17 critical things to know if you’re considering selling your home without an agent….
“A ten year study by the American National Association of Realtors© has shown that homeowners gross approximately 9.5% more when selling through professional real estate agents, than when selling privately. How do you make that up?”
1. The price advantage for the buyer?
When buyers shop with a Realtor they expect to see all suitable property, find the best property for them, pay “fair market value” and be led through a smooth buying process A to Z.
When a Realtor becomes involved in a transaction, they are responsible for it. AND Realtors only get paid, by a lawyer, when the deal closes.
The buyer's only advantage in buying from a seller directly is lesser price.
Be prepared to drop your price to “fair market value” or less, and then the buyer will expect you to drop the typical Realtor commission too.
Buyers go from a high comfort level to a low comfort level; caveat emptor – buyer beware.
2. Pricing your property.
Perform a “competitive market analysis”, CMA for short.
Simply put, it’s comparing in an organized fashion what property is currently for sale and what property has sold that is comparable to yours.
It’s information available to all Realtors. You get to then select your listing price.
Your price is a "guesstimate" usually based upon observations of listing prices of similar homes to your own.
Pricing is one of the biggest factors in the success of your sale.
Appraisals are required for mortgaging. Appraisal value is relevant to sale price for mortgage approval.
If the appraisal is low, lenders won’t forward funds.
Know "fair market value" and assist in substantiating sale price, when required.
A professional appraiser can assist, depending upon your property this costs approximately $300 and up (single family urban property).
Note that as the market changes, this must be done again, usually every 30 days.
4. Getting market exposure.
Enlist a variety of sophisticated tools; Realtor.ca is promoted nationwide by 86,000+ Realtors nationwide and gets between 3 and 5 million unique visitors each month.
The local Multiple Listing Service is a sales force of 1800+ Realtors that all help show and sell your listing.
Plus inter-company brochures, local print media, fax marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, international Realtor networking etcetera.
Alternatively, you are the salesman.
You have to figure out how to best expose your property to the right buyers.
You need to make your own signs, take pictures, place ads and post on a webpage. Or you can pay up front, a do-it-yourself company (hundreds to thousands of dollars) to do that part.
However, you are still selling it yourself.
You still have to place ads, field buyer calls, texts and emails, do private showings to unidentified buyers and hold open houses.
5. 24 hour accessibility for the buyer’s questions.
Set-up for 24\7 availability.
No one home? Kids answer the phone? One spouse says that the other one knows the details. Wrong attitude? Language barrier? Try to sell house on the phone? Etcetera.
All these things can cost you a potential buyer’s interest and the sale.
6. Internet, print media, signs and open houses.
Property rarely sells from the internet, print ads, signs or open houses.
This is only a small part of a complete marketing programme to meet qualified buyers.
However, a Realtor who meets a buyer at another property can show a more appropriate listing using the MLS, which might be yours.
These are your only methods (internet, print media, signs and open houses).
7. Know the risks.
You’ve heard the reports of crime; robbery, assault or worse.
Pre-qualify buyers, even before they meet the buyer face to face in their office, dramatically cutting the risks.
Realtors ask to see proper I.D.
You don’t know who may be walking through your front door.
Consider who will show the home alone more often, you or your spouse?
8. "First time" home buyers.
Offer complete guidance throughout the sale process (i.e. who makes the offer, how much to offer, where to get a mortgage, when to get a lawyer, what if the bank appraisal is too low, a poor home inspection report, buyer’s remorse, etcetera.).
You are in a conflict of interest.
Buyers will keep their distance.
9. Relocating buyers.
Work with transferees from other cities all the time (a large portion of the real estate business).
Buyers have a personal referral to the Realtor and have confidence in that Realtor. These buyers do not know the city, market prices, location of schools or churches.
Relocation buyers typically haven't the time to “play” the private market, as they know, many private sellers are just testing the market to see if they can get “their” price.
Relocation buyers know the majority of Realtor listings are really for sale.
Rarely have a chance to reach this market!
10. Qualifying the buyer.
Most shoppers are actually not qualified buyers.
Unqualified home shoppers typically "often" qualify for a $250,000 house, then shop for a $300,000 house in the mistaken hopes of getting a steal.
Work closely with their buyer's and qualify them: I.D. verification is mandatory for Canadian money laundering statutes, credit checks, income level, amount of down payment and amount of mortgage qualified for.
This pre-qualifying of buyers is done in advance of showing any property.
Your buyers will have difficulty telling you, a stranger and the owner, what they make or how much money they have for the down payment.
Answer the buyer's questions regarding mortgages and direct them to appropriate lenders taking control of the financing.
You do not have control over the sale and will likely be forced to send the buyer "out in the woods" shopping for a mortgage.
Possibly unwittingly tying up the property for a month while waiting for mortgage approval for a buyer that doesn’t qualify or wastes time shopping for a mortgage.
12. Competing offers.
Draw upon the strength of the multiple listing service and use the other Realtors as part of their sales force.
It is not uncommon to get more than one offer at a time, which will probably get you a better price.
Extremely hard to do. Unless you drop your price to a “fire sale”.
13. Negotiation and conflict resolution.
“You are trying to sell your most expensive asset for the most money and a buyer is trying to buy it for the least money”.
Conflict and personal emotion in negotiating a sale on your own will happen, be prepared for it.
A lawyer can assist and will charge by the hour. The cost can vary dramatically depending upon the property, complexity of the offer and length of negotiations. Expect a minimum of $150 per hour and up, plus expenses. Your lawyer will quote you his\her hourly rate.
However, you can’t expect your lawyer to offer advice on “fair market value”. You will have to be able to factually relay that to the prospective buyer when negotiating your best price.
Act as a representative for you, looking out for your best interests.
You will have to look out for yourself.
14. Deposit checks.
Consider how much deposit you want held on your property? Is it enough to make you feel comfortable in purchasing another property prior to closing?
What happens on closing day if the buyer doesn’t close?
Who gets the deposit?
Put all property deposits in their government regulated brokerage trust account.
Buyers usually want the deposit with their lawyer where you have NO control.
15. Home Inspection, final inspection and possession.
Buyers want to have their offer conditional upon a satisfactory home inspection.
What if the inspector says there are deficiencies in your property?
What if the buyer says they are not closing because you changed the appliances?
Work with buyer and seller through this process. Realtors walk-through with buyers to insure a smooth close with no last minute snags in the releasing of closing funds.
You have to handle this.
16. Closing costs.
If you don’t budget enough you may jeopardize your sale and purchase.
Typically provide an estimate of “cash-in-pocket” after the sale (like tax adjustments, land survey certificate, lawyer's costs to write or review the offer, disbursements, mortgage preparation, insurer's fees etcetera).
You have to handle this.
17. Risk? Saving money? Consider!
American National Association of Realtors studies show Realtors gross 9.5% more.
Personal and financial risk, upfront costs, time and knowledge.
Are you saving?