The thought crosses nearly every homeowner’s mind for at least a minute or two: Should I try to sell the house myself and save money by not having to pay sales commissions? Given only 8% of homes in the United States are done as for-sale-by-owners, the thought rarely ever becomes more than a thought.

So why do most people decide to use a real estate agent instead of doing it themselves? Selling a home using a real estate agent can work out really well, but it is important to find a real estate agent who knows what they are doing. Finding a good real estate agent isn’t always easy, but we thought we’d share some tips for what to look for in a real estate agent when you finally decide to sell your home.

A good real estate agent will have knowledge of the local area, including reputable school districts and which neighborhoods are growing in popularity and value. A good agent will understand whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, which will make a big difference in how quickly you accept an offer and whether you counter-offer to try to get more for your home. A good agent may not know the exact value of your home, but they can help you to understand recent sales of homes similar to yours, so you can set a price that is competitive and won’t leave your home on the market for months. Good agents will know how to navigate issues with a home inspection and will be able to negotiate with the buyers on repair requests, so you don’t end up spending all the profits you thought you would make fixing problems. A good agent will know how to handle a bad appraisal and will help you either fix it or negotiate with the buyers, so you don’t end up dropping the sales price more than is fair.

On top of that, a good agent has a real estate assistant or a transaction coordinator (or uses a service like OfferToClose.com) and knows what documents, forms, and disclosures are required for your transaction. In a recent survey by Offer To Close, nearly 300 home owners were asked what the most valuable thing their agent did for them when they bought or sold their most recent home. The majority of people said that helping to navigate the paperwork and the process is the most valuable thing their agent did. Additionally, not knowing the right disclosures or forms to use when selling your home could result in a future lawsuit between buyer and seller. Having an agent or a transaction coordinator who knows how to handle this paperwork is worth the real estate agent commissions alone.

On top of all of this, a good agent just finds way to make the already stressful process of selling your home less stressful. It isn’t uncommon that when you find a good real estate agent, you also find a good friend.

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