Sell Your Home With a Real Estate Agent and Avoid Major Mistakes
Here are major issues you may face selling your home by owner:
- Real estate agents know the process and documents you need to execute the entire selling process properly.
- The real estate agent will understand how to fill out all the real estate documents correctly.
- The real estate agent can monitor the process and make sure everything is done in a timely manner. They will get the right documents, and help you find the right mortgage and escrow company, title company or real estate attorney.
- Sometimes the real estate agent can negotiate a higher price for your home, than you can since they know the price trends in your area.
- Safety is a major concern when you do a “sell by owner”. When a real estate agent brings someone to your home, they have usually vetted them and met them at the real estate office in advance. Most of the potential buyers you let into your home will drop in randomly from the sign in your yard, so they may have sinister ideas when they come visit, and are not actually looking for a home.
I don’t recommend that anyone sell their home by owner unless you have a buyer you know already as a friend, relative, neighbor, or close associate. Make sure you research the process thoroughly before you start.
The only reason I can think of that anyone would want to sell a “home by owner” to the greater is that 1. You MUST sell to move 2. Don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agency (the fee is as much as 6%-7% of the sales price).
I have sold two homes as a “for sale by owner” seller. So, it is possible to do a “sell your home by owner” home sell, but It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. If you sell you home with a real estate agent you will avoid mistakes that can cost you later.
I made the decision since I had not owned the one home long enough to generate enough equity to pay a real estate agent commission, they other home I wanted all of the equity for a down payment on my next home.
These are the things I learned from my actual experience, my research, talking to real estate agents, and talking to others who had sold a home. I spoke with two friends who are ex-real estate agents, and they helped me quite a bit.
I also took an appraisal course many years ago in anticipation of starting a real estate appraisal business. I did not start the business, but I learned a lot about appraising homes.
First, expect to be bombarded by real agent’s eager to list your home, when they see your, “For Sale by Owner” sign. They will contact you over and over hoping that you will become frustrated with the whole process, throw up your hands and say, “where is that pesky real estate agent? I’m listing my house with her or him, yesterday!” Unfortunately, sometimes you will feel like that, but don’t give up too soon.
The following “for sale by owner” information should be helpful:
- There are many legal forms, those dreaded forms! They are dreaded but necessary for the legal transfer of your property to another person. You will need legal real estate sales and disclosure documents for your home sale.
You can get these documents from a title company or you can pay a real estate lawyer to do the work for you. The real estate lawyer will provide you with the documents and fill them out correctly, for no more than an hourly fee. Verify his/her fee, the time it will take, and agree on a fee before he/she fills out the documents.
- Then you need to decide how much to sell your house for. If your asking price is too high, your home could stay on the market a long time. If your asking price is too low you may lose money you deserve. There are several ways to find out the right sales price. If the homes in your neighborhood are very similar, i.e. square footage, number of bedrooms (bathrooms), and similar size yard, you can use the recent sales from the last two homes like yours, in your immediate neighborhood. It gets a bit more complicated when the homes are all different, but appraisers use a similar method.
- You will have to find homes with your similar square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and if the home is on a lake, gulf course or ocean, or has a lot of land. You can also pay for a sales appraisal, use your local yellow pages for a listing of real estate appraisers. The next option is to check city or county records. Just call your local city records office and ask them where you can find information on the most recent home sales in your area. Verify which of these homes are like yours and use those comparisons to price your home.
- Fix up your home to make it presentable to sell. That includes electrical and plumbing in tip-top shape, clean carpet, clean walls, clean doors, an attractive front door, and well-groomed landscaping, and maintenance painting, just to name a few.
- Let the buyer know that he/she can pay for an independent inspection of your home, and put it in writing. The new buyer can have an inspection for plumbing, electrical, and structural soundness as well as other things. To be on the safe side, I paid for an independent inspection on my home sells, I had several things fixed as a result, before I sold the home.
- Let them know that they need to choose a mortgage company, you can also talk to mortgage companies up front. Both buyers in my case had never purchased a home. So, I did some research on the best mortgage companies in the area and gave them several to choose from, this just helped to speed up the process.
The mortgage company gave them title companies to choose from or they can search for their own title company. For safety purposes, you could have the person go to your mortgage company of choice and get pre-qualified, before you show your home. This way you will know, who the person is, and that they are serious about purchasing your home.
- Talk to escrow companies before your put your home up for sale, (in the case of fee simple states-talk to a title company or real estate lawyer for closing).
- Now let’s get back to those pesky real estate agents. There may be an aggressive real estate agent or two who will present you a buyer. If that agent is willing to take 3 or 4%, which very few can, and they have a buyer, then you may want to talk, if your equity covers that reduced commission.
The problem you may experience is trying to negotiate with an experienced real estate agent, they will most likely try to get you to reduce your price for their buyer. Make sure you add up your cost, 4% to the realtor, fixing up the home for sale, your mortgage sellers cost (sellers usually pay around 2%), and your moving cost. This is one of the disadvantages you face when you sell your home with a real estate agent and you don’t have much equity.
Do you have enough equity in your home to pay these costs and still have a substantial amount to put down on another home? Most homeowners who sell their own home, do so because they don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agent cost of 6 or 7%.
So, don’t let an experienced real estate agent come along and talk you into decreasing the price of your home, and giving them 3 or 4% real estate commission, in that case you could have hired a real estate agent to do everything to begin with, and the agent could get full commission for your home. If there is not enough equity to pay the commission, you will have to come out of pocket to pay the commission, using an agent.
- Keep yourself safe. Consider “for sale by owner” only when you can’t justify the real estate agents commission (6-7% of sales cost). Take appointments from interested buyers, get caller ID and ask for their name and address first. Send a postcard to the address your potential buyer gives you to remind them of their appointment. If the postcard comes back, “not at this address” cancel the appointment.
10. Ask lots of questions on the phone of your potential buyer. Get their name, address, and employment and salary, if they are pre-qualified for a loan or if they will pay in cash, before you give them an appointment. Ask to see an ID before they look. Verify information you are given by searching the internet for their presence. Use a private investigator to authenticate information if you can afford it.
Doing a “for sale by owner” can also be done by companies that help with the process. In other words, most areas have “for sale by owner” real estate agencies that assist you with the process to make sure the sells process is done right and they will help to keep you safe. These agencies usually charge a flat fee. Here you can “have your cake and eat it too”, you will sell your home with a real estate agent, but do it at a greatly reduced cost. The process and the contracts are different for each state, be sure to research your state.
If you have plenty of equity in your home, a real estate agent should be your first option. Make sure you get references on which real estate agent to use, don’t choose one at random. There are good agents and bad agents.
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