The pros and cons of using a realtor

It used to be thought that the internet would spell the end of the realtor, with homeowners listing their homes online and buyers browsing listings from the comfort of their home. Decades later and this prediction clearly hasn’t come true, with realtors still being extremely popular among both home buyers and sellers.

Let’s take a look at what a real estate agent is and whether you actually need to use one if you’re buying or selling a home. 

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents serve as your representative during a real estate transaction.
  • Using a realtor as a buyer will help you focus your search, determine the right offer, and overall make the buying process go smoothly.
  • Using a realtor as a seller will give you access to a wider range of potential buyers, and ensure you’re selling at the right price.

What is a realtor?

Technically, in Canada, only a real estate agent licensed with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) can call themselves a Realtor. That’s why you’ll often see the word realtor stylized “REALTOR®”, especially on the CREA’s site. Other real estate professionals who are licensed provincially refer to themselves as real estate agents. Either way, both serve the same function, offering you the professional service of helping you to buy or sell your home.

What does a real estate agent do?

The key functions of a real estate agent include doing market research, presenting you with information, accepting and submitting offers, negotiating, paperwork, and overall serving as your representative during a real estate transaction. A real estate agent’s job is to work in your best interest to help you buy the home you want, or get the right price for a home you’re selling. 

Do I need to use a realtor?

Technically, there’s no obligation to use a realtor, whether you’re buying or selling a home. Buying a home without a realtor is called a “private sale” which means you’ll be representing yourself during the transaction. 

While it’s still far more common to use a realtor, there are currently a number of online businesses which aim to help buyers and sellers connect without a middleman. If you’re a self-described real estate expert you might feel confident enough in conducting a real estate transaction yourself, in which case you’ve probably already made up your mind and aren’t reading this article. 

If you’re curious about potentially buying or selling a home without the help of a real estate agent, the bottom line is: it’s possible, but it’ll be more work, and you’d better be sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t leave money on the table or lose out on an opportunity. Let’s go over some of the reasons that it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a realtor during your real estate transaction.

Reasons to use a realtor to buy a home:

While it’s possible nowadays to purchase a house on your own using one of a few popular home listing sites to browse properties, and submit your own offer, here are a few reasons you might find it worthwhile to enlist the help of a realtor to help you purchase a home:

Expertise: Unless you’re deeply involved in the real estate market yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll have more knowledge on the market than your realtor. Your realtor can provide you with important counsel during a time when emotions can run high, and will help you formulate the right offer for a home, as well as give you insight on the fair value of homes you’re looking at. In a hot real estate market with bidding-wars and volatile fluctuations in the market, it’s likely you’ll want to run it by a knowledgeable third-party before pulling the trigger on the biggest purchase of your life.

Access to listings: While a number of sites claim to provide access to active listings that rival that of a realtors database, the truth is, access to MLS listings is hotly guarded. At the very least, your realtor will provide you with a curated list of homes that fit your criteria, enabling you to focus your search on the homes with the highest chance of being right for you.

Paperwork: Purchasing real estate can be a detailed process, with large money transfers to be made, and documents to be signed. While you’ll inevitably end up having to deal with your lender, your bank, and a real estate lawyer, having a realtor to take care of some of the paperwork and direct you in the steps to the purchase can be convenient.

Buying a home in another city: If you’re planning on buying a home in a city or even a province where you aren’t currently located, a realtor will most likely be a necessity as you need someone to physically represent you during the transaction and of course receive physical access to the house. A realtor can attend showings for you, deal with the seller party, and will invariably have a better understanding of the local market than you, making a realtor invaluable when purchasing real estate in an area you aren’t intimately familiar with or currently located.

Reasons to use a realtor to sell your home:

In order to sell your home without the help of a real estate agent, you’ll need to list your home in a place where potential buyers will see it. Some sites nowadays attempt to recreate the network of a selling agent, and provide you with recently sold listings to help you determine a fair value for your home, but ultimately this service still falls short of having a dedicated realtor in your corner during the sale of your home.

Marketing: Realtors have access to a network of other realtors, and clients, with many realtors cultivating an online presence that helps them to market their services and homes they’re helping to sell. Enlisting the help of a selling agent will relieve you of the important stage of marketing your home to potential buyers, getting the listing seen by as many searching parties as possible.

Paperwork: Selling a home can come with a significant amount of administrative work, dealing with the title, reviewing offers, and staying in contact with the buyers agent. If you aren’t familiar with the process, having a realtor help you sell your home can save you a lot of headache.

Expertise: Canadians have more of their net-worth tied into their home than ever, and when you’re selling an asset which makes up a massive chunk of your net-worth you want to make sure you’re getting a fair price. A selling agent will help you to determine the best strategy for selling your home within your timeline, helping you to get the maximum value out of the sale.

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