Most folks fall somewhere on the spectrum of DIY vs Pay-a-Pro. If you are a Pay-a-Pro type person, then you probably need no convincing to use a Real Estate Agent but still, read this section of this page before you move on.
WHY TO USE AN AGENT
I am a huge DIYer – I make my own soap. When we bought that first house for residency, I had found on Zillow every house that we looked at but still, I needed an agent to get me in the door.
You can certainly DIY buy or sell a house and you can probably save some money if you’re not on a strict timeline, you’re really good at internet researching, and you enjoy negotiating. Most likely that first item – time- will knock everyone reading this website off the list. Summary, get an agent – but make sure you get a good one.
HOW TO USE AN AGENT
If you haven’t already, you might want to read about How Everyone Gets Paid. It’s important to now who is paying whom and how it is determined what will be paid.
When you meet with an agent, they will probably have a standard way of determining their fee. This fee is negotiable but unless you are bringing something to the table you probably ought to plan on paying whatever is standard for them (e.g. you already know exactly which house you want and you have been pre-approved to buy it but you just want an agent to write the offer and contract).
Your agent will most likely want you to sign a representation contract with them. Do it. This binds them to you in particular legal ways and if you don’t feel like they are doing a good job, there are ways you can get out of it. Of course, if you do the work to find a good agent in the first place then signing a representation contract is all to your benefit.
Then, be clear with your agent what you are looking for. Think through everything. The last thing you want is to waste your time looking at five houses that are not any where close to what you like. You might find a few houses online that you like so you can show your agent pictures of what you want.
When you finally do go look at houses, be sure to point out things you especially like or don’t like. This will help a good agent use the rest of your time that day as effectively as possible.
If your agent is suggesting a house to look at, ask them if they have toured it already. Don’t let them use up your time to go view a house for the first time themself.