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Do you need a real estate agent to buy a home

The answer for both buyers and sellers is more complicated than a simple yes or no. These five questions can help you sort out the decision.

Buying a home (and selling one) is a big decision that can have a financial impact for years, if not decades. There are a lot of details and plenty of paperwork, which is why most homebuyers — about 87 percent — opt to use a real estate agent or broker. But others decide to put their own For Sale sign in the yard and go it alone. Before you answer the question “Do I need a Realtor?” consider these factors.

What will a real estate agent do, and what would I have to do on my own?

For sellers, agents help determine a realistic listing price, prepare and stage the home, create the property listing, facilitate negotiations and assist with the closing process. If you’re pressed for time or feel uncertain about doing any of these things, then a DIY for sale route may not be for you. A buyer’s agent, meanwhile, will search out homes according to desired characteristics (including price range, neighborhood and condition), help narrow a search, submit competitive bids, advocate for the buyer’s interest throughout the negotiation, and aid in the inspection and closing processes. Again, this is something you can do yourself, but it takes time and you’ll need to immerse yourself in the specifics of the process.

How are agents paid?

A seller’s agent is paid in one of several ways, including a flat fee (that may include fewer services) or a percentage of the final sales price (typically around 5–6 percent). When a buyer is also working with an agent, the fee is divided between both agents.

Will I save money if I don’t use an agent?

Maybe. Sellers who represent themselves will, of course, save a commission (although they’ll still usually have to pay a fee to the buyer’s agent). And buyers who are working without an agent may be able to negotiate extra money off of the sales price, since they’re saving the sellers a commission. However, if you find negotiating intimidating or if you lack detailed knowledge of the local market, working alone could end up costing you. You might skip an agent to save 3 percent only to end up selling your house for less than it’s worth.

Why do people choose to DIY a home transaction?

There’s a level of control that many people desire. They can insist on a certain sales or purchase price, but that can be a decision that’s for better or worse. There’s also the chance to provide connection between potential buyers and the home and neighborhood during open houses and showings, which you’ll be organizing on your own.

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