Selling and buying a home is a complicated process and it's likely the most expensive transaction you'll make. Using a real estate agent to help you through the process can have a number of advantages.
First, the real estate agent has experience with the procedure and the paperwork. Often this means that the agent is licensed and has studied the complex web of laws and regulations related to buying and selling a house. Your real estate agent's experience also includes a network of other professionals you'll need along the way, such as appraisers, inspectors, contractors and landscapers. Of course, the greatest value of your real estate agent should come when discussing price. The real estate agent should have the experience to gauge the market and know how to best price your house. Indeed, some buyers may make a low-ball offer if you're not using an agent because they know you're not paying a commission. Whatever the initial offer, the agent will also be able to handle the negotiations to ensure a good price.
A real estate agent can also save you time and energy, making the entire process more convenient for you. The agent will handle showing the house so you don't have to make all those appointments yourself, or even be present. In addition, real estate agents can plan special types of showing to large groups of buying agents at once, which can quickly get your home known in the local market. Furthermore, the agent can easily distinguish between serious, qualified buyers and people just looking around.
Real estate agents also have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a huge online database of homes for sale all over the country. If you're buying a home, you can access the MLS for free; however, if you're selling your home, you'll have to pay a fee to get it listed.