Why you Need a Realtor - Seller

by : Lisa Buth

I used to encourage people to try selling their home for-sale-by-owner before calling me, then play the superhero and swoop in when all else fails to save the day. Not anymore. That's because although they may "save" some money on the front end of the deal, it's the lawsuits and contractual disputes that'll bleed them dry in the end.

No, not every FSBO contract ends in court, but too many of them get so distorted by both parties inexperience and stubbornness that they're unrecognizable as legal transactions and oftentimes result in more than one person scratching their head and wondering what made them do this in the first place. For example, a buyer and seller may just skate through negotiating the repairs after a home inspection without wringing each other's necks, only to find that the buyer's lender requires more repairs to be done to bring the property condition to a certain standard. Neither the buyer nor seller knew about it, but the seller feels he's already compromised too much and refuses to make any more repairs and the buyer feels the same and won't settle for less. They're at an impasse. How do you make it work so both parties are satisfied? How do you get out of the contract without inviting breach of contract? Who gets the earnest money deposit? Who has the legal right-of-way?

Realtors aren't miracle workers, but we've got the know-how to answer those questions, as well as combat just about any crisis that may arise. We have extensive schooling, followed by required classes in real estate and real estate law. We keep up-to-date with as much information as we can. There are very few things that can surprise a Realtor.

Showing home after home after home after home to our buyers has also enlightened us as to exactly what buyers are looking for . . . and what scares them away. Most of us won't claim to be professional stagers, but we do know that the armoire crowding the stairs has got to go, the dirty siding needs to be power-washed, the junk on the dresser just needs to be boxed up and stored, that couch needs to go there and that chair needs to go over there, trim that bush, paint that door, caulk that baseboard, change the color on that wall and remove the wallpaper on that one, and the list goes on. Surprisingly, sometimes it's the little things that can drive a buyer away.

Pricing is another area where we can really shine. The method we use to value a home is the very same method a licensed appraiser uses to value a home. Word of caution, though: if you already had an appraisal because you've decided at some point to refinance, we won't use it. Most appraisals resulting from refinancing are high, very high. On the flip side, we shamefully use it to better sell your home, as in "Priced below appraisal!"

But that's not where we really excel! Years of experience have taught us everything we need to know to market your property effectively. First and foremost is our access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is the #1 vehicle to selling your home. Buyers working with Realtors have available to them through the MLS an automated search engine. The Realtor will input the buyer's criteria into the MLS and email to the buyer a list of homes within that criteria. And every time a home comes on the market that fits within that criteria, the Realtor's system will automatically email the property information to the buyer. Additionally, the MLS reaches buyers who are not represented by a real estate agent by also posting the listing on Realtor.com.

Another avenue of marketing not available to the general public is the Homes magazine. This is a publication offered to the community at no charge, and the full-color pages can sometimes attract genuine interest.

Yard signs, open houses, websites and ads in local papers work too, but another excellent resource is simply word-of-mouth. Realtors talk. We talk at meetings, classes, through email, charity events and even while giving feedback on a showing. We send mailings to specific neighborhoods, past clients, and family and friends. We've met hundreds of people and worked with dozens of real estate agents. We get around. What better person to talk up your home than someone with connections?

As Realtors, we also have access to all the paperwork necessary to make the home-selling process both legal and painless. We have contracts, addendums, request for repair forms, seller disclosures, one-time showing agreements, lead-based paint disclosures, listing agreements, contingency forms, smoke detector affidavits, release of contract forms, etc. You name it, we have access to it.

Realtors also negotiate on your behalf. Oftentimes a seller doesn't know when to push and when to back off, when to accept an offer or counter an offer or where to draw the line on inspection repairs. Years of experience interpreting subtle (and not-so-subtle!) nuances in negotiations has equipped us to read most situations and act appropriately. For example, if we know that a buyer has already sold their home, that tells us that anxiety might be setting in and they may be more amenable to negotiations. If we find that a buyer already backed out of a contract because the sellers refused to make any repairs after the home inspection, we take that into consideration as well. If the buyer's agent says that the buyer is only in town 24 hours, we can presume that they're hoping to find a home and make an offer on it all in the same day. Everything comes into play in negotiating, whether it be the obvious, or even something as simple as a dejected tone in the buyer's voice. And if you decide to play good cop/bad cop, we'll be the bad cop!

The icing on the cake is that Realtors will often go way above and beyond what's expected of them. We've let the dog out while our sellers are on vacation. We've waited for contractors to let them in the house. We've even hired neighborhood kids to mow lawns. We've cleared backyards of dog poop and scrubbed kitchen sinks to make the home more presentable. To sum it up, we go that extra mile to sell your house. Our goal is to develop relationships with our sellers that will last not only through the final paperwork and closing, but a lifetime.