Whether you’ve lived in your home for a few months or a few decades, you probably think you know it best. But that doesn’t mean you’re the most qualified person for the job when the time comes to sell it.
Many folks are tempted to take the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route believing they’ll save a bundle by not paying an agent’s commission. They may imagine it’s a simple as sticking a sign in the ground and watching a qualified buyer magically appear. While that may happen occasionally, the vast majority of that time it doesn’t work like that. At all.
Below are some questions most FSBOs think they can answer with a resounding “YES!”… which is rarely the case. More often than not, they end up listing with an agent instead.
1. Do you know how to price it accurately?
Coming up with the right asking price requires doing your due diligence. Researching what comparable homes in the area recently sold for is key. You may also want to hire an appraiser to be sure you’re not over-pricing or under-pricing your property, as both will end up costing you. Also, beware: Those who’ve gone the FSBO route note that very often buyers are hoping for a deep discount knowing sellers aren’t paying anyone a commission. So even if you’ve listed it for a fair price, be prepared to negotiate.
2. Are you a marketing maven?
If only selling your home were as simple as sticking a few ‘For Sale’ and ‘Open House’ signs around town and watching the offers roll in! But there’s a lot more to it than that. Most buyers and agents will first find your property online. That means you’ll want to be sure to develop a stellar Internet strategy. Your home should be easily viewable on your local Multiple Listing Service site. (Expect to pay a fee for this!) You’ll want flawless photos too, of course, so put that iPhone away! You may also consider creating a website that shows off your place in all its splendor. Are you ready to make up flyers, post it on Craigslist or other online forums, put signs in prominent locations on your open house days? All of this takes time and effort but is the only real way to guarantee foot traffic.
3. Do you have the time to show it?
Sadly, not all prospective buyers will want to see your home between noon and 2 p.m. on a Sunday. You’ll need to be available during the day and evening. Even if you work locally, dropping everything for an impromptu showing gets old pretty fast. And what happens if you’re not accommodating? Chances are your potential buyers are going to move on.
4. Are you up on the latest trends?
Think your home is perfect just as it is? It may be, but unless you’re in the know when it comes to exactly what homebuyers are looking for, you can end up losing a potential deal thanks to outdated bathrooms and overflowing closets. Never underestimate the value a licensed real estate pro brings in terms of helpful home staging and cleaning hints.
5. Are you certain buyers are pre-approved?
Nothing is worse than thinking you’re this close to striking a deal only to find out your would-be buyer won’t be able to come up with the financing. Can you confidently separate the real prospects from the lookie-loos? Agents vet potential buyers, saving you time, money, and serious aggravation. If you’re going it alone, be sure to ask for a pre-approval document before taking your home off the market.
6. Can you remove the emotion?
Even though you’re ready to sell it, you may still feel some attachment to your home. So, when you hear that buyers want to gut it, level it, or possibly take a sledge hammer to those granite countertops you spent hours selecting, it can strike a nerve. At that point, reason can take a backseat to emotion and you’ll blow a potential deal by not putting the big picture ahead of your feelings.
7. Are you ready to field calls night and day?
Once you’ve got a buyer on the hook, get ready for all sorts of calls and requests to show the place to every relative they’ve ever met. They also may have a sudden urge to stop by at 10 p.m. to measure for a new couch. You may be too afraid to tell them “no” for fear of losing them. This is where an agent will often step in and keep those demands to a minimum.
8. Will you understand all the documents?
OK, here’s where things get really complicated. How well-versed are you in homebuying and selling vernacular and legalese? When you sell a home yourself, everything you’re stating needs to be accurate or the buyer may be able to come back to you for reparations later. For example, did you advertise that your floors are hardwood when they’re actually veneers? A real estate pro is aware that the devil is often in the details. Are you?
After all is said and done, you may lose money.
Even if you really put your heart and soul into selling your place yourself, you still may not come out ahead. According to a 2015 report by the National Association of Realtors, the average home sold by its owner sells for $210,000, while one sold by an agent goes for $249,000. Now, of course, studies have also pointed out that owners are more likely to try to sell their homes themselves in markets with lower price points, making that disparity seem greater than it might be. But, when you consider the time and effort that go into selling your home on your own, it may make (dollars and) sense to hire a local real estate professional.