Advice on Realtor Vs. No Realtor?

Updated on January 23, 2007
E. asks from Minneapolis, MN
15 answers

We are looking to sell our house this spring and move to a bigger house in the Cities. Ultimately, I am seeking advice on whether we should hire a realtor.

Has anyone used one of the "for sale by owner" services, and if so, what were your experiences and which service did you use? Do you realtors out there have any input as to the things we'd miss without having a realtor? I think we're pretty savy when it comes to staging our house, negotiating, etc., so I think the main reason we'd need a realtor is for the legal logistics. Can I just hire a real estate attorney instead to do all of that?

What are the going commission rates? Do realtors negotiate these rates? If we list our house on our own through MLS, what should we expect to have to pay the buyer's agent (assuming they have one)?

I spend a lot of time searching for houses that are for sale and I think the only thing I can't find out is how long a house has been on the market. Is there any way to search public records for that info? Also, could we hire a realtor just to sell our house but not to help us buy another one?

Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.

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S.S.

answers from Madison on

I wonder if you have heard about the Help U Sell service? They handle all the legal stuff and you can list it through the MLS for a flat fee. I have not used them myself but I have heard great things about Help U Sell from people who have used them and I am leaning towards using them when it comes time to sell my place. If you go the FSBO route, I can't remember the name, but there is a great workbook out there that guides you through the process month-by-month that is definately worth buying if this will be your first by owner sale. Finally, if you use a realtor, absolutely SHOP AROUND and find out from people who have used them how they would rate their service. Ask a lot of questions: Did they maintain good contact with the seller? Did they offer good, unique advice about marketing the property? Did they seem to make that extra effort? If your area is anything like ours, the upcoming year is really looking like a buyers market. Anyone can sell a home in a sellers market, but a buyers market really separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to agents. You need someone who is actually going to WORK for that commission and not sit around and wait for a sale to come to them (as many do). Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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M.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi E.,

It looks as though you have received a lot of advice. I also know another agent that you may want to look into before you make a decison. My husband is Jeff F.. He has been in the business for 7 years and was named Super Real Estate Agent by the Mpls/St. Paul and Twin Cities Business Monthly magazines. For more information about him, log on to
www.newbuildexperts.com or you could call him at ###-###-####.

This may seem overwhelming but it really does help to interview different agents prior to making a decison. I wish you all the best in finding your new home and selling your existing home.

Regards,
M. F.

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T.Z.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi E. -

I used to be a Realtor (now I'm a stay at home mom), and I've done FSBO (before I was a Realtor). First, on the purchase of your new home - ABSOLUTELY use a Realtor! There is no charge for this service and most Realtors are experts in negotiating and can get their hands on a lot more information to assist in the process. Make sure you pick one that has flexibility to meet your time schedule for showings and is familiar with the area you want to purchase in. As far as selling your house - there are a ton of disclosures, marketing ideas, etc. that need to be considered - and a lawyer will most likely help you just with the closing portion. If you absolutely don't want to pay a commission, I would use a service that let's you sell yourself, but will provide Realtor assistance for a smaller flat fee - in the long run it will probably be worth it. Most Realtors will start at 7% commission, but this is NEGOTIABLE - and you can get service for less - but remember the Realtor, or you, if you sell yourself, will have to give at least 2.5% (2.7% - 3.0% is the norm) of that to the purchasing Realtor. The remaining commission is then split with the broker and the Realtor, so if you negotiate too low, your services can be cut and your are just hurting yourself. Remember that this is probably the biggest transation of your life (until the next time you sell), so weigh your decision carefully. I know that I could have definately gotten a lot more and done a lot different negotiating when I did a FSBO; before I was a Realtor. Best of luck with your new home search and selling process!!!

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D.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I know you have gotten a lot of good responses, but I just wanted to point one thing out to you. My family and I have moved four times in the past seven years due to my husband's job. We are lucky because his company pays for absolutely everything. But think about this...We rely heavily on the internet during the buying process, because it is always long distance. We NEVER looked at ANY FSBO homes. They don't come up on the MLS websites and our realtor did not take us to any. People have to look harder for them and don't always do it. On the other hand, my friend just sold her house FSBO in Milwaukee in less than a month. It was priced to sell.
Good Luck.

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J.F.

answers from Wausau on

I would say it is completely a preference if you want to do it yourself or prefer to have someone work on selling your house for you. I know the word gets out there more if you use a realitor, however then you have to pay commission and so forth. Either way I hope it all works out and you get what you want for your home.

A.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

I just wanted to recommend a good Realtor, my husband! He would negotiate a lower commision when you are buying a new home. He is very knowlegable and has his own company. He is great with families and many of his clients have become friends of ours! I am a stay at home mom who has 2 kids, 2 and 4 years old.

His name is Joshua Bengston. Cell number is ###-###-####. You could call and talk to him, no obligation! Or check out Joshuabengston.com.

It is worth a try and using a Realtor will help you in the long run! He knows his stuff.

Good Luck,
A. Bengston

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L.T.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi E.,

When we bought our house in 2002, we didn't have a realtor. We found our house through an open house and ended up using the seller's agent to help with the closing. It ended up being a great deal for him since he represented both the buyer and the seller. The agent's name was John Upton and he owns Ravenswood Realty. He charges a very low commission compared to other realtors. His web site has a pretty good explanation of his philosophy for doing business this way. It's definitely a lot more work to do things on your own (we looked at about a million and one open houses before we found our current place), but I imagine if you have the time and interest to do some research on your own, you could be successful doing most of the work yourself. Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

E.,
I'd definitely recommend having a realtor for purchasing your next house. As far as listing goes, I'd say it would depend more upon the market in your area and the house you're selling. If the house is in great shape, in a nice neighborhood-you're probably fine doing a 4 sale by owner thing. My mother is a realtor and is awesome, she totally bends over backwards for her clients. Her name is Nancy Jenson, she works with Edina Realty and is familiar with Minneapolis/St. Paul-she grew up in S. Minneapolis and currently lives in Shoreview, a suburb of St. Paul. Her number is ###-###-####. She's very proactive when it comes to looking for homes for clients and I'm sure she'd bend over backwards to help you find your next home.

Good luck with whatever you choose!
Sincerely,
A.

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J.S.

answers from Madison on

We just purcheased our first home back in August, and they sold it on their own. I don't know about the average person, but it seemed like a LOT of work to me. They were also going thru a divorce, so the husband's lawyer took care of the paperwork (but at how much an hour). I know in our case, there were lots of times that we didn't know what was our responsibility and what was theirs. LUCKILY, my father owns a real estate company, so we were blessed with his knowledge of the process. Let me tell ya, it was a LONG and very un-nerving process and I was never so glad to have it all done! I keep thanking my dad so he realizes how much we appreciate all that he did for us. So, I guess my answer would be that it would depend on your wanted level of inveolvement. My dad definitely helped guide us all along with what is usually done by whom and it really helped.

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C.K.

answers from Madison on

Everyone has really good replies, but I just want to add one thing. There are arguments for both. An attorney has a fiduciary responsibilty to you and is paid a set fee. A real estate agent gets paid more if a house is sold for more. In my opinion an agent looks out for your best interest ONLY when you're selling your home because he/she will want your home to sell for the highest price possible (and so do you). If you're buying a home and have an agent, it's actually in their best interest if you bid higher on a home, even if it's not in YOUR best interest. On the other hand, it's sometimes easier to just give in and get a good agent because they know how to get your home ready for the market, among other things. Finally, although an agent gets some of the profit of your home's sale price, it might not be that much different than if you sell your home FSBO because people will bid less when they know that there is no agent.

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M.

answers from Minneapolis on

We sold our house for sale by owner, but had negotiated a flat fee with a realtor to do all the paperwork, legal work and closing details. It was a great arrangement as he also helped us when it came to finding some comparable sale prices. He was a friend of ours, but said that this flat fee for closing help is a common practice. You might want to check with some realtors in your area.

I have also heard that there is a for sale by owner "realtor" that provides signs, and helps with all the legal stuff. I can't remember what they're called, but they are out there.

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D.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

We have bought and sold several homes for our use and investment properties. We have used realtors and have done it ourselves. Here are the high points:

1. Pricing your home at the sweet spot when you first list it might be the biggest factor in selling your home more quickly. Over pricing can lead to subsequent mark downs and some studies show that homes that are over priced when they start can end up selling for less than they would have likely sold for had they been priced right. You can do some of this research on your own, but an experienced realtor can sometimes give you more accurate information.

2. A realtor does the work for you, (suggestions for improvements, advertising, open houses, signs, etc), and if that is a value to you, they can be worth their value.

3. Using a FSBO will usually give you two options: to sell it listing on the MLS and not on the MLS. If you list on the MLS, people WILL see your listing when they do a search from Edina Realty for example. You will be required to pay a buyer's realtor fee (I believe that was 2.7% to list on MLS but that's close). If you sell it FSBO and list it on MLS but your buyer has no realtor, you pay no fee. It is only if they do have a realtor. I do strongly recommend not doing the FSBO that does not include the MLS because then no one does see your listing unless they actually go to that FSBO website generally speaking.

4. Some FSBO places will offer a "flat fee" realtor option. You won't usually get every bell and whistles that comes with a commissioned realtor but it gives you a set amount and let someone else do some of the work, including the dreaded paperwork.

5. You can get a real estate attorney to do the paperwork and locally that should cost you between $1,000-$2,000 in the Twin Cities area.

I have used and can recommend realtors from Counselor and Coldwell Banker. We have used and were successful with www.homeavenue.com utilizing their MLS listing fee option that shows on their website for $698. This includes the front sign installed and removed, 30 brochures on your home (this will not be enough), some directional signs for open houses, the legal forms packet and a discount to advertise in a local paper. Home Avenue also has a Flat Fee realtor assisted option for about $2,895. I have a client using this option right now and she said it has been fine.

MLS listed FSBO homes do show up on searches through places like Edina Realty. So if you think you have your home value right, can handle the process and the activities, then an MLS FSBO might be a super option for you.

One last thought I have found to be super valuable in buying and selling - A buyer's realtor will do more to bring their buyer to your home when they get compensated for their efforts. By this I mean sometimes offering a buyer's fee that is above the "minimum" or above the "norm" can do a lot to bring the buyers to your door. It is really a very little difference on the seller side but can be a big motivator on the buyer's side. For example - on a $200,000 home offering a buyer's agent 2.5% is $5,000. But offering them 3.2% is just $1,400 more to them but is more attractive to them when promoting homes to their clients. I got this tip from my very trusted Coldwell agent when she helped us decide to sell one of our properties FSBO.

We had one home we needed to sell fast and needed to get the most out of it as possible. We found our preferred price and then figured out our "we'd take that if someone offered it" price both assuming the buyer had a realtor. We listed it at the second number and had 4 offers at and below our asking price. One of the offers at the asking price was without a realtor so we went with that one. We were happy, sold it fast and actually got more than we had thought we would because the buyer did not have a realtor, so our asking price was equal to more than we had budgeted for.

Sorry this is long. Feel free to connect with me if you have questions or want recommendations. Good Luck!

D.

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A.E.

answers from Minneapolis on

i don't know much about realtor vs no realtor we are currently looking for a house to purchase out in "farm country" and working with a realtor that works with our mortgage consultant ... can give you names and numbers if ya like ... anywhos ... i don't know if you've looked on yahoo real estate but they list when the home was put on the market ... good luck :)

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J.N.

answers from Minneapolis on

OK, I have never sold a house with a realtor...never. And I have sold 5 houses at least. I have added up how much I saved and how little they really do, it pays off in the end. At least try to sell it by owner first for a 2-3 months......and IF that doesn't work...then try a realtor. Let's say your house is worth $200,000 and the commission is say 7%, that's GIVING them $14000 of your profit/equity away. Maybe have a few realtors....make sure they are women, come and "evaluate your home".....they will tell you what you have to do to fix it up....paint this, hide this,get a storage unit and store all the clutter......and they'll tell you what they "think" they can get for it....sometimes they lie to get you to pick them. You have to like your realtor. So, don't pick just anyone. You can get "For Sale By Owner" contracts and adendums" online. I just think you should think of this as your "JOB" to sell this house by owner because you don't have a job outside the home and it would be a nice challenge for you. You can also hire an attorney for $125 to review the contract if you decide to make one up yourself.

Be strong..realtors just want to take equity dollars in my opinion. Sell it yourself!!!! Google and research it...it's easy...especially if you do open houses and if there is another house for sale nearby. You can put a sign by theirs directing them to your house. The ideas are endless. If you should decide to sell your house By Owner....and are ready to sell......contact me..I'll come over and give some real honest opinions and marketing ideas."[email protected]____.com"

Good Luck!
J. N

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D.

answers from Minneapolis on

I can only tell you what I heard on the radio the other day. And it was a real estate program so I suppose it could definitely have had a spin on it to direct you to realtors. Anyway, they were talking about how the market is really oversaturated (13 houses for 1 buyer whereas it used to be the exact opposite) and I would think that having a realtor would really be helpful to get more publicity, know more about how to close a deal, etc. Good luck!

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