Some people wonder whether they can sell their home on their own or whether they need to find a real estate agent to oversee the sale. For some reasons, there are people nowadays who don’t trust agents and don’t really understand what advantage they will bring, as they might be able to do the work themselves. Anyway, you can now sell your house via online marketplaces like Zillow.com, Trulia.com and even on Facebook.
Do I need a real estate agent?
When it comes to abiding the law, there is actually no rule that mandates that you need to hire a professional, certified real estate agent so you can sell your home legally. However, there are some states that require you to hire a real estate agent to handle the necessary paperwork for closing the home sale.
Some sellers can manage their business on their own, and an agent is not always completely needed. It depends on how much money you want to make, since selling on your own means you don’t have to give significant commissions to the agent. But it also depends on the location of your property. If your state requires you to have a real estate agent, then do so.
What do I have to know if I want to sell my home by myself?
Selling your property without hiring a real estate agent could mean thousands of dollars back to you, which sounds tempting as housing prices rise. If you sell your home by yourself, you will offer it as “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO). This is a great way for you to receive the full sale price of your home without needing to pay commission fees. There are many websites that allow you to offer your home as FSBO and skip the listing agent part.
But as you sell your house along the way, you’ll realize why real estate agents charge the commissions they do. If you want to do it on your own, you must be prepared to invest more time, energy and effort than you think you should.
Before you put up a “For Sale by Owner” sign, check out the market in your area first. If your area is a buyer’s market, you need may find it harder to sell your house by yourself, because you have to compete against real estate agents whose sole jobs is to sell homes. You, however, has to balance your life and work and investing some time to market your home. The best place for selling a house by yourself is when there’s a seller’s market.
If you want to sell your house on your own, here’s what you need to know:
1. Legal requirements
Also, you have to consider the legal requirements. To properly sell your house without help from an agent, you need to learn the laws of your state about real estate transfers. Familiarizing yourself with these laws will help you know what kinds of paperworks you need to prepare, what needs to be signed by whom, etc. Also, some states have mandatory disclosure laws you need to follow when it comes to disclosing characteristics of your house, so make sure you do your research.
2. Value of your home
Do you know the value of your home? A lot of people listing their homes as FSBO prices their house way to high, leaving the property to sit on the market for a long while. To market your home competitively, check out the prices of similar properties in your area. Many real estate websites offer local sales trend information, selling prices for comparable homes, and the average length of time on the market, so it pays to check them out. But these websites doesn’t offer the data a real estate agent has access to, so you ask a realtor for a market analysis, or ask services from an appraiser.
3. Sales and marketing responsibilities
Once you put up an FSBO sign in your yard, you need to keep your house clean and ready for viewing at all times. When selling, you need to take professional photos of your home with effective sales descriptions, list the property on classified advertising and real estate websites, and create promotional flyers that include your contact info.
You may need to hire people to help you complete the sale, such as real estate attorneys who will review your contract and offer advice, as well as appraisers and contractors who will make the necessary repairs.
4. Your readiness to work with buyer’s agents
When you hire an agent to help you sell your house, you would pay around 6% of the purchase price, and the agent would often split the commission in half with the buyer’s agent. When you sell on your own, you can offer a 3% commission to the buyer’s agent as an incentive for them to show your home. A buyer’s agent expects commissions, so if you’re not willing to pay, it can shrink your list of potential buyers. This is just a typical scenario – it’s still best for you to research about state and local laws first before offering a commission amount to a buyer’s agent.
5. Your willingness to screen potential buyers
As a seller, you need to make sure that your buyer will be able to come up with the money. You don’t want to negotiate with someone who didn’t qualify for the price of the home in the first place. Before you accept an offer and sign a contract, ask for a mortgage pre-approval letter from a reputable lender or bank. The letter must state that your buyer has been pre-approved for the purchase price of your house.
What are the advantages of using a real estate agent?
You can find your own buyer, but an agent can help you attract more, legitimate buyers who are seriously looking for a house to buy. According to National Association of Realtors (NAR), you can net almost 22% more with an agent. Also, more than 80% of buyers purchase a home through a real estate agent. If you don’t hire an agent, you could be losing your exposure to a bigger population.
Agents sell homes day in and day out, so they have the needed experience and knowledge about the selling market. They attend a lot of open house, so they have the intimate information about interiors, and why some are sold for higher prices than others. Experienced agents use this to position your house so you can sell it at the highest possible price.
- Listing agents can offer these services to sellers:
- Marketing materials and proven selling tactics and systems
- Professional photography and visual tours
- Promotion at MLS meetings and company meetings
- Networking with other real estate agents
- Contacts of trusted home stagers, contractors and inspectors
- Confirming qualifications of potential buyers
- Suggestions for dealing with low appraisals
- Price guidance and advice
Though you can sell your house by yourself, there may be times when a real estate agent can help you, especially when it comes to tasks such as:
- Listing your home on multiple listing service (MSL), a database of properties for sale by real estate brokers
- Helping you determine home market and appropriate asking price
- Assisting in more complex paperwork and transactions
Now that you know the advantages of having an agent, you might probably realize that you aren’t willing or don’t have the time to sell your house on your own. Though an agent can take a large cut, they can help you save time and effort in the long run. They are experts in listing and they offer a wide exposure and network when it comes to showing your house to prospective buyers. But if you aren’t in a rush to sell your house, you can take a shot at selling it by yourself first, then you can decide if you want to hire an agent or not.