Selling your home without a real estate agent sounds like an appealing option to some people. Why hire an agent when you can just sell the house on your own?
Before you spend money on a "for sale by owner" sign, however, make sure you take time to learn the pros and cons of selling your home without a real estate agent. Most homeowners decide to use a real estate agent after they learn about the challenges of selling a home without a professional's help.
Pro: You Avoid Paying the Real Estate Agent's Commission
Agents get paid by taking a commission from your home's sale price. Most agents tend to charge about 5%, which gets split up between listing agent and buyer agent fees, photography, videography, marketing, and more.
It makes sense that you want to avoid paying someone 5% of your home's sale price. Let's say you own a home, where the median home value is approximately $1,00,000. Assuming that you sell your house for $1,00,000, you will pay your agent $50,000. You may be able to think of better ways to spend $50,000, but if you decide to sell your home without a real estate agent, it may be harder to get the full sales price of your home.
Con: You Probably Don't Know the True Value of Your Property
You immediately encounter a problem when you try selling your home without an agent. You think that you will save money by avoiding commission — but do you really know the true value of your property?
At best, you can make a guess based on what homes in your area have sold for recently. Unique features in your home and surrounding property, however, could significantly increase the amount of money buyers will pay.
What if your home has features that make it worth $1,100,000? Hiring a real estate agent who recognizes the higher value could mean that you sell your house for $1,100,000 instead of $1,00,000. After a 5% commission to the agent, you get $1,045,000 from the buyer.
Trying to save money isn't always the right move. In this case, you lose $95,000 because you thought you could do an agent's job. You can actually get paid more by hiring and paying a real estate agent. That makes it worth it alone.
Pro: You Get to Make All the Decisions
There's something to be said for having control over your home. Selling your home without a real estate agent means you can take your personal approach to the process. If you don't like someone who wants to buy the property, you can simply refuse the sale. With no one there to encourage you to sell, you get to make the call.
For example, if you overhear a potential buyer saying they want to tear down the treehouse in your backyard, you might decide to pass on their offer. That treehouse has sentimental value. Maybe no amount of money can make you feel good about knowing it will get ripped down and sent to the dump.
Con: You Have to Do All the Work!
The flip side of "getting to make all of the decisions" is that you "have to do all of the work." Do you want to spend time finding a professional photographer, advertising your property, fielding phone calls from potential agents and buyers, scheduling meeting times, and setting up open houses? Do you know what to do with an offer, or how to counter the offer? What about state mandated disclosures?
It will likely take a lot of effort for you to sell your home without a real estate agent. Most people change their minds and decide to hire a professional when they realize how much time and energy it will take to sell property independently.
Con: You Miss Out on the Expertise an Agent Brings to Your Side
The job of a real estate agent might look pretty easy when you have an outsider's perspective. In truth, hiring an agent means that you get an expert on your team who has diverse talents and skills.
Why would you need a real estate agent? Some of the things they do include:
- Negotiating with buyers to settle on prices and property improvements that will help the property sell quickly at a price that makes you happy.
- Bringing in experienced inspectors who can give you objective reports of your property and recommend improvements that will help you fetch more money.
- Accessing proprietary real estate information to determine the value of your home.
- Staging (and paying the upfront costs) your home to make it more appealing to buyers.
- Marketing your property to get the maximum value as soon as possible.
- Walking you through each step of the selling process to keep everything legal and easy for you.
The chances are that you don't know all of the behind-the-scenes work your real estate agent does. You'll find out when you try selling your home without a real estate agent. Or maybe you won't find out, in which case you might lose money and find that it will take a long time to sell your property.