You would like to sell your house and now you’re wondering if you should hire a Realtor or try to sell it on your own; aka For Sale By Owner, aka FSBO. Short answer, hire a Realtor. Done, that was easy, now on to the next post.
Oh...you want more? Okay, here’s the long answer, and I’m not just saying this because I am a Realtor. There really are valid reasons why FSBO is not the answer.
1. Showing the Property: You know that sign in your front yard that says For Sale By Owner? Well that sign invites any passersby to come to the front door and ask to be let inside. Normally, you would be foolish to let strangers come in and have access to every corner of your house, but, now you almost have to. Real estate agents however, have already qualified their buyers, and they are not about to take someone into other people’s homes without making sure that they are not wasting their time, and yours. Also, you are not home all day, every day. You cannot answer your phone 24/7. So anytime you are not available, you are pretty much taking your house off the market. Agents can show buyers your listing details and pictures any time, and then, if they like what they see, we make an appointment to see your house whether you're there or not. In fact, we prefer that you not be there. Buyers feel uneasy when you’re there because they feel as though they cannot speak freely with each other.
2. Negotiating a price: Direct negotiations with buyers are emotional and can get personal. The nice thing about having a real estate agent, is that we become the buffer between the buyer and seller. That way, nobody gets cussed out or yelled at, and the whole thing stays civil and professional. Agents are also good to have because when a price is agreed upon, we then put the offer in writing, collect the necessary signatures on all of the documents needed, we ask for and collect a good faith deposit from the buyer, and make sure it is put into an escrow account for closing, or if the buyer defaults.
3. You are not saving a commission: One of the major reasons that sellers want to sell their property themselves is so that they can save the commission and net more money in their pocket. But the major reason that buyers look to buy FSBO’s is because seller’s are not having to pay a commission, so they can offer a much lower price. Here’s a tip, you can’t both save the commission. One of you is not going to get the price you want and typically that is you, the seller. If buyers are willing to pay the higher price, they are going to go through a realtor that can show them several houses in that price range, and homes where they do not have to deal directly with the owner. Buyer’s do not like dealing directly with the seller.
4. Time on the market: Where are you advertising that your house is for sale? Craigslist, newspaper, sign in the yard? That’s all well and good, but realtor’s pull listings from the MLS (multiple listing service), and your house is not on it. So when I pull houses to show to a potential buyer, your house never shows up. You are waiting for the buyer that is specifically looking for a FSBO, so that they can pay below market value (see #3). Finding a buyer that way, one that will also pay you what you want for your house does not happen easily, or quickly. Your house will sit on the market a lot longer than if you used a realtor who will not only put your house on the MLS, but also advertise in several magazines, papers and online. Remember, real estate agents do not get paid unless and until the sale of your house closes. So they are highly motivated to get your house sold asap and for top dollar.
5. Writing a contract and other paperwork: Do you have a contract form? Do you feel comfortable filling it out in such a way that it will not land you in court? Real estate agents are trained in this. It’s what we do on a regular basis, and we make sure that it is done right, using a form that has been approved by the state. Also, you may need to include addendums to the contract depending on the terms of the agreement you reached with the buyer. Sure, you could use an attorney, but you need to make sure that you use a real estate lawyer, and you will have to pay them for their time. Also, a real estate agent's job is not done when a contract is signed. You still have to schedule inspections, appraisals, closing and loan applications among other things. You will also need to fill out a seller’s disclosure and it needs to be signed by both the sellers and the buyers. The most important thing that agents do after the contract is signed is to make sure that all things stay on track with all parties involved. Trust me, that is not as easy as it sounds.
Now, you may have just read all of this, and said “I think I can make it work where so many others have failed.”, and maybe you’re right. But I wouldn’t bet on it. There is a reason that most FSBO’s turn to realtors in the end. We actually do serve a purpose, and it’s a safe bet that we will sell your home faster and for more money than you will. We do this for a living, and we don’t get paid until your house sells, so we are hugely invested in when your home sells, and for how much. Give us a try, you might find that you actually like us! In fact, if you live in New Smyrna Beach/Edgewater area, you should give me a call!
Michele Boyer, your friendly neighborhood Realtor!