Let’s face it: We’re all addicted to looking at online home listings. Before you know it, it’s 3 a.m. and you’re looking at houses in Phoenix (and you don’t even live in Phoenix). Although the web is a great place to start looking at houses and what neighborhoods seem appealing, trying to DIY your search for a home isn’t as simple as it seems. Even though home listings and information about buying are more accessible than ever, it’s still just as crucial to have a knowledgeable REALTOR® helping you along your journey to homeownership.
Need more proof? Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s important to have a REALTOR® on your homebuying team.
They know the market inside and out
Not only is your REALTOR® well versed in loan types, contract contingencies, and how to make an offer that a seller can’t resist, but they also know your city — and they know it better than any online real estate platform’s algorithm. They know which neighborhoods to look at to fit your budget, and they know the boundaries of the school districts by heart, just in case you ask.
Your REALTOR® will also have connections to other professionals that you’ll need along the way to buying a home.
“REALTORS® have unparalleled local market knowledge and access to other industry professionals to help with finding down payment assistance programs, inspections, and other service providers in a transaction,” says Jared Martin, the 2019 president of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Essentially, your REALTOR® acts as your one-stop shop of information on your market, which is something that’s impossible to replicate over the web.
Your REALTOR® has access to the MLS
It’s a common phenomenon: You look at a home listing online, fall in love with it, and then by the time you call to set up a tour, the home is already under contract.
One of the biggest drawbacks for a homebuyer (especially one searching in a market with low inventory) is that homes can go lightning fast. Luckily, your REALTOR® has a secret weapon — the MLS, or the multiple listing service.
The MLS is a large database of homes for sale that only agents who pay dues have access to. In other words, they are in the loop on every single home that’s for sale in your area and often have information on the homes that never even make it online.
“First-time homebuyers will continue to face a shortage of homes for sale, but a REALTOR® can find homes that buyers may not be aware of. They may have advanced notice of homes for sale coming onto the market, which will help buyers get a head start in touring the home,” says Martin.
The MLS — and your REALTOR® — may just hold the keys to your future dream home that you would have otherwise never seen.
They make your life easy during the buying process
Even if you’ve been studiously reading over everything you can about the homebuying process on the internet, buying a home can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, especially for a first-timer. When you work with a REALTOR®, they are there to guide you through the entire process, from pre-approval to signing the final paperwork — and answering any question that you may have in between.
Your REALTOR® is also an expert at understanding what you want out of a home and anticipating your needs, whether it’s finding a living space that will fit your giant sectional or helping you discover a new neighborhood that’s walkable to great coffee shops and local restaurants.
“A REALTOR® has a fiduciary duty of honesty, integrity, and fair dealing with clients. They can give sage advice and an excellent customer experience. They are bound by professional standards and have a relationship with their clients,” says Martin.
So, while the internet may help you understand the difference between an FHA loan and an adjustable rate mortgage, it’s not going to get you that extra level of customer service that a REALTOR® can.
A REALTOR® negotiates for you
One of the most important roles of your REALTOR® is their ability to help you seal the deal — and on the best terms for you as they can. No matter if you’re in a seller’s market or a buyer’s, your REALTOR® is going to help you determine the right way to write up the offer that will make it both competitive and get you into your home at a price you’re comfortable with. They’ll also work to make sure that any repairs needed on the home get taken care of and may even be able to negotiate for that grill in the backyard.
“REALTORS® aim to present the best offer possible and negotiate the terms, all while protecting and promoting the interest of their client,” says Martin.
Simply put, you want your REALTOR® in your corner, talking you through one of the most important buying decisions of your adult life and using their experience to help you clinch the deal and get those house keys.