Today, you can Google instructions to become a DIY-pro at just about anything. But selling a home is a complex process requiring knowledge that only experience – not the internet – can provide.
Sellers who try to list their home as “For Sale By Owner” (or FSBO), can miss out on several benefits a professional agent brings to the table. According to Al Limon, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Integrity in Camarillo, California, many previously FSBO clients eventually see working with an agent can save them time and stress.
“When they understand the value an agent brings because of their experience and negotiation skills, many see that working with an agent ultimately delivers a better end result,” says Limon.
Here are three areas of agent expertise sellers should consider when determining if working with an agent will deliver more value than going it alone.
1. Marketing strategy and tools to cast a broad net
Finding the right buyer for a home goes beyond a “for sale” sign in the yard. The more buyers are interested in a property, the more competitive their offers are likely to be. David Serle, a Broker Manager of RE/MAX Services in Boca Raton, Florida, says the marketing resources an agent brings to the table are difficult for a FSBO to match.
“My team has a system that helps us market a property more effectively than someone listing their home as a FSBO can on their own,” Serle says. “We use a variety of tools, including Facebook ads and retargeting, to help get as much exposure as possible for a listing.”
Another tool Serle taps into is the RE/MAX referral network of 125,000 agents worldwide. This is especially important in Serle’s market in South Florida, which tends to attract international buyers.
“You have to think about who the buyer is, and if there are people in other countries who might potentially purchase the property,” Serle says. “It goes back to having a proven marketing system. At RE/MAX, we have a global referral tool and access to social media advertising to help locate buyers all around the world.”
2. Navigating real estate laws and regulations
Real estate is a complex process, and laws differ from state to state. Working with an agent who is familiar with the unique rules and regulations of their area can help sellers “avoid a lot of heartburn,” according to Limon. “A seller once reached out to me and said the buyer told them they had to pay both sides of the escrow. That’s not true!”
According to Serle, a downside of selling FSBO is when sellers run into pitfalls that could have been avoided with the advice of an experienced professional. “A FSBO seller once called me and said he was getting sued for not disclosing a material defect in the property. An agent could have advised him to file a seller’s disclosure for the home.”
3. Negotiation tactics and avoiding contract issues
While there are several rules that govern a real estate transaction, there’s also a lot of gray area. This is where Limon says an agent’s negotiation skills can really benefit sellers.
“Yes, agents obtain a fee for helping clients sell their home, but they also help negotiate items clients don’t need to pay for,” Limon says.
For example, many buyers are under the impression that sellers must repair any defects found in the inspection. Not true, Limon says. “An agent can help sellers negotiate repairs. We have the knowledge of what really needs to be completed and what can be countered or declined.”
Just as critical as the inspection is the fact that agents are also skilled at negotiating the final sale price.
Limon points out the importance of understanding the nuances of different offers.
“Whether the offer is cash or a VA or FHA loan, an agent can help the seller understand the differences and what they should know before accepting an offer.”
Ultimately, Limon says the role of an agent is to help protect buyers and sellers.
“Once FSBO sellers see the knowledge and experience we bring from working in real estate every day, they begin to see, ‘I do need someone like you on my side,’” Limon says.
Serle adds, “Realtors sell thousands of homes over their career. They know the market. They know what to expect in the transaction. They know 150 things to do in order to get you to closing.”