In a tight economy, the jury is out on whether a real estate agent is really necessary when you're selling a house. But it's definitely something to consider -- even the executive of a top for-sale-by-owner Web site advocates working with a real estate agent when you buy.
"If the buyer has an agent, that helps," says Steve Udelson, CEO of Owners.com. "If you end up paying 3 percent, so what?" While you'll pay for the agent's services, it may be well worth the cost.
In Udelson's company model, sellers can pay several hundred dollars to have their homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the master list of homes for sale that reaches virtually every real estate Web site. The company also sells yard signs, professional photo packages and the services of real estate brokers to review paperwork. But in many cases, Udelson says, a buyer's agent can keep the deal on track.
Read on to see how else a real estate agent might be able to help you through the buying process.