Do you NEED a real estate agent to sell your home?

realtor-logoSo you’ve decided to sell your house, and of course you want it to happen in the least amount of time for the most amount of money.  You’ll want to begin by doing a little homework to determine the market conditions for your neighborhood – what’s selling, for how much and how long on the market, for example. Also consider the time of the year – historically the spring is the start of the peak selling season, which usually winds down by the end of summer and start of the school year. Another consideration to be made is how much of this you want to do yourself, for which you have three options:

  • For Sale By Owner (FSBO) – sell it yourself
  • List with a flat fee or discount broker
  • Utilize a full service real estate agent/broker

Selling real estate in Texas has grown increasingly complex in recent years as the number of required documents and disclosures have grown to protect the buyer and seller. If you are inclined to sell the home yourself, note that you will bear the responsibility for marketing your property, along with full legal disclosures, inspections, appraisals and the like.  You should be very comfortable with real estate related documents, and comfortable with the financial and legal implications resulting from the transaction.   In addition, you need to feel comfortable with the potential liability or security concerns that may arise from showing the home yourself.

Optionally, you can utilize a discount or flat fee broker, who will list your property in the local MLS (Multiple Listing System) and possibly provide additional a la carte services to assist you with selling your property.  Depending on the broker you select, you may be able to get some assistance with marketing, open houses, disclosures, title/escrow, etc.  Make sure that you understand exactly what services are provided and the cost of any extras you may need.  Make sure you understand what services are covered under each pricing plan.  Find out if your listing will be posted on the web, how many sites, what signage will be available to you, photography services and marketing collateral. Each broker is different, so make sure to get references from former clients.

If you want to market your property to the largest pool of possible buyers, list your property with a full-service real estate company.  Before you check the web or search the trashcan for that postcard you received in the mail, make sure to take the time to interview more than one agent.  Since real estate agents are typically not employees of real estate firms, know that there are a wide variety of skill levels and personalities within each firm.

Ask your agent if they are a REALTOR® — a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade organization of over 1 million members nationwide that fights for the rights of home ownership.  Members of NAR adhere to a strict code of ethics to guarantee the highest level of service and integrity.  You may also want to know if they have any special REALTOR® designations, such as GRI, which require that real estate professionals take additional specialized real estate training.  In addition to qualifications, you should check references of the agent.  Make sure to speak with former clients to see if the agent is responsive and is available to keep you up-to-date with progress.   You need to have direct contact with your agent, so you will need to be as comfortable as possible.  The agent that you hire to handle your listing should provide:

  • A detailed marketing plan, including online and offline marketing
  • A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of properties in your area that have sold, as well as properties currently listed
  • Help for you to determine the best selling price for your house
  • Advice on staging and suggested home improvements

So, do you need a real estate agent to sell your home? Ultimately the choice is yours regarding whether or not to utilize a real estate agent.  Know your rights and the law in Texas by reviewing Information About Brokerage Services before making a decision.

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