Do you need real estate representation if you are an attorney? by Lisa Getson
As a realtor people often ask me why someone would pay a lump sum of money to sell their house for them when they can just sell it themselves, especially as an attorney. "Why do I need a realtor?" is a common question. After all, they claim that all they have to do is put a For Sale sign on their front lawn and they can do the paperwork themselves.
Some of this may have been true in prior years when there were more buyers than there were homes for sale. 2007 is different, however. In the past few years there has been a shift in supply and demand with still many buyers but now much more inventory of homes for sale. Don't get me wrong, the market is still doing well, especially in Philadelphia and its Main Line. However, due to more inventory, houses are not selling as quickly, and longer days on the market are likely to become common place.
Some critics may still say that even if there is more inventory, there are still enough buyers in the marketplace that they don't need a realtor to usher. Realtors, however, do more than just bring buyers to houses, open doors, and fill in standard paperwork; there are many steps involved in the sale of a home.
There are usually two realtors involved in a real estate transaction. There is the realtor who represents the seller, otherwise known as the seller's agent, and the realtor who represents the buyer, otherwise known as the buyer's agent. In short, each agent owes a duty of loyalty and confidentiality to the party whom they represent. There are instances in which, with written consent, one realtor may represent both the seller and the buyer, and in this case they would be referred to as a dual agent. In addition to their duty of loyalty and confidentiality, a dual agent would be barred from taking any action to the detriment of either party.
The first priority of the seller's agent is to market the home. It takes more than just placing a For Sale sign in the yard to bring a buyer. There are inter-office voice mail and email systems which inform numerous agents about the home, something that sellers would not have access to on their own. There is newspaper advertising, which sellers can do on their own, though it is costly. In addition, listing your home with an agent who has a personal website and belongs to realtor.com exposes the home on the internet in a way that sellers cannot do on their own. Last, an agent places the home on the Multiple Listing Service. All of these realtor advantages bring maximum exposure for the home, which in turn brings in more buyers, typically resulting in a quicker and more profitable sale for the seller.
In conjunction with this, buyers who are not represented may not learn of their dream home until it is too late. Even in a slower market, if a house is priced right and located in a desirable neighborhood, it tends to sell before it is able to be advertised publicly beyond realtors. Realtors will tell their buyers about new listings without delay. And for busy attorneys, an active realtor will do preliminary house searching for them and eliminate those that do not meet their criteria, thus cutting down on time spent away from the office.
A realtor is also useful in successfully negotiating and closing the deal. Selling a home entails more than just filling in blank forms. There is an Agreement of Sale involved in which many terms and conditions need to be negotiated. In determining an appropriate price for a house a realtor will be able to provide information about comparable sales in the surrounding area, something that an attorney may not have access to. A realtor will also arrange for property, wood infestation, mold and radon inspections and negotiate the results upon completion. A realtor will assist a buyer in choosing a reputable mortgage company and will follow up with any pending mortgage issues to make certain that the money and mortgage papers arrive at settlement in a timely fashion. Individuals selling a home themselves may not know how to navigate all of the mortgage nuances and an unrepresented buyer may not know how to find a suitable mortgage company. Having a realtor satisfactorily handle all of these items will help relieve some of the stress involved in making such a large purchase.
Once any differences have been worked out and the deal is considered done, it is still not complete until settlement has occurred. A conscientious realtor will follow up to make sure that there is clear Title, the Use & Occupancy certificate is ordered, and all taxes are paid for and properly adjusted. If all of this is done ahead of time, it will result in a smooth, friendly and quick settlement.
Last, your realtor will in all likelihood become your friend. As a buyer, when searching for the ideal home, you and your realtor will spend countless hours together in the car. During this time, you usually learn a lot about each other and your respective families and you build a relationship with one another. As a seller, you and your realtor will talk constantly about showings, feedback, and when negotiating an Agreement of Sale. Your realtor should be someone you can trust.
Send your real estate-related questions to Lisa Getson at firstname.lastname@example.org.