A recent collection of lawsuits has people wondering whether or not real estate agents are necessary anymore. In fact, they are being compared to video rental stores, an industry that is almost extinct in today’s world of internet accessibility.

Real estate information is readily available on multiple websites including MLS.com, Zillow, and Redfin. This has potential buyers and sellers feeling forced into contractual obligations with the realtor industry that force people to pay money to a third party in order to purchase a home. With standard rates reaching as high as 6 percent, it is understandable that people want change.

In the past, only real estate agents had access to all of the home listings on the market. Today, it requires a real estate license to get your home on the MLS, but you can pay out of pocket for this service instead of tacking the real estate fees onto the purchase price of the home. This is much less expensive, but you don’t get all the benefits of having a real estate agent.

This leads one to the question: what good is a real estate agent? This question has many hard-working agents exasperated at the thought that so many people undervalue their services. In reality, the home buying process is held to a higher standard because of the real estate agency industry, and agents simplify the process with their connections and know-how.

If you are selling a home, your real estate agent will interact with multiple buyers and direct them to your home when it seems a good fit. This is something that only live interaction with a person can accomplish. No amount of pictures online can replace this action for sellers or buyers. They streamline the process by showing homes that fit the wants and needs of a potential buyer.

If you are buying a home, it is much easier to deal with the bank, the seller, and the title company throughout the home purchase if you have an agent. Need a home inspection? Your realtor can provide you with a list. Want to view multiple homes in one day? Your realtor can get access. Realtors work for no charge until you buy a home, and they will tirelessly show you homes until you find the right fit.

Most importantly, real estate agencies abide by a code of ethics that includes social responsibility. Imagine a world not regulated by agencies such as the National Association of Realtors. Good luck avoiding misrepresentation of homes and corruption scandals.

Realtors are underappreciated, but you don’t have to buy a home through a realtor. There are many for-sale-by-owner options. But just like all other sales options, it is good to have professionals in the field that can streamline the process and create ethical boundaries.