Selling your home without hiring a real estate agent might be tempting, especially if you're in an area where buyers are clamoring for properties. It's not uncommon for sellers to think (even for a split-second) "How hard can it be to sell on my own?" But there are probably some challenges they're not considering.
Here are some key ways a real estate agent – more specifically a licensed Realtor – proves to be indispensible during the selling process.
1. They offer wide exposure. Find an agent with the education, experience and know-how – along with the backing from a brokerage and powerful brand – to increase exposure of your house to potential buyers. Your agent can devise a marketing plan that stresses showing your property to other agents as well as to the public.
2. They bring objectivity. You probably love your home even with all its faults, but a prospective buyer might not be so dazzled. A solid real estate agent can give you helpful tips on things that need to be fixed and ways to improve your home’s appearance and curb appeal. Your agent can also evaluate and focus on features that might set your house apart from the competition.
3. They know the market. Agents can access current market data about pending and recent sales, and they can use that information to help you establish an appropriate asking price for your home. Homeowners often expect unrealistically high prices for their homes, which can turn off buyers who are seeing homes with more competitive prices. A house that is priced accurately from the get-go will sell more quickly and for a higher price than those that are priced too high right out of the gate.
4. They take care of all showings. You may not be available to show your home to prospective buyers, or you may have already moved out, but your agent can show your house even when you aren’t there. Agents can answer visitors’ questions and take note of their feedback. Further, prospective buyers usually feel more comfortable touring a house when the owner isn’t present. They might want to comment on a house’s drawbacks.
5. They take security seriously. Real estate agents can vet all potential buyers, including verifying they're preapproved for a home loan and weeding out the “looky-loos” who aren't serious buyers. They also can provide security by pre-screening visitors and accompanying them while they're in the house.
6. They're prepared to negotiate. Agents will negotiate contracts on your behalf. FSBO sellers generally negotiate with a professional representing the buyer's interests. Your agent, on the other hand, can help you negotiate with the buyer’s agent to secure a contract that gets you the best price for your house.
7. They help you avoid legal trouble. Your agent knows the requirements for disclosures in your state. The seller is required to disclose any problems that could affect the value of the property. In most states, it’s against the law to hide physical problems such as flood hazards and prior damage. Some states require a seller to search for such problems even if they aren’t obvious. An agent helps prepare necessary disclosure documents.
8. They're with you to the end – and beyond. Getting to the closing table is a complicated process, filled with paperwork, and mistakes can sidetrack the deal. Good real estate agents have safeguards in place to avoid them. Your real estate agent will work with you every step of the way to closing, and can even be a resource for you as you consider your next move.
9. They follow a strict Code of Ethics. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and they are required to complete a two-and-a-half hour Code of Ethics course every four years. The repeat training ensures that agents are familiar with the code’s newest provisions and that its key guidelines are reinforced: protecting clients, protecting communities and protecting the industry.