9 Huge Myths About Real Estate and Real Estate Agents Debunked
There is a plethora of information out there if you've ever purchased a home and looked to the Internet for advice. How much of it is sound counsel, though, and how much of it is urban legend?
Some of the biggest financial decisions you'll ever have to make are buying or selling a home, making incorrect information or bad advice all the more perilous. But don't worry; we're here to set the record straight. The most common real estate myths that we encounter at work as Waterloo Region real estate agents are debunked below, including some about us (as a profession) that we wish would go away!
Myth #1: Selling your home FSBO (for sale by owner) saves money
One of the most common myths we encounter is where we'll begin. In an effort to avoid paying commission fees, some sellers try to sell their homes without an agent, only to discover that it's a lot more complicated than simply placing a For Sale sign in the front yard and taking a few pictures of the property.
In reality, FSBO sellers often run the risk of losing money. This can happen in several ways. For example, FSBO sellers can price the home too high, meaning it could take longer to receive an offer than they expected.
On the flip side, they could price the home too low and leave money on the table. You’ve heard of buyer’s remorse, but seller’s remorse is a real thing, too—that is, looking back and realizing you sold your Waterloo Region home for far less than it was worth, potentially missing out on thousands of dollars.
When you hire a local real estate agent, they’ll not only know how to price your home correctly, but also how to help you negotiate the most favorable offers. Agents have access to a whole host of buyers through their coworkers, professional contacts and even past clients. We know what our fellow agents’ buyers are looking for and can connect you with a serious buyer more quickly.
We can also connect you with more than just a buyer. Furthermore, we’ve got connections in the entire industry, from real estate photographers to lenders, inspectors, and movers. It’s our job, after all!
In addition, agents serve as a guide through the financial and legal jargon that come with selling a home. We are well-versed in the language of offers, counter-offers, and contracts, and we can help safeguard you against potential pitfalls.
Last but not least, selling a home is a massive undertaking and can be a full time job. If you’re considering selling your home FSBO, ask yourself: is it worth the stress and time? Is this really the type of task you want to DIY? At the end of the day, you’re better off hiring a professional with the skills, knowledge, and resources to set you up for success in your sale. A good real estate agent will be worth every penny.
Myth #2: Buyers get a better deal if they don’t use an agent.
This myth is the exact opposite of the FSBO misconception above. Does buying a house without an agent really save you money? The short answer is no.
Agent commission for both the buying and the selling agent (if there is one) is paid by the sellers. This means that as a buyer, your agent’s services are free to you.
The benefits of working with an agent as a buyer are largely the same as the benefits of working with an agent as a seller. They can help you negotiate a fair price; they can give you access to all the latest listings and can help you find homes that meet your budget and needs; they can walk through homes with you and give professional input; and the list goes on.
Myth #3: Real estate agents are interchangeable.
There is no such thing as a cookie cutter real estate agent. We all have very different personalities, and we each come with our own unique set of skills, specialties, and experience levels. Some agents work in teams, whereas others are a one-stop-shop for all your real estate needs. Some agents have a teaching background and excel at educating buyers and sellers as they guide them through the process. Some agents have law backgrounds and are very knowledgeable about the legal side of a purchase or sale.
Why does all of this matter? Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to pick the agent that’s right for you. They will be representing you during one of the biggest transactions in your life. It’s key to choose one that’s a good fit—someone that you like, trust, and that you believe will have your best interests in mind.
Myth #4: Online resources can do it all.
Sure, there are a growing number of national real estate sites like Zoocasa that say they can give you an estimate of what your home is worth, help you calculate your approximate monthly mortgage payment, and list your home. However, don’t rely on these online tools as the end-all, be-all of your home search or sale.
Why? These sites are based on algorithms, and the algorithms are only as accurate as the data they pull from. Even if the data is correct, these sites are still missing part of the picture. Unlike a real estate agent, these sites haven’t visited the home in-person; they don’t have “boots on the ground” knowledge that an agent who is well-versed in the local market will.
While sites like these are handy for getting a feel of the market or starting a conversation, turn to your agent for more in-depth and personalized information.
Myth #5: If you’ve bought or sold a home before, you’ll be a pro your second time around.
Unfortunately, home sales and purchases are not like riding a bike. Well, it is if you get back on your bike and discover that everything about riding a bike has changed completely. The process of buying and selling a Waterloo Region home evolves over time, and the neighborhood market is continuously shifting.
A completely different buying or selling experience than the one you had in your last real estate transaction may result from these new processes and market circumstances. If it has been some time since your previous transaction, you may feel like a first-time buyer (or seller) all over again.
That’s where—you guessed it— a real estate agent can help. Between continuing education courses and being involved in the industry day to day, we really do have the most up-to-date knowledge. So even if it’s your second (or third or fourth) time around, consider enlisting the help of your go-to agent.
Myth #6: Price your home higher so you’ll have room to negotiate.
Sure, you want to get as much money as possible for your home, but selling a home is not a “swing for the fences” type of situation. Though it may seem counterintuitive, scoring big in real estate has more to do with being realistic than being bold.
First and foremost, pricing a home too high will drive away potential buyers. If you’re pricing your home high in the hopes of being able to negotiate, remember that if your home is so expensive that buyers don’t even bother looking, there will be no one to negotiate with.
At the end of the day, it’s better to set a reasonable price that will draw in the right kinds of buyers and offers. Your agent can recommend such a realistic price, ultimately helping you reap the greatest reward when your home sells.
Myth #7: Offer less than you’re willing to pay, so you have room to negotiate.
This is the exact opposite of the “price high” tactic, but equally as problematic. While it can be argued that there is a time and a place for lowball offers, those situations are rare and need to be thought through carefully. Usually, lowballing makes your offer less likely to be accepted. The seller’s agent may advise the sellers not to take the offer, or there may be competing offers on the table from those who decided not to lowball it.
Remember that while offering less on a home you want could help you save money, it could also lead to you missing out on your dream home. If the offer isn’t accepted, there’s no home to negotiate for. Instead, work with your agent to make a competitive offer based on factors like your budget, the asking price, the home’s condition, the current market situation, and so on.
Myth #8: If you renovate your home before selling, you will get a dollar-for-dollar return on your investment.
While it’s tempting to think that a bathroom update here or a new carpet there will be worth the investment and then some when you sell your home, sometimes this is wishful thinking. Not all home improvements generate an equal return on investment.
That’s not to say pre-sale renovations are always a bad idea. Even if they don’t get a dollar-for-dollar return, oftentimes these updates make a home more appealing and help it sell faster, which is a huge bonus in and of itself.
If you plan to sell your home soon, contact your go-to agent before you undertake any major home improvement projects. Your agent can advise you which renovations and repairs will generate a higher sale price and which aren’t worth your time.
Myth #9: Agents only care about a sale.
While our ultimate goal is to help you buy or sell a house, we’re about more than making a commission or turning a “For Sale” sign into a “Sold” sign. In fact, many of us think of ourselves more as guides than salespeople.
That’s because we’re in it for the long haul, from the first time you contact us to the moment you’re handed the keys to your new house (and beyond). We love it when clients become friends or when we can stay in touch and hear how they’re enjoying their new home. At the end of the day, we’re people helping other people make a well-informed, life-changing decision.
The Truth of the Matter
Don’t let conflicting information lead you astray in your home search or sale. Almost always, it pays (sometimes literally) to go straight to the expert source by contacting an agent.
If you’re looking for a reliable local real estate agent to guide you through the Waterloo Region real estate market, reach out today, we can't wait to talk to you.