Why Should You Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House?

Dated: 10/08/2018

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Before he signed with a listing agent, Mark Van Dyke's neighbor tried to sell his home by himself. Van Dyke is a real estate agent, so he knows firsthand the hard work that goes into selling a home. After he spotted the For Sale by Owner sign, Mark knocked on his neighbors door to check-in.

“He was so exhausted, he was so sick of the showings, he was frustrated because people would make appointments and then not show up, he didn’t like to hear them say bad things about the house because he had an emotional attachment,” Van Dyke says. “By the time I got to him he was so over it, he was ready to list and have a professional take over.”

At first, it might seem heartbreaking. Fork over 6% of my home’s sale proceeds to a total stranger? Why use a real estate agent at all?

Well, once you read through the real benefits of hiring an agent you’ll see they’re worth every single penny.

1. Getting Listed on the MLS is a Goldmine for Sellers!

The multiple listing service is the holy grail of home listings. Once in the MLS, a home is sent out to dozens upon dozens of online sites and into buyer agents’ hands, so your home always has a steady influx of foot traffic in showings and open houses.

Remember, you must be a licensed real estate agent in the state to list a home in the MLS. So, when you list as for sale by owner, or FSBO, you’ll have to kick out a flat fee or commission to a broker to have access. The fee already cuts into your cash flow from not using a realtor. This probably explains why, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 10% of the MLS website is made up of FSBO homes.

2. Serious Buyers Don’t Look at FSBO Listings

Top real estate agents all agree: The Number One reason people choose to sell their home themselves is to save money on commission. There’s a BIG problem though: Statistics say you won’t.

The typical FSBO home sold for $210,000, compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales, according to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Overbeck explains one huge reason why:

“Those ‘A’ buyers are in town for the weekend for a few days to buy a house, or they’re under contract to sell their home and they’ve got to find one,” Overbeck adds. “They’re never going to buy for sale by owner, and those are the highest paying buyers.”

Van Dyke agrees.

“One of my past clients is trying to do a for sale by owner,” Van Dyke says. “And the main reason they said is they’re trying to save a few bucks, which is ironic because the people who want to buy for sale by owners are usually pretty cheap.” Go figure!

3. Agents Aim to Put You First...

“A realtor has a fiduciary duty to the client, and so it’s crazy not to use an agent because you end up making back that money you think you’d save all the time,” Van Dyke says.

Put in simple terms: A realtor is bound by law to act in a seller’s best interest. If for some reason they do not, a seller has recourse in court.

4. Saved Commissions Don’t Always Go to the Bank

Agents are generally paid in a split commission deal: The sellers pay typically 5 to 7% of the selling price as commission to the listing agent, and the listing agent splits the money with the buyer’s’ agent. For a $250,000 home, the commission can, at the high end, be $17,500.

Now, don’t put all that money in the bank just yet, though.

Stats already show that the typical agent-assisted listing sold for $39,000 more than a FSBO, but FSBO who look to skip commission forget about paying the buyers agent.

A buyer’s agent is never going to make your listing a No. 1 priority if you don’t offer that agent a commission. Typically, the listing agent will split the commission earnings with the buyer’s agent. To put your FSBO home on buyers’ radar, offer their half of the commission.

Overall, on a $210,000 house, which is the FSBO selling average, a seller who thinks they can pocket a $12,000 commission, really only ends up saving $6,300, or 3%.

5. You Never Want to Be an Amateur at the Negotiating Table

Who would have the upper hand in a tough offer negotiation: a licensed, professional, experienced buyer’s agent who has done this dozens upon dozens of times in their career, or a home-selling newbie who has an emotional attachment to the home? 

Without a listing agent, sellers go into negotiations handicapped. Even in a genial, smooth negotiation process, that agent’s only priority is to get the home for the price the buyers want—he or she has no responsibility toward the seller.

Plus, that’s doesn’t even take into account some out-of-the-box offers that can be difficult: all-cash offers, bidding wars for the home, low-balling offers, and more.

6. You Could Be In Zoning Violation, Without Even Knowing

Homeowners may not be up to speed in things like housing code or zoning violations, but they are massive when trying to sell a house. Did you know in Georgia that your home could be in violation for having too many tomato plants in your garden?

A house will almost certainly not get sold if it’s in violation of code, no matter how silly they seem.

7. Pricing a Home Is Like Hitting a Bullseye

When sellers narrow in on an effective price, real estate agents have access to comparable home sales and neighborhood information dating back years. Sellers without access to this pricing information are throwing a dart in the dark, which could make or break a listing.

“The worst thing you could do is overprice a home,” Van Dyke says. Overpriced homes are more likely to sit on the market because they don’t show up in potential buyers’ search criteria.

Think a site like Zillow can get all that information for you? Think again. Home value is called a “Zestimate” for a reason—it’s based off of user-inputted data mixed with public information in a proprietary formula.

While no online tool can be as accurate as a realtor who physically evaluates the home, Van Dyke offers a Home Value Estimator tool based on five different estimates.

8. Marketing Is a Whole Different Ballgame Than Listing

You won’t sell a home by merely listing it on websites and waiting for offers to come flooding in. They won’t. That’s where marketing comes in.

“There’s a difference between marketing a home and selling a home,” Van Dyke says. “The way you get top dollar is to market a home, and that’s what I do.”

Marketing is about getting exposure in the best places with the best angles. A real estate agent knows what listings buyers will be attracted to, gets the listing on the best websites, recognizes and highlights a home’s stand-out qualities, positions home showings in the best light, and networks regularly about the house. It’s a consuming process that will evolve according to reception at open houses and reactions from potential buyers.

9. You Definitely Want Access to a Realtor’s Buyers List

Many real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers, and so they have access to high-quality home-seekers on the other side of the equation who may be the perfect fit for your home.

A study by the National Association of Realtors shows that 82% of homes are sold via realtor contacts—i.e. prior clients, referrals, friends, and family.

10. Realtors’ Rolodexes Are Filled With Star Professionals

It’s not just buyers in agents’ contact lists; they also have a laundry list of skilled professionals at your disposal.

Top Scottsdale agent Van Dyke can’t even count the number of times his contacts have come through to help his sellers in a bind.

“Networking is key. If I didn’t have a good licensed handyman who was reasonable who could come at the drop of a dime, a lot of transactions wouldn’t happen.” Van Dyke says.

11. There’s Nothing More Frustrating Than Endless Paperwork!

One glance at the 15-plus-page state contracts, plus their addendums and disclosures, should send more people scrambling to a real estate agent to close on a home. That’s just one technical form sellers have to complete in the process, which are time-consuming and can be confusing.

All this paperwork can add up to mistakes. Mistakes can be costly, not just in terms of dollar value but in the law. With a realtor, any of these types of mistakes pass the repercussions off to the agent, and they won’t sit on sellers’ shoulders.

12. Cancel All Your Plans, You Have to Sell

Selling a home is a full-time job. You have to host open houses, prep for last-minute showings, vet a slew of interested people to find actual potential buyers, complete the seemingly endless paperwork, market a home, and do all the smaller day-to-day tasks that keep your home presentable. It’s exhausting.

For most people, they already have a full-time job. For agents, this is it.

“You don’t realize how hard it is to sell a house until you try to do it,” Van Dyke says. Just remember the story of an exhausted man trying to tell his home before caving and hiring a professional.

13. There’s a Built-in Negative for FSBO Showings

Van Dyke believes sellers should never attend open houses or showings at their property—which isn’t exactly possible in a FSBO.

“When I show a property, I never want the seller to be there because I want the buyer to say whatever they want about the house without the fear of offending the seller. Also, a buyer doesn’t feel like they can poke around or open and close doors while the seller is there,” Van Dyke explains.

“So, if you’re trying to sell it yourself, you’re going to be there, and you’ve already got that built-in challenge that’s going to automatically put the buyer in an uncomfortable situation.” He adds.

If potential buyers are uncomfortable, that’s a huge detractor from getting an offer.

Why Use a Real Estate Agent? Well That’s a No-Brainer!

Sellers who think they can save a buck by listing for sale by owner are missing out on the countless advantages of using a licensed realtor. Ultimately, the monetary benefit of not using a real estate agent is arguably non-existent.

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Mark Van Dyke

As seen on HGTV Desert Homes, Mark Van Dyke, is a real estate agent with The Van Dyke Group at Platinum Living Realty located in Scottsdale, AZ. Call on Mark Van Dyke when you need local professional ....

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