Should I Use an Agent?

Updated on January 14, 2008
M.F. asks from Fort Mill, SC
26 answers

Hello Everyone,

I would like as many opinions as possible here. My husband and I purchased our first home last Spring and have been making small imporvements here and there to bring the place a little more up to date. We were expecting to be moving out of this home after two or three years for his job. Well, it turns out that he got the job early! We have about 7 months to sell our home. We are thinking of putting it up in March or May (to give us time to paint, prep, and pack our uneeded items). We are having trouble deciding whether or not to go with an agent right away. He wants to try things on our own at first then see what happens. I however am terrified that we will get duped into a bad deal.

The house is in a great area and is in great shape. Clean, the rooms are all neutral, updated appliances and counter tops, manicured lawn etc. . So I am not worried about getting people in to see the house. I am worried that someone will take advantage of the fact that we have not a clue what we are doing.

So...what is your opinion? Should we sart interviewing agents? Or should we go it alone and see what happens?

UPDATED FROM ABOVE: I wanted to add that we do plan on heavily advertising our home if we sell on our own. We have a list of sites that will let us post our home for free as well as sights that you pay for. We plan to use every outlet possible.

We are also planning to add "agents welcome" in all of our ads. We have no problem paying a 3 or 4% share as opposed to a hefty 8 to 12%.

Also, for those who asked or are wondering...the house is located in South West Lexington.

Thanks for all of the responses so far.

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much everyone. You have pretty much confirmed my suspicions of needing an agent. I think my husband is coming around to the idea as well. I really appreciate all of the great advice and reasurrance. Now...does anyone want to buy a house? lol

More Answers

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L.S.

answers from Dayton on

I'd definitely begin with For Sale By Owner, as I had 2 very positive experiences doing this. Put together a brochure about your house with a color picture on top, just as real estate agents do. Get a good sign made by a professional and put it in your front yard. Place an ad in the local paper and have a couple Open Houses on Sunday afternoons. Ask a reasonable price, based upon what you payed, what you've put into it, and the market value (based on neighboring home sale prices recently). To close the deal, have an attorney with real estate law experience facilitate the mtg. The savings you can realize are great (at least 6%). If you don't sell the house when you have 3 mos. until you move, you could list it with a realtor then.

1 mom found this helpful
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C.R.

answers from Cleveland on

M.,

I work in Classifieds for a major newspaper, and I KNOW how bad the real estate market is. You'll be a slave to the sale. You've already done the research on where you are going to post. You will keep a calendar of when you need to renew what ads. You will be constantly updating and refreshing your ads with new text and photos because you don't want it to get stale...and there must be a reason why you aren't getting responses. Sorry to be such a downer, but, in today's economy, it's reality. Here's a new reality: agent fees are QUITE negotiable these days. Give one a try - after 90 days, if you see no progress, you can always do it yourself. C.

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

I am biased because I am an agent- however, I sold 2 homes and purchased one before becoming an agent. With all of the paperwork and the potential "problem" buyers out there- you would be better off using an agent. Especially in this market. We (agents) foot the bills for all marketing, etc. It really can get expensive advertising your home for sale. That was one of the main reasons that I chose to use an agent when I sold my condo back in 1999. Everyone else was selling at the same time and I needed someone creative to help me give my condo and edge. Good Luck either way!

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T.W.

answers from Dayton on

Hello M.,

My husband and I own a house as well, this is our second. Since we sold our first one and saw all the paperwork and inspections and all, I would definately suggest a agent. They are trained in all this, and my husband and I had no clue. You definately want to cover yourselves! If you and he had done it before I would say go for it. But since neither of you have, I would be scared as you are.
I say go for the agent, if anything else, it will give you both peace of mind.

Good Luck
T.

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L.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

In my opinion... If the market is so bad and even realtors can't sell the houses you should try to do it on your own. My husband and I sold our house by owner almost a year ago. We went through the whole interview process with agents and used information they gave us about the house to sell it on our own. We used a web based service called Homes By Owner.com They charge you a flat fee to list our home on the Multiple Listing Service. (It was very minimal compared to the percentage we would have paid to the agent). The service actually works like the real estate company by putting a lock box on the door, scheduling showings, putting pictures on the internet with descriptions(you take your own pictures), and even writing up the contract, also they sometimes are linked with a title agency to set up the closing quickly.
Don't be afraid to do it on your own. It was the best decision we made, I actually was able to remodel my new kitchen because we sold our old house on our own.

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M.W.

answers from Dayton on

Hi M.
I relocated from Roanoke Va in October. We used an Agent. The market is so slow right now its hard to sell a home even with an agent. Buying a home is no problem. My husbands company will purchase the home, when it doesn't sell. We allready moved here, the house still hasen't sold. They will buy it next month. T think we didn't have a very good agent trying to sell our home. But we had a very good agent when we purchased our home. But the company limited us to relocation agents and there are only a few to choose from. Interview a few agents and ask questions. Ask them how they are planning to sell your home, then choose.
Hope thie helps.
M.

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M.N.

answers from Cincinnati on

I would use an agent... but make sure you choose the right one and if they aren't getting results switch! I recommend Tim Hall from Remax in Springboro. We listed a house last year with another agent and sat on it for 6 months. We got a recommendation for Tim Hall and he had our house sold in three weeks! Then with our permission he sent flyer to neighbors and sold another ones house in a month! He is very matter of fact and won't mess around with you. I wish we'd had him from the beginning.
Good luck with whatever you choose!

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C.D.

answers from Cincinnati on

I would try on your own and if it does not sell and then get a agent.What part of town is it in?

C.

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C.

answers from Cleveland on

M.,

Here is a shortend version of our story. In 2005 we sold our home by owner, after nine months on the market, for $20,000 lower than our highest offer (that we refused the first month because we thought we could get more). We were one month away from having our first baby and we had been paying a mortage on a second house for over 6 months. We spent a lot of money in flyers (we had a color photo on the front and had to take it to a print shop to copy) and newpaper advertisements. We had to be at the old house for every open house and take time off work for people who wanted to see the house during the day. Both houses had large yards and lots of trees and of course it was fall so we were also doing twice the yard work. And we lost money on the closing costs and other items because of bad wording in our contract. We didn't find out about the closing cost error until the day of close and I ended up bursting into tears at work with no choice other than to accept it. The housing market is so horrible right now that I think you would be able to negotiate a pretty low commission fee with a realtor. In our situation it was a lot of stress! If you do try it on your own, be very realistic about what you would accept. Think of 7 months down the road and absolutely having to sell, what would you accept just to get rid of the house?

Good luck,

C.

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T.P.

answers from Canton on

With the housing market in the huge slump it is in, currently, good area or not doesn't make a difference. I'd personally go with an agent and list it NOW, not wait. My parents tried to sell their old home for over 2 yrs. before they finally had to file bankruptcy on it, because they couldn't get it sold. Everything was done it, also. Paint was updated, had the appliances, not in a bad area, etc. So that's what I would do. List is ASAP, it doesn't matter if it's not ready to be sold this second. But you do want to get it exposure early.

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A.T.

answers from Lexington on

Hi M.!

As an agent, of course I am for the idea! Interview a couple from different companies and find someone that meshes with your personality. Honestly, we can all do the same thing (advertising/MLS access etc), but you really want someone who will represent your best interests in the process. if you do decide to go about it on your own, I would recommend getting an appraisal and/or an inspection. Also, look at property transfers in the paper for your area. Any educated buyer will do these things and that way you will be prepared. One idea if the comission is an issue for you, try for a couple of weeks to to a for sale by owner with agents welcome. This means that you are willing to pay a selling agent only. Keep in mind, however, the agen will be representing the buyer, not you. But by doing this, you can distribute flyers to local agencies. It will give you a bit more word - of - mouth exposure. If you want, give me a call. I can refer you thru my office in Lexington to a top producing agent in your area. (yes, that agent would pay my office for the referral if you use them - but there is nothing out of your pocket for that service). On that note - don't ever pay an agent up front for any services. An agent should get paid at closing at whatever commission. rate you agree on. Call or email me if you have any more questions!

A.
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[email protected]____.com

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L.K.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi M.,

I am a little biased because my mom is a realtor but with the way the market is I would absolutely not waste anytime and get an agent. They have this really awesome system that all realtors can access your house doesn't matter what company they work for. If you sell it your self you are banking on someone driving by or even looking in the classifieds and with how busy everyone is today I doubt you would get the traffic as if you used a realtor. Good luck!

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D.B.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi M.,
I am a Realtor and knowing the market right now you should without question go through an agent. By not going through an agent you eliminate so many buyers from viewing your home. I know there is the difference of comission versus noe comission however the longer it takes to sell the more house payments you make and it turns out to be a wash in the end. If you have the time let me know where you are located and I can give you a hand trying to find a good Realtor in your area. I hope this helps and I hope to hear from you. ([email protected]____.com)

D.S.

answers from Columbus on

Hi M.,

I live on a nice area with nice homes and advantages (Columbus taxes, Dublin schools) and homes are not selling very well, even under their value sometimes. My recomendation would be for you to get an agent because that would give you a better chance than on your own.
When we put our condo for sale in Florida (right when the bubble was bursting) we tried a "sell by owner" for about a month and had no luck; as soon as we called an agent we sold on under 3 weeks.
So bottom line, if the market is hot you'll probably be fine with sell by owner but if its not (like now) you better get an agent.

Good luck!

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M.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

Given that the selling market is pretty much horrendous right now I would DEFINITELY go with an agent. When showing the home or hosting an open house, are you going to show it or will you have a neighbor or friend do it? Some people become withdrawn when seeing a house with the owners present because they feel as if they can't speak freely about what they like, don't like, etc. Also, I know that some buyer's agents sometimes try to avoid FSBOs because in traditional real estate transactions, the seller typically pays the commission - are you willing to give a buyer's agent their cut? Finally, how has comparable housing moved in your neighborhood within the last 6-12 months? Check the average number of days on the market. If it were my house, I'd definitely want the expertise, networking connections, advertising, and experience of an agent.

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K.B.

answers from Cleveland on

I do not have any experience in selling a home... we just bought our first home this summer. However, everyone I know that has been trying to sell their home has had no luck! My sister tried for a year for sale by owner & did not have anyone look at it. They then went with Howard hannah for a year & had ALOT of open houses with no offers. The realtor helped them set a price & I think it may have been too high due to so many other houses being on the market. Anyways... I would probably go with a realtor because they can probably get it advertised to more people quick & since you are short time you probably need as many people to see it as possible.
What ever you decide make sure you set a fair price compared to other homes for sale in your area, especially with all the homes on the market right now. Goodluck.

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M.B.

answers from Lexington on

As a person who has tried to sell a house on my own I would go with an agent. You don't get the coverage selling it yourself that you get with an agent. When you use an agent all the other agents have access to the info about your house so they bring clients as well. We ended up with almost the same amount of money out of the sale of our house even using an agent and a whole lot less hassle. We have a friend who sold it for us and he is awesome. If anyone can sell a house he can. Let me know if you want his information. I have never seen anyone work harder to make the sale.

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K.C.

answers from Columbus on

If you do your homework, you may be able to find an agent who takes a small percentage of what you make off your house as opposed to the incredible amount that most agents take...5%-8% is what we encountered when we sold ours last year. We found an agent through a collegue of my husbands, basically word of mouth, and she only took 3.5%. She was a godsend! Basically there to do all of the legal paper work and she dealt with the incoming offers thru the other agents. I would personally not do it alone. There are so many legalities involved. However, there are Help U Sell programs that guide you thru the process for an upfront fee...If you plan to go that route.

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A.K.

answers from Columbus on

If you are not educated on the necessary paperwork in order to sell a house, then I would suggest to definitely find an agent. If you are familiar with the paperwork and the market, go for it! You could also hire a real estate lawyer (I think the average cost is $350/closing). They would make sure all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted. And just because you have nice curb appeal, doesn't mean people will be piling into your house to see it. You need to have a very good amount of advertisement/marketing to get the word out. If you sell your house yourself, then you will be responsible for the cost of the marketing. If you choose to go with an agent, the agent pays for all the marketing. Good luck!!

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M.M.

answers from Lexington on

Hi M.,

Let me begin by saying that I am an active Realtor in Lexington.

I, obviously, think you need to begin interviewing realtors. In December homes sales were down in Lexington by 18% according to LBAR statics. New listings were also down...that's a good thing. I give you those statistics because at an 18% decrease in sales your home needs the exposure it will not get if offered For Sale By Owner (FSBO). Over 85% of buyers find their new home on the internet. If you list your house FSBO will you have internet exposure? The marketing of your home is also an important piece to selling your home. It's wise to have an agent who knows where to spend the advertising dollars. Of course the biggest obstacle is pricing. You need someone who is not "emotionally" attached to guide you.

Visit realtor.org for more information and statics to share with your husband. Also, my website www.maryannmorris.com has great information for buyers and sellers to help you make your decision. I would be happy to give you a free, no obligation, market analysis if you would like. You can find my contact info on my website.

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C.C.

answers from Indianapolis on

We sold our home last year without an agent - BUT, it was to our neighbor and friend. It took FOREVER - cuz he had to get his finances in order, etc, etc... And, i did hire a title agency to prepare and execute the documents and closing - which cost some money on both ends - but was much cheaper than going with a realtor. In the market the way it is, things are sitting on the market much longer. My only advice i would give about selling it on your own is that you have to price it well (don't price it too high) & market it (you can't just put a sign in your yard anymore). I don't know how you can get your home marketed on the MLS (realtor's multiple listing service) - but, when we were looking for homes, we did it almost exclusively online through realtor search engines (which pull from the MLS site, i think). You might want to at least get some advice from Help U Sell about marketing.

Good luck!

C.

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C.A.

answers from Lexington on

Hi,
First find out all the information you can gey about selling houses. Know all the details, how it operates before you make up your mind with your husband. Where is the house located?

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T.D.

answers from Dayton on

If you had more time you could sell it yourself but given the fact that you have to sell quick I would suggest using an agent. Let the agent worry about all the details; you have to pack and purchase a new home!! Coldwell Banker is an excellet agency--- if you would like I can give you there number. They helped us find our home-- quick, simple and easy.

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A.B.

answers from Louisville on

M., in this market you should absolutely use an agent. Trust me, if your house isn't priced right it could sit on the market forever. The longer it is on the market the harder it is to sell. In addition many houses sell because agents network with eachother to get the houses sold. I do agree with your idea of interviewing agents. There are many out there and it is important for you to find one that you like. PM me if you would like some names, I have friends in the business.

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S.Z.

answers from Cleveland on

I would suggest if your unsure of what your doing, go with an agent. Like you said you dont want to get taken advantage of.
S.

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C.W.

answers from Cincinnati on

Get an agent. They have resorces to get the place sold. But if you really want to make sure by doing it yourself that you don't do anything wrong have a lawyer. You should even have one if using an agent. They can keep things from going bad. It's their job.

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