In today’s strong Seller’s Market, some potential Sellers might be tempted to “save money” by listing their home for sale themselves, commonly referred to as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). After all, with homes often selling in a matter of days, it may seem like a piece of cake. Put a sign in the front yard and before you know it, it will be sold for over the list price.
Well, it’s not nearly as simple as that, and I’m happy to say I haven’t personally encountered any Sellers who’ve tried to undertake this task themselves…but since it does happen, I felt compelled to set the record straight on the expertise and value Realtors® bring to the table.
Let’s start with the biggest reason to work with a Realtor® to sell your home: You net more money. Period. A lot more money. In fact, a two-year analysis by Bright MLS, a multiple listing service that serves real estate professionals from Pennsylvania to Virginia, found that the median price of a home sold on the MLS (how Realtors® list homes) was about 17% higher than homes sold off the MLS (or, For Sale By Owner). Another recent study by the National Association of Realtors® found that agent-assisted sales resulted in a price 22% higher than FSBOs. These higher net prices absolutely dwarf the commission you pay a professional.
This isn’t surprising, given that Realtors® have the tools and expertise to market your home. After all, isn’t the goal is to get the most eyeballs on the photos of your house — and have those photos be so compelling that Buyers are dying to schedule a showing? To do this, Realtors® do what FSBO Sellers can’t or won’t do:
- Help you prepare your home for sale — We have the expertise to know which pre-sale improvements are worth doing to get at least a 100% return on your investment…and to help your home get more offers and sell faster. Often, sellers waste money on unnecessary bells-and-whistles but forgo the things Buyers most value.
- Price your home for the best end result — This is both an art and a science. Kris and I are incredibly precise in pricing homes and both have our PSA (Pricing Strategy Advisor) certifications. Not all Realtors® have this extra training. A well-priced home will get the most offers and therefore end up fetching the highest price (and may even have few to no contingencies). The average homeowner simply doesn’t have access to all the same information — nor do they have the experience and expertise — to accurately price a home on their own.
- Hire a professional photographer to take high quality photos — When working with our clients, Kris and I help stage the property before having photos taken…and even do virtual staging when necessary (on vacant or partially furnished properties). We help you present the home in its best light. (The room below is virtually staged.)
- Market your property in the MLS and beyond — Along with photos showcasing the best features of each room, we include all the details and selling points of the home, age of any appliances or systems that have been replaced, and even minor upgrades. Details matter. And that’s just the beginning. Other ways we promote your home include reaching out to other Realtors® within and outside our brokerage and publishing blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, flyers, and property-specific websites.
The bottom line is that thoughtful prepping of the home, on target pricing, beautiful presentation, and active promotion result in the most showings — and the luxury of choosing from many strong offers.
Help Evaluating Which Offer is Best
Beyond marketing, Realtors® also have the training and experience to expertly negotiate on your behalf once offers are received. While multiple offer situations, which we see a lot of now, may seem to make selling easy, most Sellers don’t know the nuances of evaluating one offer against another. The highest offer isn’t always the strongest, and agents can spot red flags and evaluate which offer is likely to have the path of least resistance getting to the closing table. Realtors® these days are often vetting, analyzing, and presenting a dozen or more offers to their Sellers, and their expertise is invaluable.
And the Necessary Level of Detail Doesn’t End Once You’re Under Contract…
Disclosures, deadlines, timetables, paperwork…it’s a lot for the average homeowner to keep track of. Does the average homeowner know how to negotiate the finer points of an inspection contingency? An appraisal contingency? Do they know what questions to ask the Buyer’s lender? If any one thing isn’t done right, it can result in a delayed closing or worse…a deal that blows up. It’s also important to note that the majority of lawsuits in real estate involve unrepresented Buyers or Sellers.
So, please, if you know someone thinking about listing their home on their own, save them time and frustration…and help them get the most for their home by referring them to a Realtor like us at NoVa Home Sellers. A primary residence is most people’s largest asset. Homeowners shouldn’t try to “go it alone.” Kris and I love what we do, and we hold your hand every step of the way through an often complex process.