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Let's say you've decided to remodel. Although you may be somewhat handy, you know you're better off hiring an expert, someone who knows the ins and outs, who's familiar with regulations and red tape. After all, why take a risk and go it alone when this little venture may drain your checkbook of a few thousand dollars?

Now consider a home sale transaction. In this case, a buyer or seller may have many reasons for involving a professional. Given the sizeable monetary outlay - possibly the single largest financial transaction in a person's lifetime - it seems reasonable, even smart, to call in a specialist.

Why use an agent? Real estate professionals have evolved from being singularly focused on the purchase or sale of a property to being multifaceted, hands-on, and skilled negotiators, typically providing countless services to ensure clients have a smooth transaction. For example, an agent may introduce buyers to new neighbors and assist with registering children at school. A relocation specialist may act as a single point of contact to coordinate all aspects of the move, provide a relocation kit as well as personalized relocation counseling arrange and lead an area orientation tour, and more, depending on client need.

Real estate professionals rely on specialized knowledge and experience to move easily in and out of these various roles during a single transaction:

Marketing Manager - To position a home to sell quickly and at a profit, a comprehensive marketing strategy needs to be developed. Successful strategies generally include sharing information through the local multiple listing service, promoting the home to other sales associates, placing ads, featuring the home on the broker's website, developing fact sheets, installing a exterior sign, and planning and conducting open houses. A sales associate can handle calls, schedule appointments and show the home for you.

Transaction Coordinator - As a single point of contact, a sales associate can manage the entire transaction including coordinating inspections, keeping in touch with the other agent, managing the documentation for the loan process or following up on the progress of the buyer's loan, monitoring deadlines associated with contingencies, providing applicable paperwork, estimating closing costs, and helping prepare for a smooth and uneventful closing.

Property Specialist - A sales associate can assist buyers with identifying houses that meet their needs and provide objective information about each property. For sellers, a sales associate can determine a realistic selling price based on comparable sales, local market conditions and motivation to sell in addition to advising sellers on how to prepare the property to be shown.

Skilled Negotiator - Buyers and sellers benefit from working with a strong advocate during the negotiating process. A sales associate can help you objectively evaluate an offer then work to negotiate a favorable contract. During the process, he or she will review the contract and obligations before you sign, explain how contingencies and release clauses work, and so on.

Trusted Advisor - A sales associate can familiarize you with the processes involved in buying or selling a home, alert you to potential risks, help you determine how much house you can afford, explain alternative financing strategies, as well as provide tremendous moral support.