Explore the pros and cons of selling your home yourself versus selling with a real estate agent.
The advantages of selling with a real estate agent: Realtors usually earn a commission of 3 to 6% when they buy or sell a home, which is a hefty percentage of the transaction. On a $500,000 home, that’s as much as $30,000 of the top (plus HST, in some provinces). But what do they offer for their fee? A realtor is a specialist who knows the market, has access to resources that you may not have (such as up-to-date MLS listings and a wide pool of serious buyers), and can help guide you through the sometimes bruising experience of selling. Real estate agents have an objectivity that many homeowners don’t, and can help you prepare and price the home properly. They will also take care of some of the complicated legal aspects of the transaction, especially if problems arise with title or finances. Finally, they can help negotiate the best deal for you, especially when working with other realtors. For more information please contact Hans Taal at: www.century21.ca/hans.taal
‘For Sale by Owner’ homes: There’s another factor you should be aware of. Most realtors don’t take kindly to “FISBOs” (“For Sale By Owner” homes). Many buyers’ agents avoid them altogether for fear of any issues that may arise from dealing with “amateurs”. Other buyers (whether agents or private) may try taking advantage that you’re not paying out of commission, and may be motivated to negotiate with you more aggressively. For this and other reasons, it takes a certain amount of fortitude to take on selling by yourself.
Resources for private sellers: A number of services have appeared in the past few years that help with the basics for a flat fee. This may include advertising on their website or publications, advice on preparing and pricing your home, access to MLS advertising and legal professionals, and a lawn sign. Even though these resources are available, be prepared to do some homework before you begin. Using the MLS website will help you arrive at a ballpark price, but that’s just the beginning. Research what homes in your area are selling for (and, just as important, how much recently sold homes went for), and visit open houses to see how your house compares. It might be worthwhile to hire a professional appraiser, though those who specialize in mortgage appraisals tend to err on the low side.
Putting your house on the market: As soon as your house is put up on the market; it’s no longer your home; it’s a product. Examine every inch inside and out as a buyer would, and paint, repair, or upgrade anything that isn’t in tiptop condition. Consider a professional home inspection to take care of any hidden problems in advance. Do at least some basic landscaping, to maximize curb appeal. Hiring a stager is pretty much a must nowadays; they will advise you what works for your home and what doesn’t.
Showing your house: Once you have everything in place, you need to be available to show your home whenever prospective buyers turn up. That can range from open houses every weekend, to evening appointments, to allowing in the occasional prospect who knocks on your door. For security reasons, be sure to screen all visitors by asking for their names, phone number and the number of their agent if they have one. (Even for homes listed with an agent, this can be an uneasy business. There are criminals who can sometimes visit open houses to “shop” your possessions.) If you’re willing to do the work involved with selling by yourself, the financial rewards are substantial enough that it’s worth investigating this option, especially if you anticipate that your home will sell quickly and without difficulty. If you have any doubts about your ability to handle what can sometimes be complicated and even traumatic experience, you may be better off leaving the legwork to the pros.
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