J. Dudley Schiel

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Never Fly Solo. Always Have A Wingman.

By Dudley Schiel

Your wingman watches your flank. He keeps you from getting shot down. Flying without him leaves you vulnerable. Purchasing a home without using an expert to guide you through the process and watch out for your best interests makes about as much sense as leaving your blind spot exposed to enemy fire, yet hundreds of people buy real estate in Nashville every year without consulting a Realtor. Largely due to a misunderstanding of what a Realtor does and a lack of knowledge about the many variables involved in a real estate transaction, many people feel they can purchase a house as easily as they can buy a car: Find the car, haggle a little over the price, and sign the papers. Not so. The home buying process has more steps and carries more risk than the average buyer realizes. Beginning your real estate search with a professional on your side will save you valuable time and money, help make the process easier and less stressful, and significantly improve your odds of getting the house once you find it.

Each unrepresented buyer probably has their own set of reasons for choosing to fly solo. Based on conversations with clients who've bought by themselves in the past, solo buyers usually forego a realtor for at least one of the following three reasons: First, some people don't understand what a Realtor does and therefore don't realize how using one can help them. Second, some are afraid that a Realtor will rush them to buy too soon or pressure them to buy a particular house. Third, some people think they can save money by not using a Realtor because they don't understand how Realtors are paid.

Ironically, the answer to each of these concerns creates a pretty good list of the top three reasons to use a Realtor. First, your Realtor's job is to represent your best interests throughout the entire home buying process and he can help you by using his experience, expertise, and knowledge to help you make the best decisions possible and prevent you from overlooking important details or making costly mistakes. He does a lot more than just drive you around town and introduce you to the right house. While supremely important to both buyer and agent, finding the right house is actually only one step of dozens involved in a Realtor's job. The majority of the process is negotiating on your behalf to make sure you get the house at your price and on terms that protect and benefit you and ultimately managing the transaction to a smooth closing. After all, finding the perfect house is a moot point if you don't get it or if you have to pay too much for it. Second, a Realtor will help you assess your needs to start your search on the right track, prepare you for the home buying process, educate you on the market and eventually help you make good decisions when you are ready to buy. Pressuring you to buy a particular house or rushing you into buying isn't in line with a Realtor's goal of establishing a long term client relationship. A good Realtor is more likely to talk you out of buying a particular house than to convince you to buy it. Third, using a buyer's agent doesn't cost you money. It saves you money. Your Realtor's job as your negotiator is to save you money by getting the house cheaper, getting the most seller concessions possible, and by preventing you from overlooking details that could cost you money in the future. Your agent's commission is almost always paid by the seller's proceeds at closing. The listing fee paid by the seller is usually the same whether or not a buyer's agent is involved. Foregoing an agent under the assumption that the seller will discount the price accordingly only means you've given up representation and donated your would-be agent's commission to the listing agent who is exclusively representing the seller's interests.

Jester's scold to Maverick in Top Gun couldn't have been more clear: "Never, never leave your wingman." Flying solo when you have the option of having protection just doesn't make sense. While lives aren't at stake in real estate as they are in a dogfight in the skies, buying a home is the biggest investment most people make in their lifetime and your money is on the line. Always hire a Realtor to watch over your shoulder. As your Nashville Realtor, I'm happy to be your wingman anytime.

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