There’s a reason nearly 90 percent of sellers use a listing agent: selling a home takes time, knowledge of neighborhood trends, and negotiating skills. So, while eliminating the agent’s commission – 6 percent of the sale price, on average – sounds tempting, try to resist.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts from previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.
The Realtors priority is to help set the right price and then get buyers in the door. Agents have access to the most up-to-date information regarding recent sales of comparable homes and competing homes in your neighborhood. You may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know if that home had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after it fell out of escrow three times.
With a market that can shift weekly, if not daily, it is critical to keep abreast of those changes as they impact your home’s marketability and sale price. Realtors know the market conditions data, such as the average square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on the market, and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a bearing on your home.
Contrary to popular belief, Realtors do much more than put an attractive “For Sale” sign in your front yard. Perhaps the most important exposure is through the MLS because it fans out to so many other sites and reaches most people directly and indirectly through its data feed.
Additionally, the agent will help stage and prepare your home for sale, providing professional quality photos and often videos of your home. Great Realtors promote your property through multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. They will promote open houses, have Realtor walk throughs, and most importantly, vet potential buyers so you only deal with serious prospects.
Once you have found a buyer, the agent will make sure buyers are preapproved and negotiate on your behalf. Your agent will help you evaluate very buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. The initial purchase agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspectors, title, financing – a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent will help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through to closing.
Before skipping a full service Realtor, think hard about the time and effort you want to spend, particularly if the process drags on. The average home takes about 4 months to sell (six in the slowest cities), according to NAR. If costs are a concern, have a frank conversation with your Realtor about what they expect to be paid.
Considering the relatively small cost of hiring a Realtor and the large potential risk of not haring one, it’s smart to find a professional to sell your home.