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Do you really need a real estate agent to buy a home?


Real estate agents, at their best, are troubleshooters. If they have experience, they can anticipate a host of problems that can sink a deal.

Elizabeth Mendenhall, the 2011 vice president of committees for the National Association of Realtors, says that it's important to have an agent available in any transaction, even if one of the parties has no representation. "When that happens, it's even more important that one of the parties is working with a real estate agent," she says. This ensures that at least someone involved in the deal in knowledgeable and experienced.

Agents save time at the beginning of the purchase simply because they know not only the square footage, but also the floor plans and color schemes of the homes on the market. They can save deals at the end of the process by identifying which repairs are necessary and which ones aren't. They also make sure the title is clear and the house can be sold, and that the bank is up to speed on the financing before escrow closes.

With all these benefits, hiring a real estate agent to help you purchase a home just might be worth the expense.