Given all the tools the Internet and modern innovation make available to consumers in general, some may wonder whether they truly need an agent to help sell their home. If having doubts, homeowners looking to sell should consider what a professional brings to the table.

For starters, MSN Real Estate notes real estate agents are familiar with all the federal, state and local laws, regulations and codes which can affect the sales process. While it is possible for consumers to learn this information, it is time-consuming and difficult. If a mistake creeps into the transaction, it can result in serious legal consequences and financial costs.

Contacts and price

Homes are the most expensive asset most people ever own, and the process of selling one involves a number of professionals. If the home buyer has an agent but the seller does not, then the seller may find himself at a disadvantage due to his or her relative lack of experience. Sellers may have to deal with lenders, contractors, inspectors, appraisers, lawyers and more, depending on the specific location and circumstances. Real estate agents know where to find competent professionals and how to deal with them.

According to U.S. News and World Report, professionals can help by sorting potential home buyers and ensuring they are qualified and able to afford a home to avoid wasting the sellers’ time. While some home sellers think there is a potential for profit by avoiding the agent’s fee, the truth is that many end up signing with a broker after months of searching for a home buyer. Those who do sell may find their price lowered to the point that they have gained nothing.

What agents can do

An agent knows not only real estate in general, but the local market in particular. He or she can access and interpret data on current market trends, recent sales nearby and all the other factors which affect price. This allows a competitive price to be set, and means having an experienced, informed advisor on hand during negotiations later.

Of course, advertising and negotiation are the beginning and end of the process, and the middle is also important. An agent can provide tips on how to prepare a home for prospective buyer walk-throughs, decorations, repairs and any other steps that should be taken. It may be wisest to perform some actions before putting the home on the market, before a buyer visit, or before closing. Agents are professional guides who can help sellers determine who to contact, what to do. They can also explain when and how to execute steps of the process, which are difficult details for the inexperienced to fill in.