NEGOTIATING IS HARDER ON YOUR OWN A real estate agent will keep the transaction “at arm’s length,” such that personalities and emotions do not become involved. Price negotiations take a special skill set and understanding of the psychology of negotiation and bargaining, offer and counteroffer. Agents keep the transaction dispassionate — for example, if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet, and lurid orange kitchen, you might have trouble keeping your distaste from showing through to the seller. Working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner’s decorating skills and rant about how much it will cost to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. CONTRACTUALLY SPEAKING . . . There are a number of contracts and documents involved in purchasing a house. Unless you are a real estate lawyer or title agent yourself, these will almost certainly be foreign to you. Yet, they require detailed and accurate completion. Buying a property is not necessarily a “fill in the blanks” transaction and any mistake in the extensive documentation needed could haunt the buyer well down the line after purchase. An experienced real estate agent deals regularly with these contracts and conditions, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed, and how to use the contract to protect you. YOU WON’T NECESSARILY SAVE MONEY The point of not using a real estate agent is usually to save money, but it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. An owner selling on his own will likely price his house based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in the area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent; therefore, the seller gets to keep the percentage of the home’s sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real estate agent. Buyers looking to purchase a home being sold by owners without an agent may also believe they can save money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can’t both save on the commission.
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