Thinking of Selling Your House Privately?

   With all of the real estate brokerages advertising to sell your home and inundating your mailbox with flyers, it’s no wonder you have surely considered selling it privately. After all, you can stake a “FOR SALE” sign on your lawn and take some pictures of your property, right? After all, you could save a considerable amount on commission fees and sell your house the way you intend for it to be sold without a greedy agent taking over. Although you may have the skills and tools to sell your house privately, we would like to give you some insight as to why that may not be the best idea after all, and how selling with a real estate agent will likely make you more money in the long run.

   People shouldn’t attempt to sell their own houses for the same reason that surgeons don’t operate on their family members. There is an emotional involvement involved in selling a house, and many people don’t realize this until they are knee-deep in the private selling process. Consider showing a house yourself and listening to picky potential buyers moan and groan about paint colours, furniture choices or landscaping. Certainly you must know that not everyone has the same tastes as you, but hearing those comments first hand may be disheartening and give you a biased opinion toward your buyer, leading you to not take a reasonable offer and prolonging the whole process altogether.

   The other thing to consider is whether selling privately is truly profitable in the end. Sure, not paying an agent commission is certainly an attractive factor, but what else is involved? On average, houses that are listed privately take longer to sell. This makes sense when you consider the tools and marketing brokerages have at their disposal to give your home the exposure it needs to sell. You must consider the extra time you are paying your living costs, utilities and insurance on a house that won’t sell. Often times, those attempting to sell their house privately end up paying more in these extra costs while the house sits on the market, than what they would have paid in commission to a real estate agent to sell the house faster and more efficiently.

   Let’s consider the housing market in Dundas, Ontario, where our brokerage is located. According to the Real Estate Board and Hamilton-Wenthworth’s Land Registry, between February 2011 and February 2012, approximately 574 houses sold in Dundas. About 300 of those sales were listed on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), 163 were estate sales from divorce or death etc., and 103 were new home sales. Just 33 of those were private sales, of which several of those would surely be pre-arranged to sell to friends, neighbours, relatives, etc. So, what it all boils down to is approximately just 20 out of the 574 houses sold in Dundas over the past year were truly "private sales". If selling a house privately has so many benefits, then why are so few people doing it??

   Selling a home takes tools, resources, expertise and most of all, a substantial time commitment. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes with special attention to legal documents, managing offers and marketing your property in the right way to attract the right buyer. This ends up being extremely overwhelming and often times frustrating to the private seller, as it’s not as simple as staking in a “FOR SALE by Owner” sign on the front lawn and putting a few pictures on a website. 

   Sure, if you have an attractive property with lots of potential and interest, and you can devote the time and research it takes to sell a home, then selling privately may be the way to go to save you more money in the end. We ask you to look at the bigger picture, calculate some costs and think about whether it’s really worth the hassle. We say, leave it to the experts! Someone who is familiar with the market, is well-versed in all of the legal aspects of selling a house and who has the tools and marketing exposure to sell your home as quickly as possible and for the most amount of money will likely end up getting you a better deal in the end, even after forking over their commission. Don’t believe us? Feel free to ask the 97% of people who list and sell their house with an agent whether it was worth it, or whether they wish they had sold privately. Chances are, they weren’t willing to take the chance. Just some food for thought! 

Harold Pope

Harold Pope

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 New Age Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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