By Lisa Scontras
Thinking about selling your home yourself? How hard can it be? Plop down a for sale sign in the front yard, maybe run an ad on craigslist and the buyers will swarm like bees to honey. Right? Well, you might want to reconsider before stepping into one of the most common mistakes a seller can make.
Even in a booming market, the pitfalls facing sellers who opt to sell their own homes are daunting. Can it be done? Sure. But if you expect to sell your home in the shortest time, for the best price and without the hassle of financial and legal red tape, you’ll need professional guidance. And for that, you need a Realtor.
According to Steve De La Pena, career coach and trainer at Prudential Locations with 30 years of real estate experience, good real estate professionals, while they may make a transaction look seamless, are marketing and negotiation masters. They work behind the scenes seven days a week coordinating the details of your sale from initial listing to final recordation to make sure you don’t have to sweat all the details.
“Experienced agents will know which homes are overpriced and which ones are priced right because they know the neighborhood, keep track of what’s sold, what is languishing on the market, what homes have been upgraded, have parking, front the golf course they know the market,” says De La Pena. “You can’t fake that.”
When pricing a property, this market knowledge is critical. Most ForSale-By-Owners will either dramatically overprice or under-price their property, because they don’t base it on current market trends.
“Typically, the seller representing himself bases his price on what he wishes his house was worth, not its actual value,” says De La Pena. “Agents know that to stay on top they need to continually educate themselves on inventory, market trends, statistics, days on market and strategy. They know the history of prices as well as what has or has not sold and why.”
Selling agents will give you a feel for what has recently sold, what may be in escrow and what is currently available in your neighborhood or building. They’ll coach you in pricing, on how to prepare your house for sale, and share valuable resources if repairs need to be made.
“Good Realtors know the key to properties selling quickly,” says De La Pena. “We can assist with positioning a property correctly in a market, which can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The agent’s job is to know those nuances and help a client navigate the market.”
Though it may seem obvious, your agent should be a top-notch salesperson and skilled negotiator, who will drive the best deal on your behalf, whether they’re dealing with the buyer on price or with a counteroffer, with the appraiser on comparable sales in the area, or with the neighbors on encroachment issues or about helping to get their yard cleaned up.
Representing you and your needs are an agent’s main concern. A good agent takes time to build a relationship with their client, to discover your wants, needs and desires.
“It’s about seeing where the client’s real estate situation fits into the bigger picture of where they are both physically and financially, and where they want to be,” says De La Pena. “During one marketing consultation, I helped clients discover they didn’t have to sell their home to achieve their financial goals. They were so grateful to me, they referred me to all
their friends, who did sell and buy homes.”
Once in escrow, your agent will meticulously go through the contract to make sure that both sides comply with each term on time. They’ll chase down necessary documents for escrow and loan officers, schedule appointments for appraisers and home inspectors, walk-throughs and handle any problems resourcefully that may come up, all while keeping you in the loop.
“No transaction is going to be problem free, there might be issues related to title, property condition, appraisals that come in too low, financing problems. We train our agents to anticipate problems and resolve them before they become deal killers and often before you even know about it,” De La Pena adds. “You want a Realtor who can proactively identify the bumps in the road, smooth out the small ones and alert you to the big ones. It’s what we do.”
In the end, it’s about peace of mind. Yes, they do that too. There is nothing better than the peace of mind having a Realtor in your corner can bring.