At first, it might seem heartbreaking. Fork over 6% of your home’s sale proceeds to a total stranger? Why use a real estate agent at all?
In his 9 years of professionally helping homeowners get more bang for their listing, top real estate agent Nick Hundley knows a thing or two about the answer to that question.
“One of the biggest roles that we play as realtors is minimizing the risk or liability that the sellers are putting themselves in when they try to sell their house,” Hundley says.
You may ask yourself, “What risk or liability could I possibly face?” That’s exactly the point! Not only can using a Realtors® help homeowners receive more out of their listing, but they also help to avoid any legal pitfalls a homeowner might make in this process unknowingly. Plus, they know how to navigate the system to help you see swift selling results.
If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale in the near future, here’s why it’s important to connect with a top-rated agent in your area and let them take care of your home’s future:
1. Agents post your home on an MLS: Why you need this step
The multiple listing service is the holy grail of home listings and only real estate agents have the ability to use it.
An MLS is a powerful home marketing tool that agents use to share photos and information about your home with other real estate brokers to attract more leads and offers. It gives your home more exposure (there are approximately 600 MLSs in the US, by the way) to professionals who may have a client looking for a property like yours.
In short, it’s the biggest (and best) version of show-and-tell.
Here’s how the MLS system works:
- You find the agent you want to represent and help sell your home.
- That agent puts your home’s information into the MLS platform.
- Your home information is shared among other real estate agents.
- Another agent connects potential buyers with your property.
- Interested buyers make offers and eventually, your home is sold!
Only licensed real estate agents ordinarily have access to the MLS platform, so if you were thinking of attempting a “for sale by owner” (FSBO) transaction, you would have to pay a fee or commission to a broker to gain access to this tool.
2. Agents set the right price for your home
When they narrow in on an effective price, real estate agents have access to comparable home sales and neighborhood information dating back years. Sellers without access to this pricing information are throwing a dart in the dark, which could make or break a listing.
There is a lot that goes into creating a fair, appropriate, and valuable home price objectively, not just what you feel like it’s worth.
Factors that contribute to home price can include:
- Prices and conditions in your local market
- Home’s condition
- Recent updates or improvements
HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator can give you a ballpark of where your home’s selling price currently sits, but don’t just take our word for it. Ask your trusted realtor.
While the current 2022 housing market has experts expecting mortgage rates to increase by 3.7% this year, it’s still a prime time for buyers. 2021 saw a median sales price increase by 14.6% and it’s still expected for this year to be just as strong.
As you start to sell your home, an agent who knows the marketing predictions can help you set the right home price while considering every factor, including if your appraisal comes back under contract value.
3. Higher-spending buyers avoid FSBO
Top real estate agents Janice Overbeck, and Bonnie Fleishman both agree: The primary reason people choose to sell their home themselves is to save money on commission. There’s a problem though: statistics say they won’t.
In 2020, the typical FSBO home sold for $260,000, compared to $317,000 for agent-assisted home sales, according to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Overbeck explains one huge reason why:
“Those ‘A’ buyers are in town for the weekend for a few days to buy a house, or they’re under contract to sell their home and they’ve got to find one,” Overbeck adds. “They’re never going to buy for sale by owner, and those are the highest paying buyers.”
Los Angeles agent Todd Jones, who has more than 17 years of experience in the industry, agrees.
“One of my past clients is trying to do a for sale by owner,” Jones says. “And the main reason they said is they’re trying to save a few bucks, which is ironic because the people who want to buy for sale by owners are usually pretty cheap.”
4. An agent has a fiduciary duty
Think of a real estate agent as your home-selling doctor. They are here to look out for your well-being throughout the whole process and are legally responsible for representing your interests when it comes to the transaction of your home.
When you hire a real estate agent, you are hiring them for their expertise and guidance. Real estate agents have legal and ethical duties they are responsible for upholding when it comes to the terms of their agreement while working with their clients. If they breach their contract in any way, or the client has grounds of negligence, the client can sue and easily take their Realtor® to court.
5. FSBO sellers still pay the buyer’s agent commission
It’s true: 5%-6% of a home’s sale price go toward agent commissions, a cost borne by sellers. If your home sells for $250,000, you could have a higher commission fee of $17,500.
But going FSBO means you get out commission-free. There is still the buyer’s agent fee to consider and pay.
Typically, the listing agent will split the commission earnings with the buyer’s agent. An FSBO seller with a $200,000 house may think they can pocket a $12,000 commission, but really only end up saving $6,000 or 3%.
At the end of the day, working with an agent or not, there is still a fee to be paid.
A lot of homeowners that are trying to sell themselves—chances are, the vast majority have not sold a number of homes. If they have a desk job or any other kind of job that involves zero negotiations of any kind, and then they step into negotiations of a $340,000-$650,000 dollar house, we’re talking big numbers.
- Nick Hundley
Real Estate Agent
Real Estate Agent at EXP Realty
- Years of Experience
- Average Price Point
- Single Family Homes
6. Agents are professional negotiators
“A lot of homeowners that are trying to sell themselves—chances are, the vast majority have not sold a number of homes,” Hundley says. “If they have a desk job or any other kind of job that involves zero negotiations of any kind, and then they step into negotiations of a $340,000-$650,000 dollar house, we’re talking big numbers.”
Without a professional real estate agent, sellers go into negotiations handicapped. It can be very scary and intimidating to try and negotiate a house price yourself, especially if you have never negotiated with anyone before. Luckily, real estate agents have the skills and the responsibility to negotiate your home for you and get you the price you’ve been seeking.
7. Agents also know potential buyers
You won’t sell a home by merely listing it on websites and waiting for offers to come flooding in. They won’t. That’s where marketing comes in, which is a significant reason why people use a real estate agent to sell.
“In this market, it’s different than it’s ever been before,” Hundley says, noting the current 2022 housing market. “So the marketing doesn’t take a whole lot of marketing at this point to get a home sold, but marketing is a big part of what we do.”
When it comes time for your real estate agent to market your home to buyers, they know how to stage your home to market effectively to buyers.
There is also local knowledge, or the local market, to consider when listing your home. Agents like Hundley study the local market closely and what local buyers are reacting to also help you list your home price effectively.
Local market items Hundley says he looks at are things like:
- Number of homes being put on the market
- Number of homes getting contracts or pending
- Number of homes that are selling
No one understands the trends of your local housing market better than your real estate agent, which can heavily influence the transaction of your home.
8. Selling is a complex legal transaction
Aside from helping you get the most out of your transaction, it’s your agent’s job to help you avoid legal mistakes and possible zoning violations that you may not be aware of.
If you have ever bought a house, then you should be familiar with the endless paperwork you had to sign. Don’t expect to get out of that by selling your home yourself.
There’s still a ton of paperwork involved with selling a house, all of them with specific legalities. If you have a hard time digesting legal material, it’s better to be protected with the help of a professional agent who knows exactly what each document contains.
9. Agents offer an objective eye
We get it. You made memories in this house. Got your start. Raised a family. Grew old.
Selling a home that you have a history with can be an emotional journey. Nick Hundley understands that completely but offers some great advice for keeping the eye on the prize.
“What I attempt to do in circumstances like that is to focus on either the end result or why they decided to sell their home in the first place.” If you decide to sell your home yourself, odds are you will find reasons not to sell.
Working with a real estate agent helps to keep the home selling process in an objective perspective. Your goal is to sell your house quickly, right? An agent helps you keep in that mind and provides a helpful source when your emotions start to get in the way of your future goals.
Why use a real estate agent? The answer is a no-brainer
Sellers who think they can save a buck by listing for sale by owner are missing out on the countless advantages of using a licensed agent.
Working with an agent gives you the ability to get more for your home and to avoid any legal issues you could accidentally slip into without the knowledge of how to properly sell a home. Not only this, but agents help to keep an objective eye when it comes to selling so your emotions don’t start to get in the way.
Having trouble finding an agent in your area? HomeLight’s agent matching platform can help you find a top realtor in your area you can connect with today about selling your home fast.
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