Yes, the real estate market is hot and you may be tempted to act as your own listing agent to sell your home & save thousands in commissions. Before you do you may want to consider the following:
1. A Buyers' Agent may not want to show your FSBO property to their clients.
The buyer’s agent knows that in a "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO) there won't be another professional realtor on the other end of the transaction. They know that there are mandated state forms, procedures and protocols needed to close a transaction smoothly. FSBO sellers are generally viewed as having been rejected by potential realtors because they can be unrealistic, unreasonable and difficult to deal with.
2. It's harder to keep your emotions out of the sale.
Selling your home is a very emotional process. The average homeowner does this every 7-10 years. Having an agent (third party) assures that you are one step removed from critical & sensitive communication. Why is this important? It helps make sure you are less likely to make mistakes such as overpricing your home; being offended & refusing to counter a low offer from a "qualified buyer" or giving in too easily when you have a deadline for selling your home & reporting to your next job.
A realtor can communicate & negotiate without a sense of eagerness or desperation. When a FSBO seller repeatedly checks in on a potential offer, it signals rightly or wrongly their willingness to accept a lower price.
If you forgo a real estate agent, you'll also have to deal directly with rejection every time a buyer's agent tells you their clients aren't interested - and in most cases the seller won't hear the "real reason" for the rejection. The property may then sit on the market and the homeowner doesn't know the real reason(s) the home is not selling.
3. It's not your full-time job. It's not even your part-time job.
Can you drop everything & rush home from work every time someone wants to see your home? Can you answer your phone every time it rings during the day from a potential buyer's agent looking to schedule an appointment to see your home (or might you be in a meeting or on a business call)? At the end of a long work day, a commute, dinner, homework etc. will you have the time & energy to study, develop & market your home? Are you an expert in selling homes & know everything about your competition?
Do you have time, expertise, local market knowledge & experience doing this? Probably not. Hiring a professional agent you will have someone handling the calls/questions, showings in most cases & most importantly, you’ll get a lock-box for your front door that allows agents to show your home even when you aren’t available.
4. Networking is critical. Real Estate Agents have a larger network than you do.
You can arrange to list your home yourself on Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia and even the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) that agents use. But will that be enough? Even if you have a large network (personal and professional), will these contacts want to take time out of their busy day to spread the word that your house is for sale. You don't have relationships with current homebuyers, other agents or a real-estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to your home. A smaller pool of potential buyers means less demand for your property, which can translate to waiting longer to sell your home and possibly not getting as much money as your house is worth.
A good real-estate agent a) is part of a large real estate brokerage with many agents, b) has relationships with other local realtors & c) has a current pool of buyers. They know how to aggressively promote an effective Open House or Brokers Open. At the same time they have time to market the property on Social Media & on every available real estate website & portal to insure maximum exposure.
5. Do you really want to subject yourself to needless showings & no-shows?
A good agent is trained to ask qualifying questions to determine the seriousness, qualification and motivation of a buyer prospect (or nosy neighbor). They can quickly answer questions about schools, commutes, HOA's, etc and move a legitimate qualified and motivated person to an offer situation. FSBO sellers typically lack the training & patience in handling redundant questions from other agents and potential buyers.
Besides the above nothing makes a potential buyer more uncomfortable than the current owner being in the house during a showing. When a seller is present, most buyers feel they can't talk freely & will rush through a house and won't remember much about what they saw.
6. Negotiating the sale is tricky and awkward.
Even if you have sales experience, you don't have specialized experience negotiating a home sale in this market. Why is this important? It can mean less money in your pocket. The buyer's agent will be experienced in the process so he/she is more likely to win the key negotiation points. An experienced agent knows all the angels, games, strategies, warning signs of a nervous or disingenuous buyer's agent/buyer--because chances are they've been in a transaction together before.
Not only are you most likely inexperienced, but you're also likely to be more emotional about the process and without your own agent to point out when you're being irrational, you're more likely to make poor decisions. An agent can turn an emotionally charged response from an offended seller into something as simple as: “The seller respectfully declines your initial request, but has made the following counteroffer.”
An experienced agent knows the pulse of the market and what’s driving demand, which gives them an advantage by knowing what terms such as closing costs, are worth negotiating for and which are worth letting the other party win.
7. Chances are you may not see what's wrong with your home.
An experienced agent can walk through your home with you and subjectively point out changes you need to make to your home to attract buyers and get the best offer. They can see flaws you're oblivious to because you see them every day – or because you simply don't view them as flaws to improve its chances of selling.
Sellers need to hire a professional cleaning service to remove distinct odors such as pets & give the home a deep cleaning before putting it on the market. Homeowners can't smell many of theses odors since they live with it every day.
8. Most importantly - You put yourself at risk of being sued.
A lot of legal paperwork is involved in a home sale, and it needs to be completed correctly by an expert. One of the most important items is the seller's disclosures. A seller of real estate has an affirmative duty to disclose any fact that materially affects the value or desirability of the property. The seller can be held liable for fraud, negligence or breach of contract if he/she does not disclose properly.
Unless you’re a real-estate attorney, your agent probably knows more about disclosure laws than you do. If you fail to disclose a hazard, nuisance or defect and the buyer comes back to you after they've moved in and found a problem, they could sue you. Agents can make mistakes, too, but they have professional errors-and-omissions insurance to protect themselves and to give the buyer recourse so the buyer may not need to pursue the seller for damages.
The Bottom Line
Selling your home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring an agent has many advantages. Agents can get broader exposure for your property, help you negotiate a better deal, dedicate more time to your sale and help keep your emotions from sabotaging the sale. An agent brings expertise, which few home sellers have, to a complex transaction with many financial and legal pitfalls.