Most people who are looking to buy or sell a home simply assume that they’ll need to hire a real estate agent. In fact, only about 8% of home sellers on average sell their homes without one.
Homeowners typically reason that the money they lose by paying the real estate agent’s commission is offset by the work the agent does for them. Listing the house, finding potential customers, and negotiating with the buyer are usually handled by the agent.
But is it really more cost-effective to use a real estate agent? If you’ve been wondering, “Do I need a real estate agent?” then keep reading. Here are eight reasons to go without one.
1. It’s a Seller’s Market
For several years following the bursting of the housing bubble, sellers had a hard time moving their homes off the market. People were dealing with layoffs, foreclosure, debt, and student loans, and simply were not in a position to buy a home. In this kind of climate, a real estate agent who knows and understands the local market can be helpful.
Today, however, the market has moved in the seller’s favor. Homes are spending much less time on the market before being sold. Many homes are receiving multiple offers, leading to bidding wars between buyers that drive the price up.
In this kind of environment, a real estate agent is less necessary. There’s more demand for homes, so it makes sense to take advantage of it and not lose money on a commission.
2. You Can Get Your House Ready
Real estate agents often offer advice on how to get your house ready to show. This includes everything from minor repairs, to cleaning up the landscaping, to removing personal effects that distract potential buyers.
In reality, this is all work you can do on your own.
A good rule of thumb is to never do massive remodeling projects with the hope of increasing your resale value. Instead, focus on simple upgrades.
For instance, rather than redoing your whole kitchen or bathroom, consider simply changing out the faucets, or installing new doorknobs. These small touches will elevate the look of your home, and catch buyers’ attention.
3. You Can Do Your Own Research
The advent of the internet has really leveled the playing field in many markets. Sellers used to capitalize on the fact that they had a monopoly on information. Today, however, it’s easy for consumers to research how much a car, computer, or appliance should cost.
The same applies to the real estate market.
One of the main roles of a real estate agent is to help sellers set a realistic, yet competitive price for their home. The key is to set a price high enough to make a profit, but low enough to attract buyers.
In the past, it was important to work with a real estate agent to do this. Researching local home prices could require spending hours sifting through the local real estate magazines you find in grocery stores. By contrast, agents have a good handle on the typical prices in a given market.
These days, however, the information about real estate pricing is much more readily available. Consumers can access the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, on their own to research comparable properties in their area.
By doing your own research, you can see what price homes in your area that are similar to yours are going for, and how long they are staying on the market. This can help you make an informed decision about how much to sell your home for.
4. You Can Do Your Own Marketing
Another area where real estate agents would help is in marketing the property to potential buyers. Once again, the internet has made it easier for sellers to do this work for themselves.
When a consumer wants to buy just about anything, their first place to look is the internet. Buying a home is no exception.
As a seller, you can easily put your home on an online listing platform. This allows buyers to learn about it from the comfort of their own home.
But you can also promote your home through social media. You can even link to social media posts through online listings, and use them to share pictures of your home and the area where it’s located.
5. You Can Do Virtual Tours
Many sellers like working with a real estate agent because they want someone who can show their home to prospective buyers. Being available to meet interested buyers at your home can be challenging, so it’s helpful to have someone who is available to do it.
But these days, most consumers want to get as much information as possible about a product online before they go to look at it in person. As a seller, you can help buyers access this information with a virtual tour of your home.
In addition to having pictures of your home on the listing site and social media, you can also include walkthrough videos. This gives potential buyers a better idea of how your home flows.
You can also demonstrate some of the functionalities. For instance, show buyers the closet space, or where your electrical panel is located. This will help buyers get the basic information that they would usually seek in a first-time visit.
With social media, you can also do tours of the local neighborhood. Take your followers on a tour and show them how easy it is to walk to the local pub, or where the best trail is to walk their dog.
6. Buyers Can Show Themselves
Of course, a home isn’t the kind of thing that someone is just going to buy because they looked at it online. Eventually, interested buyers are going to want to see the home in person.
Luckily, there are ways you can make this possible without having to be present.
If you use a smart lock or lockbox for your home, you can give access to buyers who reach out and express interest. Buyers simply need to enter the code to gain entry. You can also change the code regularly to make sure a buyer can only enter the home on one occasion to tour it.
This method is convenient for everyone. Not only do you not need to be there to show the house, but the buyer does not have to coordinate their schedule with you. It is also enticing to buyers because it allows them to tour the home in a low-stakes environment.
7. You Can Handle the Negotiation
Real estate agents will sometimes try to scare people who plan to sell their own homes by pointing to the negotiation stage. Sure, you can price, list, and show your home on your own. But what will you do when it comes time to negotiate with the potential buyer’s real estate agent?
In reality, negotiating the selling price of your home is not as intimidating as it sounds. When you receive an offer from a potential buyer, you have three options: you can accept it, you can reject it, or you can counter-offer.
Most potential buyers will try to submit a first offer below the asking price. In these cases, it is almost always best to counter-offer. The exception is if the offer is far below the asking price, in which case it might be best to outright reject it.
If you have a feeling that multiple parties might be interested in your home, it can be a good idea to hold out on accepting for as long as you can. The more people who are competing for your home, the more it will drive the price up.
In some cases, the buyer’s real estate agent will try to get the seller to pay for repairs or cover closing costs. If you agree to do any of these things, make sure to factor it into the price of the overall offer.
8. You Keep the Commission
The biggest reason of all to forego a real estate agent is the promise of keeping your own commission. Knowing that you have one less person to pay also makes negotiations a little easier. You can come down on the price a little bit, making your home more competitive, because you know you’re keeping the wholesale.
Answering the Question, “Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?”
With these eight factors in mind, it’s clear that the answer to the question, “Do I need a real estate agent?” is, “No, not necessarily.”
Ready to start selling your home on your own? Check out our listing tool today to get your home listed so you can make a sale with 0% commission to a real estate agent.