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What You Really Need to Know About Real Estate Agents Before you Sell

Aug 13, 2008
If you're getting ready to sell your home, you've likely considered the pros and cons of selling it yourself vs selling with an agent. Certainly, the FSBO market is growing exponentially with the help of the Internet, but will it actually save you money to do it yourself? What does a real estate agent do aside from collecting commission? Well, before you rush outside and knock a for sale sign into the front lawn, you might want to find out.

Usually, when homeowners attempt to sell a home themselves, they want to save the money they'd have to pay to a real estate agent to do it for them. Does it work? Well, that depends on the seller's level of skill. You can certainly sell your home yourself. People do it everyday, and if you have industry knowledge and experience it may be a good option. It's like anything you choose to do yourself - from fixing a car to representing yourself in court. If you have an aptitude for the work, a few connections here and there and masses of time on your hands, you can be your own professional and save a few bucks.

But saving on the commission won't necessarily save you money. It's common for FSBO homes to sell for much less than it would cost for an agent. In fact, the National Association of Realtors estimates that the average FSBO home sells for 16% less than a Realtor or broker would sell it for. Why? Well, just because you can sell your home yourself doesn't mean you should. Selling a home is real work that requires time and expertise. There are real pitfalls. In the world of FSBO, the road to closing is littered with bad deals, overpriced homes languishing on the market, liability, strangers overruning the weekends and general wasted time. You can still prevail, but anyone who has a demanding career, anyone who doesn't like to do it themselves, anyone baffled by current real estate transactions, anyone who doesn't want to be tied up with home showings and strangers walking through their home for months on end, should get a Realtor onside. If this could be you, putting energy into finding the right real estate agent instead of putting up for sale signs will get the job done faster, better and without stress. Some of the things a Realtor will bring to the table:

- Salesmanship: Any real estate agent worth his or her salt will be a born salesperson with a solid marketing plan, access to networks and a strong knowledge of what goes into pricing a home right and closing a good deal. Realtors have access to marketing materials and advertising channels that most people don't.

- Paperwork: An experienced Realtor will be able to breeze through the stacks of paperwork that are always tied to selling a house. By filling out forms, applications, securing documentation and making sure that your bases have been covered before problems arise, an agent takes a huge burden off of sellers and often makes the difference between a deal and no deal. Not having paperwork completed on time is the number one reason most real estate deals fails.

- Protection: though you will still need an attorney, a Realtor has knowledge that can protect you in the long run. Knowing the fair housing laws, state laws that pertain to real estate and how to properly fill out important documents like disclosure statements will eliminate your liability and get you your money

- Dealing with Buyers: For busy people, this is one of the most welcome things a Realtor will will do for them. Fielding calls and inquiries, eliminating the tire kickers, staging your home and showing it to interested buyers when they want to see it allows you to carry on with your life, avoid lost work and put energy into your next move.

- Links to Professionals: there are a lot of people involved in a single real estate transaction. An agent that's been in the industry for a while will have links to reputable lawyers, mortgage brokers, appraisers, contractors and other necessary professionals that will help you make the sale the way you want to make it.

- Appraisal: A Realtor will also be able to manage and monitor the inspection report and the appraisal, making sure they meet current standards.

Though we've all heard the myth of the shady real estate agent, the truth is that most Realtors are dedicated professionals whose clients' success is directly tied to their own. By being honest about the amount of time and energy you have to devote to selling your house and educating yourself on what a Realtor really does for the commission, you're in a position to decide whether to invest in finding the good ones or to brave it alone.
About the Author
Simplify your search for Puget Sound homes. Get listings, community info & expert advice from Jay Richardson Realty, Mount Vernon real estate experts - RichardsonRealtyGroup.com.
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