You run into people claiming it all the time: They don’t need an agent! They’re a savvy shopper who knows a lot about home construction, and anything they don’t know, they’ll learn online. It’s true that some people can shop for homes on their own. But that said, the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) market has some disadvantages, and having an agent has some advantages that might not be obvious at first.
Finding Them In the First Place
First, you’ve got to find an FSBO home, and that’s trickier than you might think. For example, an elderly seller may not be comfortable with the Internet, and advertise the old fashioned way: With a sign in the yard. Or they may only list their home on one website, instead of every one they can find, or they might only list it in one newspaper. Realtors have their homes on the internet and searchable by every criteria you can think of for good reason: It helps sell the house!
The first, and most obvious, is that a smart realtor doesn’t list a home with serious problems; they either make the homeowner fix those problems, or they don’t list the house; it’s that simple. But as a homeowner can just put their home on the market whenever they feel like it, that means you might be wasting time looking at a home that you’d never buy with all the problems it has.
Realtors, when they price homes, use a tool called a comparative market analysis, or CMA. They look at what prices homes were sold at recently, what they’re currently listed for, and any other data they can find about home sales. A home’s list price, from a realtor, reflects the long-term fiscal reality of the neighborhood.
FSBO sales can price it anyway they want. Some people will literally list the home for the price they bought it at decades ago, substantially undervaluing their home. Some people will get emotionally wrapped up in the sale and overcharge substantially. Either way, it can make a sale difficult, or even impossible.
Fortunately, most FSBO sales are not like this.
Most of us don’t buy or sell homes on a regular basis, so we don’t get involved in the tax law. But do you know the tax implications of buying a home? Does the seller know? Are you responsible for the property taxes for a home for the year you buy it, or does the seller have to take care of that? Has paying property tax been factored into the overall price of the home? It’s one of those situations where even the most stubborn individual has to admit that some expertise really comes in handy.
Finally, there’s the matter of time. A realtor is hired to sell a home at a reasonable speed and at a reasonable price. With an FSBO home, realistically your schedules may be difficult to line up. Homeowners have jobs and families like anyone else, with all the commitments that come with them, and so do home buyers. It may be the perfect home for you… but you may never know, because it’ll be impossible to actually see it.
In short, realtors provide a distinct advantage to both sellers and buyers that can’t be discarded out of hand. You may soon find that a realtor is worth it, just for time reasons alone!Google+