So you want to sell your home yourself and save the commission you would pay a Realtor®, am I right? In this DIY society we are living in we have been inadvertently trained that doing something yourself is cheaper and therefore better, but lets take a look at that…Even our cover photo shows what can happen when you don’t hire a professional baker and cake decorator; have you seen the Netflix show Nailed It? It is full of people with great intentions (with all the tools they need at their disposal), but they still lack skill, know how, expertise and experience.
Real Estate is a multifaceted industry, there are so many aspects of selling a home that For Sale By Owners (FSBO) don’t realize until they have gotten in too deep. A Realtor® can be a life-line of sorts. Before you choose to list your home yourself, please consider these keys to selling a home and ask yourself, not only if you are qualified to do so, but is it worth the time and the risk?
1. Are you an expert?
You don’t know what you don’t know, and yes it can hurt you. Real estate agents spend a lot of time looking at homes, and know today’s market. What if you price your house too high and discourage buyers? Or too low and loose some of your equity? Do you have a comparable analysis of the area? Does that comparable have all the data it needs for you to make an educated value price for your home? A good Realtor® is out in the market seeing the homes that compare to yours everyday. They know if interior upgrades have been made, if they have a pool or other value added improvements. All of these things play a factor in pricing of a home. Do you really know if your home is comparable to others in the area?
Have you over improved your property? You thought adding that sun-room would be a great selling point, and would help the house sell for more, but it ended up costing you more than it would ever add to the value of your home. It makes sense to consult a Realtor® about improvements you want to make on your home, before selling. Not all improvements will add value, and some may add too much value that you will never see a return on; meaning you loose money in the end. If you are planning to sell, talk to a Realtor® about what you should or should not do to get your home ready for the market.
Can you be objective when the market data tells you something that you don’t want to hear? Or when a potential buyer doesn’t like the wood paneling that made you fall in love with the home in the first place? It can be hard leaving the home you grew up in, or the home you brought your first child home to, but you will have to be objective when selling your home yourself. Emotional responses are natural. How objectively will you handle those situations or others that may arise? Can you keep smiling?
Additionally, will a potential buyer be forthcoming with you knowing you have a vested interest in the home? It is possible you will never know what the turn-offs are of potential buyers so that you can make necessary changes.
A good Realtor® will help you navigate emotions and present you with market research to help you make educated decisions. They can also be a gentle go-between to help you understand what buyers are telling them about the price and what may turn them on, or off, about your home.
2. Do you have the time?
Time is not always on your side, as the song says, especially if you are working full-time, or taking care of a family/family member. You will need to have a plan on how you will show your home to potential buyers. Will you only be available evenings and weekends? Will that be acceptable for a potential buyer who is only in town for 2 days to find their home? What will you do if you are on vacation and have a cash buyer ready to purchase your home? Even if your home is a perfect match, if you aren’t able to show it how will the buyer ever know?
A professional Realtor® works full-time showing homes to potential buyers. Many times they can be available at a moments notice, and can show your home even while you are at work, out with friends or even on vacation.
It’s not just showings; do you have time for inspections, repairs, marketing, paperwork, negotiation, objections, title or permit complications, etc. There is a lot that goes into selling a home, and they need to be handled objectively, and properly. They must all be worked out before a closing can happen. If even one of these things falls through you generally have to start back at the beginning. This can result in a loss of a sale, or the sale taking much longer than it needed to.
A good Realtor® will know exactly what needs to be done in order to get to closing. They handle these situations regularly and know what needs to be done to overcome obstacles, that may come along the way. Realtors® also have a network of expert resources like contractors, architects, handymen, electricians, etc. that can be an asset when something comes up that needs immediate attention.
If you are selling, that means you are also planning a move. In addition to handling everything mentioned above in regards to the sale of your home, do you have time to handle finding your new home, packing, arranging movers, and the details that come with purchasing a home too?
3. Presentation is key
Presentation is key; this is what makes you want to go eat that mouth-watering burger, to buy that new suit, or in this case buy a home. First impressions are important; and while a book should not be judged by it’s cover, many people are not willing to open it if the cover is not inviting. The same is true in real estate. Is your home something people want to come in and look at further?
There are many considerations when it comes to presentation of a home. How will you properly prepare for your home sale? Do you have an understanding of what you need or don’t need? How is the curb appeal? Should you paint or not? Do you need staging or stashing? Sometimes staging a home is the answer, but other times you may just need to stash some of your belongings and use what you already have. It’s easy to overlook things in your home that may need repair, or cleaning, or updating when you see it everyday. It is good to have an outsider give their opinions. Do you know what the current trends are, in order to highlight those things? What about professional photography? Drone? Video? 3-D walk through technology? Do you have contacts in these professions to make you home look it’s best? How much are you willing to spend on the presentation?
A good Realtor® knows what will make your home reflect it’s best self. They can point you to some inexpensive ways to make your home more appealing to others. Sometimes a home doesn’t need much, and other times it could use some help. If your Realtor® thinks your home needs professional photography they likely have contacts in these areas already. They know what is needed to appeal to the right audience, sometimes that also includes aerial drone photography, video or slideshow presentations, and even a 3-D walk-through experience that can save you time preparing your home for a showing to people who are just curious.
4. Marketing your home
You’ve gotten this far and are ready to market your own property, lets talk about where you will place these professional photos you just paid for. Will you make your own property website? Hosts open houses on your days off? Post on your personal Facebook and Instagram accounts? Are you friends with a bunch of Realtors® that would see your house on their newsfeed? Are you planning to put a sign in the yard? How much will signs cost? Do you have the design skills to make an attractive marketing flyer? Who will you send it to? Do you know how to market to a Millennial (they account for 66% of first time home buyers*)? Is a newspaper ad appropriate? And how do you know anyone will see it? How will you get the message out to everyone that your house is for sale?
Besides the actual marketing of your house and getting it seen by thousands of Realtors® and buyers, the biggest concern should be your safety. How do you know who you are letting into your house? Are you comfortable having strangers in your home alone? What if someone sees your sign in the yard and stops to view the home, how do you know this person is a legitimate buyer?
Many Realtors® require a pre-qualification letter from a bank to be sure the buyer is even qualified to purchase a home in your price range before showing them properties. Many times they get copies of the buyers driver’s licenses and alert staff about the where they will be when meeting a customer. Additionally, Realtors® have special lockboxes that require a pin code to get into the box to retrieve the key, this way they know exactly what Realtors® have shown the house. These, and more, are security measures that Realtors® take to insure your safety and theirs.
Michele Loeffler, Realtor® at Bosshardt Realty tells of an experience she had many years ago with a For Sale By Owner. “Many years ago a FSBO called me to list their home after a scary visit from a person who viewed their FSBO home. After showing this man their home, the wife, who was home alone contacted me. She told me she thought the man was viewing their home while she showed it to him. Instead, he was writing down all the items in their home. He started to ask her questions about the items and not the home. After he left she called me worried that he was just their too “case” the home and come back at a later date to rob it. After that experience, they have listed approximately six homes with me. They told me selling FSBO was a scary experience for them and they would never try again.” Is it worth the risk? Do you know how you would handle an uncomfortable stranger in your home, or someone at your door asking to come inside and view the property?
Back to marketing…Susan Baird of Bosshardt Realty says “I consider FSBO’s a secret sale… without the MLS you limit your exposure, and with that income potential.” She is right! According to the National Association of Realtors® (2017 profile of a home buyers and sellers*) 51% of home buyers found the home they purchased online, to add to that an additional 30% found their home through their Realtor®. This indicates your home must be visible both online and to Realtors® the best way to do that is to have it in the MLS, and listed with a company that feeds to other websites where buyers are looking.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (2017 profile of a home buyers and sellers*) only 2% of home buyers buy a home directly from the seller, or personally knew the seller prior to purchase. Only 7% purchased a home from a sign they saw in the yard. Yet as mentioned above 81% have found their home either on the internet, or from their Realtor®; meaning you need to be online and in the MLS for maximum exposure. The MLS is a place where Realtors® tell Realtors® what homes are for sale in the area. It is a network that only Realtors® have access to. The Realtors® representing buyers looking for a home in your area is going to be looking there first.
There are a few online resources that allow a FSBO to market on their site for a fee. But are these locations where real buyers are looking? Or are they searching Realtor.com, Homes.com, BosshardtRealty.com, etc. where they are able to look at a large host of homes, using specific search criteria? Many companies like Bosshardt Realty have a feed from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to their site, and that feeds out to many other sites. This gives your home the best exposure to all the sites where buyers are known to be looking.
A good Realtor® will know what areas of marketing is appropriate. At Bosshardt Realty we have a marketing team who is working full-time marketing our properties in multiple areas including, flyers, brochures, newspaper ads, social media, websites, global relocation and more. We have an 8 week marketing plan to help you get the most exposure during the best time to sell, the first 8 weeks! Bosshardt is also the only company in the area with a Certified Real Estate Digital Marketer.
5. How are your negotiation skills?
So you have received and offer, and the buyers Realtor® presents you with a 20 page contract, are you qualified to make sure your interests are covered? A Bosshardt Realtor® Ciara Hudleston, had this happen to her. She was representing the buyer of a FSBO home, the homeowner was very excited to be selling himself…until he was presented with her contract, addendums and an appraisal contingency…This is when he discovered he would be better off with Realtor® representation. Luckily for her buyer this worked out, he found a Realtor® to help him, and they will be closing soon, but this could have been a costly mistake.
Not everyone is born with negotiation skills, in fact most are not. Some things to consider might be what you will do if you get multiple offers? Are you prepared to handle a bidding war? Do you know how the options will affect you, and provide an option for you to close when you need to close? Do you know what terms and conditions could be disadvantageous to yourself? What costs you should or should not incur? Do you know if the buyers you are dealing with are qualified buyers and can afford your home (or will you have to wait for them to secure financing)? Are you on a deadline to sell?
A good Realtor® is an experienced negotiator. They have been trained in the best way to handle bidding wars (which have been common lately), and do what is in the best interest for their client. They are also current on the housing market, and will assist you in making the best decisions. They are held to high standards set by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Florida Realtors®. At Bosshardt Realty agents benefit from having non-competing brokers to ask for assistance if needed. This assures the best care for our customers as the broker is only here to help the agents with their needs to insure the smoothest transaction, even in the toughest of situations.
This can be one of the most difficult parts of selling your home, even with Realtor® representation. Do you know what to expect from an inspection? Do you know what repairs you should or should not do? Are you willing to accept less on your home if you don’t fix the items that need repair? Do you have a list of repair people that you can contact should something be found during the inspection? Do you know what the inspection period is, and how long a potential buyer has to get out of a contract after the initial inspection?
A good Realtor® works through inspection issues very regularly and have a list of contractors, handyman services, ect. that they have personally worked with and highly recommend. They are knowledgeable about what repairs should cost, and can help direct you to the best service person for your needs. They can also help you understand what repairs must be done, and which ones are not required. This is where a good contract can be lost, if you aren’t careful how you handle the inspection results. At Bosshardt we have approximately 100 Realtors® who are all one big team. They help each other with recommendations when a repair that may not be something they have experienced before comes up.
7. The Transaction
The seller, that’s you, must become an expert in real estate contracts and know your legal responsibilities. Do you know where your liabilities lie? Are you confident enough to work through disclosures, addendums, and contingencies, without professional advise? Our Realtors® go through extensive training on these things, they handle these types of situations regularly. If however, one of our Realtors® finds a situation that they are not sure about, they also have 3 non-competing managers available to help them through a situation as well as Real Estate Attorney, Kim Bosshardt, Esq.
Now that you are at the final transaction what else needs to follow-up on? Did your home appraise for the amount you agreed to sell it for? Did it appraise for less? If so, now what happens? Do you know who will handle the closing? What happens if the buyers financing isn’t coming through, or is seeing a few setbacks? Bosshardt Realty Services has a sister company known as Bosshardt Title Insurance Agency, Bosshardt Title is run by Kim Bosshardt a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney, who is an expert at handling closings. While there are many options for closings, you should be confident that our Realtors® not only have a great Title Insurance company available to them, but have a Real Estate Attorney at their disposal for issues that may come up during the life of your transaction.
8. Getting to the closing table
Do you know what condition you are expected to leave the home in? Are you able to attend the final walk through? Should you allow someone to move in prior to closing? When are you expected to vacate the premises? What happens if your movers damage the home when moving you out? A good Realtor® has the answers to these questions and more from the experience they themselves have, or from their Broker experience. We know it takes preparation, skillful positioning and professional presentation to get top dollar in any market. We know the best defense against a costly experience is hiring a great Realtor® to guide you through the sale of your home or property.
If you have read this, and decided it is worth the risk to you, we are happy for you and wish you the best of luck. Perhaps you end up loving the experience and decide you want to join us in the real estate industry. We would love to have you join our team. However, if you decide this is WAY more than you are willing to take on yourself, just know Bosshardt Realty has been successfully helping owners and buyers for over 31 years. They have all the skills, know how, expertise and experience needed to safely guide you through the sale of your home. We have Realtors® on call available to help you. If you would like a Realtors® assistance please call our office at 352.371.6100, or go to BosshardtRealty.com.