You’ve decided to sell your home! Congratulations! So with all the technology and information available to help you sell your own home, should you do a FSBO (for sale by owner)?
It depends. If you have a good personality and can embark on a well-planned sales and marketing campaign; if you can drop everything to show your house and talk to potential buyers; if you can have thick skin when a potential buyer disses your decorating; if you can negotiate the legal requirements and paperwork; then maybe you’re ok to try and sell your home yourself.
But selling your home yourself is more than just getting a “Home for Sale” sign in the yard. You need to have a sales plan. And be ready to invest a lot of time and effort into the process.
Real estate agents work to smooth the process of selling your home. They are your advocate. Listing agents work to get the most money for your home, in the least amount of time, with the fewest headaches along the way.
Selling your home is typically an emotional process. Having an agent keeps you one step removed and makes you less likely to make stupid mistakes such as overpricing your home, refusing to counter a low offer because you’re offended or giving in too easily when you have a deadline for selling your home.
If you forgo an agent, you’ll also have to deal directly with rejection every time a potential buyer is not interested. An agent can take the sting out of the rejection and put a positive spin on any negative feedback.
One of the first and most important jobs of your agent will be to make sure your home is priced correctly. Pricing a home too high can cause major issues in the sale. Buyers may avoid it, and if they avoid the home long enough, it will develop a bad reputation. Eventually, you will be forced to drop the price to be competitive in the marketplace, but by that point, the bad rep will have stuck.
Agents should also be marketing the heck out of your property. Your agent should take great pictures of your home. In today’s world, buyers are looking at pictures online to decide if they want to take the time to see a house in person. Bad pictures or no pictures will not entice buyers to your home.
In addition to using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), your agent should send your listing to multiple public real estate websites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com, and Zillow.com to name just a few. Your real estate agent should also have a website that showcases their properties for sale, and should be using social media to market your home.
Agents will also make sure that the buyers who are looking at your property are actually able to buy your home. Anybody can say they are interested, but not everyone can afford to buy your home and get a mortgage. A good agent will make sure buyers are pre-approved and aren’t just window shopping.
An agent will coordinate all of the showings and handle all calls and inquiries on your property. When selling your own home, you will need to be available to show your property at various times. You will also need to field numerous calls at all different hours of the day. Can you rush home from work every time someone wants to see your home? Can you excuse yourself from a meeting every time your phone rings with a potential buyer? At the end of a long work day, do you have the energy to take advantage of every possible opportunity to market your home? An agent will handle this for you.
Everything is negotiable in a real estate contract. A good agent can submit counter offers to get a better price. If a client wants adjustments to contingency clauses or closing times, a real estate agent can handle the negotiation process.
During the home selling process, issues may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud on the title is discovered. Your agent can objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.
There are many fees involved in selling a home such as title preparation, pro-rated real estate taxes, conveyance fees, negotiated buyer’s closing costs, etc. Your real estate agent will give you a detailed estimate of all of the fees so that you won’t be blindsided at closing and have a good idea of what you will net from the sale.
The required paperwork for a home sale can be overwhelming. A real estate agent will handle all of the paperwork and communication with the buyer’s agent, title company, and lender to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. By completing the sale yourself, you can put yourself at risk for being sued. If forms are filled out incorrectly (especially the property disclosure), the seller can be held liable for fraud, negligence or breach of contract. Your agent is familiar with the paperwork and the laws. Agents can and do make mistakes too, but they have professional insurance to protect themselves.
Selling a home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life and can be very stressful, but when you have an agent in your corner who is taking care of the little details, the burden can be eased just a bit.
Hopefully, you now understand the things to expect from a real estate agent and what you will have to shoulder if you decide to do it on your own.
Good luck in selling your home! I hope you have a profitable and speedy sale whether you hire an agent or go the FSBO route.
By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor