There aren’t many professions where people with little experience feel comfortable enough to jump in and perform to the same level, or even a higher level, than the professionals who do it daily. Some choose to manage their entire investment portfolio on their own, or take on their auto repairs, or build their own business websites. They do this because they feel they can do an adequate enough job on their own – and they are often correct. For the most part though, they do it to save money.
As a Realtor in Rhode Island, I know that buying a home is another one of those things I often see many people doing on their own. They take to the internet, read local newspapers, and drive around on Sundays looking for open house signs. They make calls and set up appointments after work for individual showings. It’s all something anyone can do on their own. The thing I always wonder is, why? If they enjoy the thrill of the hunt, just as the home mechanic may find working on the family auto relaxing, I say go for it. But those that do it for monetary reasons may want to reconsider.
When buying a home, having the assistance of an experienced Realtor most often costs the buyer nothing. The Realtor gets paid a split of the listing agent’s commission, should there be one. Also, many home owners selling without the assistance of a Realtor are willing to pay the buyer’s agent a fee for bringing the buyer. Since shopping for a new home can often consume hours of the week busy people can ill afford, I wonder why so many go it alone. I, for one, am a do-it-yourselfer in the house, but if I didn’t have to pay for it, I’d be more than happy to have a professional tile my bathroom for me.
I know real estate professionals often get a bad wrap. Many see them as leaches that take fees from transactions they didn’t really earn. I know because I used to feel this way. The truth is, as an agent, I rarely go back and divide up my fees by the hours I spent working for a client because it would be a little depressing. I work full-time as a web programmer, and work as a Realtor after-hours because I enjoy helping people with their real estate transactions. I don’t want a reason to consider stopping my real estate career, so I don’t want to know my hourly rate per transaction. I know there are unscrupulous agents out there that treat their clients like sheep, or ones that push to take transaction commissions they did not earn, or only take on deals that won’t require much of their time. I believe those to be the exception, and I think most people know this.
It’s my opinion that many people just are not aware that this service will likely not cost them anything. I was guilty of this when I bought my first place. Had I known that it would not have cost me anything to have professional help, I would have jumped to take it. I think I made out ok, but I know I made some errors that cost me that probably would have been caught by a Realtor.
I’m not one of those agents that are going to tell you that people can’t buy and sell real estate on their own. That’s hogwash and most agents know it. You can absolutely handle either side of a real estate transaction on your own. It does require a lot of time and attention to detail. Real Estate law can be complicated and can vary widely from state to state. Some have bought and sold countless times, so chances are they may only need to apprise themselves on the changes in law that occurred since the last transaction they’ve done. But for those who haven’t bought in a number of years, or haven’t gone through many transactions, I’d suggest getting the help of a Realtor, because why would you turn down free help?