The True Cost of Selling Your Home Without a Professional Real Estate Agent
Everybody wants to save a little money, especially when selling your most valuable asset. So when Angela was ready to sell her home a few years ago, she figured she could try to sell it herself — without using a real estate agent. After all, her property was in a hot real estate market, and most of her network shops online - and she thought: "How hard could this be?"
Angela, a busy single mother of two, had become overwhelmed juggling her daily responsibilities in addition to owning her own home. She was waiting for the market to warm up, and when she felt like when it became a “hot market”, she decided that it was time to sell.
In hopes of saving some money, Angela chose to sell her house herself instead of working with a real estate agent. She thought: How hard could it be? She figured it would be easy to just hire a company that charges a flat fee to photograph the home for her and advertising the property online. She also felt like it would be easier to post her home for sale in many of the online markets like Facebook, Craig’s List and Kijiji. After all, she could handle the rest of the details herself. Right?
What she quickly discovered was that this approach didn’t work.
“I found the service I used was not the best,” Angela says. First, she says the service might have turned off potential buyers and other Real Estate agents with unprofessional photos, “Honestly, I could have done a better job if I had done it myself.”
Second, when it came to marketing her property, Angela says the marketing plan wasn’t enough to expose her condo listing to a large population of potential buyers. Plus, she had to compete with the other condos also listed in her complex for sale. “My condo just didn’t get the same visibility if it would have had on MLS.”
Her condo was not widely promoted, and the service she used was not authorized to advertise on Realtor.ca (also known as MLS), which is many Canadians’ first stop when starting their home search.
Low Buyer Confidence
Angela found buyers who had real estate agents wouldn’t come to view her property since she was selling it herself. And the people that were looking at the homes were also looking for a deal and it became more difficult to negotiate. “I think they lacked confidence that the sale would go through, or that it would be a complicated process because I didn’t have an agent.”
While she wasn’t getting a great deal of interest, Angela still had to be on-site for open houses over the weekends and had to make arrangements for showings. “I was working at the other end of the city at the time, so the stress of showings was actually a lot more difficult than I expected. It was so much work, but I wasn’t getting much traction.”
Less-than Attractive Offers
When offers did get presented, they were far below the listing price and she thought the price was aggressive enough already accounting for what she would discount the agent fees to be. Any real estate agents with clients came in with aggressive offers, Angela didn’t feel she had the experience to handle these types of negotiations.
“I felt people were trying to take advantage of me, because I was trying to sell on my own. And I didn’t have the full picture of the market. I didn’t have the background to stand up to those low offers.”
Making the Decision to Hire an Agent
After more than five weeks of trying to sell the property on her own, Angela decided to list her home with a professional real estate agent, after getting a referral from a friend.
“I immediately saw the difference in having a real estate professional in my corner,” Angela recalls. “She offered a complete statistical analysis, took professional photos and measurements, and her level of professionalism was so impressive. Any showings for the homes, I was not needing to spend my time to run there, but knew the home was in good hands. And in the end, when offer came in, she was able to negotiate on my behalf.”
In the end, Angela sold her home — about two weeks after hiring an agent — and for a price she was very happy with.
“I really underestimated the amount of time an effort needed to sell a home myself. For anyone looking to sell their home, I highly recommend working with a real estate professional.”
Reasons to Use a Real Estate Professional
Angela’s experience is a valuable tale for those thinking of taking a DIY approach to selling a home. While there is a cost to selling with a real estate agent, the cost to sell without one may be greater including time, money and stress.
Here are five benefits to working with a real estate agent:
- Market Knowledge. Angela’s real estate agent knew what comparable home in her neighbourhood had sold for, and the inventory on the market at the time. This enabled her to have an informed perspective on a reasonable listing price and acceptable end selling price.
- Visibility and Presentation. From professional and high quality photos and measurements, Angela’s real estate agent presented her home in a highly attractive manner that was appealing to potential buyers. And because she could list the property on Realtor.ca, those looking for properties online could browse the photos and features of Angela’s condo 24/7.
- Administration and Coordination. One of the things that Angela underestimated was the time commitment required to sell a home privately. Her real estate agent took care of all the showings and open houses, allowing Angela to be completely hands off until it came time to review an offer.
- Professional Real Estate Networks. As an established agent, Angela’s real estate agent could connect with others working with buyers in the neighbourhood, and present the property to those in her network, further widening the net of potential purchasers.
- Negotiation Skills. Angela’s real estate agent had significant experience negotiating deals and was in a great position to get Angela the best possible price for her home — Angela didn’t have to do any of the negotiating herself, but still felt in control of the transaction.
Thinking about selling your home? Let Angela’s story be a reminder of the benefits to working with a real estate professional.