Another take on why you SHOULD use a real estate agent, even if you don't want to...
I know it's a common opinion, that people don't NEED an agent anymore, in these days of Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, etc. Aside from the usual reasons, like those sites being chronically innaccurate, causing valuation problems, and allowing anyone to modify or claim any listing as their own, there are many more subtle and important reasons to have an agent on your side, working for YOU to get the deal done. The funny thing is, I didn't get into real estate for the reasons I'll discuss in this post, but they are at the top of the list of reasons why I put up with what can be a frustrating, uncertain, and exhausting profession at times.
The whole struggle of convincing people about the importance of agency has been on my mind a lot lately because of a negotiation I was recently in with a buyer client. Their home search criteria is pretty wide-ranging, so we'd been looking for a while. I stretched the geographic boundaries A LOT, which allowed me to come across one of those rare gems that had notes of 'BRING ALL OFFERS!' on the listing. It met so many requirements on the must-have list, and we threw our efforts at getting a quick showing scheduled, which meant the agent was going to leave us in the hands of the seller for the showing. I've experienced seller-met showings before, and most of the time they just open the door for the buyer agent, then smile and offer to answer any questions later, and off they go to walk the dog or whatever. This time, however, he met me as I pulled up, and started asking a list of questions about me and my buyers. Odd, but I answered honestly and without giving specifics, then my buyers showed up, he left, and we did our showing. At the end, though, he came back. He offered his number to my buyers, should they want to come back again - they offered their number as well. I managed to get us out of the door after a bit, but by then it was too late. Over the next few days, the seller continued to contact my buyers, harassing them and demanding they deal with him and not use agents anymore. Ultimately, despite efforts by both agents to get the seller to back down and negotiate using the offer on the table, my buyers decided to walk away because he had made them so uncomfortable. They loved the home, and still do, but having the barrier between the buying and selling parties broken by the seller allowed for emotions to spill over into the transaction. I know that looking back I should have been more adamant about the buyers not chatting with the seller, but it's hard to draw a hard line in the sand when you are in that person's home. Buying and selling a home IS a very emotional process, and very understandably so - but think about all the situations in your life in which you may have acted out of character or impulsively due to your emotions coloring your view. The seller in this situation is likely a lovely person to his friends and family, he owns a nice home that would be a great fit for my buyers, but he felt he was better at sealing the deal than a professional. The end result is that they walked away because he made them so uncomfortable, and he's still on the market after 2+ years. If you are thinking of buying or selling, a good agent will be a buffer between you and the other side of the transaction, and facilitate two parties BOTH getting what they want out of a deal. When working with buyers, I see them try to put themselves into a home, to visualize how they would live there, and how their personalities would flourish in the space. A seller, on the other hand, wants someone to appreciate what they have done to present the home, and give them the best return on the investment so they can move on to the next phase of their life. These are two VERY different goals, and it makes sense that the people on each side might not easily see the perspective of the other. A good agent, though, will represent their client's position and remove the possibility for emotional complications to sour even the most rock-solid transactions.
Fellow agents, do you have any stories like this to share? If you have been a client to an agent that went above and beyond, comment on that as well!