Generally speaking, I have been a strong proponent for Do It Yourself Real Estate at times, more times than most agents. But I have to say I'm doing a complete about face in 2008. It's a really bad time to not have someone assist you in navigating through the process of buying or selling real estate, and having an agent vs. not having an agent can clearly make the difference between a soft and hard landing.
I love the visual of the guy in front being the person looking at property to buy, or a seller trying to figure out how to sell their home in this market.
NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, and you clearly may know a whole lot, you can't possibly have enough volume of info in your everyday experience to match the knowledge of a professional in this market. Honestly, even the best of us are having trouble trying to stay on top of everything that is happening out there.
For buyers, choosing "the wrong" property or overpaying for a property is clearly more dangerous now than it was in 2003 or 2004. For sellers, being on market 60 days longer than you could have been, can clearly cost you money when the market is trending down on a weekly basis.
I have no idea why many agents want to pretend the market is better than it is. When the market is going up, people need an agent less. The market is NOT going up. We are NOT at bottom. And having someone to guide you through is more imporant now than ever.