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Why use a Realtor and what are the benefits?

Smiling couple holds paperwork and shakes hands with a real estate agent
Ridofranz/Getty Images
Smiling couple holds paperwork and shakes hands with a real estate agent
Ridofranz/Getty Images

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If you’re thinking of selling your home, you might be wondering whether you really need to work with a real estate agent. After all, it’s tempting to avoid paying more than you have to, especially in this economy — why pay a Realtor’s commission on top of all the other closing costs? But real estate deals are complex and involve large amounts of money, and there are many good reasons to have an expert on your side. Hiring a Realtor can be well worth the extra cost.

“Many people think that a real estate agent turns the key, opens the door and collects a big, fat commission check eight to 10 weeks later — nothing could be further from the truth,” says Michael Shapot, a Realtor with Keller Williams in New York City. “A real estate agent is a problem solver and logistics coordinator. We provide emotional support and ensure that the process runs smoothly. We help all the parties play nicely enough in the sandbox to guarantee that a sale ensues.”

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of using a real estate agent rather than going it alone.

Agents can get you a better deal

First and foremost, working with an agent when selling your home is likely to land you a higher selling price, and a more favorable deal.

According to a 2021 report from the National Association of Realtors, the typical for sale by owner (FSBO) home sold for $260,000 compared to $318,000 for agent-assisted home sales. That’s $58,000 more in the pockets of sellers using an agent — more than enough to cover the cost of commissions and still have a healthy profit.

It’s not just agents who recommend using agents. Shaun Martin of We Buy Houses in Denver, a home-buying company, agrees that having a Realtor on your team makes sense. “An experienced Realtor will be able to help you determine the right asking price for your home based on recent sales of similar homes in your area,” he says.

Your home’s listing will get broader exposure

“A Realtor will be able to effectively market your home to potential buyers,” says Martin. “This includes creating eye-catching listing descriptions, taking professional photos and using the latest technology to market your home online.”

An agent will also make sure your home is added to the local MLS, or multiple listing service, which other agents use to help find listings that match their clients’ needs. This means many more people will see your listing — and more exposure means more people who might want to buy it. With a wider pool of house hunters to see it, your home has a better chance of getting an offer, or even generating a bidding war to really maximize the sale price.

You gain access to a wide professional network

On a similar note, Realtors typically have a large professional network that they can leverage during the home-selling process. Their access to a broad range of real estate pros can help connect you with a home-staging company, landscapers, real estate attorneys and many others who can help you on your selling journey. A trusted agent’s recommendation can save you the time and effort of having to research it all yourself.

Agents are objective

Selling your home can be an emotional experience. You likely have a lot of memories there, and it’s common to get sentimental. It can be hard for a seller to treat the place they raised their family as simply a product that’s for sale to the highest bidder — but it’s easy for a Realtor. An agent is an objective third party who can look at your home without the years of memories and emotional attachment you’ve built. That lets them provide valuable advice and guidance to get you the best price possible.

You’ll have a faster and more efficient closing

An experienced agent can also save you valuable time. The closing process can be lengthy and complicated, with a lot of back-and-forth and a lot of waiting. And if you’re going the FSBO route, you’re responsible for everything yourself, from reviewing offers to negotiations to scheduling, and more.

Adding all of those responsibilities to your own plate while you’re also dealing with a day job, and likely trying to figure out buying a new home as well, can be overwhelming. When you have an agent, it’s literally their job to handle these things for you.

“There is a lot of paperwork involved in selling a home, and it can be very confusing for those who are not familiar with the process,” says Martin. “A Realtor will be able to handle all of the paperwork for you and make sure that everything is in order. This will help to make the selling process go much more smoothly.”

That’s why it’s so important to find an agent you click with: Interview several candidates before hiring one, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The better the agent understands your needs, the better the chance that those needs will be met.

They negotiate on your behalf and mitigate risk

A Realtor works on your behalf, using their professional knowledge and skills to help you land the best price for your home. They can also advise you on surprises that might arise or anything else that could throw a wrench into the sale.

“A real estate agent provides a client with peace of mind that a deal will make it to the closing table — at the best price, with the greatest likelihood of an on-time closing and with the least amount of stress,” says Shapot. Ultimately, he says, a big part of an agent’s function is to address three key fears that every seller experiences: “fear of missing out (FOMO), fear of making a mistake and fear of being taken advantage of.”

Bottom line

While a Realtor isn’t strictly necessary when selling your home, hiring one is usually well worth it. Your home is likely your most valuable asset, after all, and a professional agent helps you make the most of that investment when it comes time to sell, ensuring that the transaction goes smoothly and providing valuable peace of mind.

Written by
TJ Porter
Contributing writer
TJ Porter is a contributing writer for Bankrate. TJ writes about a range of subjects, from budgeting tips to bank account reviews.
Edited by
Senior real estate editor