What Does a Real Estate Agent Do All Day Anyway?
Lots of people wonder what a real estate agent does all day. Do they sit around all day waiting for the phone to ring? Do they really do anything special for their buyer and seller clients? Is what you see on reality television an accurate picture of what a real estate agent does?
In the age of Zillow, Trulia, and For Sale By Owner, many people make the mistake of thinking that real estate agents are an unnecessary expense when buying or selling a home. But that assumption is highly inaccurate. Selling a home for sale by owner is not easy!
While online resources make it possible to handle some of the tasks involved in real estate transactions on your own, they are far from a replacement for a real estate professional.
Websites on car repair and medical care make it easier to take care of low-level tasks in their respective fields as well – but everyone knows they are no replacement for an experienced professional when your valuable car or even more valuable health is truly on the line. The same is true in real estate.
To get the best possible results in a real estate transaction – where hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line, if not more – you need to work with an experienced agent. You should first understand there is a difference between a Real Estate agent, a Realtor, and a broker. These terms get used interchangeably all the time but have striking differences.
Picking the right agent to work with really depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on. Are you going to be buying a home or selling one? These are two different processes. Believe it or not, some agents are much better equipped to handle one side of the transaction than the other. Buyer’s agents have different skill sets than seller’s agents and vice versa.
Let’s take a closer look at what real estate agents and Realtors do for buyers and for sellers to understand why it is worth hiring the right agent.
What do Realtors Do for You?
What Real Estate Agents Do For Buyers
There is a critical distinction that needs to be made about true buyer’s agents and agents that are just looking to make a sale. The best buyer’s agents care about only one thing – their client’s best interests! There are numerous reasons to have a buyer’s agent when purchasing a house.
1. Get you pre-approved for a loan.
An excellent real estate agent will have a big network of agents, lenders, and other professionals in the real estate industry that they can connect you with. Your agent should be able to connect you with a lender that can get you pre-approved for a mortgage – a necessity when you are shopping in a competitive market. Buyers need to understand there is a difference between being preapproved vs. prequalified.
Without a doubt, you want to be preapproved. With a preapproval, the lender will verify a buyer’s employment, income, and research their credit history. A smart listing agent will want a solid preapproval letter.
A buyer’s agent can also help pick a mortgage lender. It is essential to understand how to choose a lender when purchasing a home.
2. Help you find the right home for your needs.
Hunting for a home is exhausting even when everything goes smoothly. An excellent REALTOR can help you narrow down your search to save you time and energy by asking you targeted questions to help you define precisely what you want. They can help you focus on the right location, neighborhood, school district, property type, and more.
It will still take time and energy to shop for the right property, but a lot of that time and energy will be the Realtors. The actual showing of a home is one of the least important tasks of a real estate agent.
3. Negotiate an offer.
When you find a home that you want, one that really excites you, it is time to make an offer. But what offer should you be putting forward? Making an offer too low isn’t smart because it will probably be ignored and potentially piss off the seller.
One the other hand, you don’t want to offer too much, though, because no one wants to spend more than they have to. You’ll need to hit the sweet spot – a number that an outstanding REALTOR is well-qualified to help you choose.
4. Help you select a home inspector.
Some home inspectors are better than others. Your agent will know the best home inspectors in your area and can connect you with them. You need to have the home inspected before you buy it to avoid purchasing a money pit.
Your agent knows this fact and will encourage you to get the home inspected using a reputable inspector you can depend on. Your agent can also help you decide if you need other inspections, like radon, mold, and so on.
5. Attend a home inspection.
Home inspectors can miss problems, which is why you want to have a second set of eyes there. The best REALTORS who are truly interested in representing their client to the fullest will attend the home inspection to make sure everything goes as it should. They will be there to help you understand the results of the inspection.
Sometimes buyers can struggle to know what problems are worth stressing over and which aren’t. Your real estate agent will help you decide what issues are ones you need to be concerned with.
6. Negotiate any home inspection repair requests.
Issues that you find through the home inspection may be ones that you need to discuss with the seller. Your agent can tell you which problems need to be brought up for negotiations and can handle the negotiation process for you.
They can negotiate for a price reduction, repairs, or some other concession that is justified due to the problems with the home. Mediating issues from a house inspection are commonplace, and you want someone skilled at doing it.
7. Communicate with the seller’s agent and your attorney throughout the process.
Things continuously change during the real estate transaction process. With each shift in the landscape, every vital party in the transaction needs to be aware of what is happening and react as they will. Your real estate agent will keep up the lines of communication between all the parties to keep the transaction moving along.
Excellent communication skills are one of the hallmark traits of an exceptional agent, whether they are representing a buyer or seller.
8. Monitor your loan commitment.
A skilled real estate agent knows how easy it is for a buyer to lose a loan approval – it’s based on your financial situation at the time of your application, and any significant changes you make after that can cause the funding to fall through. No one wants this to happen, especially your agent, so they are going to keep track of your mortgage for you and advise you on how to protect your approval.
Additionally, your mortgage commitment date is a critical milestone in your contract. You want to make sure a commitment is given by this date. If not, your buyer’s agent needs to be on the phone, getting an extension. Not doing so, and you would be opening yourself up to losing your home deposit. Obviously, something you don’t want to happen.
9. Finalize all loose ends for the closing.
There are a surprising number of details that need to be addressed to finalize a closing. You have enough on your plate as it is, which is why your real estate agent will be the one to ensure that all of these details are taken care of. Your agent will finalize all those loose ends so that you close without any issues.
Part of the final steps for getting to the closing will be doing a final walkthrough to ensure the condition of the home is the same as when you wrote the offer. If something does cause trouble, your agent will be there to advise you on how to move forward.
What Real Estate Agents Do For Sellers
The best seller’s agents have one goal – doing what is best for their clients. They always put the needs of their clients first.
1. Price your home correctly.
The most important job of a seller’s agent is pricing the home correctly. It is hard to overstate just how important it is to get the price right at the outset. Many sellers assume that if they price it too high, they can just come back and lower the price. While that is technically true, the reality is that lowering the price of your home listing can change the perception of the property in the eyes of REALTORS and buyers.
They assume that if you couldn’t sell it at the price you set, that means something is wrong with the property. Many times, if you set the price too high and have to reduce to sell it, you will wind up having to go lower and lower to get a buyer – lower than you would have if you had set the price correctly at the beginning.
A knowledgeable real estate agent will carefully set your sale price to be competitive in the market based on similar home sales in your area. Just having the assistance of a great agent to price your home is often worth more than the commission you will pay on the property.
2. Market your property like crazy.
Marketing homes are the next most important skill a real estate agent offers sellers. Exceptional real estate marketing requires a lot more than listing the house and putting up a sign in the yard. You need to prepare the property, take excellent photos, write a compelling listing, spread the word through multiple channels – MLS, real estate sites, the Realtor’s website, social media, word of mouth – and showing the home.
The best REALTORS have a tried and true system to market properties, one that cannot be replicated by anyone but another real estate professional.
3. Avoid shady gimmicks designed for their interests, not yours
Unfortunately, real estate agents are a dime a dozen. If you pick the wrong agent, they could entice you into one of these common practices where the benefits are solely with them and not you. These include:
- A pocket listing – pocket listings are when the agent keeps your home in-house or even to themselves and does not let anyone else know about it. If you want to sell your home for the most money, this is a huge mistake. The more people that know about your home, the better!
- Dual agency – lots of real estate agents practice dual agency. The benefits lie squarely with the agent and NOT the seller. Never accept dual agency whereby your agent becomes a neutral party, no longer representing your best interests.
- Guaranteed house sale – The “I will sell your house in X days” is another shady gimmick used by agents to get you to list your home with them. If you don’t mind selling your home for 50 cents on the dollar, go right ahead and fall for this stupid marketing tactic.
- Open houses – is an open house appropriate? Sure go right ahead but know that anyone serious about buying a home is going to schedule a showing. Open houses are entirely unnecessary in the digital age and are used by agents to prospect for business. They will use your home as their sales office for the day. Don’t be fooled.
4. Communicate with you about what is going on.
If you are like most sellers, you have a life, a job, and other obligations that occupy a large portion of your time. But just because you are busy does not mean you don’t want to know what is happening with your home sale.
A top-shelf agent will keep you up to date about what is happening concerning your sale. Feedback will be a regular part of the process of selling your home. Equally important, they will not bother you with unimportant information that you don’t need to be aware of.
One of the best things about having a good agent is that you can trust them to update as needed so that you are in the loop and able to make informed decisions but not overwhelmed with an endless stream of unnecessary details.
5. Make sure the buyer is qualified.
Pretty much anybody can say they want to buy a house. But not everyone is capable of buying your property. To sift through the interested buyers, you need to look for those that are pre-approved for a mortgage.
Pre-approval is challenging to get because you have to go through almost the full process of getting a mortgage. But once a buyer is pre-approved, it means that they should be able to purchase your home if nothing changes with their finances.
Your real estate agent will make sure that pre-approved buyers are the ones that you interact with so you don’t waste your time with people that cannot buy the home.
6. Negotiate the best terms.
Your agent wants to get you the best terms for your sale. It’s what they are paid to do. They are skilled at negotiation – after all, it’s something they do regularly for multiple clients. When you have to go to the negotiating table, you want a skilled negotiator there on your behalf. They will ensure that you get the best possible terms for your sale.
In most cases, you want as much money as possible for your sale. But you may have other terms that are equally important, like closing the sale quickly if you have to move for work. Your agent will be intimately familiar with your needs and will push to ensure that those needs are met through the sale.
7. Be present for the home inspection.
The home inspection is going to provide the hard facts about the state of the home – facts that are going to be the basis for negotiations moving forward. You want to have your agent there at the inspection that represents your interests.
Your agent can follow along throughout the inspection so that they know the state of your home and are ready for the potential issues that the buyer might bring up in negotiations. They will also be able to push back if the buyer’s agent overstates the importance of the problems in the negotiations.
Lots of real estate agents like to make excuses on why they won’t attend the inspection. Some of them are “it’s for the buyer I don’t have a right to be there” or “an attorney advised against it.” Hogwash – these are lame excuses. If you aren’t in attendance, it is impossible to determine what is a real issue and what isn’t. Quite often, a home inspector’s report overstates simple problems causing home buyers to ask for the moon.
8. Attend the home appraisal.
The appraisal is another major event that severely impacts your home sale. The appraiser may have questions about the home that need to be answered to facilitate the evaluation – your agent will be there to answer those questions and make the job of the appraiser as easy as possible.
For example, if the appraiser needs to know about significant updates that you have made to the home, your real estate agent can provide that information. This kind of information can have a big impact on the final appraised price of your home, so you want to make sure that it is delivered in full to the appraiser.
Before the appraisal even happens, your agent should be offering guidance on how to be ready for it.
9. Tie up and solve any remaining issues for the closing.
There are so many small details that must be taken care of to close the sale of a home. Your REALTOR will take care of all those fine points and loose ends so that you don’t have to worry about them – or worry about being surprised in a way that disrupts the closing.
Things like taking care of the smoke and carbon monoxide detector certificate, final water/sewer readings, and similar issues – these are tasks that your agent will handle.
9. Get the best price for your home.
A real estate agent that knows the value of your home is the best-qualified individual to negotiate on your behalf. There are no guarantees about how things will turn out, but you can stack the odds in your favor by using a professional to fight for the best possible price.
Final thoughts on what real estate agents do for their clients
The best description of a true professional is a problem solver. The most skilled agents work tirelessly for their clients. The reality TV version of real estate agents just showing three beautiful homes and then collecting a big fat paycheck is a far cry from reality. The best real estate agents could be described with these words – they all portray how some agents go above and beyond in a transaction.
- Social media marketer
- Jack of all trades
- Miracle worker
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what a real estate agent does all day. Maybe you can better appreciate the work that is put in by those who are the creme of the crop when it comes to agents.
About the author: The above Real Estate information on what does a real estate agent do was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 33+ years.
Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.