Do I Really Need a Realtor?

October 11, 2019

Things have really changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid, we didn’t have cell phones, internet, computers, etc. With all the advancements and technology we have now, you might wonder do I really need a realtor? There’s Zillow with their Zestimate giving you the estimated value of your home. You can put your own for sale sign up, right?

If you’ve never tried to be a for sale by owner, you might be surprised at how hard the process really is. Before becoming a realtor, I thought the same way. I decided to go the FSBO route. I made up flyers, bought a sign at the local Walmart, advertised my home on the internet, and waited. But no one came. I tried it for a few months before I gave up and called a realtor who quickly had professional photos made up, listed my home on the MLS, worked her realtor magic, and BAM! My home was sold quickly.

What did the realtor have or do that I didn’t? First, the realtor was a local market expert. She studied the market daily and used comparison sales from my area to help me accurately price my home. She visited my home and knew what condition it was in. Unlike a Zestimate, which uses an algorithm to determine the price, she actually entered my home, talked to me about the condition, and knew what was selling and for how much in my area.

My realtor knew that professional pictures sell homes. The ones I took on my cell phone didn’t even compare. The professional pictures were done at the right time of day for optimal lighting conditions and show the best parts of each room.

She marketed my home to a more widespread audience than I could. I thought putting a sign in the yard was enough. Let’s think about that though. I was the last house on my dead end street. Putting the sign up did draw more traffic, but how many cars driving by are actually looking for a home? I bet that percentage isn’t very high. My realtor put my home on the MLS, a tool exclusive to realtors to share listings with one another. She included a descriptive narrative explaining all the details of the age, condition and best features.

My realtor did the legwork. She filled out all the documents required by the state to keep the transaction legal. She worked with the buyer’s agent and understood the various means of financing a home and what my home was eligible for. That’s right, not all homes are eligible for every kind of financing. It’s important to know what the guidelines are for each financing option available.

Let’s say you’re a buyer, can you save money by representing yourself on a transaction or finding the home you like and just calling the realtor who has it listed? The short answer to that is no. The seller’s agent represents…the seller. Not you. They’re paid and legally bound to represent the seller’s best interests, not yours. Before the house is even listed, the seller and their agent have determined the amount of commission to be paid at the closing of the home. It doesn’t change just because the buyer has decided not to utilize the service of a buyer’s agent. Instead, the full commission goes to…guess who? The seller’s agent. And whose interest is the seller’s agent paid and legally bound to look out for? The seller’s! In reality, you’re purchasing a home unrepresented, and there is no savings by representing yourself. In many states, representing both parties (called “dual agency”) is illegal. In theory, when an agent represents both parties, her task is to merely “facilitate” the transaction. In fact, there is no transaction in which both the buyer’s and the seller’s interests can be represented fully and without conflict.

When buying a home, your agent is your biggest resource. Again, their local expertise is what’s most important to you. They are knowledgeable of your real estate market. Your realtor will have a vast pool of contacts to draw from including but not limited to home inspectors, appraisers, lenders, cleaning people, painters, handymen, etc. to aid with whatever needs arise during and after your sale.

Before hiring a realtor, do your research. Ask your family or friends who they would refer. What do others think about them? Look at the realtor’s reviews on Zillow. Don’t be afraid to be up front when you make the call to a realtor about what you’re looking for. It will aid the realtor in meeting and exceeding your expectations. And, of course, call Southland Realtors! We are your local experts!

Gail is an affiliate broker with Southland Realtors. She is always available for new clients! Call or text at (865) 805-3054 or email