agent can tell you what it should sell for. That way you know how much money you’ll have to put towards that brand new home you’re looking for.
8. If you have a great agent, they’ll do a daily review of the listings in the areas that they specialize in. They’ll know immediately when new listings come on the market. One of them might be just what you’re looking for.
9. Most agents can set up an “auto-search” for you. They enter the criteria for your perfect home and the MLS (multiple listing service) will automatically notify you and/or your agent the instant a new listing matches what you’re looking for.
10. This one doesn’t apply to most agents, but in the case of the company that I work with, we have a system in which we can input your search criteria and can sometimes find your perfect home before it even comes on the market. The same applies for selling your home. How can we do that? Ask me and I’ll tell you!
And here’s a bonus one for you: it doesn’t cost you a dime to have an agent work with you! When you eventually purchase a home, the fee for your agent comes out of the commission that the seller pays.
So if you’re in the market for a home, my advice is to find a great agent that you relate well to and let them help you find that perfect place. Doesn’t cost you anything and believe me, they can make your search a lot easier!