Selling your home is a tricky process. As though moving isn’t already stressful enough, there are so many decisions to be made when putting your home on the market. Do you need to repaint the living room? How do you hold an open house? Why are there so many different real estate websites? Why use a real estate agent?
Many home sellers bump up against this last question during the selling process. Why use a real estate agent? If you’ve lived in a house for years and poured all your blood, sweat and tears into keeping it up, why would you let a real estate agent skim a commission off the sale? Selling a house by yourself is called “FSBO,” or “for sale by owner.” When you go the FSBO route, all profits are yours and you don’t have to pay a commission. To make the decision between FSBO and selling with a real estate agent, you need to know what a agent can actually do for you (and your bottom line).
Selling with a real estate agent: Pros and cons
Pro: You have someone to rely on.
A real estate agent is your go-to person for all of your questions, comments and concerns.
Pro: They bring their experience to the table.
Real estate agents know the laws of buying and selling homes in their area, and they’re knowledgeable about the trends in the housing market. While you might have only sold a home once or twice in your life, real estate agents do it every day, and they’re very familiar with the process.
Real estate agents know how to price your home appropriately, and they know what works when marketing a property. Unlike the homeowner, they don’t look at a house with rose-colored glasses. They see the property for what it is – or what it could be with a new coat of paint.
Pro: They take on the extra work of selling a house.
Why use a real estate agent? Well, it’s their job to sell your house, and since they work on commission, a good agent will do everything they can to get you the best price.
Selling a house can often feel like a full-time job – which can be difficult if you already have a day job. With a real estate agent, you can hand off the responsibility to someone else.
Real estate agents can coordinate home inspections and appraisals, even during times of the day when you’re away at work. They can also photograph your home or even hire a photographer to take high quality pictures to go with your online listings. You can rely on aegents to coordinate open houses and to show your house. You don’t even have to be there.
Pro: They’re whizzes at paperwork.
Real estate agents can help you handle the mountain of paperwork that comes with selling a home. They can help you with things from home insurance, to titles, to contracts and more. A good agent will also make sure that your prospective buyer is pre-approved for a home loan.
Con: Nobody works for free.
Real estate agents make their living by helping people buy and sell homes. They’re not volunteers, and they’re not running a charity. Most will take a commission of around 6 or 7% of your home’s final sale price, though that can vary. It is highly irregular for an agent to earn a salary outside of their commission.
Con: You have to trust a stranger with your greatest financial asset.
Real estate agents deal with the buying and selling of homes every day, but this is your house. It’s important to you. This is not only a person that is going to sell your house – this is a person who will probably spend some time alone in your house. Before you hire a real estate agent, make sure you’re comfortable with that.
Be wary of red flags. If a real estate agent immediately suggests listing the highest price for your house first, if they’re not familiar with your neighborhood, or if they’re flaky with communication, they are not the one for you.
For Sale by Owner: Pros and cons
Pro: You don’t have to pay a real estate agent commission.
People are usually attracted to FSBO (pronounced “fizzbo”) because they don’t want to relinquish 7 percent of their home’s final sale price. They would rather save that money for something else. When you’re selling your own home, you don’t need to worry about paying anybody else for the privilege.
Pro: The dedication of a homeowner.
No one will be more dedicated to selling your home than you are. Real estate agents have other clients that they have to deal with, other fires that they have to put out. Your only focus is on your particular sale.
Con: You’re probably learning on the fly.
This is not the most ideal time to be learning new skills – and it’s definitely not an arena that you want to make mistakes in. If you list your house too high right out of the gate, for example, you could sit on the market for months on end. If you get distracted by too many last-minute renovations in the hopes of increasing your property value, you could dig yourself into a financial hole.
Con: You might not save as much as you think.
FSBO properties can be hotspots for buyers looking for a bargain – from house-flippers to plain old tightwads. People assume that FSBO sellers are willing to settle for lower prices, or that they can’t negotiate for themselves. Be careful that you don’t get taken advantage of!
Editor’s note: We appreciate the personal real estate stories that have been shared by members. Since many contain potentially identifying information, we are unable to publish them at this time.
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