Real Estate Agent or No Real Estate Agent??


I am a licensed real estate agent, but also am part of our family investment company.  This means I get to look at each deal through two sets of glasses and argue different points of deals with my husband and the rest of our team.  That makes for fun times, let me tell you.  Anyway, I got my license specifically to help with the investment side of our family’s business and it has been an amazing asset.  In my opinion (and it’s just that, my opinion), I believe that investors should actively pursue obtaining their license.  If not, at the minimum they should find a great agent or two for their team.

Why, you ask?  There are several reasons but I would like to focus on just two.  You can add your own if you like.

First of all, real estate agents have access to the great and powerful MLS.

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1.) MLS Access

Your agent will have access to information such as comparable sales, tax records (yes you can do this research on your own, but it’s faster as an agent) and the history of a property or neighborhood.  This is great information to have not only when purchasing a property but when choosing your exit strategy.  And of course the exit strategy should always be in the forefront of the investors mind.  Don’t wait until you’ve acquired a property to come up with one.  That can be the kiss of death.

Speaking of your exit strategy, if you intend to flip your subject property instead of  holding on to it, you’ll want to get it listed on the open market.  I know there are flat fee listing services out there and if it works for you, great.  However, nothing beats having an agent in your corner that knows the area and your competition.  I personally don’t put a whole lot of stock in open houses and sexy looking print ads.  The savvy person knows it’s all about the internet these days.  Most MLS’s distribute listing information into sites like where everyone seems to go these days.  According to the National Association of Realtors, 80% of home sales happen through the MLS.  Now, that’s not to say that as an investor you should put all your eggs in one basket.  You’ve got to look at your market (every one is different) and your property to see what works.  But those kinds of statistics shouldn’t be ignored either.

The second reason I recommend working with an agent is for Negotiation Strategy.

2.) Negotiation Strategy

I know I will get some argument from this and again, this is my opinion.  Having an agent brings in a 3rd party element that takes some of the heat out of the fire.  Although you may be calm, cool, and all business, you are more than likely dealing with an emotional buyer on the other end.  Sometimes it’s good just to have that go between.  If I allowed some of the responses to some of the offers through to our buyers in certain situations, WW III would have ensued.  It’s important to have someone with tact on your team to represent you.  It’s essential that you are honest enough with yourself to realize that may not be you….Fortunately for us, my husband recognizes that.  But I digress.

Again, these are my opinions and what has worked for us.  Having your license is a powerful tool in today’s market, but if you choose not to get yours (it is quite painful to attain) then partner with a good agent or two.  Now if you find agents that you are satisfied with, take good care of them.  Don’t two-time them or pit them against other agents, yet be real and honest.  Take care of them and you’ll have loyal agents for the life of your business.

What are your thoughts?

Happy investing.
Photo: Ludovic Bertron

About Author

Katherine Grote, co-founder of I Buy Austin, (Google+) has been involved in real estate for 7 years. Through her experience, Katherine has gained the expertise to sell a home fast. With experience in short sales, REO's, multi-family, and rentals, Katherine is a well-rounded licensed Realtor as well as an avid investor in residential properties.


    • Thanks Brian… I know there are those who won’t work with an agent because they feel it can save them money on commission and perhaps can negotiate a better price as well. I just think there are some things that are invaluable and the tools and resources that an agent can bring to the table are some of those.
      Thanks for reading!

  1. Hi Katherine,

    I am in Los Angeles.
    In California, the Dept of RE (DRE) likes a licensed agent to be talking to sellers and buyers about anything RE: leasing, buying, optioning. My team who are agents can talk to other agents better than I can re: offers to lease, lease purchase, or purchase.
    And we close in an attorney’s office. Many CA RE Lawyers are also licensed to sell and lease.
    So being licensed helps, at least in CA!

  2. I got my real estate license specifically to gain access to the market, the MLS, and possible deals to snag before they get listed. I am a full-time real estate agent with my eyes open all the time for a deal. I may buy it, I may pass it on to my investors, or I may sell it, but one way or another I will try to make money off of it. I think if you really want to be an investor, it’s critical to be in the market as much as possible, and for me, that means being a real estate agent that specializes in investments. Also, the money you will save in commissions will pay for the cost of having your license. It’s worth it.

  3. I totally agree that a real estate license enhances your investment business. My wife and I were heavily into short sales 5 years ago in Ohio. We used to flip most of them, until banks required listing short sales and double closings became really difficult. We ended up with a number of fully negotiated short sales, i.e. we had an approved payoff letter, but could not flip them. So we ended up handing these deals to a real estate agent as an easy listing. Because he knew an acceptable payoff, the agent could list the property way below market and could sell it easily.

    That’s when it made sense for one of us (my wife) to get here license. In the meantime, we probably made more money from commissions than from flipping homes.

    • Hi Kurt,
      I got my license specifically to help our family investment biz but I too have reaped the benefits of the commissions and other deals. I got into short sales the exact opposite way you did! We started getting leads off of our website that weren’t good potentials for flips and were short sales. I’ve spent the last year on the agent side working nothing but short sales. As you know these days short sales aren’t always a good potential for a flip…although sometimes they can be a good option for buy and holds/rentals. Anyway, although the biggest pain, they’ve been incredibly lucrative over the past year. I’ve been lucky and have had about a 90% success rate in getting them closed but they are not easy.

      I can’t reiterate enough the importance I think having your license is. Or if someone doesn’t want to spend the time and money for one, find a good agent for your team! 🙂
      Thanks for reading and happy investing!

  4. Good article Katherine.

    Brian, I am a Real Estate Broker serving two states and it does depend on the local real estate departments guidelines.

    Now for my two cents… it’s always a good idea to have a professional on your team that knows the market to assist and guide when needed. I like to use a somewhat over-inflated analogy “You don’t just guess if you have a broken leg, you go to a doctor… so then why would you guess about buying a home and it’s value” get a licensed professional to help you… always!

    Jason Thoele

    Tholco Real Estate Group – – We are here to handle all your Real Estate business, browse our website for Homes for Sale, Real Estate Agents, Property Management services, Mortgage and Financing options and Homes for Rent.

  5. Just make sure that you find a realtor who understands real estate investment. and preferably is an investor themselves. Most couldn’t tell an investment from a hole in the ground.

    I have my license and got it exclusively for my business. However I have branched out and work with other real estate investors now. I couldn’t imagine investing without MLS access, it makes it so easy to run comps. On top of that not only do I save myself 3% on every transaction but my license actually makes money for me.

    I didn’t find the licensing requirements too bad. Very boring but not difficult and you can do it online. I had been reading about real estate for years and worked for a brokerage for two years so I am sure that helped.

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