Real estate agents are a great asset when you sell your home. They can help you determine an appropriate price, market and show your home to potential buyers, negotiate the sales contract, and help you avoid problems and hiccups along the way. However, a real estate agent is not required, and some homeowners successfully sell their home without one.
The main reason people sell their homes “For Sale By Owner” is to avoid paying a real estate agent commission—typically six percent (6%) of the purchase price in Idaho. These savings are considerable, but they do not come without effort and risk. In addition to advertising and showing your home, it may take longer to find a buyer, and the ultimate sales price may be less than what a real estate agent could have obtained. If you feel comfortable with these challenges, consider the following advice.
- List your home at the right price.
Perhaps the biggest error FSBO sellers make is listing the home too high (or too low). A home priced too high will sit on the market, and may cause potential buyers to think there are problems with it. While public information and online data can give you a decent idea of market value, it may be worthwhile to purchase an appraisal from a certified licensed appraiser.
- Consider offering a commission to buyer’s agents.
You may be able to reach a larger pool of potential buyers if you offer to pay 3% of the purchase price, one-half of the standard commission, to real estate agents who find a buyer. You can attempt to negotiate this percentage down, but doing so could sour a potential sale. If you are unwilling pay the agent 3%, he or she will have less incentive to show a potential buyer your home. Thus, it may be best to offer all agents the full 3% right off the bat.
- Know how to market your home.
A significant advantage of listing your home with a real estate agent is that it will be included on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)—a central database containing all properties listed for sale with real estate agents. However, the internet age has made independent marketing easier than ever. Many sellers use online sites such as Zillow.com and Trulia.com as well as Facebook and other social media websites to market their homes. And, of course, a “for sale” sign posted out front and periodic open houses are important.
- Hire an experienced real estate attorney.
Idaho law requires that real estate purchase contracts be in writing. An experienced real estate attorney will help you avoid pitfalls and negotiate a purchase contract that protects your interests and properly defines the rights of the buyer and seller.