In a hot market, do you still need a real estate agent to help you sell your home? Like all important financial decisions, there are pros and cons.
No one knows your home better than you do. Every floorboard squeak and flower bed has your personal stamp on it and often your hard-earned sweat equity.
In a hot housing market — median Seattle home prices just topped $580,000, according to Zillow — you may ask yourself, Do I really need a real estate agent to help me sell this home? Like all important financial decisions, there are pros and cons.
Money is the most obvious and first consideration for homeowners deciding whether or not to engage a real estate agent. Typical agent commission is 6 percent of the sales price of your home, which covers all costs associated with listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), copywriting, photographs, flyers, advertising, and the agent’s time and expertise negotiating and executing the contract.
Time is money
In addition to the hard costs, don’t underestimate the value of your time in this equation. If you’re a busy professional or family commitments keep you hopping, taking on the task of selling your home can take more time and effort than you realize.
Be ready to tackle these tasks without an expert to guide you — staging to showcase your home’s best features, photographs that work best online, professional home descriptions that include keywords that attract the right buyers, arranging listings online, setting up open houses and, finally, negotiations with buyers that result in the best final offer you can get.
Deciding how much time you have to put into the job of selling your home is up to you, but remember that all of that time has value, too.
Beware agent avoidance
When selling your home yourself, even when you list it on the MLS and dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s, you can be the victim of agent avoidance. While agents should take their clients to any home that could meet the needs of their clients, some agents will avoid taking their clients to see for-sale-by-owner homes because they don’t relish the idea of working with an inexperienced homeowner versus a seasoned real estate agent.
If you do list your home yourself, it may behoove you to put details in the MLS notes about your expectations on buyer’s agent commissions and if you have a real estate attorney who will be handling the paperwork. These details may allay any fears by the buyers’ agents and bring you more traffic.
Choosing whether to sell your home yourself or engage an agent is an exercise in weighing the costs — both financial and time — and then deciding if the expertise an experienced professional can add to your process is worth it to you.
William McDonald is a licensed real estate agent with Windermere Bellevue Commons and a member of the the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.