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Should You Sell By Owner
An article appeared in a local Massachusetts real estate magazine called, “Can You, Should You Sell Your Own Home?” written by Edward Moore, then VP of the Realtor Association of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. The publication of an article of this nature points to the growing pressure felt by real estate agents, fearing the growing audacity of homeowners who choose to sell “on their own”. The information below is provided as an opposing view to the questions Mr. Moore asks in his article, which asks the question, “Can you sell your house on your own?”
1) Do you have enough knowledge to price your own home? Mr. Moore and I agree on this point, somewhat. The #1 mistake FSBOs make is selling incorrectly. It is difficult to remove the emotional attachment, do the work to find comparables (although there are many resources available to obtain this information) and price their homes without help. That is why we recommend using a professional appraiser and not an agent market analysis. Remember, a lender will not lend money based on this method, and will require a professional evaluation by a licensed appraiser.
2) Do you have the skills and resources to advertise and market your home effectively and are you willing to pay the advertising costs and be available to handle the calls? The skills required to advertise and market a home effectively may not be second nature to many, but this is where the support of a local for sale by owner service can be very useful. Advertisers are taught how to use a combination of local, regional and out-of-area marketing to create broad exposure. Can you answer the phone, chat briefly with an interested party, and negotiate? We think so.
3) Do you know what financing is available? A home seller doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of every loan program out there. They may want to put together a list of reputable local lenders for the buyer to call and have a financing sheet available, as we recommend to our advertisers.
4) Do you have a network of buyers…can you screen out unqualified prospects…are you comfortable greeting strangers who stop by at 9:00pm because they saw your sign on yard? Agents –networks of buyers–put it like candy in front of FSBO’s. Ask them to bring the buyer and suddenly they disappear. Most people looking for property these days are looking for more than one agent and themselves too. Would you greet a potential buyer at 9:00 pm? I doubt it, any more than you want an agent to come to your house with little notice at any time of the day.
5) Are you available 7 days a week to show your home? (Buyers expect you to be available at their convenience, not yours.) Perhaps buyers expect agents to be available at the drop of a hat, but we have never heard from one of our advertisers that they feel inconvenient when scheduling buyer visits. In fact, sellers have told us time and time again that it is less stressful to schedule visits around their busy lives, while engaging with the potential buyer. Anyone who is really serious about looking at a home will often bend over backwards to accommodate the seller. We give sellers tips on how to effectively schedule private showings and open houses.
On the contrary, we have heard from sellers that they are more bothered by agents (who are in the area) who bring buyers who “get a feel for the market” and are not really qualified, nor have a great interest in watching. their house.
6) Do you have good negotiation skills? Are you comfortable negotiating the price? Are you ready to disclose known defects in our home and do you know what you are required, by law, to disclose? A fairly priced home doesn’t necessarily require a “sale”, and the buyer and seller should expect some back and forth during the negotiations. When in doubt, ask your twelve year old how to negotiate. We deal with people every day – with our children, employers, and others. Many times the ability to sit quietly (buyer and seller) at the kitchen table, makes for better communication than the “arm’s length” approach often used by agents – the last thing they want. will be owned by the buyer and seller together. The meeting is actually a great time saver because questions and concerns can be answered quickly and easily. The seller’s responsibility to disclose known defects is no different from selling “by owner” or using an agent. A seller should ask their attorney for advice about disclosure and the buyer should request a professional home inspection be performed as part of the sale.
7) Can you write a binding contract? This is where scare tactics can get really interesting. Our advice? Based on the many attorneys who present at our home seller seminars – hire a good real estate attorney to draft the purchase and sale contract and make sure the sale is contingent (among other things) on two lawyers (buyer and seller) reviewing the contract. Of course, ask your attorney if any questions arise along the way.
8) Can you close a sale? The seller does not have to “close” the sale and may not even attend the closing. That is one of the reasons to hire a lawyer to represent you. A good lawyer, in addition to the lender (plus a buyer’s lawyer) should help keep things on track. Our advertisers, in fact, are given a list of steps to take before closing as a courtesy as well as access to a 160 page, sequentially, ‘ how’ book called, “How to Sell Your Own Home”.
So, can you sell your own home? Of course you can. The author, in saying, “Most homeowners, however, recognize the wisdom of working with a trained, licensed professional to handle the many complex details of a home sale” , clearly thinking of a real estate agent. We think the professionals involved should be: an attorney licensed in, and familiar with, Mass. real estate law, a licensed professional Mass. home inspector and a licensed professional Mass. appraiser. With the dealer in the house, it’s the winning team!
Agents hope that home sellers don’t take the time to educate themselves, and rely on ineffective advertising and marketing methods. Agents know very well that they have a greater possibility of getting a listing from a failed FSBO seller due to inadequate advertising methods. Sellers who understand that exposure is an essential element of a successful sale will not fall victim to this unfortunate scenario. Remember, a well-maintained, fairly priced, attractive home can, and will, sell itself, given enough exposure.
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