What can a real estate agent do for me when I want to sell my home? The data tell the story: A real estate agent can sell your house faster and for a higher price than you would get by selling it on your own. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, properties sold by an agent sold for $41,000 more. Owner-sold properties sold for $174,900 in 2012 while agent-sold properties averaged $215,000. People are getting the message. The number of people attempting to sell their own homes dropped from 20 percent to 9 percent during the last decade. No wonder. The legal paperwork and contracts are complicated today and 19 percent say they have problems understanding how to draw up contracts and legal documents. About 15 percent of sellers without an agent have problems getting the right price for the property and another 15 percent are confused about what fix-ups will make their property reach its full sales potential. Professional agents simply have an advantage in this area. A professional agent is familiar with the prices of similar homes in your area and can help you adjust the asking price higher or lower. Either way, the property will sell faster if the price is right. Real estate agents are good at pricing because they remove themselves from the emotional aspects of selling. Taking the misery out of finding a buyer is one of a real estate agent's great services. You won't be bothered by odd telephone calls and obvious "lookers" who just want to see your place. It will only be shown to serious and qualified buyers. Marketing is a big part of the agent's job. He or she will photograph the home and advertise it at no cost to you. It will be included in the Multiple Listing Service so anyone in the country can see it. Handling the volume of paperwork involved in a closing is part of the agent's job. Today, some purchase agreements are 10 pages long. Add to that the federal, state, and local disclosure papers. The agent can provide a list of professionals you can choose from whose services will be needed to close the deal. After the closing and sale are complete, questions can arise on subjects that did not have to be considered at the closing. Your agent will still be there for you to help you with any questions about property tax assessments or other matters that could come up months after the sale. Are you a buyer? If you want to buy a home, don't just call the number on the sales sign and expect to make your best deal. Without an agent, a buyer has no leverage. It would be like going to court and letting the other guy's lawyer represent you both. Agents also help by giving buyers more choices, finding properties that fit your needs, wishes, and price range, saving you a great deal of time and trouble. After that comes the price negotiating, helping to find financing, and everything to do with the closing. For that, buyers need someone on their side who is experienced at negotiating.