That's the question many first-time home sellers are asking this century. A recent article in the New York Times Magazine by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt (authors of Freakonomics) begins to analyze exactly what an agent brings to the table. Their conclusion is,
...it is hard to imagine that the market will allow Realtors to maintain their hefty commissions.Needless to say, their opinions have generated a lot of discussion. Further background information can be found on their site. Most interestingly, it seems Levitt is planning a substantially more in-depth paper to properly evaluate the situation.
I have to admit I foresee the real estate agent going the way of the travel agent. Hello Internet, good bye 6% commission.