California law doesn't require you to hire a Real Estate Agent to sell your home, and you can save money if you sell it yourself. So should you?
First, let's look at a Real Estate Agent's job. The sale or purchase of a home is one of the most significant and complex financial transactions you may experience in your life. A real estate agent works for you, and has a fiduciary duty to present themselves truthfully and honestly to you with fairness and integrity. A real estate agent's commission is based on the sales price of the home. Typically this percentage is between 2.5 - 3% per side (for a total of 5 - 6%). While that may seem like a large chunk at first, consider just some of the tasks your agent will handle for you:
- Evaluate your local market and neighborhood, and compare your home's features and amenities to others in the area.
- Determine the best and most appropriate price for your home.
- Give you solid, specific, helpful advice on how to present your home to potential buyers. Agents have lots of experience and often have a keen eye for beautifying your home.
- Advise you on reputable painters, handy-persons, and other contractors. Remember: a real estate agent deals with these people all day long - they know the good ones!
- Help prepare and organize standard residential disclosures, documents, and forms.
- Advertise your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to make sure you have maximum exposure and get top dollar for your home. Only licensed real estate agents may use and post listings to the MLS (Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc are NOT the MLS and often do NOT reflect true home values)
- Create, pay for & manage the distribution of promotional material beyond just the MLS.
- Take photos or arrange for your home to be photographed so that pictures are available to potential buyers.
- Arrange & manage showings of your home. Your agent will meet potential buyers and show them the house. Your agent will provide and manage a lockbox on your property.
- Answer all your questions about selling your home and explain all real estate forms & disclosures. Remember: A real estate transaction involves approximately 75-200 pages of documents, depending on the deal.
- Answer phone calls and emails from other agents and potential buyers.
- Hold an open house (or two). An agent may set aside a Sunday afternoon to invite potential buyers in the area to view the inside of your home.
- Receive, process, and convey to you any offers. Your agent can advise you on whether to accept, reject, or counter the offer. Remember: Your agent can only guide you - the final decision is always yours.
- Negotiate back and forth with other agents or buyers until a final price is agreed upon.
- Coordinate inspections. After an offer is accepted, a buyer will typically want to perform several inspections (Full Home Inspection, Termite Inspection, Natural Hazards, etc). Your agent will schedule and meet with these companies on your behalf.
- Coordinate with the Escrow Company during a typical 30-day escrow.
- Assist in negotiations over repairs. A Home Inspection Report will often reveal flaws you didn't know existed or wear & tear. This is normal. Your agent will work on your behalf to arrange the best possible solution, whether that involves repairs, escrow credits, or otherwise.
- Be there at closing to wrap up the deal.
The choice to use a real estate agent or do a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) is ultimately yours. Homeowners who choose to do a FSBO may come out of the experience with a better appreciation for the skill a real estate agent provides. Remember: Selling a home is a full-time job. Be sure to have the time, energy, and expertise if you decide to do a FSBO.
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