It's not just a question of negotiating the best price. It's about having the opportunity to purchase the right home, at all.
Here's a fact: good houses, priced well, sell fast – sometimes before they ever hit the market. Those that do make it onto the market often go for over asking. If you want to have the best shot at snagging the home of your dreams, you simply must have an agent working for you.
The Value of Networks
In the first place, agents have access to information that you don’t – and I’m not just talking about the MLS (multiple listing service, for those of you
really new to the world of real estate). They have
Those familiar with the business world know the value of networks. Even in this day and age of the Internet, word-of-mouth, person-to-person networking is incredibly powerful. Even agents with small brokerages are connected to other agents at other brokerages and, believe me, they talk to one another.
When you think about it, this just makes sense. Real estate agents are in business to sell houses. The surest way for one to get another's attention is to say, “
I have a client who is looking for ----.” An agent knows immediately whether or not a listing in -
or about to be in - their portfolio matches or comes close to that description.
Have you ever noticed a "coming soon" sign that immediately gets replaced with a "contract pending" sign? A lot of homes are sold without ever really going on the market.
Your Search is Likely to be Too Little Too Late
You can search for a house in spare minutes snatched from the thousand other things you have to do daily.
Real estate agents search for houses almost all of the time. Every day, throughout the day. It's our job to know what's available.
We use Internet resources, but it doesn't stop there.
We scour the “hot sheets,” new listings, and real estate email lists. We talk to our colleagues. I literally drive neighborhoods looking for opportunities.
So, sure, you can surf through Zillow or Realtor.com. But by the time you see a really good listing, chances are it’s already gone.
Don't Forget the Future
Knowledge of neighborhoods, trends, and market changes is also something that a good agent brings to the buying process. Will a property hold its value?
Life happens. Unexpected job transfers and opportunities occur. Relationships form and dissolve. So, even if your goal is to find the home that you’ll live in forever, you nevertheless need to think about resale.
You need to know a neighborhood's history and which way it's trending. Your agent can supply that information. In the same vein, particularly if you're new to the area, your agent can fill you in on the situation with respect to local amenities like schools, shopping, services, and the like.
Potential is Important in a Purchasing Decision
Another thing to think about is potential, as opposed to current, condition. As I noted in last month's
Harmonious Home Adventures
(which you can find
, in case you missed it), sales of existing homes are on the rise. Just because a house has some “experience” and doesn’t currently fit the image in your head doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be the home of your dreams.
An exterior refresh can make worlds of difference, like in the house, below: