You are never required to work with a real estate agent when buying or selling property in California. Not surprisingly, however, most home sellers will choose to contract a licensed California real estate agent to manage the marketing and sale of their property. There are many benefits to working with a real estate agent; find out if a licensed California real estate agent is the right choice for you.
Real Estate Education: Practice, Principles, Law and Appraisal
To become a licensed real estate associate in California, you have to take a number of classes regarding real estate law, practice, principles, appraisal, etc., as well as pass a state administered exam. Licensed real estate brokers have additional training, a state administered broker’s exam, and a minimum of 2 years working in the industry as an associate (agent). If you have never dealt in real estate before, a real estate agent is a good resource to help understand and navigate the legal process in the transfer of real property.
Entering into a contract with a licensed California real estate agent should give you a sense of security. Your agent is bound by common law to a fiduciary relationship; meaning she is bound by license law to act in your best interest. Your agent will walk you through every part of the process and help you to understand all the legal documentation required for the sale of your property.
Lower Your Risk
Particularly when selling a home, there are a number of federal and state mandated disclosures and advisories that must be shared with the buyer. A licensed California real estate agent will have knowledge of and access to all of the required forms and disclosures and can help you with their preparation.
Additionally, agencies carry special insurance to protect themselves and you in the case of any accidental errors or omissions; a security not available without an agency partnership. The transfer of real property is a legal transaction and must be handled appropriately.
Only licensed real estate agents have access to the multiple listing services (MLS). When selling a home, your real estate agent will be able to market your home to a wide audience; not only the MLS, but consumer home sale sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Redfin.com, etc. Many licensed California real estate agents also have a contact list of buyers and sellers who are active in your target area to help you close your sale more quickly.
Many real estate agents will have additional marketing programs in the form of direct mailers and other advertisements (at no cost to you!) to help your property receive maximum exposure.
Avoid Scheduling Complications
Chances are you have a job and life of your own and probably don’t have a lot of free time to be meeting potential buyers or being available for the appraiser or the multiple inspections that are likely to take place. Working with a licensed California real estate agent relieves you of this worry and responsibility. You can arrange a showing schedule with your agent to allow access to the property on certain days and certain hours that fit your schedule.
Knowledge of the Local Market
One of the most important factors to selling your home quickly while also receiving the best price is to price it appropriately. Obviously you don’t want to price your home too low and leave money on the table, but if you price your home too high, it may sit with little activity for a long time. Buyers and their agents usually don’t look at homes that are priced above market value. Furthermore, when a property has been sitting on the market too long, buyers may become suspicious and not take interest in your listing. A licensed California real estate agent is a local community expert. She will have past, present and future knowledge of the residential and commercial landscape of your neighborhood and details that may effect your property value.
Your agent will run a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help determine your property’s estimated value. It can sometimes be difficult as a homeowner to view your property objectively; your agent will know the trend of homebuyers in your area and the most attractive elements of your property to highlight.
When you begin receiving offers on your property, some negotiation is likely to take place. A licensed California real estate agent will have negotiation experience and techniques to help draft the purchase agreement with terms in your favor. Negotiation can be difficult for most people, especially when dealing with a pushy agent or picky buyer. You can avoid some of that stress and frustration by allowing a your agent to handle negotiations on your behalf. It is often easier to stay firm on your terms when you have an intermediary.
Works on Commission Alone
No one gets paid until you do! A real estate agent’s commission is a negotiable rate – usually 6% of the sale price – that is divided between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent at the close of escrow. You never pay anything to the listing agent up front. A listing agent will take care of the marketing of your property, showing the property to potential buyers, being an intermediary for negotiation, and will also help you navigate the legal process of the transfer of real property to help protect you from being sued for fraud or negligence due to improper filing, disclosures, or documentation.
Smooth Sale Process
There are dozens of federal and state mandated forms and disclosures to exchange and time sensitive materials and appointments to keep track of once your enter into escrow. Unless you are very familiar with the escrow process in California, it can be overwhelming. A licensed California real estate agent will have the experience and information to help keep things on track to ensure a smooth sale process.
Why NOT Work with a Licensed California Real Estate Agent?
There is only one reason you might consider foregoing the help of a licensed California real estate agent: money. If you still don’t see the benefit of working with an agent, you might try to save yourself some money. If you have the time and resources to educate yourself on the requirements for the sale of real property in California, it can be done.
In a lower risk sale situation – such as selling your property to a family member or friend – you might choose to sell the property without the help of a licensed real estate agent. But beware: you don’t want squabbles – financial, legal, or otherwise – to undermine your close relationships. Evaluate the situation honestly and decide whether an unbiased intermediary might be more constructive in your case.
There is a reason roughly 90% of home owners choose to work with a licensed California real estate agent; it is likely in your best interest. Not all agents are created equal, so be sure to interview several experienced agents in your neighborhood to find the one that will work best with you.