Housing Rumble: Do You Need an Agent? (Day 1)

A real estate agent and a "for sale by owner" company executive square off.

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Below is the inaugural post of the Home Front's new Housing Rumble feature, a regular series that will match up opposing sides of an issue in an online debate format and let readers decide the winner.

In the first Rumble, Jay Thompson, a blogger and real estate broker in Phoenix, faces off with Greg Healy, vice president of operations at ForSaleByOwner.com—a Web-based company that markets the homes of independent sellers.

The subject: "Do you need a real estate agent to sell your home?"

Thompson, you're up:

Selling a Home? Why You Need a Real Estate Agent

I've been asked to participate in an online "debate" on a subject that comes up often in the world of real estate sales.

There are two general ways to sell a piece of real estate. You can do it yourself (usually known as doing a for sale by owner, or FSBO), or you can utilize the services of a real estate agent.

I am a real estate broker, so I realize that many will consider my position in this debate to be biased. That perception is to be expected. But please bear with me, and keep an open mind.

Various studies have shown that the average adult in the U.S. purchases a home every seven to 10 years. It doesn't take any stretch of the imagination to realize that the purchase of a home is quite likely the single largest financial transaction that a person will enter into. Additionally, selling a home is probably the single most complex legal transaction an individual will ever go through.

Why would you want to take on such a significant financial and complex legal transaction without the help of an experienced professional?

An experienced real estate agent is involved in dozens of real estate transactions a year. We understand the purchase contract terms and conditions. We know, and can properly advise a client on, all the required disclosures. An experienced agent is likely to have navigated numerous complex transactions and is used to dealing with real estate buyers, sellers, other agents, title and escrow companies, lenders, appraisers, and home inspectors. We deal with these people every day, and we keep real estate transactions from falling apart, or falling into court, every day.

Good real estate agents understand the nuances of the local real estate market. They know how—and what—to highlight about your home; and they know how to reduce objections some may have about your home. And those "some" aren't just potential buyers. An appraiser for example, can bring a sale transaction to its knees in a matter of minutes. Do you know how to convince a licensed appraiser that he or she has made a mistake? Can you explain an inspection report to your buyer who is about to back out of the contract to purchase your home?

Can you sell your own home? Maybe. Should you go it alone? I think not.

Jay Thompson is a real estate broker in Phoenix. He is the author of a popular real estate blog, http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com.

Tune in to see Healy's response tomorrow. At the conclusion of the debate, readers will be given the opportunity to vote and determine the winner.