Putting out a “For Sale By Owner” sign is tempting. You certainly cannot be blamed for wondering if you could do it all yourself. It’s not impossible, but it may be a bigger job than you realize. Before taking it on, here are six issues to seriously consider.
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 the MLS as the superhighway for marketing homes — a listing there will reach far more potential buyers than a “For Sale By Owner” sign in your yard. The only way to get listed on the MLS is through a licensed real estate agent. Additionally, 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 (CMA) of your home in relation to neighboring properties, which will help you determine an appropriate asking price for your home.
As technology has grown more sophisticated and buyers increasingly want to shop for homes from the comfort of their living room, the demand for top-quality video tours has grown. It’s possible a buyer will purchase a house without ever setting foot inside it following a video viewing. Pulling off an excellent home video tour is a technical production best handled by pros that know how to make your home the star of the show.
Bringing qualified buyers
When you try selling by owner, prospective buyers may call and email or just stop by, no matter how clearly you state in an ad or flyer that your home is “Shown by appointment only.” Browsers may knock and ask if they can see your home when your house isn’t prepared to be shown. Likewise, these buyers may themselves be unprepared, having not yet spoken with a mortgage company about pre approval. If a drop-in buyer doesn’t yet know if he can afford your home, he’s wasting your time.
A trained agent will bring only those prospective buyers who are looking for homes similar to yours at a price they can afford.
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, closings and legal issues of a FSBO
How often have you dealt with real estate contracts? Real estate salespeople deal with them daily. The home sales contract contains several pages of dense legal language divided into many sections and subjects. One misstep could cost you a lot of money or time, yet many FSBO sellers get confused by what to fill into each blank and what this or that clause means. 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. They can also 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, 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. Your agent should prepare you for these steps and help you interact with the seller, navigating the deal to a successful closing.
Price considerations of a “For Sale by Owner”
You may primarily be interested in selling without an agent because you think you’ll save money on her commission. But research shows you may net less money overall if you go it alone. Sellers who use an agent typically sell for a price about 6 percent higher than FSBOs. The reason is that by listing your home on the MLS, the agent can bring in many more buyers, which can lead to more offers and even a bidding war.
Related – How to Hire the Right Listing Agent