So you’re trying to sell your home yourself as a FSBO (For Sale By Owner). Perhaps you don’t trust real estate agents. Or, maybe you’ve done the math and can’t see giving up 6% of your equity to someone else.
I understand these feelings, believe me. It is understandable that you don’t want to “give away” or “lose” your hard earned equity to commission when you feel like you might be able to keep that money.
However, home owners often under estimate how much time and effort it will take for them to successfully complete a For Sale By Owner in Columbus, Ohio. I hope to shed light on WHY it is in your best interest to list your home with a qualified Realtor, rather than go the FSBO route.
Now, you may want to stop reading after this, but please hear me out. You should know what an experienced Realtor will do to sell your home. If you still decide to sell your home as a For Sale By Owner, at least you’ll have more knowledge of the challenges and pitfalls you will face.
There are many reasons why home owners choose to hire someone to help them sell their home. Here I will detail eleven main reasons to help you decide if getting help from a real estate professional is in your best interest in the end.
Table of Contents
- #1: Real Estate Expertise
- #2: Local Central Ohio Real Estate Market Knowledge
- #3: Getting The Price Right
- #4: Marketing
- #5: Negotiation
- #6: Unqualified Buyers
- #7: Managing Your Listing
- #8: After An Offer Is Accepted: Inspections, Appraisals, & Title Issues
- #9: Legally Binding Contract
- #10: FSBO Stigma
- #11: Most FSBO’s Fail
- Don’t Doom Yourself, Hire a Pro
#1: Real Estate Expertise
If your house caught on fire, who would you call? Probably 911, right? The dispatcher would send out your local firefighters to put out the fire as quickly as possible. Of course, you could try to put the fire out on your own, which may be possible in a few cases, but as the fire quickly grows you will call in the professionals.
Like firefighters who have been trained and regularly get called to help people, qualified Realtors have extensive training to sell houses, and we do that. Ever. Single. Day.
I know what you’re thinking, “comparing selling a house to a fire is a little extreme.” The reason I use that example is to help you understand that as a full-time Columbus, Ohio Realtor I am a professional dedicated to the well-being and best interest of my client. My expertise comes from years of continued education in my field as well as daily experience selling homes in Central Ohio.
Selling your home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Your home is likely your largest investment, and how the sale is managed could be the deciding factor in how you move forward in life. Doesn’t it make sense to at least consider hiring a professional to do it right the first time?
After all, we trust doctors to help us when we’re sick, teachers to teach, and firefighters to put out fires. Why not trust a licensed, experienced real estate professional to sell a home?
I’ve had a real estate license for 30 years. If I were to put my personal residence on the market today, I’d use an active real estate agent who really knows his or her stuff in the marketplace. I’d gladly pay them their commission, too.” – Dave Ramsey, Real Estate Agent vs For Sale By Owner
#2: Local Central Ohio Real Estate Market Knowledge
I bet we all have that friend that knows everything that’s going on and is in everyone’s business. Like that friend, a good real estate agent knows everything about the market in their area of expertise. Home prices and market conditions can vary widely from one neighborhood to another.
That’s why it is extremely important to work with an experienced real estate professional with strong local ties and knowledge of your specific neighborhood.
For example, I live and work specifically in the northern part of the Columbus area. This includes communities like Westerville, Lewis Center, Dublin, Powell, Hilliard, and Delaware, just to name a few. In-depth knowledge of these areas helps me with the next and most crucial reason it is best to hire a real estate agent instead of trying to sell a home yourself – pricing.
#3: Getting The Price Right
Pricing a home correctly is art and science. If you price too low, you simply risk losing lots of money. If you price too high, your home will languish on the market. An over priced home doesn’t get taken seriously by buyers and may be ignored, however the longer it sits unsold the more investors and bargain hunters will see your home as a low-ball offer opportunity.
Most people selling their own home determine price based on factors such as what they owe on the home, what they feel the home is worth, or even the Zestimate (shudder). None of these factors will give you the actual market value of your home.
A home seller may think their home is worth $300,000, but remember that the market value of something is really only as much as buyers are actually willing to pay for it. If similar homes in a neighborhood are selling for $200,000, that is a more realistic value for the home. Wishing that a home is worth more than it is does not make it so.
A skilled real estate agent uses their local market expertise, years of experience, and tools of the trade to determine a home price that will both help your home sell quickly and garner as much profit for you as possible. An agent will carefully look at similar homes that have sold in your neighborhood and will know how to consider factors the average home owner isn’t even aware of.
Now days, selling your home starts with preparing it for market with the right improvements and staging. Ask yourself the following questions: Which improvements will get the most money while spending the least? Should I paint, and if so what color? How’s my curb appeal? Am I nose-blind to a funky smell in the house? A professional will help you address all of these to make your home as attractive as possible to potential home buyers.
Real estate agents know that market exposure is the name of the game. When we list a home, it goes on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). This is where agents list and find homes for sale, and this is the driver that gets your home on websites such as Realtor.com. The MLS is a great tool for getting your home in front of qualified buyers, and it gives you a big advantage.
But, before I even list a home on the MLS, I spread the word in real life and online that the home is Coming Soon to the Columbus real estate market. I have worked hard to build a large network of professionals in and out of the real estate industry. Imagine thousands of people seeing that your home will be for sale before it even hits the market! The moment a homeowner hires me to sell their home, my team and I begin to market that home everywhere. Your home will be promoted to thousands of people via email and social media before it’s even on the MLS.
Since most Columbus area home buyers use the internet to find homes, it is absolutely crucial that your home not only appear in online searches but that it is well-staged and professionally photographed so that it is appealing. Buyers may decide whether or not to see your home based on the pictures available online. Professional staging, photography, and online marketing are huge advantages you can benefit from when you hire a professional Realtor.
The power of proper negotiation is a skill that is developed with experience over time. The truth is, some people have no clue what they are doing when they try to negotiate. But, for those of us who have cultivated negotiation techniques and practice regularly, the ability to negotiate effectively becomes second nature.
The real estate world has highly skilled negotiators working on behalf of their clients, and you don’t want to be on the other side of a deal from them if you have never negotiated a home sale before.
We’re not just talking about price here. You will have to negotiate multiple things when you sell your home. Will you fix everything the buyer’s home inspector finds? Will you give them a credit for new floors? Will appliances be included? Will you wind up paying full closing costs? All this and more can be up for negotiation when you sell your home, and the buyer’s agent will do everything they can to get the best deal for their client.
And yes, the buyer will most likely have an agent representing them. According to the National Association of Realtors, “88% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker – a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.” If you really want to sell your home, you will still probably have to pay the Buyer’s Agent commission, which will be about 2.5-3%.
As the buyer’s agent wears you down, you could potentially be giving up a large portion of that hard-earned home equity and not even realize it.
Having an experienced real estate negotiator in your corner can actually save you thousands of dollars in the end. Weigh the relatively small 6% commission against the very real possibility that you could lose more than that due to not being properly represented. Remember these words of wisdom, “Don’t think of cost. Think of Value.” Consider the real value an experienced Realtor can bring to the sale of your home.
#6: Unqualified Buyers
These may be people who just started thinking about maybe buying a home, or people who want to buy a home but aren’t preapproved, or people who want to rent to own, or even nosy neighbors posing as buyers who really just want to see the inside of your home and how much you’re selling it for.
Imagine going through the process of showing people your home, only to find out that they aren’t really ready or able to buy. You will have wasted precious time, and delayed your home sale. When homes sit on the market for too long, buyers offer less money.
Lots of people contact me and say they are interested in one of my listings. One of the first things I ask is if they are pre-approved. If they are, we move forward. If they are not, I connect them with a lender and let them know we can schedule a showing once they are pre-approved. This keeps you from going through the process of showing the home and coming to an agreement, only to find out 30 days later that the person can’t actually buy.
An experienced real estate agent will be your filter to keep you from wasting precious time on unqualified buyers.
#7: Managing Your Listing
Home sellers often underestimate the amount of management that goes into selling their homes. From following up with people who have seen the home to implementing changes based on feedback and even keeping up with appointments, selling a home takes more than simply putting a sign in the yard.
As a full-time Central Ohio real estate agent, I have systems in place to help me manage the follow-ups, feedback, and showings. Since I’ve been doing this for many years, there’s no learning curve for me to figure out how to manage and sell your home listing.
Imagine the process of trying to sell your home yourself without any help. You probably already have a full-time job and family obligations that take up most of your time. Think about your already busy schedule, and add to that trying to take calls and emails (during work hours) about your home, scheduling showings (with people who may not even be qualified to buy your home), and rushing around trying to keep the house in tip-top shape and presentable to potential buyers. After these buyers have seen your home, their agents will be contacting you with questions, adding to the chaos.
Now, let’s say you’re just not able to get back to everybody, but while you’re struggling to keep it together, your neighbor lists their home with an agent. The buyers that couldn’t get in touch with you or didn’t hear back from you are easily able to see the neighbor’s home and submit offers. Your neighbor’s home gets multiple offers and a bidding war ensues. The home sells quickly for thousands more than the asking price, and 30 days later you have new neighbors.
#8: After An Offer Is Accepted: Inspections, Appraisals, & Title Issues
After you slug through dealing with buyers and you’ve finally accepted an offer, that’s when the real headaches start. Now you have to deal with home inspections, appraisal, and title. Every one of these is full of pitfalls and potential deal killers.
Inspections can range from radon to pests to water. The home inspectors represent the home buyer, and it is literally the inspectors’ job to find things wrong with your property. Even with newer homes and renovated homes, inspectors will produce a list of issues with the home.
This is where negotiation is critical. Normally, the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent negotiate what (if any) inspection items will be fixed and/or how much money will come off the price or be credited to the buyer to cover the cost of these issues.
Being unfamiliar with this process or not being a savvy negotiator could cost you thousands in home repairs, price reductions, or both. And, if you don’t play ball, you risk losing your buyer and going back to square one.
The appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the home’s value. The appraiser is hired by the buyer’s mortgage company, and if the home does not appraise for the amount you and the buyer have agreed upon, you will need to know how to keep the deal together without losing too much money.
An experienced Realtor will know how to contest the appraisal and provide more information in order to possibly get a higher appraisal. If a real estate agent could negotiate another $5,000 to $10,000, wouldn’t that alone be worth it to hire them?
Title refers to legal ownership and the right to use the property. Title issues are easily the most annoying part of a real estate transaction. You may have to deal with past ownership claims, liens, or covenants of record. Title issues can delay or kill deals, so it is imperative to know what to do if a title issue arises. Most homeowners have never dealt with anything like this, so title problems alone are a good reason to hire a professional to handle your home sale.
#9: Legally Binding Contract
Once you and the buyer sign the contract, you and the buyer are legally bound to the terms of the contract. The average home seller doesn’t know anything about real estate law or contract. However, as the home seller, you are responsible for any misinformation you state or that is in the contract. You risk potentially losing tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits. When so much is at stake, it makes sense to hire a professional to be your guide through the process.
#10: FSBO Stigma
This is probably the most overlooked reason not to try to sell your home yourself. When home buyers are looking at homes for sale in Central Ohio, they tend to have one of two preconceived notions about a For Sale By Owner home.
They either shy away from the home completely, knowing that the listing is not being managed by a professional, and therefore even looking at the house may not seem worth it. This is especially true when the home is overpriced. The buyer may think that the seller is not serious about selling the home.
Or, they assume that the homeowner chose not to hire a professional to save money. These buyers see an opportunity to buy a home for below market value and will often make low-ball offers.
After being worn down by unqualified buyers and seeing other homes in your neighborhood sell quickly and easily with help from a Realtor, that low-ball offer may seem like the best option. You’ve dealt with all of this only to end up giving away all that hard-earned equity after all.
#11: Most FSBO’s Fail
Many of the calls and emails you will get while trying to sell your home yourself will be from agents trying to get you to list your home with them. Why? Because they know that most homes for sale by owner listings fail in the end. From the initial marketing to finding qualified buyers to negotiation, there are simply too many places for it all to go terribly wrong.
In 2015, only 8% of home sales were FSBOs. The number of homes for sale by owner has been steadily declining for years, because it takes a lot of time and effort to sell a home now.
For the few FSBOs that do succeed, they take longer to sell. On average, FSBOs take 19 more days to sell than homes listed by a Realtor.
Don’t Doom Yourself, Hire a Pro
So, while you can technically sell your home yourself, why on earth would you? Besides all the headaches and problems you will be forced to deal with as a FSBO, the truth is that homes sold with a Realtor sell for more money. Homes sold by the owner average $185,000, but homes sold by agents average $240,000. That’s a big difference!
With a full-time, experienced Realtor working hard for you, your home could sell with enough profit to not only cover their commission but to also put even more money in your pocket than selling your home yourself.
Between the high potential for actually losing money by selling yourself and the money you will likely have to pay anyway if you want to be competitive, you really aren’t saving any money at all by doing a For Sale By Owner.
It is simply more prudent to hire a professional. Contact me, Rita Boswell, at 614-547-3229 to learn more about what I do every day to sell homes.