By Amanda Ventura

Homeowners have more tools than ever before to market and sell their property. Do they even need a realtor to field offers?

Realtors, of course, say yes. But so does research.

If a homeowner wants more money out of the sale, a realtor may be the way to go – commission and all.

For-Sale-By-Owner homes, or FSBOs, fetched an average of $210,000 last year. On the other hand, the National Association of Realtors reports that homes sold by agents, on average, make $249,000.

At an average commission of 6 percent, that means homeowners can still come out ahead by using a realtor. The perks can range from professional photography, complimentary Zillow listings as well as years of experience learned through hundreds of transactions.

You’re exposed to more qualified buyers when working with an agent,” says HomeSmart agent Rodney Coty.

There are many web services and apps that help listings reach more potential buyers – Zillow and OpenDoor leading the pack among them. In the current economic climate, homeowners can feel empowered to take as much of the home sale process into their own hands to save broker fees.

Consumer exposure on the web isn’t enough,” says Todd Sumney, chief marketing officer at HomeSmart. “Otherwise, Zillow would be No. 1 in selling homes.”

OpenDoor is a service that offers to buy homes in cash from sellers or “trade” homes for sellers who choose to buy through the company.

OpenDoor takes the risk out of the selling process,” says HomeSmart Elite Group REALTOR Neil Brooks. He says he can see OpenDoor working for busy families who live in cities such as Buckeye and don’t have time to entertain prospective buyers. When it comes to fees, though, Brooks does warn that OpenDoor premiums can reach 9 to 11 percent depending on the home’s location.

Coty points out agents’ relationships with cash-only investors offer something similar to OpenDoor.

While a supporter and user of Zillow, Brooks says homeowners shouldn’t discount the importance of working with an agent throughout the entire sale process.

From preparing a home for showing to ensuring the legal T’s and I’s are minded to, an agent can make the process smoother, quicker and maximize the value a seller receives.

No two transactions are the same,” says Sumney. “Ask yourself what you don’t know. For example, the statistics, data and experience a realtor brings to the table is priceless. Finally, ask yourself what your time is worth.”