A reader asks: The market has been so good that I tried to sell my house by myself last spring. I didn’t get much interest even though I did advertise in the San Francisco Chronicle for a couple of weeks. Do you have any suggestions?
Our reply: Please don’t take offense, but buyers and sellers think Realtors make all this money for just sticking up a sign, putting an ad in the paper and answering the phone to sell your house. There is a lot more that goes into marketing your property when a Realtor does it. I am going to answer the question as if we were not real estate agents, for the purposes of education.
First of all there is the liability issue. How were you going to protect yourself against an over zealous lawsuit? Brokers are required to carry liability insurance. In addition, Realtors carry “Errors and Omission Insurance” to protect themselves. But you, as a seller, have no such protection when selling your own home.
Real estate agents are also there to answer legal questions. Realtors are kept up to date on the most recent changes in real estate laws. Additionally, a good Realtor can offer advice for solving problem situations that invariably arise during the Escrow period! And let’s not forget the endless resources at their disposal such as mortgage brokers to help the buyer, escrow officers, and the other professionals that are helpful when selling your home.
With “for sale by owner” properties, the issue of the agent’s commission usually comes up. Sure, the commission looks like a lot of money, and it is. But did you know that, on average, a Realtor can sell the same house for 16% more than an owner can get on his or her own (figures come from www.Realtor.org)? When you look at property values in San Francisco, you’re talking about a lot of money! For this reason alone, Realtors more than pay for themselves by handling the transaction.
There are also a lot of expenses that go into properly marketing your home to ensure it is exposed properly.
- Advertising in the Chronicle is just one part of a San Francisco Realtor’s job.
- Once you’ve signed the listing agreement and are ready to go, your home is placed on the MLS which gives you instant exposure to every Realtor in the City as well as any outside of it who have a subscription. This act alone exposes your property to some of the best agents in the country (San Francisco has some of the top producers in the US) who would not have otherwise seen your listing.
- Some Realtors also do featured ads in popular local magazines (i.e. Nob Hill Gazette, Homes, Real Estate times, etc.) to give your home even more exposure.
- In addition, most agents now have their own websites to help promote their current listings. Did you know that in 2004 only 15% of buyers first learned about the home they purchased on the Internet as compared to 24% in 2005. Of those Internet buyers, 81% of them purchased their home through a Realtor.
- Property information statements need to be printed for the open houses.
- Just listed cards are sent out to a select list of people to ensure someone shows up at those open houses.
- Even more important are the brokers’ tours (called caravan and other things in different areas) where agents can come (with or without their clients) and see your home in one or two showings. This is less disruptive to you. Chances are, if you were representing yourself, most agents didn’t even know your home was for sale.
So next time you decide to sell your house, please consider working with an agent. Be sure to interview a few and pick the one you think will do the best job. Good luck.
- Mick Orton