Hiring a Realtor is worth the expense.

"For Sale By Owner" may be the four most tempting words in the world to a homeowner who feels the need to earn every penny from the sale of his or her property. A "For Sale" sign, a classified advertisement, and a telephone seem to be the only tools necessary for you to get underway. Likewise, buyers may be tempted to think they can find the home of their dreams armed with a recent homes-for-sale magazine and a road map. But rarely do these solo ventures yield the sweet success envisioned by the thrifty consumer.

Buyers and sellers are clearly better served when a real estate professional is engaged to assist in the sale or purchase of a property. In today's market there are dozens of reasons why a Realtor can give you an edge, beginning with the information and experience necessary to arrive at an appropriate asking price, to the knowledge of state laws and regulations for which both parties to the contract will be held liable

Given that you as a home seller or buyer have agreed to use a professional to assist you in the transaction, what can you expect in the way of services? How do real estate agents earn their commission? A listing agent engaged to help you sell your home works with you in a number of capacities, including determining your asking price. It is the listing agent who researches the sale prices of similar homes in your area to show you what you might reasonably expect to garner from the sale of your property. The listing agent also will assist you in making your home presentable for sale, offering suggestions about how to best show the property and what, if any, improvements ought to be made before putting the property on the market. The listing agent will inform the seller about laws and regulations such as fair housing requirements, septic regulations and lead paint laws. Any forms or disclosure documents required by law can be obtained through the listing agent. The listing agent will provide you with a yard sign, and advertising - at no extra cost to you.

It is the behind-the-scenes work of your listing agent, however, that may matter most in procuring a buyer for your property. The listing agent most likely will conduct an open house viewing of your home, not only for the public, but for other real estate agents who may know about a potential buyer for your home. Listing agents keep abreast of what other properties in your community are for sale, and how that might affect activity at your home, or the price of your home.

Your listing agent is your advocate during sale negotiations, presenting offers to you and counseling you about the qualifications of potential buyers. The listing agent works hard to bring only qualified buyers into your home, enhancing your ability to sell the property in the most time efficient manner possible. It's also the listing agent who will assist in coordinating deadlines and closing dates, making sure all documents are signed, sealed and delivered on time.

Buyer's agents, as well as sub-agents perform many of the same functions on behalf of clients looking to purchase a home. They help buyers determine how much they can afford to spend, research properties available on the market within their price range, and provide important disclosures about the property being shown. Like listing agents, sub-agents and buyer's agents also can assist prospective buyers in completing legal forms, reviewing the purchase and sale contract, and presenting the offer. Additionally, all three may offer referrals for financing and legal representation, and may accompany buyers to the home inspection. However, only the buyer's agent can assist in formal price negotiations on behalf of prospective homebuyers.

Today the purchase or sale of a home is an enormous undertaking, filled with complex issues - both legal and financial. Consumers should know that Realtors , those agents who have voluntarily joined a professional trade association and abide by a national Code of Ethics, are specially trained to attend to all aspects of each transaction, and their experience as professionals works for the buyer or seller they represent. The Realtor's commission is a small price to pay for the security of knowing your real estate transaction is being ushered through the process by a professional who is trained to foresee potential problems and who will work hard to find solutions that satisfy you.

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