By: Cara Dudek-Petri Gibbons


There’s a lot of things in life where just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. I try and teach my children this daily. Some examples of that can be:

1. Can you cut your own bangs? Sure. But should you? My middle school yearbook picture will answer this question for you.

2. Can you buy a house in cash and not get homeowner’s insurance? Sure can! Should you? When that tree falls on your house after the next storm you can answer this one.

3. Can you eat a whole gallon of ice cream for dessert? Heck yeah! Should you? Your stomach will tell you that soon after you eat it.

4. Can you buy or sell real estate without having a real estate agent represent you? Absolutely. Should you? Probably not.

A law school professor of mine told us a quote from Abraham Lincoln when we were in our first year. The quote is, “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” That really has resonated with me. So much so that when I bought a house myself, I could easily have handled my own closing. I chose not to though because Momma didn’t raise no fool!

So do you need a real estate agent? If you ask me, the answer is a big YES! But, one can certainly buy or sell a house without one. However, why would you? If this is an effort to save money and you are the buyer, that is a moot point. Buyers don’t pay their Realtor’s commission. Also, as a buyer, you can’t just walk into a house you see online and submit an offer on it. You need an agent to assist you. An agent that represents you, and you only. Calling up the agent who represents the seller is not in your best interest. You also surely can walk into a new construction community, but who you speak with at that new construction community is a representative of the builder. You’re very much limiting your negotiating ability, and not saving yourself money by walking in unrepresented. The builder will pay your agent’s commission. You’re not going to get the house for any less money, typically, by not bringing in an agent to represent you. I can write a whole blog about the horror stories I’ve experienced with buyers who did not have an agent when buying a new construction home.

As a seller, the biggest reason for not wanting to hire a real estate agent is that people tend to think because the market is good, their house will sell itself. That is so far from the truth. All real estate agents are licensed professionals. They know the market, study the market, and are hyper focused on our local statistics. As a lay person, you could easily list the house yourself by putting a sign in the yard, toss the listing on Facebook, or hire a limited services agent to just post your listing in MLS. But by doing that, you are limiting the amount of people who can and will buy the home. You very likely are under or overvaluing your property to where it will sit longer than it should. And you are at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiations and understanding contractually the norms when it comes to buying and selling real property.

Without a real estate agent, you won’t have access to their pro level of market knowledge and negotiation experience, and you’ll have to take on a lot of research and paperwork yourself. In addition, you could actually end up selling your home for less instead of more. That’s because one of a Realtor’s key tasks is to evaluate the prices of homes currently on the market, along with those that have sold in recent months, to determine whether a seller’s asking price is in line with fair market values. If you’re inexperienced in doing this type of analysis yourself, you could unknowingly undervalue your property when listing it for sale by owner. You could also wind up with a home that has serious issues as a buyer, having to sink money into repairs without help from the seller because you didn’t negotiate well or didn’t have the right contingencies in place — or, worse yet, skipped the inspection altogether.

As an attorney, I can and have assisted for sale by owner sellers, and unrepresented buyers in closing on a home. But honestly, most all of them the buyers and/or sellers ask me to do tasks that a Realtor is accustomed to do for them as a matter of course. I can’t and won’t provide a list of inspection vendors, pop by the house to check on its progress, review an inspection report, check on the status of repairs, evaluate the comps in the neighborhood to assure the purchase price will appraise, etc.

Bottom line, just because something looks easy, doesn’t mean it is. Professionals work hard and put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make things look easy. My 12-minute closings didn’t happen overnight! There are a lot of moving parts that go into buying a home, and working with a Realtor can save you time and money and stave off potential headaches. Live by our Jackson Law motto, and Rest Easy and hire yourself a Realtor. We work with quite a few good ones and can certainly provide you a referral!