Realtor or No Realtor: The Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home Yourself

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Trying to sell a home can be difficult: there is almost always a home that buyers will find that is a better deal, in a better location, or just fits a particular buyers’ dream home qualifications better. Before you even try to sell your home, you have to figure out if you want to try to sell it by yourself, or if you are going to hire a realtor.

There are several positives and negatives to selling your home yourself, but it can be a difficult decision, particularly if you are in a hurry to sell your home. You also need to consider whether your work schedule will make it possible for you to regularly show your home, whether you feel safe having people in your home while you are the only other person there, and whether or not you can afford to lose the money that you will pay for a realtor’s commission.

One of the biggest factors you need to consider when deciding whether or not to sell your home yourself is what kind of time frame you are looking at. If you really want to buy a bigger, nicer, or otherwise different home, but you can stand living in your home for a while until it sells, you might be willing to try selling your home yourself before hiring a realtor. You also need to decide if you are going to sell your home while living in it. One advantage to doing so, especially if you are selling it yourself, is that you are around more to do maintenance, and to meet potential buyers.

However, sometimes having too much stuff in a home can turn buyers off, because they like to imagine their own stuff in their future home. If you are going to continue living there, be sure to complete a deep cleaning, then regularly keep your home clean. Also, make sure your home is as clutter-free as possible.

On the other hand, if your mortgage is too expensive for you, if you recently lost a job, if you are relocating but you don’t have a company covering relocation costs, or you need to move quickly for some other reason, you may want to hire a realtor. Although hiring a realtor doesn’t mean that person will be able to sell your home quickly, you may face a greater chance of a quick sale with a realtor.

Realtors have more access to advertising, and some buyers never even look at for sale by owner ads, so in that sense, hiring a realtor is an advantage. Many realtors also run expert open houses, they know how to attract buyers, and they can help set the right price for your property. Trying to hold several open houses, and being available to show your home during the workweek, can be difficult if you are trying to sell your home yourself. You also need to decide if you are comfortable hosting strangers in your house when you are alone. On the other hand, sometimes people are uncomfortable hiring a realtor because they usually can’t be there when potential buyers come through.

One advantage to selling a home yourself is that you won’t have to pay a realtor (unless you are open to working with a buyer’s realtor, in which case you will at least save on having your own realtor). Realtor’s fees vary, and sometimes realtors lower their fees. However, the normal commission is six percent (usually split between the buyer’s and the seller’s realtors). If you can save by selling your home yourself, that’s great.

However, remember that you will still face certain legal requirements. Many people who sell their homes for sale by owner still hire a lawyer to look over documents or inform the seller about certain rules. If you truly want to sell your house on your own, you will need to know the real estate transfer rules in your state. It can also be helpful to have legal counsel if a deal goes sour. Still, hiring a lawyer should cost much less than you would lose by paying a commission.

Realtors also have the advantage of lacking an emotional connection to your home. If you have lived in your home for many years, or you are otherwise attached to it, this can prevent a problem if you try to sell your home yourself. When buyers come in, they make comment on aspects of your home, and if an offer comes in, you might get upset if you think your home is worth more than the offer. It can be difficult to view a potential buyer’s offer as simply a possible transaction, especially if you are attached to your home.

Even though realtors have the necessary expertise to sell your home, that doesn’t mean a realtor will always end up being an advantage. If you have a realtor that is too busy with other properties, you may find that it’s difficult to get a hold of them, or that they don’t spend as much time trying to sell your property as you would like. Even with a good realtor, remember that realtors try to sell multiple homes at once, so your realtor might not remember everything that is worth noting about your home, or may forget about certain amenities that come with the neighborhood.

You have to decide if you really need a realtor. If you have the time and can afford to try to sell your home yourself, then you can always change your mind and hire a realtor later if you need to.

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