Anyone who has ever sold a home through an agent has no doubt looked at the closing statement and seen how much was paid in commission. It might prompt you to ask, “Could I have sold this home myself and saved all that money?”
Putting out a “For Sale By Owner” sign is tempting. You certainly cannot be blamed for wondering if you could do it all yourself and save thousands in commissions. It’s doable, but before taking it on, here are six things to give serious consideration:
Agents are home-marketing specialists. First and foremost, agents can list your home on the network known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where all agents search for homes for prospective buyers. Think of it as the super highway for marketing homes, admissible only through a licensed real estate agent. Second, agents have been trained in how to show a home and guide prospective buyers through a home’s top selling features. Finally, an agent can perform a Comparative Market Analysis of your home in relation to neighboring properties, which will help you determine an appropriate asking price for your home.
Bringing qualified buyers. When you try selling by owner, prospective buyers may call and email or just stop by — regardless of how serious they are about purchasing a home. They may — or may not — have talked to a mortgage company about prequalifying. No matter how clearly you state in an ad or flyer “Shown by appointment only,” you also are likely to receive calls from folks who are sitting in their cars out front. People may even knock and ask it they can see your home when your house isn’t prepared to be shown. A trained agent will only bring prospective buyers looking for homes with features similar to yours at a price they can afford.
Expert negotiators. You may feel confident in your negotiation skills, but they aren’t likely to be specific to real estate deals. Real estate agents make their living negotiating the best deals for their clients. Tell them what you need for your home sale and that’s what they use their expertise to accomplish.
Contracts and closings. How often have you dealt with real estate contracts? Real estate sales people deal with them daily. The home sales contract is several pages of dense legal language divided into many sections and subjects. One misstep could cost you a lot of money or time. Although agents aren’t typically lawyers and aren’t qualified to give legal advice, they are familiar with each section of the contract, how to fill it out and how to best navigate your deal to a successful closing.
Legal issues. Agents help sellers interpret the real estate jargon and legalese that goes along with selling a property. For instance, an agent can be depended upon to explain issues of title transfer and any mandatory disclosure laws. Agents also help keep sellers from inadvertently violating civil rights and fair housing laws when advertising.
The finish line. Once a contract is signed, an agent helps navigate the deal to closing, managing players on both sides of the deal. The buyer’s lender will send an appraiser to your home. The buyer will probably have the house inspected. You may be required to hire contractors to make repairs. Part of the agent’s job is to help you manage these interactions to successful completion.
Selling your home yourself can certainly be done. But before you take that big leap, consider the complexities of the process and whether you might be better off hiring a professional.