With a national average commission rate of 5.8%, the desire to cut out the middleman and march confidently towards the FSBO sale of your dreams is understandable. But the decision could also leave you stressed and frustrated, with pangs of regret that you’re underselling your home.
As you navigate this decision, see if you resonate with one or more of these signs that you should sync up with a professional.
1. Your day job would make it hard to market the home or answer calls.
Will you drop everything to respond to homebuyer showing requests when you’re in the middle of an executive review or crunching numbers on a spreadsheet?
We didn’t think so. And you’re not alone.
When personal and professional obligations abound, you’re lucky if you can squeeze a spin class or quality downtime into your schedule. Either that or you’ve struck scheduling gold and have stellar time-management skills.
The prospect of listing your home, scheduling showings, and navigating paperwork on top of your daily duties may feel unrealistic, which is why 89% of homeowners opted for an agent to sell their home in 2019.
While the life of a real estate agent may seem like a series of champagne-laden lavish open houses, the daily grind of a real estate agent is no walk in the park.
Many people are unaware of the workload involved in selling a home and have misperceptions that being an agent is a part-time easy gig.
“Full-time Realtors® like myself, this is what I do every day, nothing else,” says Martin Tokos, who has 18 years of industry expertise selling homes 52% faster than the average agent in Malden, MA. “Many think of real estate agents who have a license because they like to go look at houses and have helped one or two friends.”
These are just some of the many tedious tasks that your agent typically handles while you are busy at work, cooking up dinner for the night, or taking care of the kids, including:
- Scheduling and hosting tours
- Taking calls from prospective buyers
- Staging and taking photos
- Creating listings on MLS and other platforms
- Creating and posting signs
- Sharing on social media and client network
- Fielding offers and navigating negotiations with buyers
Having an agent on your team makes for a more efficient and stress-free process, allowing you to focus on your latest S&P gain or perfect your fantasy football lineup while your agent handles the daily duties.
2. You’d like to sell the house for as much money as possible.
Most homeowners consider selling solo in an effort to save money. By ditching an agent, they assume they can leave the commission costs at the door and generate a higher return on their home. However, this is not always the case. Recent reports indicate that the median selling price of FSBO homes is significantly lower than those sold by an agent — by roughly $24,000.
Researchers at leading real estate data source Collateral Analytics, now owned by Black Knight, echoed the same finding. They looked at numerous geographic real estate markets, including Phoenix, San Diego, and Boston from 2016-2017 to study the price differential between FSBOs vs. traditional agent-represented sales. On average, the study found, FSBOs sell for 5.5% less, and in some cases nearly 6% less, than agent-assisted sales.
Remember that 5.8% commission you were worried about? Without an agent, you’re apt to lose that money by underselling your home. Without an agent acting as a buffer in the negotiation process, many homebuyers see FSBOs as a surefire win. Tokos shares how many sellers do not fully understand the market conditions or nuances of the negotiation process, “which can give the buyer’s agent an edge — and ability to negotiate the seller down by a lot.”
In addition to years of professional experience fine-tuning their negotiation skills, the buyer’s agent has expertise in the local market and industry transactions, giving them a significant advantage.
Tokos explains how he helps homeowners protect their price by prepping for inspection – to ensure buyers can’t negotiate and ask for credit down the line: “Buyers are so knowledgeable these days, you also need to know how to prep the house for the market — if I’m prepping the house for the market, I’m getting it ready to be fully inspected so that the buyer can’t negotiate it down.”
3. You’d prefer to have an expert handling volumes of unfamiliar paperwork.
While it varies by state, a real estate transaction can require up to 180 pages of paperwork — which can feel like a daunting task for many sellers to sort through on their own.
Having an expert to ensure the accuracy of every dotted “i” and crossed “t” will save you the hassle now and headache later.
Mandatory disclosures are another piece of the puzzle that requires a lot of pertinent paperwork. A slip-up can result in the seller being held liable for not disclosing important information to the buyer.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 30% of home sales were delayed in October 2020 due to various obstacles surrounding contracts, inspections, titles, appraisals, and financing. The documentation associated with each process is complex and extensive — and any mistakes or misunderstandings can negatively impact your end goal of closing the deal.
Understanding the paperwork is also reported as one of the most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers, which is why the services offered by your agent in most states includes an evaluation of all the paperwork you receive. From reviewing offers to sealing the deal, your agent will be there every step of the way to ensure you understand the details of your disclosure documents and fine-print of your inspection forms.
They will serve as your spirit guide through the nitty-gritty negotiation terms, interpreting all of the requests you receive in your mile-high stack of paperwork with suggestions for your best course of action.
What does all of the agent’s hard work mean for you? Less billable hours from your attorney.
4. You’re in a hurry to sell or have a move-out deadline.
Selling within the planned length of time was reported as one of the top five most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers, which is not ideal if you are in a time crunch. Without the help of an agent, finding a buyer is one of the biggest challenges of FSBO.
Aside from their razor-sharp negotiation skills and vast industry knowledge, one of the most valuable assets an agent brings to a seller is their existing network. A top agent will have a network of established clients and prospective buyers ready to pull the trigger on their dream home.
This exposure is something that solo sellers cannot replicate — no matter how impressive their social media presence may be. As Tokos explains, “with top agents, it’s really the exposure you can get for the home.”
If you see a FSBO that sells fast, chances are it’s because the seller already had a buyer lined up before they listed the home. According to NAR, 52% of FSBO sellers sold to someone they knew in 2020, whether it was a neighbor, relative, or friend.
5. Without an agent, you’d rely mostly on the internet to price your home.
Pricing your home with precision is a priority and requires an ability to assess all of the elements that contribute to your home’s value. While home value estimators are helpful tools, understanding how to properly price a home is one of the biggest challenges for FSBO sellers.
Tokos shares how pricing can be a challenging and nuanced process for some sellers, who “might not understand the impact certain elements have, such as a slightly wider driveway, or the slope and size of your lot.”
While your home might look identical to your neighbor’s, there are often subtle differences that drastically change its value. Proximity to a noisy highway or nearby airport are examples of features that lessen the value of your home — and make pricing a challenging and nuanced process.
Enlisting the help of a real estate agent to assess the value of your home will ensure you hit the mark on your pricing strategy with precision from the get-go.
In addition to assessing the value of your home, analyzing recent sales to get a true understanding of the market value is no easy feat. Finding sufficient comparative sales, ensuring all the details of your own home are accounted for, and performing (and understanding) a comparative market analysis can be challenging. While it may be feasible for those with fast Wi-Fi and a tenacious spirit, navigating the nuances of a CMA with the help of a professional may be the better bang for your buck.
6. You’ve lived in this house a long time and have many memories associated with it.
While we all try not to let our emotions get the best of us, a monumental milestone like selling your home can pull on your otherwise stoic heartstrings.
If your eyes begin welling up with tears as you’re wondering, do I need a Realtor® to sell my house? The answer is yes, 100%, you do.
A real estate agent brings an objective perspective, leaving the emotional baggage at the door and relying purely on professional instincts.
The art of negotiation is a complex creature on its own. Throw some emotions into the mix and you’ve got yourself a whole new animal.
Emotions can often be the cause of overpricing, along with the dreaded dance that follows. A seller setting an unrealistic initial price can lead to them feeling insulted when offered anything less and unwilling to budge.
Tokos shares how some homeowners have a tendency to make emotional reactions during the negotiation process, leading to poor decisions or tricky transactions. At the very worst, “the FSBO seller gets upset and the deal might be over.”
In addition to pricing, an agent also serves as your counsel for constructive criticism and buyer critique. Armed with a fresh set of eyes and knowledge of what local buyers value, an agent provides pragmatic advice to maximize your profit.
7. By taking care of the tasks above, a highly competent agent would reduce your stress and make your life easier.
Look… there’s no law that says you need a Realtor® to sell your home. But there’s also a reason only 8% of sellers go it alone. An agent is there to make sure you sell at the top of your price range, follow the required steps to sell in your state, and protect your sanity by acting as a buffer between you and demanding buyers.
However, as Tokos explains, “the real estate industry is indeed a mixed bag, and not all agents are created equal. You may be on your way to something successful or real estate doom — depending on who you have by your side.”
To make sure your agent selection is tailored and purposeful, it’s helpful to do your homework. At HomeLight, we sort through millions of transactions alongside customer reviews to match you with the best agent in your area. Selling a house and finding a good agent can be hard, but deciding to save your sanity doesn’t have to be.
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