I recently had a scenario in real estate that made me think about the importance of using a licensed Realtor. The situation involved a young couple I was representing in purchasing their first home on the West Shore. One of the features about the house that was so attractive to them was the in-law quarters above the garage, which added to the total square footage of the house. During their inspection period, it was discovered through the listing agent (who contacted the county planning department) that part of the in-law unit was not, in fact, legal, and thus not a part of the allowable square footage. This had an effect on the negotiated price, since square footage plays a large role in price and value. The seller was apologetic and a bit baffled as to how this was never disclosed to him in his many years of owning the home. The current owner had purchased the home directly from his family. There were no inspections, required disclosures, and no Realtors in the transaction. The price was negotiated, and a loan was secured. It’s family, right? Why would anything be challenged? The information believed to be true all these years can turn out to be wrong, however, which can equate to lost money, and worse, even a legal battle.

Here are three good reasons to go with a licensed and local Realtor when buying or selling your home:

1 Don’t waste your time driving around without a Realtor.


Realtors’ data is more current than the average person researching on their own, and with a growing portion of sales being short sales, a house might appear to be on the market when actually it is tied up with an offer awaiting bank approval. A Realtor will be able to tell if a home has an offer and advise a buyer not to waste time looking. Not all real estate websites are timely with reporting data either, particularly regarding if a house has gone into contract or has sold, or even that it has come on the market. A Realtor will know the status of a home in real time through access to the local multiple listing service (MLS) and steer you away from any homes that are under contract, sold, or awaiting bank approval. Plus, Realtors don’t get paid a dime until the transaction closes — and sometimes that doesn’t happen — so you are not wasting your time, or money, by going with a Realtor.

2 Licensed Realtors use current disclosures required by the California Association of Realtors, as well as pertinent local disclosures, to disclose and protect their clients.

Every year the amount of paperwork required in a real estate transaction grows, usually in light of a recent lawsuit or arbitration. The amount of disclosures, reports, and other pertinent information in a real estate file by the time it closes is staggering. One oversight or incorrect item can cost you thousands or land you in legal hot water. Your Realtor should be experienced to successfully navigate you through this important process, which will make it much more stress-free than if you were to tackle this on your own.

3 Realtors market your home better than you can.

Approximately 80 percent of buyers research the housing market online before they pick up the phone to call a Realtor. The online presence of your home is more important than ever. Access to the local MLS, professional photography, featured listings on leading real estate websites, broker open houses, and local print advertising are just some of the ways that your Realtor will market your home, all of which is included in the 6 percent commission to sell your residence.

For most people, the amount of money involved in buying or selling a home is the most money they will ever spend (or receive). It is worth using a professional to assist you in this process. A smooth real estate transaction is getting increasingly trickier in this current economic climate, and Realtors are working harder than ever to close a sale. Navigating short sales and foreclosures, negotiating with banks as sellers, deciphering bank contracts, and getting a sale to close (which can take several months for a short sale) are now part of a Realtor’s job description — all this while trying to advise and protect clients. Realtors that are still in the business after the last six years have seen some tough times, and continue to find it increasingly difficult to successfully close a transaction. Let your Realtor do the heavy lifting for you. It’s worth it.

~ Maura Mack is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Truckee. Contact her at maura@mauramack.com or (530) 582-9775. Comment on this column below.

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