What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

A real estate agent holding an umbrella over the head of a client

It is no surprise that most people want to save money. Shoot... We spend most of our precious time earning it in the first place. It makes sense that many people are trying to cut back on their spending to safe a few bucks here-n-there – but, is that safe to do in a real estate transaction?

In the past decade the American real estate industry has undergone a few major shifts that have altered the industry. With the birth of companies like Open Door and Zillow, more people are considering the option of taking their own home on the market themselves, without having a real estate agent’s assistance. These new companies make it seem so easy … but is it?

Below I have listed out 20 things that real estate agents do that you might not have realized until now. It is no surprise that I am a realtor and as such I am somewhat biases in the whole debate. Having closed Multi-Millions in real estate transactions over the years, I believe that I have some insight on the topic that many others might not see at first glance. Remember, this topic is to help you or someone you love to make the right decision. If you read through this and decide to list your home as a F.S.B.O (For sale by owner) then great! —at least you will know what you are getting into. It is my hope that this newfound knowledge will help you make the wisest decision given your particular situation.

1. Experience

An experienced real estate agent reading a book.

Real Estate agents generally have a high level of experience and are an asset for you to utilize. Many transactions will have unforeseen circumstance that show up out of the blue. When you have a Realtor® who knows what their doing, any problems presented are much less likely to derail your sale. Picking the right realtor can be the difference between winning and loosing in your next transaction.

2. Knowledge about the local markets

Do you know how many houses sold in your neighborhood last year? Do you know what prices they went for -- and why? Real estate agents are obsessed with this kind of data and use that information to help you make the right decisions. When it comes to presenting you with the appropriate price or helping you to navigate the other parties offer, your agent will impart their knowledge over the situation to help you make an informed decision on how to move forward.

3. Impartial opinions

Man screaming at his phone.
Arguing with the other party will never help you win

It is no surprise that real estate transactions can be one of the most stressful experiences that you will experience – Especially if you are a homeowner. When you have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line it is extremely important that your emotions do not get involved in the transaction. There are many situations where an argument or disagreement can manifest, and if you do not have a representative speaking on your behalf you will be on the hook to hold these conversations yourself. Most people would rather not have to deal with this kind of pressure.

4. Teamwork

“Teamwork makes the dreamwork!” It is no surprise that more brains focusing on a similar outcome will help your transaction flourish. Your agent will be a pivotal member of a team who focuses on your success. When you have multiple people invested in a similar outcome there are more opportunities for defeating adverse conflicts, dividing workloads, and sharing creative ideas.

5. Real Estate Literacy

A page from a dictionary.

Becoming a great Realtor® is not an easy task. It requires years of experience, schooling, and extensive knowledge in the world of real estate. There are thousands of terms and experiences that will be involved in your real estate transaction. You might take it for granted now, but when the time comes, it would be nice to know what conversation you are having with the opposing party’s real estate agent is all about.

6. Negotiation skills

Real estate transactions are notorious for their negotiations. This is where two parties deliberate back and forth, trying to come to a fair agreement over the price and/or contingencies of a real estate transaction. Your real estate professional is a master of this process. This is one of the most important facets of their business, as a great track record in negotiations can lead to more business. If you do not have experience in negotiations, it may be best that you hire someone who does.

7. Insurance

A family having fun.
Risk is only a benefit when you have nothing to lose.

When you hire a realtor they usually come with a specific level of insurance. If something goes wrong during a transaction on their behalf, many times E&O (errors and omissions) may kick in to cover the expenses of that error. Although this is rare, you might consider the importance of a little insurance when it comes to selling items that cost over hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nobody likes to pay more than they must!

8. National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

The national association of realtors logo.
The Official NAR Logo (2020)

If you choose to work with a Realtor® when selling your home, then you will have a few awesome perks along with that decision. The NAR is the countries largest trade association and functions as an ethics board to help protect the agency relationship and integrity of all transactions that include realtors. (Click here to learn more) Although you do not have to legally have a realtor present during a real estate transaction, it is a wise decision to look for one before you get started. Another great benefit of using a realtor is if there are any big discrepancies during your transaction, instead of rushing off to hire attorneys for litigation (which is extremely expensive), the NAR requires all issues to first go through their mitigation process to solve the issue before court.

9. Marketing

Real estate professionals should be true masterminds when it comes to getting prospective buyers interested in your listing. Although not all agents are cut from the same marketing cloth, all realtors have access to what is known as the “MLS” (multiple listing service). This is an IDX based software that allows your listing to be posted and seen all over the world. Before you get too excited, it is important to understand that not everyone is granted access to this software by simply paying a fee or filling out an application. Due to the severe importance of the integrity and fiscal dangers of this software, only legally certified real estate professionals may have access to the posting abilities on the MLS software. Hiring a realtor to sell your home is going to get your listing on websites all over the world – including but not limited to Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, Truilia, and hundreds of others. The best way to get top dollar for your home is to create a massive amount of interest in it.

A gathering of people at an open house.   ( Real Estate, Oregon, Sellers Tips )
Realtors are incredible at hosting open houses as well.

10. Your Time

Real estate transactions take a lot of time and dedication to get you from start to finish. With the buyer navigating the lender's requirements, inspection timelines, state recording requirements, and other hoops needing to be jumped through, it is easy to understand why most home transactions last 40 days after going pending. Do you have the time to manage all of this while balancing your family’s needs, work schedule, and other home-life tasks? This is where your realtor will give you a little peace of mind. With a real estate professional – whose sole career is taking care of your transaction—focusing their time to solve the ever-evolving nuances of your home’s sale, you can rest easy. If your realtor is great at their job, you will only here from them when they need you to make a decision or when it is time for an update on the transaction -- leaving you for more time for work and the family.

11. Saves you money

A group of three realtors discuss business matters (Real estate, Oregon, Seller tips)

Contrary to what many first-time home sellers think, a great real estate agent will save you money in the long term. When listing your home with a real estate professional you will be expected to pay a percentage of the sale to the agent for their time and knowledge. This is call the commission. Although it is nearly impossible to see at first glance, hiring a realtor generally makes the seller more money than 48% of those that choose to attempt to sell their home on their own. A great real estate agent should make you enough money to cover the cost of their own commissions. There is a reason why after hundreds of years realtors are still in high demand.

12. Time Management

As mentioned earlier, every state has different timelines and requirements when it comes to progressing through a real estate transaction – your transaction will be no different. Real estate agents from your area will know these transactions requirements like the back of their hand. You will want to lean on their professional understanding of the schedule for guidance. The last thing you will want to experience is a failed transaction due to a late document submission or a missed response to a formal request deadline. Your agent will not let that happen.

13. Order of operations

Two people discussing business at a table with a bunch of papers.  ( Realtor, Oregon Real Estate, Seller Tips)
Follow the steps to get to the finish line.

Real estate transactions follow a strict order of operations. Selling a home is not as simple as selling a car or furniture on Craigslist. From the moment you go pending you will be expected to follow your state and federal requirements for the order of operations in a real estate transaction. Periods you can expect to experience in a transaction include (but are not limited to) contingency periods, rent-backs, Due-diligence periods, Earnest deposits, underwriting, and many more. All these topics must be followed in a specific succession and within precise timelines. Your realtor will be responsible for keeping you on track towards a quick successful closing.

14. Structural Organization

Without an extreme level of organization, it is nearly impossible to navigate the intricacies of a real estate transaction on your own. Not only is there an extreme multitude of paperwork and timelines you will be required to follow, but you must also navigate relationships with other agents, lenders, title company representatives, and the escrow companies. All these parties will require their own set of documents and timelines as well. Another one of the biggest mistakes I have seen competing owners representing their own property do is over-disclose personal facts and/or feeling to me and my clients about their home or situation. It is human nature to share our concerns, but in a real estate transaction, when parties are trying to get the best deal on a home purchase, telling your buyers why you are moving and how much money you have saved is a one-way ticket to getting a lower offer. Hire a realtor and you will maintain the communication structure and integrity of your interest in the sale of your home.

15. Less Paperwork

A realtor explaining documents to her clients. ( Realtor, Real Estate, Portland Realtor, Real Estate Tips)
Paperwork is easier when you know what you are looking at!

It is rare to meet someone who get excited about paperwork. Are you the type of person who can read through a 15-page document and remember every single line for what it means? Most people can't. Hiring a realtor will give you a peace of mind that you would not have otherwise when it comes to navigating all the legal paperwork that goes along with a transaction. Your agent will present to you the state's legal paperwork that matters without allowing you to waste your time sifting through the ones that don't. Most state documents are curated for agents to understand and can explain accordingly. One missed document, while rare, can spell tragedy for your finances and/or real estate transaction. (Test: Open up another tab and see how easy it is for you to download your local Seller's Property Disclosure form. Do you understand where I'm coming from now?)

16. Honesty

The NAR requires all its members practice honesty and integrity when conveying pertinent facts to their clients. When you work with a great real estate professional you can expect honesty when navigating the real estate transactions. Contrary to the horror stories that many have heard, great realtors are all around. Even though your cousin Shawn might have had a terrible experience during his past real estate agent, that does not mean you have to. Further more, if your neighbor Rick claims that he was able to sell his home without help, can you honestly trust that Rick didn't get help from some cousin in the industry he forgot to mention during your conversation? Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for you... but, it is extremely important that you know all of the facts before potentially making a life altering decision like this. Picking a great realtor is simple if you follow some important steps.

17. Counsel

A real estate agent walking her clients through a home.  ( Realtor , Real estate , Real Estate Agent , Oregon Real Estate )

One of the largest benefits for hiring a realtor is professional counsel throughout the nuances of your home sale. With all the experience that your real estate agent has it is no surprise that a transaction with a realtor will likely be much less challenging than one without. Chances are, your agent will be able to counsel you away from possible pitfalls and continue to give you world class suggestions and service every step of the way.

18. Staging Advice

Is your home ready to go to market? Your realtor is going to help you get your home staged in the best possible way to generate interest in your home. ( 5 simple steps to stage your home) Real estate agents know what is hot and what is not when it comes to your home market. You do not want to waste your time focusing on the wrong part of your home that no one is going to care about come tour time. Having professional eyes on your home will help get your home pending in no time.

19. Stress Management

A man sitting at a desk stressed out. ( realtor, real estate, choosing a realtor, Oregon Real estate )
Home selling does not have to be stressful

Selling a home can be stressful – especially if you are trying to do it with no experience. Between the deadlines, documents, and constant badgering from all the parties involved, it is a wonder that anyone would want to do this as a profession for a living in the first place. But alas, there is --Your local real estate agent! When you hire a realtor, you are eliminating a world of stress -- as the agent already knows what to expect and can prepare you in advance for what is to come. Knowing how to prepare ahead of time will alleviate the stresses of selling your home. When a seller can make informed decisions -- with zero stress --then less mistakes will undoubtedly be made, and more cash will flow into the seller’s pockets. Stress is always the precursor to a transaction riddled with conflict.

20. Tighten up the loose ends

There is so much information that I want to present to you, but It is nearly impossible to share all my experiences and warnings of what could go wrong without publishing a novel. So, I am going to rope in a massive number of topics into this one final note. When deciding between selling your own home without a professional vs. hiring a realtor keep in mind that there are a lot of potential loose ends that could go untied if you opt to forgo professional help. As a home seller your transaction begins before your home even hits the market! If your considering selling your home, you are basically engaging in the research portion as we speak. Conversely, your real estate transaction does not technically end once you have moved out. You will need to be sure the transaction is properly recoded with the state and save all your conversations, exchanges, and documents for safe keeping – should any discrepancies appear down the line with the buyers of your home. Hiring a Realtor will allow them to organize and archive your documents for safe keeping for many years to come. Ultimately, sharing the responsibility with your agent will help protect you interests for many years to come.

Chance Jackson, the realtor showing off his business card. ( Oregon Realtor, Portland Realtor, Chance the realtor )
Chance Jackson - Pacific Northwest Realtor

In the end, your realtor works for you. When you make the decision to list your home it can sometimes be impossible to see how important a real estate agent really is. Many of us go to school for this and dedicate our lives to helping your clients make the best choices with the most powerful outcomes. We simply want to ensure that the integrity of our profession is maintained and that transactions will continue to thrive fair a justly for everyone involved. A realtor is more than a hired assistant: We are the very gatekeeper of the real estate world. If you use the right agent to your advantage, then you will almost never regret the outcome.

Now that you know why it is important to hire a real estate professional it is time to learn how—

Click on the short video below to learn some quick tips on how to select the right real estate agent for you. Good luck out there, and I'll see you in the next one!

-Chance Jackson ( Pacific Northwest Realtor®)

Chance Jackson is a Pacific Northwest licensed Realtor® in both Oregon and Washington. he prides himself on bringing value and honesty to everyone he serves. This blog was published with the intention to help you, the reader, make informed decisions on your next real estate transaction. Regardless of your location, feel free to contact Chance should you have any questions pertaining to your next real estate transaction.

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