I've only had my real estate license for a year now. But what an eye-opener this year has been! I agree that a 6% commission seems like a lot of money, but we really work for it! Obviously, all the services we provide are directed toward alleviating the stress of buying and selling your home. Pick up any book on stress and you'll find the purchase of a new home right up there at the top with getting a divorce, changing jobs, or moving. It's a very emotional experience and a good real estate agent is worth his/her weight in gold to help make the transaction an easier one.
Certainly, there are a few owners who have the knowledge and time to carry out a transaction to completion successfully. But the majority are untrained and unaware of all the pitfalls.
Consider all the stumbling blocks: advertising, showing your own home every weekend, taking all the phone calls (and not just from realtors calling to help because they know from past experience that frustrated sellers often turn over to an agent in the end), making appointments, waiting and waiting for the "no-shows," negotiating, closing the sale, getting a deposit, finding a good escrow company, shopping for the best lender, working with the appraiser for a fair price, locating the best and least expensive title company, and keeping on top of all these different people (sometimes daily) to do their jobs properly and not drop the ball. Not to mention trying to coordinate a three-way-plus transaction--i.e., buying a new home and selling your home to a buyer who must sell his home, etc., and trying to close them all concurrently!