8 Reasons to Choose a Real Estate Agent Over “For Sale By Owner”

Sellers who use “for sale by owner” (FSBO) hope to save money when selling their home. After all, a real estate agent’s commission and additional fees will affect profit. However, there are eight reasons that owners should reconsider acting as a seller’s agent.

Key Takeaways

  • Home sellers may avoid a real estate agent to save the commission and fees and sell their home using “for sale by owner” (FSBO).
  • A real estate agent or realtor helps homeowners find buyers and negotiate the terms of the sale.
  • One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate the legal and regulatory requirements.

1. Realtors May Avoid a “For Sale By Owner”

In an FSBO deal, the buyer’s agent knows there won’t be a professional colleague on the other end of the transaction. Even if a client insists on seeing your home, the agent might discourage making an offer, citing the hassles and risks of closing the deal without a professional representing the seller and a guaranteed commission.

New rules for the National Association of Realtors, expected to take effect in July 2024, may lower commissions for home buyers and sellers. If a federal court approves the changes, the standard 6% commission ends and sellers no longer have to propose compensation to prospective buyers and their agents. NAR will also require brokers to enter into written agreements with their buyers to help consumers understand what services will be provided, and at what cost.

2. Agents Provide Experience

Selling your home is an emotional process. Having an agent keeps you one step removed and less likely to make mistakes, such as overpricing your home, refusing to counter a low offer, or giving in too easily with a deadline for selling. An agent can take the sting out of rejection and put a positive spin on any negative feedback. 

3. Real Estate Is a Full-Time Job

Realtors are available when a buyer wants to see the house, focus on marketing, and answer inquiries and questions about the property. In an FSBO, the homeowner must tackle these jobs while managing their schedules and careers. It’s also awkward for buyers to have the seller present, rather than the seller’s agent when they’re touring the home.

4. Access to Large Networks

Homeowners can use Zillow, Redfin, Craigslist, and even the multiple listing service (MLS) that agents use to list their homes. Agents and realtors have relationships with clients, other agents, or a real estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to a home. A smaller pool of potential buyers means less demand which can translate into waiting longer to sell your home and possibly not getting as much money.

5. Unqualified Buyers

Agents and realtors are trained to ask qualifying questions to determine a prospective buyer’s seriousness, qualification, and motivation. Realtors are also trained to ask closing questions about how long buyers have been looking, whether they’ve seen any other homes that would work for their needs, if they are paying cash or have been prequalified, and what schools they are looking for.

6. Price Negotiations

Homeowners who choose FSBO will compete with the buyer’s agent, who may succeed in the negotiation due to their experience level. An FSBO seller may be emotional about the process and make poor decisions. Sellers who go solo also typically aren’t familiar with market conditions and fees such as transfer taxes and closing costs.

7. A Home’s Flaws

Agents are experts in what makes homes sell. They can walk through your home, make changes that attract buyers, and get the best offers. They can also help you determine which feedback from potential buyers you should act on to improve its chances of selling.

8. Legal Risks

Legal paperwork is involved in a home sale, including the seller’s disclosures. A seller must disclose any fact that materially affects the property and can be held liable for fraud, negligence, or breach of contract if they do not disclose properly. An agent probably knows more about disclosure laws than an FBSO seller. Agents can make mistakes, too, but they have professional errors and omissions insurance to protect themselves and give the buyer recourse, so the buyer may not need to pursue the seller for damages.

What Is the MLS?

The multiple listing service (MLS) is a database established by cooperating real estate brokers to provide data about properties for sale, allowing brokers to see each other’s listings of properties for sale to connect homebuyers to sellers.

What Is the National Association of Realtors?

The NAR is a member organization of residential and commercial brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, and counselors. Members belong to one or more of approximately 1,200 local associations and 54 state and territory associations. The term REALTOR® is a trademarked name that identifies a real estate professional as a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict code of ethics.

How Much Commission Do Realtors and Agent Earn?

An agent’s commission hovers around 5-6% of the home’s value. Sellers commonly pay the bill for their agent and their buyers. In 2024, new rules may eliminate the commission and reduce the costs of selling a home.

The Bottom Line

It’s a tough task to learn how to sell your house without a realtor and one of the biggest transactions of your life. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring an agent has many advantages. Agents can get broader exposure for your property, help you negotiate a better deal, and dedicate time to your sale. An agent brings expertise, which few FSBO sellers have, to a complex transaction with many potential financial and legal pitfalls.

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