I'm sure you've heard many arguments when or not a Realtor is better at selling your home than you are. Every Realtor, without fail, will tell you that they can sell your home faster and for more money than you can. They will even have statistics to prove their point. On the flip-side, almost every "For Sale By Owner" site on the web will tell you the opposite. So who do you believe when both parties are self-serving?
Being a Realtor with a working team and also the CEO of a For Sale By Owner website, I will attempt to take an unbiased approach to this argument and cover the pros and cons of each place. There are 4 points that a Realtor will base their arguments on and so I think it is only fair to address each of these points.
4 Points Or "Arguments" A Realtor Will Make
1. A Realtor can price your home more accurately.
2. A Realtor can negotiate the deal better than you can.
3. A Realtor can sell your home for more money.
4. A Realtor can sell your home faster.
So let's ask each question and talk about the real answers. For the sake of this discussion, let's first assume that the Realtor we are talking about here is an experienced agent that sells more than 12 homes per year. Why is that important? Because over 80 percent of Realtors sell 3 or fewer homes per year and can not really make any of the arguments listed above. How can they? The agents that only sell 3 homes per year have to relearn the business on almost every deal. This is true across the industry. There are too many "part-timers" for these arguments to be a blank statement for every Realtor.
CAN A REALTOR PRICE YOUR HOME MORE ACCURATELY THAN YOU CAN?
Up until a few years ago, the answer was most definitely "Yes" but that has recently changed. Let's compare.
It is true that, on average, Realtors price homes more accurately than a FSBO seller will. Realtors have resources available to them to see all of the recent sales in any given neighborhood. They can also see all of the available homes currently on the market. By analyzing this data, they can make a fairly accurate prediction of what a home should sell for and even how quickly it should sell.
Seller – For Sale By Owner
Most sellers price their home based on what they "think" their home should be worth. Their pricing is based on very little accurate data other than what other homes are currently priced at that are still on the market. No Realtor would ever … or sooner, should never base a price on what is for sale but rather what has sold. With today's technology and the resources on the web, a seller can spend as little as $ 16.95 and get the same information that a Realtor uses. Now for the tricky part … forget any notice that your home is better than any other seller's home. Use this report and base your price on hard data and you can price your home as accurately as a Realtor.
Winner – It's a Tie … if FSBO sellers use the data available to them and take an unbiased approach in pricing their property.
CAN A REALTOR NEGOTIATE A BETTER DEAL THAN YOU CAN?
There is more to negotiating than just the price. With that being said, let's compare.
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to negotiations. As I said before, there is more to negotiations that just price, there are repairs, time-frames and many other small details that become part of the negotiation. A Realtor has the ability to step back emotionally and really look at the deal in an unbiased way. They should be able to analyze the proposed price and use their data to support the selling price. Through experience, they can recognize which repairs make sense to accept, which ones can be settled with money and which repairs should be thrown out with supporting arguments as to why.
Seller – For Sale By Owner
It's hard to compete with experience when you are negotiating a contract. It's like playing cards. You get better the more you play. You learn when to hold fast, when to bluff and when to fold. This does not mean that you can not do it though. Here is where you have to weigh your options carefully. If you sell on your own and get the raw end of the deal on repairs or even lose a few thousand dollars on price because you did not have the data to support your argument, how much did you save by not using a Realtor? The average home seller saves $ 15,000 in commission when selling as For Sale By Owner. So if a Realtor could have saved you that $ 3,000 in the selling price and kept you from making that $ 2,000 in repairs, you are still ahead $ 10,000.
Winner – Realtor … but is stronger negotiation worth 6%?
CAN A REALTOR SELL YOUR HOME FOR MORE MONEY?
According to NAR (National Association of Realtors), "Sellers who use a real estate professional make 16 percent more on the sale of their home than do sellers who go it alone". Is this true? Let's compare and see.
We talked about accurate pricing earlier. Accurate pricing in the beginning is key to getting the most money for your home in the end. Realtors have the data available to them to accurately price a home in the beginning. It should be a safe assumption that, on average, Realtors can in fact sell your home for more.
Seller – For Sale By Owner
As I mentioned earlier, FSBO sellers now have the same data available to them to price their home accurately. Accurate pricing is key to getting the most money for your home. It has been proven that if you price your home even 10% above true market value, you will only reach 30% of the potential buyers for your home. The longer your home sets on the market, the more inclined buyers will be to get aggressive with their negotiating in the belief that you are getting desperate. If you price 15% below market value, you will reach 90% of potential buyers but once again, buyers will think you are desperate to sell quickly and become more aggressive in negotiating the price even lower.
So where does the 16% figure come from? The statistics that back this figure up, though incomplete at best, stem from past FSBO sellers using their gut feelings to price their home or simply listing in the local paper.
Winner – It's a Tie … again, only if FSBO sellers use the data available to them and take an unbiased approach in pricing their property.
CAN A REALTOR SELL YOUR HOME FASTER?
Let's hear their arguments and then compare.
When you ask a Realtor how they can sell your home faster, their response is almost always "accurate pricing equals a faster sale" and "we offer greater marketing" or "greater exposure for your home" to drive more interested buyers. We have already answered the issue on pricing so let's move on to the "greater exposure" claim. A Realtor has one main marketing avenue. I am talking about their local MLS of course. The MLS feeds the Realtor's listings out to Realtor.com which is the largest real estate website in the world with over 5 million unique visitors per month. Only a Realtor can list a home on the MLS. They may also talk about magazine and radio ads but any honest Realtor will tell you that these are really there to advertise their brokerage and drive leads for their buyers agents. Very few Realtors submit your home to additional real estate sites, usually due to lack of know-how.
Seller – For Sale By Owner
How does a seller compete with Realtor.com? It is the largest real estate site on the planet after all. Thanks to the new technology available today, a few (not all) "for sale by owner" websites will syndicate your listing out to multiple real estate classified sites. The combined site visitor reach of these sites can be well over 12 million unique visitors per month. That's a lot more than 5 million. I am by no means discounting Realtor.com. In fact, I think it would be very smart to ensure your home is also listed on Realtor.com. So if Realtor.com and the MLS is only for Realtors, how can you list your home there? A few Realtors (very few) offer a flat-fee MLS listing. For anywhere between $ 299 and $ 499, a Realtor will list your home on the local MLS and Realtor.com. You will still be responsible for paying a buyer's agent 2% to 3% if they bring the buyer but that still saves you 3% to 4% in commissions. On a few FSBO Websites, you can get the great exposure of your local MLS and Realtor.com through a "Flat-Fee MLS plan". Plus, you can still reserve the right to sell "For Sale By Owner."
One important detail to consider here is the fact that a Realtor's service is free to buyers. Because these services are free, they would be foolish not to employ a Realtor. Realtors will NOT show a FSBO home unless they know they will get paid a commission. Plus, the MLS is the only place most Realtors conduct a home search for their clients. It would behoove you to list on the MLS if you are not seeing immediate success selling without the MLS.
Winner – Tie in regards to traffic and exposure … comparing a Realtor to FSBO without MLS exposure.
Winner – For Sale By Owner Seller … comparing a Realtor to FSBO with Flat-Fee MLS option.
So what does this all mean? It means that times are changing. There are enough resources available to you, the "For Sale By Owner" home seller to allow you to sell successfully, quickly and for top dollar. There are times when the need for a Realtor is real and necessary. Their expertise, experience and dedication to help ease your stress during these potentially difficult times can be worth every penny you pay. If you have the money and the ability to enlist the aide of a Realtor, then I feel confident in saying that you will not be sorry. However, if money is tight or you have the time to educate yourself on real estate, then you will be very rewarded. Good luck!