You may think you know how to sell a house. You might have sold a home or two before and think: with all of these online portals, who needs a real estate agent? I can do this myself. And you probably can — but that doesn’t mean you should.
How to Sell a House by Owner
The number one reason to hire a real estate agent is expertise. A good real estate agent is an expert in the field, with the education and experience to get you the best deal while also following the law. You might have sold your home before, but that was one home and you likely sold it many years ago. The agent you’ll hire has sold multiple properties in the last year alone.
Expertise Means Up-To-Date Market Knowledge
You have probably lived in and loved your home for many years and you might think that makes you a great person to sing its praises. But it’s possible that the most likely demographic to buy your home might no longer be like you.
Perhaps when you moved in, the neighborhood was full of young families. But since the city just built an elementary school in the next neighborhood over, that’s now where people with young children want to live. Or maybe a large company has just decided to relocate their headquarters to the area, bringing with it plenty of young professionals.
Whatever the changes in your neighborhood, a good real estate agent is in the market every day and remains attuned to the shifts in demographics. An agent stays up-to-date on employment information and nearby construction and reads market reports on who is buying, and where. While you have been going about your daily life, your agent has become an expert in your area and will likely know information it would take you months to gather.
This information helps real estate agents market your property, but more importantly, it helps them price your home correctly. You can go on Zillow and find recent sales of similarly-sized homes and try to price it yourself. But an experienced agent will know why one house is worth more than yours and why one is worthless. They will know what attributes of your home will be appealing to the target buyer and which will be drawbacks.
This is important because a mispriced home tends to linger on the market and sell for a lower amount than it would have if it had been priced correctly. Why is this? Well, if you price your home even 10% over the market rate, you automatically cut the number of buyers who will see your home in half. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 60% of buyers will look at a home priced at market rate. But only 30% will look at a home priced 10% above market, and only 10% will consider a home 15% above market.
A good agent will also tell you what updates and improvements will make your home more valuable to the person most likely to buy it. And that means more money in your pocket.
Ask your real estate agent for help with staging your home. They can give you simple suggestions, like replacing the types of light bulbs you’re using or pulling furniture away from the wall, that can make a big difference in how your home appears.
Expertise Means Following the Law
The codes and regulations governing real estate change frequently so you can save yourself a lot of frustration, and potentially money, by hiring an expert. First, a good real estate agent knows not only how building codes have changed, they will help you hire a home inspector who will tell you exactly what you have to do in order to meet them.
This is important because the buyer will hire their own inspector prior to close and if the inspection raises any red flags, you could end up having to fix them in the quickest (not most cost-effective) way possible. Or it could blow up the sale and then you have to put your home back on the market. And buyers and their agents are leery of homes that keep getting put back on the market.
In addition, your real estate agent will know which building materials might be up-to-code but not ideal and thus less valuable to potential buyers. These materials could be pipes prone to leaking or breakage, or windows that let heat or air conditioning escape, and while you may be unaware of their issues, buyers’ agents will be writing contingencies to protect their clients. Buyers could use these issues as negotiation points or simply move on to the next house altogether.
But if you have an agent well-versed in home construction, they will raise these issues early on so you have time to price out solutions and decide whether or not fixing them is worth it to you.
If you decide not to fix any of the issues raised by either the home inspector or real estate agent, then you should disclose them to prospective buyers up front. Since they will have their own information by way of their home inspection report and real estate agents, they might feel lied to, or like you purposefully omitted information — and that could blow up the sale.
The real estate laws governing paperwork, ownership and how property changes hands might also have changed recently. You could search through byzantine government websites yourself, trying to discern which forms you need to prepare and who needs to sign what, or you could hire a real estate agent who is already up to speed and allow them to guide you.
Whether you’ve sold your home before or this is your first time, hiring an experienced real estate agent could make the process a lot easier and save you time and money. They will hold your hand through the process and ensure you get the best deal, in the quickest amount of time — and follow the law while doing it.