Thinking about selling your house without a real estate agent? It’s a choice some people make, mainly to try to save some money. But the number of people who list their home For Sale By Owner is in decline. “Eight percent of home sellers chose to list themselves – a record low of for-sale-by-owner transactions,” according to a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey.
So why isn’t it a good idea to go it alone? Let us count the ways.
- Because you’re not thinking with your head
No matter how level-headed you think you are, selling your home is emotional. When someone comes in with a lowball offer or offends your decorating style, will you be able to remain professional, or are the cops going to have to get involved because you punched a guy?
- Because you think your house looks fine as is
And it may, for everyday living. But a “lived-in” house is not going to wow buyers. Beyond the obvious tips of making your house sparkling clean, a Realtor will help you declutter and depersonalize to get it in selling shape.
- Because you clearly have no sense of smell
If you did, you’d know your house smells like crap. Cat crap, to be exact. Or maybe it’s just musty, which could give potential buyers the idea that there are water issues (which there may very well be). A real estate agent would undoubtedly make you address any odor issues, along with a whole host of other staging stuff to make your place look – and smell – good.
- Because Formica countertops went out in the ‘60s
Actually, were they ever really in? A dated kitchen isn’t just going to affect your sales price. It may keep you from getting offers altogether. The rule about kitchens and bathrooms selling homes is still true; even small but impactful changes can help substantially, which Realtors are keenly aware of. Trying to save a buck by listing a home yourself and not making even small changes can hurt you in the end.
- Because you have a view of the freeway
Think it’s gonna be easy to distract from the eyesore down the street or the overwhelming noise in the backyard? Nope. But an agent will give it their all in ways you may not have thought of or be skilled in, using smart pricing and marketing strategies to deflect, downplay, or refocus attention on other, more attractive elements of the home.
- Because you don’t know thousands of people. And you’re not connected to hundreds of agents.
That’s the difference an agent can make in using their network to market your home far and wide and getting it in front of potential buyers.
- Because you need to come down $20k from your “dream” sales price
Then come down another $10k. Then you might actually be close to market value. This goes back to that “emotional” process thing. Your home isn’t worth the memories you made there, or the work you put in. Market value is market value, and a real estate agent will have a much easier time establishing that and sticking to it.
- Because what you call charming and eclectic may just be seen by buyers as tiny and outdated.
You may not be able to get real about the reality of your home. But your Realtor will.
- Because the only offer you got was $30,000 below your asking price
Know how to proceed? What if you play hardball and lose the only bite you’ve had? What if you agree and always regret the idea that you left money on the table?
- Because the inspection report showed all kinds of unpleasant stuff, and now the buyer wants a big, fat credit
It’s an agent’s job to handle the multiple unpleasant details that would make a regular person run toward a quiet space to roll up into the fetal position. The fact that you don’t have to do any of the negotiating – not on sales price to begin with, not on whether or not you can include your master bedroom furniture, set of luggage, lawn chairs, and collection of vintage cookbooks in the home sale, and not on who’s going to pay to fix the leaky roof and the cracked living room window – is well worth the commission you pay.
- That overgrown mess you call a front yard
Curb appeal is critical to getting your home sold. A real estate agent will help you focus on the simple steps to get it in good shape. Fail to address this key area and those coming to see your home may just pass on by.
Yes, you. You could be the No. 1 deterrent to getting your house sold, starting with the house tour. Shadowing potential buyers while they check out the house, pestering them with questions about how they like it, interrupting their agent to add in inconsequential details – all of these things may turn off buyers and send them off to the next home.
Agents know what to emphasize and how to give potential buyers space. Crowding and/or annoying them may be enough to make them walk. After all, if dealing with you during the home tour is a drag, who’s going to want to deal with that during the escrow?
- And the most important reason of all: the money.
“In reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall,” according to the NAR. By the numbers: “The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900,” they said. “However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 — nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”
Still want to do it on your own?