For Sale By Owner- A Good Idea?

Those that choose to sell their own homes often hope to avoid the commission paid to real estate agents. While those familiar with the housing market and process of selling a home may enjoy a successful sale, plenty of inexperienced home sellers have encountered nothing but headaches. Besides limiting the number of potential buyers, the decision to sell by owner has cost many homeowners incredible amounts of time, energy and money. Before you make your own decision, you may want to assess the factors discussed here in relation to your own knowledge and resources.

One of the most critical aspects of selling a home – setting the right price – often requires extensive market research and analysis of the property itself. The internet has afforded potential home sellers a wealth of data on listings and sales, as well as information on market trends and buyer activity.  Unfortunately, that’s all you get: data.  It takes a specialist in your micr-area to interpret that data, accurately and currently, and use it to predict with accuracy how it will affect your transaction. While it is possible to gain an understanding of broad market trends, homeowners often don’t have enough time to analyze the nuances of their local housing market. On the other hand, real estate agents are immersed in such local trends on a daily basis. Over time, the best real estate agents will gain an incredible understanding of everything from the most popular neighborhoods and styles of homes to the types of amenities local buyers are looking for. When it comes time to set a sale price on your home, a real estate professional will be able to utilize this knowledge to determine the most accurate market value for your home.

While the pricing of a home can be a difficult process, the most challenging work begins when your home is officially for sale. Even if your home is in the most attractive location within the local market, you probably won’t find many interested buyers without marketing your property. This process begins with listings in real estate databases, newspapers and periodicals. After the listing has been marketed in such publications, the home is made available to prospective buyers through open houses and private viewings.

When a real estate agent is involved in the marketing process, many additional opportunities often develop. Utilizing their industry connections and relationships, real estate agents are often able to find prospective buyers that might not have noticed your home otherwise. While your home is for sale, you can expect your agent to work full time trying to find the right buyer for your home. By comparison, very few homeowners trying to sell their own homes have nearly as much time to devote to the marketing process.

Whether you are selling your own home or working with an agent, there is still plenty of work to be done after a buyer has agreed to purchase your home. A real estate agent may be able to help you work through legal documents such as the Residential Purchase Agreement. In a traditional residential home purchase in Los Angeles County, there are over 40 documents, disclosures, and reports, and hundreds of pages of documents, which are mandated by law to be a part of the transaction, prior to going to escrow and completing the purchase.  In more complex transactions, such as those dealing with Homeowner’s associations or multi-family and income producing properties, the list is even longer.  Your Realtor is there to navigate the documents, explain them clearly to you, and protect your rights and interests.  However, those that sell their own homes need to negotiate these documents themselves or hire an attorney for assistance. Unlike most home sellers, real estate agents have experience with the closing process that may help both parties complete the sale as efficiently as possible.

Before deciding how to sell your home, try to consider that there are many factors that influence the real estate market and can make selling your own home very challenging. Understanding the unique risks and difficulties you may face during the selling process will not only help you make an informed decision about hiring a real estate agent – it may help you sell your home.

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