Do I Really Need to Use a Realtor?

How technology is changing the way people find and sell homes.

Technology is causing some confusion today about whether people really need to use a Realtor to buy or sell a house. People think that with all the online portals and real estate websites, they have all they need online.

Yet all you have to do is look at the numbers to know that this opinion is false.

Between 2003 and 2007, on average, buyers were in the home search for about eight weeks. This increased to 10 weeks in 2008, and increased again between 2009 and 2013 to 12 weeks, as presented in the Vision Speech by Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams Realty.

Why the increase? “My interpretation is that there is too much information out there and people are overanalyzing and not making a decision,” explained Kyle Holloran, managing broker and team leader at Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway. “Instead of writing an offer, they are opting to ‘wait for something better’ and may be missing out on the opportunity they’re looking for, especially since we are 100% in a seller’s market right now. Listings of homes have dropped significantly over 2017, so fewer and fewer homes are coming onto the market, and selling quicker.”

Another Keller Williams study found that 43% of buyers bring a list of homes to their Realtor after finding them online, yet only 22% of those buyers ultimately purchased a home from that list. This means that fewer than 10% find their home online themselves without the aid of a Realtor.

The National Association of Realtors reports that the number of buyers and sellers using an agent is at a 14-year high—more than 90% now use a Realtor, as opposed to only 75% in 2003. And although 95% of buyers use an online website to research homes, 92% of them use a real estate agent. Both buyers and sellers are looking for service, quality and professionalism.

Common Misconceptions When Selling a Home

I can do it myself.

Real estate transactions are tricky, and require detailed knowledge of the terminology, yearly changes in law, and paperwork requirements. Those who don’t use a Realtor may not know how to use these documents, find them, or fill them out legally. Selling a home is a long and arduous process, and the majority of a Realtor’s job happens after the offer is secured through closing—getting through home inspections, dealing with the mortgage company, the title attorney, the buyer and seller. Most people have neither the time nor the expertise to handle it.

I’ll make more money selling on my own.

People think they may make more money by not using a Realtor, but in the majority of cases, this is not true. Much value comes in the negotiation skills Realtors bring to the table. For example, a seller may think they have to make a $10,000 roof repair as a result of a home inspection, while a Realtor may negotiate the home price down instead. A Realtor’s commission may be $6000, as opposed to the $10,000 repair, saving the client $4000 overall.

I’m not emotional.

Selling a home where your lifelong memories have been made is emotional, and when emotions run high, bad decisions are made. You need a logical and neutral third party to help you negotiate the deal.

I know what my home is worth.

Your home is only worth what the market will bear, no matter what online resources or tax assessments tell you. Realtors do their due diligence in pricing a home correctly for the market based on current market conditions, condition of the home, and comparables. Priced incorrectly, the home will sit on the market and become stale, and a contract can potentially fail when an appraiser determines it is not worth the amount and the loan falls through.

Other Important Reasons to Use a Realtor

Security level protection.

Due to area jobs with high security levels, some people don’t want to advertise their property for sale, and you may miss your dream property searching only online. These listings will not show up on the MRIS or other online portals, and are publicized only to other Realtors.


“You don’t know who is coming into your home if you are selling it yourself; it could be a potential burglar casing the house for medications, money or firearms,” Holloran warned. A Realtor uses a lockbox that tracks in real time who has access to your home. They also prequalify potential buyers and will not show homes to anyone who has not gone through that process.

Governing board.

A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and held to a higher Code of Ethics. If there is a problem, you can file a complaint with the governing board, and they will be held accountable.

Why Do Online Home Searches Fail?

“Online real estate sites are often out of date,” Holloran explained. “A home listed on Zillow, for example, may have sold 90-120 days previously, but still appear. This gives false hope to buyers and they get discouraged.”

Revolutionary New Advancements in Technology You’ll Want to Know About

In 2011, $223 million was invested in real estate technology. In 2016, that number rose to $2.93 billion, with technologies like online portals, apps, lockbox access, forms, contracts, real-time services with instant text, and 3D imagery appearing.

One of the newest tools is the Matterport Camera, an all-in-one property capture. A Realtor can provide a 3D virtual showcase tour of any property using accurate visual and spatial data to map entire areas in minutes, a big advancement over virtual tours or slide shows. Buyers can see a dollhouse view, an inside view and a floorplan view. In addition, more homes are getting their own “feature films” that help a potential buyer “see” a property before actually visiting it.

In September 2017, Keller Williams unveiled its Keller Cloud intelligent technology that helps real estate agents connect in real time with real estate-specific artificial intelligence. This technology partners with OJO, a chat bot similar to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. As with these popular technologies, anyone can ask a real estate-related question and be directed immediately to an answer, free of charge. If no answer is available, a Realtor will be immediately notified to respond. Keller Cloud also collects information based on your queries to help form a search based on your preferences, which is forwarded to your agent to pinpoint properties to present. It is available only through a Keller Williams agent.

Still think you don’t need to use a Realtor?

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