Though most homes for sale are widely available for buyers to assess on Web sites, in some cases, sellers don't want the fact that they're selling to be widely publicized. In those cases, only the real estate agents know the houses are for sale.
"Sometimes people don't want it advertised actively," Mendenhall says. "Maybe it's a more for personal reason, that they don't want their neighbors or friends to know that their house is for sale."
Sometimes health problems, financial problems or divorce factor into the need for privacy. Or sometimes, people don't want the sale advertised during the holidays. Either way, working with a real estate agent gives you access to homes you might otherwise miss seeing.