Using an agent versus selling your home yourself
With a proliferation of online services designed to help people sell their homes themselves, one can be forgiven for believing that real estate agents may be set to become relics of a bygone era.
DIY selling - the positives
Several new websites have emerged to support those who want to sell their homes themselves. Often called FSBO or for sale by owner services, they offer lower cost packages that could potentially save you paying real estate agent commissions, which are usually around one to three per cent of the price paid for a property.
These services will provide you with access to online advertising on websites that are popular with buyers as well as a host of other marketing tools, such as "For Sale" boards, property reports, brochures and more.
This can put you in control of the sales process and can eliminate the risk of being stuck with an unreliable, unprofessional or ineffective agent just because you signed an agreement that gave him or her exclusive rights to sell your property for a period.
DIY selling - the negatives
But is selling your home a clever choice or an example of how one can be "penny wise and pound foolish"?
Selling your home, after all, is probably one of the biggest property transactions you will ever be involved in and it is wise to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you get the best price that you can. So which is the best way to achieve this?
Some sellers will swear that selling their homes themselves was definitely the way to go. But the truth is that they will never really know what price an experienced and skilled agent could have negotiated on their behalf. Despite saving on hefty agent's commissions, the question remains: did they end up in the best position possible after everything is considered?
Selling a home is something most of us will probably do once or twice in our lifetimes, but for agents it's their day jobs.
Using a real estate agent
Real estate agents will tell you that sellers are emotionally attached to the sale of their homes and often struggle to handle a negotiation in an objective way.
On the other hand, a good agent will be more impartial and should have much more experience and knowledge about selling properties, overcoming buyer concerns and negotiating prices upwards.
A good agent will also be savvy about what marketing tactics work for specific types of properties and markets as opposed to the "one size fits all" service some websites may offer. And he or she will have a Plan B if things aren't going to Plan A.
Many agents also have a database of potential buyers looking in a certain area which means they are likely to bring more people through your door. And most can expand your advertising reach because their agencies will also use their own websites and newsletters to promote your property. Some will also have offshore offices, for example, in China.
The wider you can throw your marketing net, the more potential buyers you can pull in. And the more competition you can create for your property, the higher the price you are likely to get.
A good agent could potentially also save you lots of money. For example, you may believe certain renovations are crucial to get your home sale-ready, but a good agent will have experience in what actually puts most buyers off and which are the most cost effective ways to fix to spruce up your property.
In addition, a good agent will definitely save you lots of time. You won't have to spend many hours trying to learn about the market and about what selling a house entails, or have to interrupt your day job by taking calls from buyers or showing your home mid-week.
Your agent will know which potential buyers to focus on and will take on all the hard work of overseeing open inspections, liaising with buyers, doing the tough negotiating and taking care of the piles of paperwork involved in the sale of a home. And, a good agent will have a better view of what's happening in your area and in the property market in general. Indeed, a good agent should more than earn his or her keep.
However, the key words here are "a good agent". Remember that not all agents are the same!
Finding the right agent
The right agent could make the biggest difference to selling your home better, smarter and faster. However, a bad agent could cause you lots of stress, frustration and setbacks.
That's why it's vital to put much effort into finding an agent that's right for you. Our comparison service Agent Finder could assist you in pinpointing top agents in your neighbourhood. Make sure you talk to at least three agents as well as some of their clients before you make your choice. Don't just go with the first agent you meet. And ask lots of questions.