You don’t have to work with a real estate agent, but like changing the oil in your car,

it makes things run more smoothly. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the

scenes to make home buying and selling happen: calling, making appointments,

ensuring people have access to homes, getting paperwork into the right hands, and

ironing out wrinkles. That’s why it’s so important to work with someone who does

what they say they will do.

A good real estate agent will answer your questions and educate you on the process.

They’ll explain terms you may not recognize and tasks that seem confusing, such as

a “due diligence” period or the need for disclosure forms. They’ll also point you to

experts you might need, such as inspectors or attorneys. And they’ll negotiate in

your best interest — making sure you don’t overpay for a home or go beyond what

your budget allows.

Agents know the ins and outs of every neighborhood. They’ll find properties that

meet your needs and fit your price range and will even notify you of new listings

before they hit the market. They’re especially helpful in a seller’s market when the

competition is fierce. They’re able to weed out lookie-loos from serious buyers and

can set up in-person tours quickly. Also read

They’ll help you determine the value of a property by comparing recent sales in your

area and analyzing comparable properties that have sold recently. They’ll then use

that information to help you come up with an asking price for your home that will

encourage offers but won’t deter potential buyers. They’ll also be able to provide

you with the information and data you need to compare mortgage loans and find the

one that’s best for you.

Your agent can also point you to short-term or long-term rental housing options if

necessary. And they’ll schedule a final walkthrough of your future home just before

closing to make sure that nothing has changed since the initial inspection. They’ll

also double-check all the paperwork at closing to ensure that there aren’t any

mistakes that could delay or cost you money.

A broker is an individual licensed to manage other agents and can also act as a

buyer’s or seller’s agent or a dual agent (if allowed in your state). A broker can help

you save time by handling many of the administrative aspects of a transaction, such

as preparing contracts, collecting deposits and fees, and handling the escrow

account. They can also help you avoid expensive mistakes by ensuring that all

parties comply with laws and regulations regarding fair housing, environmental

issues and more.