Don't go it alone

When you’re ready to file your income taxes, you use the services of an accountant to be sure you do it right. When you are writing a will, you use the services of an attorney to be sure your wishes are carried out appropriately.

So it follows that if you are buying or selling your home, you would seek the services of a real estate professional.

Generally, a home is the single largest purchase most of us will ever make, and it makes good business sense to rely on someone who has expertise, training and experience in the real estate industry to help.

Contract process knowledge

Buying or selling a home requires a legal contract. A real estate professional can help you understand what the contract does and doesn’t cover. However, always contact an attorney to answer any questions about a contract and provide legal advice.

Even things as simple as making sure the family heirloom antique chandelier hanging in your dining room does not convey with the house must be spelled out in the contract.

Negotiating skills

Discussions between a buyer and seller can be emotional. There is a lot of money involved. And, more important, the discussion is about a home. It may be that you are selling the home where your children grew up or you are buying the first house that you will make into a home.

Either way, this is a transaction with a lot of heart. A real estate professional knows the process and can be objective while looking out for your best interests.

Marketing expertise

Selling a home is all about marketing the home to the right people. According to ViaSearch’s 2003 New Home Buyer Report, nearly 50 percent of homes in the Atlanta market priced over $750,000 are sold to buyers relocating to Atlanta.

How do you find these transferees? A strong real estate company has a relationship with a relocation network that works with Fortune 500 companies and individuals who are moving across town or across the country.

In addition, a sales associate has a built-in network of fellow sales associates who are working with buyers in various price ranges. A sales associate works for you by sharing information about your home via the Internet, office meetings, flyers and phone calls.

Studies show that nearly 75 percent of buyers use the Internet as a tool when searching for a home. The real estate Web sites with the largest audience, such as, contain only those homes represented by a professional real estate agent.

Related services

When you are buying a home, most likely you will need a mortgage. And when you are selling your home, you want to be sure that the prospective buyer will qualify for financing so the deal doesn’t fall through at the final hour. Your real estate agent can help recommend a lender that offers a pre-approval letter for peace of mind.

If you are buying a resale home, you may want to look into a home warranty to protect you from expensive repairs. Your sales associate can help you in this area as well.

Home owners’ insurance, title insurance and closing services are some of the basics, but a good real estate agent will recommend vendors including plumbers, painters, utility connections and more.

The bottom line is, you make smart business decisions all day long at the office. Make one at home, too. When you need real estate services, seek out a professional. Charlotte Sears is executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The company includes 27 real estate branches plus specialty divisions — The Condo Store, Builder Developer Services, Commercial and Corporate Relocation. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is a member of the NRT family of companies. For more information, call (40)705-1500 or visit