FSBO vs. Agent: What’s a homeowner to do?

When the real estate market gets this red-hot in favor of sellers, many homeowners begin to wonder why they should hire an agent to help them sell their home. After all, homes are flying off the shelf and practically selling themselves. Why not just do it yourself and save the commission?

It’s a fair and reasonable question. My response is, selling a home isn’t as simple as it looks. Where the purchase and sale of real estate is concerned, what you don’t know can really hurt you. Here’s how.

1) The key to getting top dollar for your property is market exposure, because competition is what drives up the price of your home. Like it or not, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the most efficient and effective means of advertising the sale of your home. Agents pay (some would say, handsomely) to be members of the MLS in order to have this advantage. Non-members (i.e. the general public) are not able to list their property on the MLS. Granted, there are companies such as “MLS for Owners” that allow homeowners to use their license to list property, but that only solves one of the potential problems.

2) A typical Purchase and Sale Agreement (aka, sales contract) consists of approximately 25 pages of legal documents, detailing everything from contingencies to timelines to loan terms. “Time is of the essence” means exactly that. One missed deadline can void a sale.

3) Agents perform a myriad of essential tasks behind the scenes that can only be learned through study and experience. Even brokers with decades of experience will tell you that they learn something new with every transaction. A home owner may be fortunate enough to get a smooth, simple sale, but when something goes wrong, a professional really earns their money.

4) We live in a litigious society. If an unrepresented seller makes a mistake, the blowback can be much more costly than the commission.

Obviously, I’m biased, but I hope I have provided food for thought.

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