What Can a Real Estate Agent Do That You Can’t? 5 Things That Only Come With Experience

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There’s a reason only 10% of home sales were FSBO (for sale by owner) last year — and it’s not just the daunting mounds of paperwork involved in selling a house. The best real estate agents in the nation, the ones who have to turn down clients because they’re so slammed with business, tell us that it’s their hard negotiating skills and objective lens that sellers need the most.

It’s the little moments at the kitchen table when you can’t decide if you should accept an offer or counter. It’s wondering whether you should trust a buyer who your gut tells you isn’t serious. It’s someone who can tell you straight that your asking price is too high.

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So what can a real estate agent do for you that you can’t do for yourself? Here are five things that only come with experience and detachment from the home.

1. Agents make an unbiased evaluation of your home

Homeowners often look at their property through the rose-colored glasses of the happy memories they made in their home.

The deck, even though it’s falling apart, is where you hosted so many barbecues. You can hear the sound of the kids unwrapping Christmas gifts in the living room. The pencil marks measuring heights through the years tug at your heart strings.

Homeowners have an emotional relationship with their homes, and that connection makes figuring out what your home is worth that much harder.

Few buyers even bother to look at houses that are overpriced. And if buyers don’t see your home, they won’t make an offer.

Luckily, real estate agents evaluate your property without the vision-clouding emotional attachment that you have as a homeowner. Just ask Kim Erwin, a top-selling real estate agent in Corpus Christi, Texas: “I’ve been selling real estate for over 36 years, and the trick is understanding the mortgage industry within your community and looking at the house through the eyes of the buyer.”

Without that emotional baggage, an expert real estate agent can:

2. Agents prepare an in-depth comparative market analysis

It’s true that there are a number of sites that can provide you with a ballpark estimate of your property’s current value — including HomeLight’s own Home Value Estimator. Our home value estimator uses information from multiple sources to create a real-time home value estimate based on current market trends. It’s also enhanced by your insights, and the little things that make your home different.

Using an estimator is a great way to get a ballpark idea of what your home is worth. However, online home valuation tools provide just that: estimates.

An agent knows how to compile and evaluate a more comprehensive set of statistics of comparable homes sold. Your agent will:

  • Compare the list price vs. the final sale price for each comp
  • Evaluate the impact of home improvements on each comp’s final sales price
  • Account for any upgrades you’ve done to your home, proximity to restaurants, a big yard, and trending features
  • Calculate how various listing price points impacted each comp’s number of days on the market
  • Research insider data, including: list price reductions and how many showings each property had
  • Assess local market trends based on recently sold, pending sales, and soon-to-be-listed properties that will be your competition
  • Determine which marketing strategies work best in your neighborhood

The compilation and evaluation of all this in-depth data is how your real estate agent decides on the best list price recommendation for your property. Without it, you’ll either end up leaving money on the table, or your overpriced property won’t sell — no matter how well you market it.

3. Agents work their industry connections

Successful real estate agents know the importance of developing professional relationships. Top seller’s agents network to:

  • Meet and maintain clients
  • Connect with buyer’s agents to find potential buyers for their seller clients
  • Build a database of the best contractors, landscapers, painters, and other home improvement professionals to recommend to their clients
  • Forge connections with title companies, appraisers, home inspectors, and financial institutions to get their clients great deals

Agents who’ve spent years selling homes in your area know which contractors, builders, painters, and landscapers will do the best work for the best prices.

They’ll also use their connections with buyer’s agents to get the word out about your home even before it’s officially listed. Your agent may make calls, arrange a broker open, and even attend local real estate pitch sessions. All the behind-the-scenes networking your agent does on your behalf is to help ensure you have a smooth and successful home sale.

4. Agents vet buyers to save you time

Many seller’s agents check up on the finances of potential buyers before accepting an offer or even arranging a showing of your home.

“I qualify every buyer before we even get started,” says Erwin. “Sellers don’t realize all the time that it takes to get the buyers qualified.”

The best agents will ask potential buyers or their agents:

By asking these kinds of questions, your agent both pre-qualifies potential buyers and gets a solid understanding of the buyer’s financial situation to prepare for negotiating the final deal.

5. Agents negotiate with insider knowledge on their side

FSBO home sellers often end up negotiating counteroffers and navigating bidding wars from a weaker position. Why? Because they’re pitting their wits against a buyer’s agent who handles home sale negotiations every day.

When a savvy agent negotiates on your behalf, you get to benefit from their years of bargaining experience. The best agents realize that there’s more to haggle over than just the overall sales price. Agents can:

  • Craft counteroffers that appeal to the buyer without promising too much
  • Negotiate less obvious home sale expenses including: closing costs, home warranties, and other fees
  • Renegotiate after a low appraisal without losing the seller too much money
  • Recommend seller-paid closing costs in situations when it will actually net you more money

Experienced agents also know how to play defense against buyer’s agent negotiation tactics that a FSBO seller may not know to look out for. An agent won’t let the buyer:

  • Chip away at the seller’s profit by requesting concessions a little at a time
  • Renegotiate a significantly lower price based on minor home inspection findings
  • Slip potentially expensive contingencies into the final sales contract
  • Use the threat of walking away entirely to manipulate the seller into making concessions

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Benefits of working with a top agent

Selling a home can be overwhelming, but working with an experienced real estate agent can make all the difference. They’ll be with you every step of the way — helping you prepare your home for sale, price it competitively, evaluate buyer intentions, and get you the best sales price for your home.

When you’re ready to sell, HomeLight can connect you with a top agent in your market who is well-equipped to handle your specific selling situation.

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