You might be asking yourself if you really even need an agent to sell your home. "How hard can it be? I can save the 6% real estate commission if I just do it myself!". In fact, 36% of sellers do start out trying to sell themselves; however, only 11% of those For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) sellers ultimately end up selling their home. This means that 89% of FSBOs either take their home off the market completely or end up listing with an agent. It is true, that the online real estate sites/companies have seemingly made it "easy" to do by giving FSBO sellers an avenue through which to gain more exposure to their listing. However, selling a home is much more than posting a few photos online and waiting for the phone to ring. There are strategies needed to effectively market and promote a home SO THAT you can net the absolute top dollar in your market - or perhaps even over neighborhood comparables.
Helps You Read the Market
Many sellers believe they can manage the home-selling process on their own because today they have access to information such as housing inventory, market trend reports, etc. When you are trying to understand home values, the best indicator of current values is recently sold homes in & around your neighborhood. If you are using online real estate websites to try and get a sense for home values, remember that it is much more difficult to pull recent sold data - prices and days on the market - than it is for real estate agents to pull and trend. In addition, most housing or market reports are done at a more macro-level. Which means that when you start trending data at a much more micro-level, such as neighborhoods or even tracts within neighborhoods, you could find a much different type of market than the general markets that are often reported. When the rubber meets the road, you NEED to know what type of market in which you're competing to know how to strategize, promote and negotiate your offer to give you the best chance of winning, particularly in a competitive market. What if the overall market in your area was being reported as a buyer's market, but your micro-market/neighborhood is in price-point where there is a lot of demand (seller's market)? Wouldn't you want to know this going in so that you could negotiate effectively with a buyer?
Helps You Prepare
Good real estate agents have a deep understanding of their local market and want to show your home in the best light. But all of this STARTS with understanding buyers and to what features and amenities buyers are drawn in your local market. Many FSBO sellers believe they can do as good a job selling their home, if not better than agent, because they know their home and the neighborhood better than anyone. While this is important, realize that it is MORE important to know the styles, preferences and tastes of buyers in your market so that you can work to make your home appeal to THEM. Good real estate agents will not only have the expertise on the needs and wants of buyers, but they will typically have a network of professionals such as contractors, home stagers and photographers ready to work for you to prepare your product - your house - to attract the highest number of buyers.
Promotes Your Product
One of the benefits of hiring an agent to sell your home is the access to the extensive marketing exposure you will have. First and foremost, the very first houses to be shown by buyer's agents are going to be the ones listed retail on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). With access to the local MLS and online listing portals, social media presence, professional networks, connections with other agents, and name recognition, your real estate agent can get a lot of eyes on your listing and plenty of potential buyers in the front door - and not just buyers from your local market but also a much wider, global reach for buyers in other states and/or countries.
Negotiates on Your Behalf
One of the most stressful parts of the home-selling process is at the negotiation table. It is stressful because you probably are still emotionally attached to the home and you may have a different idea of value than the buyer. You need someone who can remain level-headed and work collaboratively with the buyer & the buyer's agent to find a win/win for both parties. Your agent is well-versed in the real estate contracts, and even just the slightest adjustment to a term in the contract could cost you thousands of dollars, and you might not even know it at the time. Additionally, negotiation doesn't always stop when the offer gets accepted. Oftentimes problems arise during the inspection period, and in California in particular, these issues are subject to further negotiation if the buyer wants you, the seller, to resolve them. Sometimes these are more difficult negotiations than getting the original offer accepted, so it definitely helps to have your agent advocating for you during this process.
Coordinates Your Escrow
As mentioned above, your listing agent helps to facilitate negotiations and resolutions during the buyer's inspection period. In addition to this, your agent helps coordinate the work of all the other professionals required to close your transaction - inspectors, loan officers & underwriters, appraisers, escrow officers, title representatives, etc. Meeting deadlines during the escrow period is critical to safeguard your interests and prevent unnecessary costs throughout the process, up to and including the possibility of a buyer deciding to cancel the purchase agreement, which would mean you would need to start the whole selling process over again.
Beyond the TransactionThroughout the course of your home-buying experience, you’ve probably spent a lot of time with your real estate agent and you’ve gotten to know each other fairly well. There’s no reason to throw all that trust and rapport out the window just because the deal has closed. In fact, your agent wants you to keep in touch.
Even after you close on your house, your agent can still help you:
- Help you find and secure a replacement property.
- Find contractors to help with home maintenance or remodeling of your new home.
- Help your friends find homes.
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