When you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the agent who will represent your interests. As in any other profession, there are many misconceptions about real estate agents. We wanted to set the record straight and clear up that confusion so you feel prepared and confident in the agent that will sell your home or help you make a purchase.
Myth 1: Work with the busiest agent in town that has the most listings.
While being actively working in the industry can be a positive indicator of an agent's business, it may not indicate the one you want to choose. Often agents that are busy with many listings or buyers are too busy to focus on you, their new client. Interview prospective agents that you’re considering or ask for recommendations from family and friends. Often, a less busy agent will be able to provide you the attention, interest, and open schedule that you need to accomplish your goals.
Myth 2: Working with multiple agents will help you find more housing options faster.
The person you’re working with does not change what is available to you. All agents are going to use the same MLS, Multiple Listing Service, to look for properties that fit their client’s criteria. If you are working with multiple agents, you’ll likely end up seeing the same listings more than once. Additionally, having multiple agents can be damaging to the trust and loyalty needed to facilitate a successful transaction between you and your agent. It is best to work with one agent who will focus on you, your needs, and work tirelessly to accomplish your goals. Think of it like dating; the way to move forward is to make a commitment to each other!
Myth 3: It is best to treat a real estate agent like a car salesman - don’t tell them anything!
Many people think that if they tell their real estate agent their true price range they’ll only be shown the most expensive listings on the far reaches of their range. One of the most important aspects of a real estate transaction is having mutual trust between the agent and their client. Whether you’re listing your home for sale or looking to buy, it is best to be honest with your agent so surprises don’t occur later on and derail the transaction. Especially in Massachusetts where the market is fast moving, the few listings that are available often won’t stay on the market long enough to allow games to be played. As such, it is best to give your agent a true range of what you’re looking to spend as well as what your needs truly are. When you’re listing your home, it is important to tell your agent any important information about the home and answer the questions fully. Keeping your agent in the dark can open the door for possible snafus.
Myth 4: Real estate agents make too much money.
Boston and Newton real estate agents only make an average of around $43,000 per year! An agent’s number of closings, whether sales or listings, can greatly impact this number, but agents can often work with a prospective client for an extensive period of time without making a sale or purchase and earn nothing. In addition, agents must pay office fees, MLS charges, and other fees in order to effectively run their business. Like any profession, selling real estate is not an easy path to quick money.
Myth 5: Agents want you to pay a higher sale price so that they can get a higher commission.
Real estate agents are not out for blood; they are genuinely invested in your well being and want you to be able to find a home that meets your needs. If you’re selling a home, your agent will price your home at the fair market value in order to allow as many offers as possible to come through. While an agent’s commission is based on the selling price of the home, their first priority is making sure they are representing your goals before anything else. An additional $40,000 of price only amounts to approximately $1,000 for the brokerage and agents receive only a portion of that! The right agent will note comparable properties to ensure that if you’re listing, your home is priced for true market value, and if you’re buying, that you’re not paying too much for any property you consider.
Myth 6: Paying a seller directly will save you money.
This can be true in the rarest of cases. In the majority, however, this is just not accurate. A real estate agent will have access to information regarding comparable properties to make sure you’re paying the fair market value and prevent you from overpaying. A buyer's agent is also able to advise on professionals that can inspect for termites, structural damage, and other like problems before continuing to move forward in the transaction. If these things are noticed down the road, it may be too late and you’ll be saddled with costly repairs. You can also be open to liability issues if the legal paperwork required for a real estate transaction is not filled out correctly, potentially starting a chain reaction of costly legal endeavors moving forward. Keep in mind that the seller's agent is working for their best interests, not yours.
Myth 7: Selling a home yourself will save you money.
More often than not, FSBOs (For Sale By Owners) end up losing money that they could have had with the help of a real estate agent. Homes priced by the owners are often higher than their actual fair market value, with nostalgia factors and return on investments weighing heavily. This causes the property to sit on the market too long. Outside of the extreme amount of work it takes to sell a home, only an experienced real estate agent knows the surrounding market well enough to properly price and market your home. In addition, a real estate agent can expertly negotiate with buyers, handle paperwork, respond to buyer inquiries through the entire transaction, show the home, and so much more. Not only will you likely get more for your home than you would on your own when working with a real estate agent, but you’ll save ample time that would have otherwise been occupied by doing all the tasks handled by your agent.
Myth 8: A listing agent can choose something about you that they don't like and use it as reason not to sell you a home.
Under Federal Fair Housing Laws, no one may discriminate against a person or party on the basis of familial status, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap/disability. Furthermore, one cannot:
Refuse to rent or sell housing
Refuse to negotiate for housing
Make housing unavailable
Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental
Provide different housing services or facilities
Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rent
Threaten or interfere with anyone making a fair housing complaint
In addition, under these laws a real estate agent cannot disclose information relating to a protected class such as crime rates, school stats, or ethnic mixes in neighborhoods. There are many more protections that make sure that no agent can wrongfully prohibit or manipulate the interested party and each state may have additional regulations protecting even more groups. For more details on Fair Housing, visit CivilRights.org.
If you’re working with a Dwell360 REALTOR®, our unparalleled attention and expertise will make for an unforgettable experience that we’re sure can help you accomplish your selling and buying goals. Give us a call to get started!
Edward Johnston with Dwell360 is a REALTOR® who services the cities and suburbs of metro Boston. He is focused on his customers and his experience in the residential real estate market is extensive. Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give Ed a call.