We’ve all heard it before: “I sold my house without an agent and it turned out great.” Or, “It’s so much cheaper to skip the realtor and just do it on your own.” Or even, “I don’t understand the point of using an agent.”
These may seem like valid views, especially if you are inexperienced in the arena of real estate. Like many complex systems in our world, it’s easy to make assumptions based on what we see on the surface and what we hear from others in casual conversation. The truth is, the real estate industry is as layered, nuanced, and complex as they come. So, in an effort to save you from the trauma and loss of value that you may be risking by going it alone, let’s dissect ten common myths about hiring a licensed real estate agent.
Myth #1: I’ll save money if I don’t hire an agent
The most common reason to skip using an agent is the belief that you’ll save money by not having to pay commissions. After all, isn’t your savings or earnings one of the top priorities when buying or selling? You may be surprised to learn that most of the time, you will come out of a transaction with more money in hand––often, much more––when you use an experienced real estate agent. Buyers do not pay commissions; those are paid by sellers, who pay the commissions to their listing broker, who then distributes a portion to the broker that brought the buyers to the table. There is a tremendous amount of value that can be added to a property when it has been properly analyzed, priced, and prepared for the market by an experienced listing agent. Niche Homes excels in high-grade market preparation called The Niche Homes Way, which will maximize the value of your home.
Myth #2: It’s easier to skip the middleman and do it myself
In addition to increased value, licensed realtors are crucial to a transaction in their ability to negotiate offers, concessions, and terms. A real estate transaction is often a long and bumpy road, full of surprises, hiccups, and occasional catastrophes. As your trained and seasoned advocates, agents make sure that your transaction is fair and honest. They put out fires and temper flare ups, while ensuring that you are not leaving money on the table unnecessarily.
When you are in the market to buy a home, an experienced agent will help you stay informed about the spectrum of market value, and can recommend offers that fit within these parameters. Agents are also able to recognize when a home is overpriced.
Once under contract, there can be any number of issues that arise, particularly with home inspection reports. Your agent will make sure that you have ordered all the necessary inspections, even some you may not have considered, like radon, mold, and the sewer line. Realtors will know how much to negotiate in concessions and in what form, such as asking the owner to fix the problem or for a credit toward the repair. Niche Homes has a comprehensive list of trustworthy vendors and can provide you with quotes––via licensed professionals––for repairs or replacements.
When listing a home, a well-planned pricing strategy is of utmost importance. Never underestimate what a poorly priced listing will result in: languishing on the market, being overlooked or ignored by qualified buyers, drawing skepticism or distrust, and worst of all, suffering from multiple price reductions.
Myth #3: Boutique agencies will cost me more than other brokerages
There is no set commission for any realtor or brokerage, and no difference between a boutique brokerage and a large, high-volume brokerage when it comes to commission structure. The benefit of choosing a boutique brokerage is that we have the ability to make sure our clients’ needs are attended to and that no one gets lost in the shuffle. We choose quality over quantity, and we’d rather give our very best to a handful of clients than deliver subpar results to dozens. We believe that value lies in the quality of relationships, the positivity of transactions, and making a difference for good rather than in quotas and paychecks. At Niche Homes, our personal relationships are the beating heart of our brokerage.
Myth #4: Discount brokerages like Homie are a good value
Speaking of high-volume vs boutique brokerages, discount and online-only brokerages are more or less on the same conveyor belt of process taking precedence over human connection. These companies more often than not lack the time and resources to be familiar with you, your situation, your needs, your preferences, your timeline, and the hundreds of nuances of your situation. They generally do not develop rapport with the agent on the other side, which is critical to a smooth and positive transaction. The goal is often to make a sale as quickly as possible, with as little interfacing as possible…standards that are rarely beneficial to the client. At Niche Homes, we have your back. Our clients are our top priority, and we put our all into ensuring the most favorable outcome no matter how much work it takes to get there.
Myth #5: Realtors are only looking for a commission and don’t have my best interests in mind
Though this can sometimes be the case with the aforementioned scenarios, most real estate agents have the best intentions. We understand how easily a relationship or a transaction can sour, and how important it is to prevent that from happening. Good agents will make large sacrifices to make their clients happy, knowing that a positive experience for the client is also a positive experience for the agent. At Niche Homes, when we work with clients, we want what is best for them and will do what it takes to get there, even if it takes extra time!
The Realtor’s Code of Ethics is a detailed collection of ethical duties by which every Realtor must abide. We follow this strict standard of conduct for the safety of our clients, ourselves, and those we transact with, and we hold ourselves accountable if one of these principles has not been properly upheld. Adhering to this Code of Ethics, Niche Homes has added to that a statement which helps our clients understand how our role fits with their goals: You control the decisions, and we control the process. The decisions you make in real estate are ultimately yours. Our job is to educate, inform, guide, assist, and protect. We will never make a decision for you or put you under any kind of duress. We are on your side!
Myth #6: I have access to listings online, so I don’t need help searching
We are so fortunate to live in a time with access to almost anything on the internet! What many don’t know is that real estate information the general public has access to (think Redfin, Realtor.com, etc) is not as current or accurate as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which only licensed agents have access to. We are able to get updates on new listings or price changes immediately and can see properties that may not show up on a regular internet search. If you’ve been searching on your own, you may be surprised at how many properties you were missing when you start working with an agent!
Myth #7: I can tour properties myself
True, there are open houses for many, but not all, listings. Those limited events usually happen during a single two to three hour window and if you miss it, tough. While open houses are a good way to get a glimpse of a home, it can be difficult to really picture yourself in the home and to consider the many checkpoints that a private tour can offer. And for that, you must have an agent. Most buyers need to tour a home more than once before making a big decision. Consider the efficiency of touring multiple homes in one day, something that would not be possible taking the open-house route. Your agent will share their hard-earned wisdom and experience as you tour homes and discuss the many facets of property inspection, purchase, and ownership.
Myth #8: I know someone who wants to buy my house, so I don’t need to list it
Big mistake!! If you sell directly to a friend, neighbor, or family member, you are almost certainly selling it for much less than it is worth. A Realtor has the skills, knowledge base, and tools to give you an accurate valuation of your home. No matter what the interested buyer party tells you they think your home is worth, they are likely wrong…even if it is more than you would have priced it. Furthermore, when you have buyers competing for your home, you will get fair market value nearly every time. The real estate market is a powerful entity and when your home is properly listed and represented, it should provide you with a fair market value sale—sometimes even higher. Do not make the mistake of choosing the “easy path” of skipping the listing process and selling it yourself, unless you enjoy carrying large burdens and losing money. Not to mention the risk of impacting your relationships through the arduous transaction process.
Myth #9: I’m an attorney/my partner is an attorney so I can easily manage the transaction myself
We in the real estate profession are big fans of attorneys. We could not do our job if we didn’t have excellent attorneys to rely on. We’re grateful for their expertise and meticulous methods that provide a safety net in a world of legal contracts and transactions. However, unless you (or your partner), as an attorney, have ventured deep into the trenches of the singular and complex world of real estate, there are patterns, expectations, and rules written and unwritten that create a matrix which an outsider would likely have a difficult time navigating. There is much to be said for a Realtor who has been there before, who has seen it before, and who has solved that type of problem before. The experience of agents and brokers that began with extensive and ongoing training and continues with each transaction adding to a wealth of real estate wisdom is invaluable. This is why we do what we do, so that we can draw from our training and experiences to help our clients navigate through the challenges of a very complex industry.
Myth #10: I don’t see the point of market preparation and staging
Yes, your home will likely sell without market prep. But home selling lies on a vast spectral grid of time and money (and ease), so where you want to be on that grid depends much on what you do to get there. Never underestimate the power of presentation! Nowadays, 90% of home buyers search online before hiring and while working with a Realtor. Your home’s online presence underscores the adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” One ill-advised alma mater fleece blanket pinned to the bedroom wall can knock your property promptly off someone’s dream home list. All joking aside, the online presence of your home is critical to garnering interest and movement. Home stagers know how to create not just a neutral, stylish, and inviting aesthetic for showings, they make a point to ensure that the photos will show well online, optimizing spaces and colors and utilizing decor to draw in browsers. In person, the details that may not be apparent in photos are incredibly important. Poor paint jobs, dirty cabinets, old nail holes, and loose fixtures can send a strong message to consumers: this home is full of deferred maintenance. As part of the Niche Homes Way, our design specialists will prepare a detailed and comprehensive list that includes not only actions for the stagers to take, but also a recommended list for the homeowner of items to touch up, fix, swap out, upgrade, etc. In addition to a thorough designer’s assessment, we offer free housecleaning and window washing, which no listed home should be without. If your home’s landscaping needs some TLC, we have an in-house landscape designer who can assist in optimizing your landscaping as an incredibly effective tool for elevating curb appeal. We utilize the industry’s best photographers to create top of the line images (including videos, 3-D matterport tours, and even aerial drone images!) at no cost to the sellers. And to top it all off, we implement extensive networking and marketing strategies to ensure your listing is top of mind for buyers and browsers alike! If a consumer is comparing two homes of the same size and price, they will choose the home that is more visually appealing. And this could mean thousands more dollars in your pocket and a lot less time on the market.
Hilary McDonough is a Realtor specializing in Highland Park, Millcreek and other Salt Lake neighborhoods. Contact her if you are interested in buying or selling a home.