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Selling Your Home: For Sale By Owner vs Working With a Realtor®

It’s time to sell your house and you’re trying to decide if you should do it yourself – commonly referred to as For Sale By Owner (FSBO) – or work with a Realtor®. Intuitively, you know that it would probably be easier to work with a Realtor® and let them do all the work. On the other hand, you might think you’ll walk away from the sale with more money in your pocket if you do it yourself. 

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what selling it yourself entails, how that contrasts with working with a Realtor®, and, should you decide to work with a Realtor®, questions to ask that will ensure you choose the right one.  

FSBO: Everything You Need to Know 

FSBO refers to selling a home without a real estate agent. While most American home sellers work with a Realtor® to sell their homes, a minority are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to go it alone. 

It’s tempting to bypass a real estate agent and sell your home on your own, especially in a hot housing market. You could save thousands of dollars in commission fees if all goes well. It’s not that straightforward, though. Selling a home is often a complex process, and you need the appropriate expertise and enough time to close a deal that gets you fair market value. 

If you decide to do an FSBO, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to do it successfully. 

  • Get the House Ready – If you need to make minor repairs and freshen up the interior and exterior, this could take a while. This is an important step, and it’s best not to be doing this while marketing the house. You also want to have the home staged as early as possible for photos to be posted online. Check out our previous blog with a handy checklist and timeline to prep your home for sale
  • Set the Price – To choose the right price, you could research homes recently sold in your area, get a comparative market analysis from an agent, or consult real estate websites for estimates. However, be cautious about online sites providing estimated values as they can often be inaccurate. 
  • Market the Home – There are several FSBO website options and the MLS, and the costs can add up if you’re not careful. You could also put up yard signs, print flyers, post on social media, talk to friends and family, and possibly even set up your own website. Keep in mind that all of these have some costs in time and money
  • Show the HomeIn-person visits can be tricky, especially if you have children and pets to get out of the home for every showing or concern about coronavirus-related exposure. One alternative is to offer a video tour that’s live or online, but eventually, the prospective buyers and inspector will need to have an in-person look. 
  • Review Paperwork and Negotiate – You’ll need to review a buyer’s offer in writing and the purchase contract. At this point, you should have an attorney to help make sure you get this crucial step right. Prospective buyers will try to include contingencies that can make the purchase depending on what they discover during the inspection, for example. Also, you must provide disclosures to buyers, which are often required by state law. 
  • Close the Sale – This is the final stage of the process, and most states require you to have an attorney for this. The hope is that, once the process is over, you’ll get the price you want for a cost that would be less than if you had hired an agent. 

Even if you choose to sell your home yourself, there are some real estate professionals you will need to hire: 

  • A professional appraiser or Realtor® can provide valuable insight into how your home compares to similar ones in your area, which is better then inaccurate online values.  
  • Unless you are an expert in contract law and negotiating expensive deals, you will need to hire a real estate attorney who can help review the purchase contract, negotiate issues related to the inspection and assist at closing. 

Sounds easy, right? Or maybe it sounds like a lot more work than you anticipated. Let’s look at some of the downsides of an FSBO that could lead you to consider working with a Realtor® instead seriously. 

Some FSBO Downsides 

  • FSBO homes sold for 14% less in 2021 than homes represented by real estate agents  
  • Realtors® work full-time. Can you rush home from work whenever someone wants to see your home? Can you excuse yourself from a meeting whenever your phone rings with a potential buyer? At the end of a long workday, do you have the energy to take advantage of every possible opportunity to market your home? Are you an expert in marketing homes?  A Realtor’s answer to all of these questions is “yes.” In addition, by going through an agent, you’ll get a lockbox for your front door that allows your agent to show your home even when you aren’t available. 
  • Agents have access to large networks. You don’t have relationships with clients, other agents, or a real estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to your home. A smaller pool of potential buyers can mean waiting longer to sell your home and possibly not getting as much money as your house is worth. 
  • A Realtor® knows how to find out whether someone who wants to view your house is a qualified buyer, just a dreamer, or a curious neighbor. Every time you have to put your life on hold, make your house look perfect, and show your home, it’s a lot of work. Realtors® are trained to ask the right questions to determine the seriousness, qualification, and motivation of a prospect. Realtors® can move a qualified and motivated person to the point of purchase.  
  • Agents are experts in what makes homes sell. They can walk through your home with you and point out changes you can consider making to attract buyers and get the best offers. They can see flaws you might not because you see them every day. They can also help you determine which feedback from potential buyers you should act on after putting your home on the market to improve its chances of selling. 
  • A lot of legal paperwork is involved in a home sale, and it needs to be completed correctly by an expert. A seller can be held liable for fraud, negligence, or breach of contract if they do not disclose properly. Unless you’re a real estate attorney, your agent knows more about disclosure laws than you do. If you fail to disclose a hazard, nuisance, or defect—and the buyer comes back to you after having moved in and found a problem—they could sue you.  

Okay, so maybe it’s not as easy as you first thought to do an FSBO, and you’re willing to consider working with a Realtor®. But how will you know you found the right Realtor® to sell your house? 

Finding the Right Realtor®

To find the Realtor® who will sell your house quickly for the highest price possible, you need to know some things about your prospective Realtor® and questions to ask. 

How to Find a Realtor
  • ®
  • to Consider

    Here are some tips on how to choose the real estate agent that’s the best fit for you. 

    • Compare real estate agents online – Use online search tools to check an agent’s online presence paying particular attention to reviews and numbers of homes sold. Take note of how an agent responds to potentially negative or neutral reviews. 
    • Get a referral -There’s nothing better than a personal referral from a friend, family member, or colleague you trust.  
    • Check out the local housing market in person – Drive or walk around your neighborhood and look for repeat agent names on real estate signs. Or, go to an open house and observe how the agent engages with potential buyers. Take the time to interact with the real estate agent keeping an eye out for personality and professional chemistry. 
    • Meet with at least three agents – Don’t settle on the first agent you meet. By talking with multiple agents, you’ll be able to compare and contrast to find someone who will be a good fit. 
    • Explain your communication preferences – Discuss how the agent will keep you informed and how often you expect to hear from them. If you prefer phone calls, but the agent is most responsive to email, you may not be a good fit for each other.  
    • Discuss selling strategy – Make sure you and your potential real estate agent are on the same page about their selling strategy. How many open houses/showings do you want to do? How much lead time will the agent give you before a showing?  
    • Agree on all the important details – The best relationships are those with clearly defined expectations. In writing, ensure you’ve agreed upon the commission structure, list price, and contract length.   

    Questions to Ask 

    When choosing a Realtor® to work with, treat it as a job interview because it is! While not comprehensive, here’s a list of questions to help you find the right fit. 

    • How long have you been working in real estate? 
    • Are you a full-time agent? 
    • Do you primarily work with buyers or sellers? 
    • How many active clients do you have at a time? 
    • Are you part of a team? 
    • What’s your specialty? 
    • How will you market my home? 
    • Can you put me in contact with some references? 
    • What is your marketing plan for selling my home? 
    • How much do you charge/how do you get paid? 
    • Have you sold homes in this area before? 
    • What price ranges do you specialize in? 
    • What separates you from other agents? 
    • How will we communicate? 
    • What days of the week do you work, and what hours? 

    Bottom Line 

    Selling your home will be one of the biggest transactions of your life. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring a Realtor® has many advantages. They will get broader exposure for your property, help you negotiate a better deal, dedicate more time to your sale, and prevent your emotions from sabotaging it. An agent brings expertise, which few FSBO sellers have, to a complex transaction with many potential financial and legal pitfalls. 

    The Spectrum Real Estate Consultants Team is the top producing team of Realtors® at Keller Williams Realty Leading Edge, completing over 900 successful transactions since 2015. Our mission is to provide world-class service while simplifying the Real Estate transaction through experience, technology, and effective communication. 

    Our team members are licensed and serve their local communities. Our knowledge and experience allow us to identify opportunities and prevent unnecessary setbacks, saving you time, money, and frustration. So, if you’re ready, let’s connect

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