Do I really need a real estate agent to sell my home?

man and woman near table

How an agent could get you more money in less time.

Key takeaways

  • Listing agents handle every aspect of the home selling process from start to finish
  • Your home will likely sell for more
  • You won’t have to spend time and resources becoming a part-time realtor
  • You can sell your home faster and with fewer headaches when you opt to work with an agent

Selling your home is a big deal. Many sellers aren’t ready to navigate the maze of marketing, negotiating, and legal issues. And why would they want to be? Most are buying a new property and living their own lives, and real estate can quickly turn into a full-time job.

In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “Do I need a real estate agent to sell my home?” We’ll guide you through the pros and cons of hiring an agent, so you can make the right decision for your home sale.

If you’re ready to get started with your listing, get started with Flyhomes.

What does a listing agent do?

Agents assist in nearly every aspect of the home selling process. They help with photos, staging, and dealing with negotiations and open houses. Agents have access to large networks and are almost always available to field calls, provide advice, and navigate complex legalities.

A real estate agent has a professional license to help sell, buy, and rent homes. A realtor is a professional who has joined the National Association of Realtors but isn’t necessarily an agent. Realtors can be brokers, property managers, and even home appraisers.

A listing agent acts as a middleman between the seller and buyer, too. Agents handle practically every aspect of the selling process, representing you and your best interests. They work on your behalf to find the best offer in the shortest time span. They typically start by setting the asking price, then assist with staging, repairs, marketing, and negotiations.

They manage every part of the selling process you can think of and even those you haven’t. Choosing a good listing agent starts with a series of consultations. Choose the right agent by looking at their experience, track record, and communication style. Although there are pros and cons to working with a listing agent, the benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks.

high angle shot of suburban neighborhood
A listing agent helps you understand your local market to set the right list price and market your home effectively

Are listing agents legally required?

In the United States, listing agents are not legally required. It’s within your rights to list your home For Sale By Owner, or FSBO. Still, some states require you to use a real estate attorney to handle closing paperwork. These rules change a lot, so check the requirements for your state when you’re ready to sell.

What are the drawbacks to hiring a listing agent?

Hiring a listing agent does mean you’ll have to cough up a commission based on the sale price of your house. The commission is usually between 4-6% but can be lower if you take on some of the agent’s responsibilities, like taking photos and staging. But, even if you choose to list your home yourself, you’ll still pay the buyer’s agent’s commission.

Hiring an agent does mean giving up some control over the selling process. When you work with an agent, you’re locked into a contract. Your agent will be in charge of pricing, timing, marketing, and negotiation, which makes some homeowners uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, however, most sellers are willing to trade those small inconveniences for peace of mind. Most are even grateful not to have to worry about the ins and outs of the selling process, for reasons we’ll now explore.

How can an agent help you sell your home?

So, how can working with an agent make your life a little easier? Here are just a few of the reasons the majority of home sellers choose to list with an agent:

You’ll have one less thing to worry about

If you’re moving out of one place, you’re moving into another. Moving is a time-consuming and stressful process that doesn’t leave you with a lot of free time. And the stress of moving will push your other priorities to the side if you decide to become an FSBO seller.

If you choose to list your house yourself, it’s important to know what exactly you’re getting into. You’ll always be on-call, advertising, photographing, staging, and fielding calls. You’ll have to ensure your prospects are qualified as well. Imagine all the late nights and early mornings most real estate agents handle on a daily basis, and try fitting that into your current schedule. Chances are the headache of listing your home by yourself isn’t worth the potential savings. Especially since a listing agent can help you get even more money for your home.

Many initial FSBO sellers end up using an agent anyway, unless they know exactly who they plan on selling to. You can save time, energy, and money by opting to use an agent from the get-go.

Expertise and experience helps sell your home faster

Sellers who are unfamiliar with real estate and their local markets find it challenging to move a home off the market. In today’s seller’s market, that’s not as big of an issue in some areas of the country. Nevertheless, it’s crucial sellers know how to price their homes and navigate real estate laws like land surveys and disclosures.

Plus, one of the best ways to show off your property is to list it on the MLS (Multiple Listing Services). The catch? Only licensed agents can list properties on the platform. FSBO sellers can pay a flat fee to have their listing advertised, but it’s easier to tap into an established agent’s access.

In most cases, non-agents don’t feel comfortable masterminding the marketing aspect of home selling. Agents have the experience and know-how to get your home sold in a fraction of the time, which is what they’re there for.

white car near white and brown house
Use a listing agent to help sell your home faster and for more money on average

It won’t get too personal

There’s also the matter of removing your emotions from the transaction. To you, your home could be the place you raised your children or learned to garden or started your own business. When it comes to negotiations, you could end up feeling partial toward your home and unable to reel in your emotional attachments. But your real estate agent views the process as a financial transaction and won’t have the same biases.

You’ll have to fill out less paperwork

Selling a home is no walk in the park. There’s closing paperwork, regulations to abide by, and information to be disclosed. If you haven’t got some real estate experience under your belt, it can all pile up and become overwhelming. In some circumstances, you may not even have the choice of handling closing paperwork on your own. Several states require you to use the services of a real estate attorney for closing paperwork, so be sure to do your due diligence ahead of time.

They are professional negotiators

Negotiations make most people uneasy. Unless you’re a professional salesperson, negotiation can be a tricky and delicate process you’re better off outsourcing. Your emotional attachment to the home or even to the seller may cloud your judgment and cost you money. Of course, your agent will need your approval before proceeding with any offers. But agents take a more objective, tactical approach to negotiation that comes after years of practice. They know how to focus on the big picture to get the best deal and close the sale.

You’ll have more interest in your home

Agents know where to find qualified buyers—it’s a key part of their job. When you list FSBO, you’ll have to learn the ropes and will likely miss out on some great offers in the process. Agents also know how to market a home by creating enticing listing descriptions or offering 3D tours of the space. The more interest you have, the more leverage you have when it comes to the sale price and buyer. At the end of the day, is it really worth sacrificing that peace of mind for a few thousand dollars you’re sure to recoup through the sale?

Working with an agent could save you time and get you more money

According to the National Association of Realtors, only 7% of 2020 home sales were FSBO. Those homes sold for an average of $260,000, compared with the average $318,000 typical for agent-assisted sales. The choice is yours in the end, but there’s a reason the majority of sellers choose to go with an agent. The higher sale prices and the aid of a real estate expert mean your home will sell while you focus on other priorities. Even if you don’t need an agent to sell, hiring one will help you preserve your sanity during the selling process.

About the author By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in real estate, technology, sustainability, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.

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