Do you need a real estate agent to sell your home?
It’s time to get real about real estate agents.
A report released Thursday by real estate listing site Trulia concludes that “it’s not unreasonable for sellers to consider a for sale by owner listing considering the potential payoff.” Indeed, real estate agents typically charge a 6% commission, which can cost homesellers tens of thousands of dollars once they sell their property.
Of course, real estate agents can help you get top dollar for your home using their market insight and home staging abilities — for its part, Trulia says that “it’s good to have a pro on your side” — and they handle a lot of the hassles listing on your own brings up. They can also help sell your home quicker in many markets like Detroit, where agents sell homes 36 days faster than when owners try to sell on their own, and Rochester and Baton Rouge, at 28 days faster.
But some research finds that real estate agents don’t always get you more than you might on your own — especially when you factor in what you takeaway from the sale after paying their commission. And real estate agents don’t always sell your home faster than you might on your own, the Trulia data, which compared its for-sale-by-owner and for-sale-by agent listings, revealed.
10 markets where homes sell faster without an agent
|Metro Area||How many fewer days for-sale-by-owner homes are on the market versus those that are listed by an agent|
|Charleston SC||51 days less|
Charleston may top the list because the median listing prices for a FSBO property are significantly lower — by roughly $50,000 — than an agent-listed home, explains David Weidner, the managing editor of Trulia’s Housing Economics Research Team. “Buyers may see the opportunity of a FSBO home and take advantage of the discount. This could also mean that sellers are leaving money on the table,” he concludes.
But that huge pricing discrepancy isn’t the norm. For the fraction of people who list their homes for sale by themselves — 6.2% of sellers — they tend to price higher, about 2% higher, than brokers do.
Whatever market you’re in, for some people, it may be worth at least considering selling your home on your own, though you will be taking a risk. If you decide to go that route, here are a few things to consider:
Determine the right listing price. “Looking at the final sales prices of homes in your neighborhood that are similar in age, structure and size can help you to determine the right asking price before putting your home on the market,” says AJ Smith, our VP of financial education at SmartAsset. Where can you do that? Final home sale prices are public record, and that information is typically kept at the county courthouse, county recorder, city hall or another city or county department, she explains. Real estate websites often also provide data on local home sales, she adds.
Declutter your home. “The most effective thing you can do is clean up and clear out,” says Smith. Tim Manni, mortgage expert at NerdWallet recommends you, “Take about half of your stuff out of your house and put it in storage. Then take another half out. Family photos, homemade furniture, that ragged recliner — the more you declutter, the better and bigger your house looks. During open houses, take your pets to a neighbor’s or friend’s house. Not everybody appreciates dog slobber or kitty litter.”
Do minor improvements. “Consider sprucing up your home with minor improvements to get top dollar for it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on repairs, but adding a fresh coat of paint, organizing clutter and rearranging furniture can have a huge impact on a buyer’s perception of your home,” says Smith. Here are some projects that cost $1500 or less to consider.
Write a great listing with attractive photos. Describe not only the basics like number of bedrooms and bathrooms and square footage, but also the details “everything from the outdoor light pouring into the living area to the recently remodeled and entertaining-friendly kitchen,” says Manni. “Include anything that can make your home stand out.” He adds that great photos or key and you may want to consider hiring a professional to take them.
Get your property listed on these sites. It’s super important to get it on the Multiple Listing Service, experts say. “The MLS is important because it provides the largest inventory of homes available, but sellers can’t directly list their homes on the MLS because it is only available to licensed agents and brokers,” says Phil Karp, the senior manager of brokerage services at Owners.com. Websites like ForSaleByOwner.com, Owners.com and FSBO.com offer access to MLS services, for a fee. You’ll also want to list on sites like Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com.
Be available for showings. “The most important factor to getting multiple offers is to be available as much as possible the first week after listing a home. The more face-to-face showings you have, the higher the likelihood of receiving a higher volume of offers,” says Karp.
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