So, you are thinking about buying or selling a home and wondering- Should I call a realtor? If not, what all do I need to do? Here is a summarized list of all the steps you will have to take if you choose not to hire a professional:
Figure out how much you can afford • determine how much you have or what would be required for a down payment • check your credit score • put your current house on the market • market your current home for sale • clean up your home for showings • be present to open the door for showings • consider offers • negotiate the contract • find an attorney to review the contract • hire an attorney or title company to complete all the closing paperwork • research types of mortgages for your new home • find a mortgage lender • get pre-approved for a mortgage • decide where you want to live • decide what you want in a home • check local school system and neighborhood report cards • check on the property taxes • research local amenities • figure out what to offer- based on the information you can find on homes that recently sold in the area • write and submit an offer • order home inspections • negotiate any repairs • get property surveyed • get home owner association documents • order a title search • obtain title insurance • obtain homeowners and flood insurance • calculate closing costs • and conduct a final walk through.
Wow- That is a lot of steps, are you prepared to do all these things on your own? When you hire an agent, they are responsible for taking care of or assisting you in each of these items.
Also, when you hire a good realtor, you will likely end up making much more money than the realtor will cost you! Today I want to highlight just a few benefits that a good realtor will provide for you.
Benefits an Agent gives a Buyer:
Buyers are always eager and excited when looking for a new house. I’ve had a few buyers ask, do I really need to hire a realtor? The answer is Yes!
1. Why can’t a buyer just call the listing agent on the HAR or Zillow site? You can do this, but the listing agent represents the seller. Their fiduciary duty is to the seller, meaning they are going to look out for the seller’s best interest. The seller’s agent, has to tell the sellers everything you tell them. So, if you tell the listing agent you are willing to offer full price but want to see if they will accept a lower offer first, the listing agent is required to tell the sellers this information.
This is not the case when you have your own realtor who represents you as the buyer. You can talk much more openly with your realtor who is representing you as the buyer. Statistically buyers who have an agent represent them get a better price for their home.
2. Buyers don’t pay realtors: the seller pays the real estate commission. Hiring an agent is no cost to you as the buyer.
3. Buyers don’t always know the market or have the most accurate pricing data: Most buyers who do not use an agent end up over paying because they don’t know the market. Your realtor can help you determine a fair price for a home you are thinking about buying.
4. Buyers don’t always understand the contract – It is your realtor’s job to explain the terms of the contract and make sure you don’t get yourself into a bad situation. Also, your realtor will be the one responsible to remind you when things need to get done or when deadlines are approaching. If you are not on top of the contract terms/deadlines you could default on the contract and lose a lot of money.
5. What about buying a new build from a builder? YES, YES, YES, you still need an agent! Even if the builder has an agent for you to work with, you want to get your own realtor! The agent (or sales person) you meet from a builder is hired by that builder and they are paid to keep as much money in the builder’s pocket as possible- so they don’t have to tell you about any drawbacks to the deal.
Benefits an Agent gives a Seller:
Some homeowners choose to list their own homes. We call these people FSBOs- “for sale by owner.” FSBOs choose to sell their own home in order to save money on commissions. Typically, commission for the sale of a home is 6%. (3% to the buyer’s agent, 3% to the seller’s agent) However; if you decide to sell your home on your own, there is a very big chance you will end up working with a buyer who is represented by an agent. The buyer and the buyer’s agent will expect you to pay the 3%. So really you have only saved half the commission and still done the same amount of work. Also, if the buyer is working with a good agent, they may be a tough negotiator that you are having to deal with instead of having an agent to represent and fight for you.
You may think- well then, I will only sell to buyers that are not represented by an agent. Well in this scenario the buyer will likely put it together that you are selling your home to save on commissions. The buyer may think or expect to get a better deal- this could cause you to negotiate away that savings and sell lower than you should.
If you hire a professional to help you sell your home, here is what you should expect:
1. Your agent should coach you on the listing price: Your Realtor will have more information and knowledge about the market than you do. They are better able to study your neighborhood and give you suggestions for pricing.
When a home is priced accurately, you will not lose money by undervaluing it and you will not scare buyers away by overpricing. If you overprice your home, many potential buyers will not come see it because is too expensive. Pricing is KEY when it comes to listing a home.
2. Your agent should make staging suggestions: A few weeks ago, I sent out a video about the importance of home staging and what to do to get your home “list ready.” When you hire a good agent, they will make suggestions to make your home look its best. Things such as moving furniture around, lighting, paint colors, repair suggestions… for a full list watch my video on home staging. Staging your home properly will get it solder sooner and for a higher price.
3. Professional Photography! Professional photos attract buyers. As your realtor, I personally higher and pay for a professional company to come shoot photos of your home.
4. Security: When working with an agent, you don’t have to let complete strangers come into your home. Agents usually pre-screen and speak with the agent who is bringing potential buyers to your home.
5. Marketing: Agents know how to expose and market your home. As an agent, I have access to several publications around Houston. I also have the ability to send out marketing email campaigns to all Houston realtors. Not all realtors have access to this, but I am part of Leading RE which also allows me to market homes overseas.
Benefits an Agent gives both Buyers and Sellers:
1. Negotiating: A realtor will help you as a seller evaluate each offer, or as a buyer determine what your offer should be. A good agent wants their seller to get the most for their home and their buyer to get the best deal. It is the agent’s job to have the tough conversations about terms and price of a contract.
2. Paperwork: There is more paperwork involved in a real estate deal then you could ever dream. You will have enough to sign and read through on closing day… let your agent handle the paper work that is involved to get to the closing table.
3. Facilitator: Your agent keeps track of the contract timeline and important dates. Like the option period and financing approval date. A good realtor is in close contact with the title company & lender to ensure that all parts are going smoothly so you as the buyer or seller can focus on your own job/life while going through the process.
Also, there are so many things that could happen from the time an offer is accepted to the time of closing. For example, what if the home doesn’t appraise? What do you even do in this situation? A good realtor will know how to handle this so the deal doesn’t completely fall apart.
4. Post-Closing Benefits: As your realtor, I will check on you throughout the year to ensure you are still happy with your home. If you have any issues I am always here to assist. I also have an excellent list of referrals for almost every home need or repair you can imagine. As my client that list is always available to you!