I know, I’ve written posts in the past where I’ve said there are opportunities to buy houses on Kijiji or Craigslist and score a better deal because neither party is dealing with a realtor. Plus, when you’re looking at off-market deals you’re not competing with as many other buyers because the property isn’t as visible. And I still hold true to these statements – there are those opportunities, however you need to devote a lot of time to hunting them down, and if you haven’t gone through the buying or selling process before, I wouldn’t advise trying to do it on your own. Buying a house is a huge investment - likely one of the biggest investments of your life. It’s important to have the right people in your corner to not only coach you through the process, but to keep you tight on your deadlines (i.e, financing, inspection, legal work, etc.). It’s a whole lot of work to organize all of these different moving parts at once – gathering the appropriate paperwork, scheduling different tradespeople, and making informed decisions with all this new information coming at you. If you’ve gone through the buying or selling process before, you can likely resonate with this undertaking. I often hear first time homebuyers say, "Wow - buying a house is a lot of work", and it’s true. Lessen that work load with a great team behind you.
But that’s not even the main reason I say, “you should definitely use a realtor”.
Let me tell you why I think that realtors are invaluable:
As a Seller:
Yes, you pay a commission fee – usually 5% of the selling price. BUT, a realtor’s value-add could be much more than the 5% you end up paying. Let’s dive into it.
Your property gets WAY more exposure. Not only is it added to MLS and Viewpoint, but it will also get promotional/marketing materials that circulate via social media or regular mail, as well as open houses which attract a lot of potential buyers. Moreover, once per week realtors go on tours of all the new houses that have come up on the market. What this means is that your house will not only be seen by your realtor and their potential buyers, but a whole bunch of other realtors who are representing a whole bunch of other buyers. Additionally, your realtor will have a good idea of what other properties in your area have sold for and can guide you to an appropriate listing price that is both competitive but also realistic to keep your house from sitting on the market for months.
Another value-add that realtors bring to a seller is their opinion on the appearance of your house before it goes on market. They can tell you whether you need to toss things, put items in storage, paint an area, fix your steps, clear away personal items, or stage your living room. Oftentimes these small changes make all the difference between a house selling immediately or remaining stagnant on the market. Selling earlier could put thousands of dollars back into your pocket, especially if your house is sitting empty. Not to mention these small changes could snag you top dollar for your house.
As a Buyer:
As many of you are already aware, when you’re a buyer you don’t pay realtors a commission. The entire commission is covered by the seller. So why not use a realtor when you’re a buyer, right!? Well, even though it may seem like the logical choice, many buyers still don’t use one. I’m here to tell you why you should always use a realtor as a buyer.
Specific listings tailored to what you want
As the buyer, the first thing your agent should do is get a clear idea of exactly what you are looking for. The style of house, age of house, neighbourhood, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, non-negotiables, and everything else that you want. Once they have that pinpointed, they can set you up to receive automatic listings that fit your criteria, right to your email. This way you're able to view listings you’re actually interested in as soon as they hit the market.
Second, remember that your agent isn’t just working with you, but with tons of other buyers and sellers. What this means is that they may be representing a seller that is selling the exact house you are currently looking for. And what this means for you? You get first-hand knowledge and access to your perfect house before it even hits the market.
Let me tell you a story of exactly this situation happening to us about a month ago. Dave and I have been searching for a house in the North end of Halifax that had a basement apartment for the last 10 months. We live in the north end, we love the neighbourhood, and we wanted a property that we could go visit within a couple minutes of our own house. However, the north end is so hot right now that as soon as something comes on the market, it ends up in a multiple offer situation and ends up selling for above asking price. Furthermore, any decent house with a suite is wayyyy out of our price range. So, we had more or less given up on finding anything in our neighbourhood. Until our realtor stepped in.
He had a property in the north end that he was planning on listing within a few weeks and he let us know that we could check it out before it hit the market. It ticked all of our boxes: 1-minute drive away from our current house, had a basement suite, a backyard, and was in decent condition. We viewed the property and even though it definitely needed work, we knew we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Our realtor allowed us to put in an offer before it hit the market and the seller happily accepted the offer. Because parts of the house were slightly unfinished and the basement suite was old and dated, she wasn’t sure how the house would show. Moreover, she didn’t really want to deal with multiple showings. Long story short – we had our offer accepted the night before it was supposed to hit the market. The next day when it did go up on MLS and Viewpoint (pending our sale, of course!), our realtor got 20+ phone calls of people wanting to purchase it. He also got an all-cash unconditional back-up offer that day that was higher than our offer. As you can probably tell, if we hadn’t have gotten our offer accepted before it hit the market, we never would have gotten the property. What this means is we have built in equity right from the beginning – people want this property badly and will most likely still want it in a few years from now. So, if we decided to sell, we could list for significantly higher than we bought it for. Moreover, we’re finishing those unfinished parts of the house over the next 3 weeks to increase the value even further, and we already have lovely tenants ready to rent this beauty as soon as the renovations are finished. What’s more is, our realtor immediately set us up with a plumber, an electrician, and a carpenter who have been wonderful to work with. We wouldn’t have had these connections if it weren’t for him. So, thank you, Andrew, for helping to end our year-long search for our perfect north end income property!
Hopefully I’ve helped to show you how much value a realtor can add to your house – regardless of whether you’re a buyer or a seller. For us, because we have plenty of experience buying properties, we could likely do a private deal with someone and feel reasonably comfortable doing it, but at the same time, we will just never know the market like realtors do or be able to garner the same exposure when selling. Just like a good accountant can find ways to save you money at tax time, or a good financial planner can help you plan to make more money for your future, a good realtor will help you buy or sell your house for the best price possible.
Long story short: If you find those amazing realtors, don’t let them go!