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What Does a Real Estate Agent Do? An In-Depth Look

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, chances are you’ll be working with a real estate agent. Only 7% of homeowners end up selling without a real estate agent’s help, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and a big reason is the value added by the many things real estate agents do for their clients.

Why are real estate agents so valuable? Simply put, agents use their network of contacts and expertise to help clients achieve their goals with top results and minimum headache. To do that successfully means putting in loads of work on a daily basis. In this guide, we explain what a real estate agent does and dive deep into the ways they improve the home sale process for homeowners and buyers.

What does a real estate agent do?

A real estate agent handles a nearly countless number of tasks. And many happen behind the scenes and often go unnoticed by the client. Yet, each tiny detail can impact your property’s odds of selling, and the sales price; or, in the case of a buyer, their odds of getting the property they want at the best price.

Although there are several different types of real estate agents, most people will deal with one of two main categories of agents: listing agents (also known as sellers’ agents) and buyer’s agents.

Sellers sometimes focus on things that buyers couldn’t care less about. We’re really trying to get that seller to turn the lens and look at their property through buyers’ eyes.
  • Michael Rolewicz
    Michael Rolewicz Real Estate Agent
    Michael Rolewicz
    Michael Rolewicz Real Estate Agent at 904 Home Guide Team | eXp Realty, LLC
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    • Years of Experience 6
    • Transactions 223
    • Average Price Point $769k
    • Single Family Homes 159

What does a listing agent do?

Listing agents will be in your corner as a homeowner who wants to sell your house. These agents help you attract interested buyers, push the best aspects of your house out in the open, and close the deal. Throughout the process, the best real estate listing agents will go above and beyond to simplify the entire home-selling experience for you. Here are a few important things listing agents do for you as a home seller:

Setting the price right

Landing on the right list price may be harder — and more critical — than you realize. You need to strike a price that’s high enough to bring in profit but not so high that your house turns off potential buyers and sits on the market. Real estate agents spend hours digging into the local market, learning about your home’s features, looking at historical data, and gathering insights to determine the perfect price point for your home.

An important way real estate agents pin down pricing is through a ​​comparative market analysis (CMA). These are in-depth reports that agents compile after they analyze a home’s local market, age, features, size, and other factors. The final report often ends up being up to 50 pages and uses wide-ranging data to determine a house’s value.

Prepping the house for a sale

Preparing your house for a sale requires expertise and takes time. Not only do you need to identify any repairs or upgrades that are necessary for a sale, you also have to figure out which of those repair jobs are worth taking on. After all, if you focus on the wrong repair projects, it can end up costing you more time and money than it’s worth. This is another area where real estate agents shine.

Listing agents take time to research what upgrades will bring in the most ROI for a seller. They also have a rolodex of contacts that they call on to complete projects, so you spend less time tracking down and juggling vendors.

“We’ve got a preferred list of vendors, so we’re coordinating people to get quotes,” says Michael Rolewicz, a top real estate agent in the Jacksonville, Florida, area. “We’re an introduction to other people and a neighborhood resource for those folks.”

Marketing and attracting buyers

Real estate agents also use marketing to grab a buyer’s attention, display the best features of your house in the best light possible, and inspire potential buyers to check out your home.

“Sellers sometimes focus on things that buyers couldn’t care less about,” notes Rolewicz. “We’re really trying to get that seller to turn the lens and look at their property through buyers’ eyes.”

Here are a few important ways real estate agents work to bring in buyers:

  • Marketing: For most agents, real estate marketing includes listing your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but it also means using multiple tools to get the word out about your sale. That often includes everything from social media campaigns and answering emails to creating video walkthroughs, posting notices at events, and more.
  • Staging: Home staging is a critical process real estate agents help you handle. In fact, a 2021 NAR report found 82% of buyers’ agents say home staging makes it easier for buyers to picture the house as a future home. During staging, your agent or a professional stager will work to arrange your home in a way that showcases its best features and helps potential buyers picture themselves living in your property.
  • Photos: If your home’s listing doesn’t include outstanding, pro-level photographs, you could easily turn away potential buyers. Real estate agents will likely help find a professional photographer to help draw in buyers.

Evaluating offers and negotiating

Real estate agents are experienced negotiators who advocate for their clients’ interests. However, as Rolewicz explains, real estate agents will also fight to get you a better deal in areas that reach far beyond your house’s closing price.

“It depends on the seller’s needs,” says Rolewicz. “ We’re finding out when we’re in the listing consult, what does Mr. or Mrs. Seller want? It’s not only price. It could be timing, or whether you want to sell it first, or post occupancy.”

Rolewicz says real estate agents take time to assess the seller’s priorities and then they negotiate to secure the best deal possible. Here are a few things beyond your final selling price that real estate agents may end up fighting for on your behalf:

More ways listing agents add value

Listing agents also hand clients even more, sometimes less tangible, support. For instance, they may help coach a buyer through the process, work to calm nerves, or simply stand in your corner. Overall, agents are experts in anticipating the seller’s needs and smoothing out a home selling process that may feel overwhelming otherwise.

What do buyer’s agents do?

If you’re trying to buy a house, an agent can also save you time, money, and frustration. Buyer’s agents work on the buyer’s behalf and help you find the right house, prepare for a purchase, weigh housing details, and seal the deal. Here are some of the most important things that buyer’s agents do for home purchasers:

Helping you find the perfect house

Buyers agents are plugged into a network of fellow real estate agents and industry leaders. That means they have a leg up when it comes time to find that perfect house for you. In addition to knowing what to look for within the current market, buyers agents also will often lean on connections who will tip them off to the top housing deals.

“We might be able to turn them on to something they can pounce on before it even hits the market,” says Rolewicz. “It all comes down to having relationships with those listing agents.”

With a combination of insider info, market research, and buying know-how, buyer’s agents take the time to listen to your preferences and swoop in on your perfect house before it’s snatched off the market.

Crafting a strong offer

It can be difficult to know how much to offer on a house when you’re buying. And this is another instance where buyer’s agents are invaluable. Buyer’s agents submerge themselves in housing research, so they know exactly what goes into every home’s value. That means they understand how much the house should be worth, they can identify ways to add value to the home, and they can spot those details that may end up denting your home’s value in the future.

They’re also well-versed in the local market, as well as the strategies each seller is using as they list their home. With all of that knowledge on hand, you can depend on your buyer’s agent to make a strong offer that’s built on an insider’s perspective.

Coaching you through the transaction and closing

The final stages of any home transaction can be chaotic. This phase involves the inspection, appraisals, loan approvals, and preparing for the closing. These are the critical details that often go overlooked by the client, but they can have costly or deal-killing consequences if they aren’t done exactly right. Simply put, real estate agents help cut through the red tape, handle paperwork, and carry you across the finish line.

More ways buyer’s agents add value

Just like listing agents, buyer’s agents add perks that reach far past their typical job duties. For instance, they’ll often help frazzled buyers remember all of the important next steps after a sale goes through. That might include reminding the buyer when to turn on utilities, when garbage day is, what companies to contact for utility support, and even what hotspots are located where. Overall, buyer’s agents have worked with multiple home buyers from all types of backgrounds, so they’re usually prepared to anticipate your needs and lend a helping hand at all stages of the buying process.

The benefits of a top agent and where to find one

It may be easy to underestimate the vital tasks a real estate agent does in order to ensure a deal goes smoothly. When you partner with an agent, you benefit from deep insider knowledge — expertise that can save you money, help you avoid stress, and keep you from making a costly mistake.

What’s more, you can end up pocketing a much higher return once the sale is final. According to data from NAR, agent-assisted home sales bring in a median of nearly 20% more money than houses homeowners try to sell on their own. On top of that, internal research has found top real estate agents can pull in prices that are up to 10% above the average real estate agent’s home sale price.

And finding the best real estate agents for your transaction may be easier than you think. Try out HomeLight’s agent search tool to find a real estate agent who has a history of closing successful deals in your area. The tool will sift through your area’s home sales and locate agents who have a proven record for selling fast and for more money.

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Cash in on your real estate agent’s high value

Real estate agents add high value to home sales, whether you’re buying or selling a home. They navigate the challenges of the real estate world for you and take on countless tasks–any of which could end up costing you a lot of money if they’re overlooked or half-baked. But with all the hard work real estate agents do backing your next transaction, you should have everything it takes to enter any new deal with confidence.

Header Image Source: (Rowan Heuval / Unsplash)