If you look hard enough, you can find almost anything on the internet. When it comes to buying, selling, or renting, there are plenty of websites where you can connect directly with buyers, tenants, landlords, and homes for sale.
Why should you bother finding a real estate agent when you have Google?
Real estate scams are a thing, particularly for rentals. The FTC provides information on their site for how to recognize a scam, and one way you can spare yourself the trouble is to find an agent you trust who will sift through the market for you. That agent will be sifting through properties listed with agents.
Properties listed with an agent, both to buy or rent, will have a number of things going for them. First, it is in the best interest of the listing agent to make sure that the landlord actually owns the property he or she is listing. Second, the listing agent also wants to get the property rented or sold, so they will do their best to make the property attractive, accessible, and well priced. Third, they will make sure the money and paperwork goes to the right people in a timely fashion.
For sellers and landlords, working with a realtor also provides the safety and comfort that someone prescreened the folk who will be trooping through your home. Your realtor will know which realtors have shown your house, and will have talked personally to any buyers or tenants without agents who want to see the place.
Besides the practical reasons to do good work, realtors have a fiduciary duty to look after the interests of their clients.
The internet provides knowledge and very general information. But how do you apply the information, or even determine if it is reliable?
According to Zillow, “Nationwide, Zestimates are currently within 5% of the final sale price 52.9% of the time,” and “Nationally, Zestimates are currently within 20% of the final sale price 85.8% of the time.”
These percentages turn into pretty significant numbers when you’re dealing with houses. It’s easy to set a price too high, or too low, and lose a great deal of money. You could even lose the sale entirely because the price is far higher than the actual appraisal by the lender.
Why does Zestimate have such a huge margin of error?
Zillow can’t walk into a house and get the feel for it’s actual condition and layout. What about how the light moves through the house? Or, how the light moves through the other houses in the neighborhood, or the other houses in the region that have the particular features this particular buyer is looking for?
A good realtor can help you take into account the unquantifiable factors of a home.
Price is only one part of buying or selling a house. Home inspectors, contractors, title companies and the like, all provide services essential to a transaction. Services that absolutely must be done well because they have far reaching ramifications. A good realtor will have good people to recommend to you.
When working with a realtor to sell a house, you’re not just relying on their knowledge to set the price and make the best repairs, you’re tapping into their network of human beings who might want to buy or know someone who might want to buy your property. And nobody networks like a realtor.
When working with a realtor to buy a house, you’re tapping into their resources and knowledge of the area, the market, and the professionals. They also have direct access to the most up to date information about the market, and are happy to spend time tracking down the best options for you. You should still do your homework on schools and crime rates, because a realtor can’t make those choices for you–but a good realtor is absolutely invaluable.