Is Real Estate Possible without an Agent?

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Many people in the country have been hurt by the mortgage crisis. People are getting foreclosed upon; they can’t make their payments. Because of this, we are all feeling the pinch and we are tumbling into recession. Many people are trying to sell their homes themselves. Here are some tips to work without a Realtor, sent in by JcGeekGirl.

  • YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE AN AGENT! I cannot stress this enough. Agents have made the process of buying/selling property such a mystery, many people are afraid to embark on this journey without one. However there are instances where an agent is a good idea – such as:
    • You live in another state from the property and need someone to show it
    • You don’t have the time to hit the pavement and do the work of a real estate agent to sell on your own.

    There are many reasons to try and get the “by owner” thing to work for you. If you are willing to act as your own agent, and do the work of one, you can save thousands in commission fees – which in some cases, means the difference in selling the property and getting stuck with it.

  • You still need to advertise! There isn’t an agent doing the work for you. Place ads in the local paper, “for sale” magazines, put signs up where you are allowed to post handbills… and hold an open house as often as possible. The more people you advertise to, the more people will see the property, increasing your chances of selling (and possibly the length of time in which you sell).
  • The MLS is your friend – use it. MLS is the Multiple Listing Service – the database realtors use to search out homes for buyers. For years, “by owner” sellers have not been able to use it, but things are different now. Many agents across the country will offer you an MLS and/or Realtor listing for a flat rate. It may be the only service they provide at that low, flat rate. That potentially puts your property in front of millions of people that wouldn’t otherwise see it. You do need to offer a commission rate for a buyer’s agent though (it’s only fair, if you’re using the realtor database to advertise). With some slight negotiating room, the standard rate is 3%.
  • Not all “By Owner” websites are the same. Each one is owned by a different company. When a friend refers you, find out exactly what the address is, so you know where you are really getting referred to. When you place an ad, write down the company name, address, phone number, email addresses and your specific ad information. This is very helpful to have so you can come back to it later. Many companies take advantage of the play on words – different angles of “For Sale By Owner”. Some charge more than others, too. Before using one of these sites, research all of your options carefully. Check the traffic history of the site. Unless the Terms and Conditions of Use on the site (or any contracts state it), you can put your property out there for as many people to see it as you can afford to advertise. There are many who list their property on more than one of these websites. Craigslist is also a popular place to list property for sale. Some auction their homes on eBay. You have many options available to you when you’re not bound by an “exclusive listing rights” contract.
  • Now that you’ve listed your property somewhere, it’s time for the contacts and inquiries to roll in, right? Are you prepared to sell to the first person that calls, or visits the property? One way to be prepared is to ask all interested parties to bring a “mortgage pre-qualification letter” from their lender, stating that yes they can afford this house. I mean, what is the point in showing the home to someone who can’t buy it? It wastes everyone’s time. You can even offer the services of a lender you’ve lined up, and put that information in your ad or your open house invitation.
  • Times are tough. Scammers are getting more aggressive as the days progress. You need to be careful and research your contacts, and the people sending you emails regarding the property. If they are out of the country on assignment and their wife is really interested in the property, what is your bottom price? Think twice about it – it might be the difference between parting with $8,000 (give or take) with nothing to show for it, and a legitimate inquiry about the property. The biggest tip about anything on the internet – if it SOUNDS too good to be true, it probably is. Contact your local Consumer Protection office if you get a fishy email, and report it to the service where you’ve listed your property as well.
  • There is no shame in admitting you can’t handle the closing of the sale. Some people can do this process entirely on their own – but many use the services of a real estate attorney and a title company to handle all the legal aspects of the sale, disclosures that need to be made about the property, the list goes on. If the closing process sounds overwhelming, don’t be afraid to call someone.
  • Google is your friend… as always. Use Google to find out those real estate terms you don’t understand. Research what “staging” and “short sale” and “lien” mean. There are thousands of articles online to help you through this process from beginning to end. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel by braving it on your own. The information is there – utilize it.
  • Nobody wants to buy property they haven’t seen. Properties listed on the Internet get viewed more if they have a photo or two. Better yet, have a lot of photos and use as many as you can. This doesn’t mean have 6 shots of the tub all online – this means let your house tell it’s story…. “I have 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a pool, Jacuzzi, and a handmade brick barbeque area.” The goal of the photos is to take the personality out – take the photo of the room, the area, not the stuff that’s in it. An empty room in a photo can be good and bad. It may show “immediate move in condition” but it may also show that the property has been on the market for so long, the owner has already moved out and moved on. Even if you have to borrow or rent furniture to take pictures – it’s better than no pictures or an empty-room photo.
  • Lastly, have patience. It takes realtors a while to sell houses these days – you can be just as lucky trying to sell it yourself. Make sure you’ve had a physical appraisal done on your property to find out the value, find out what comparable homes have sold for in the area (you can search online for services that offer that information in a quick and easy digestible format, or you can take a day trip to the county office). Current national trends put the average time to sell a home (agent or not) at 4-6 months – some areas longer due to the market being saturated with soooo many properties for sale.

This advice is just that… advice. It in no way replaces the professional advice of a lawyer or Realtor. Please be sure to seek proper legal advice in your area, to cover all of your bases.


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