FAQs Every Home Seller Should Read Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Before you hire a real estate agent, read the answers to your most important questions.

Will a property I sell myself be at a competitive disadvantage compared to properties sold by real estate agents?

No-and in many ways, you’ll have an advantage. First of all, today’s buyers find their homes on the Internet on their own time. If they like your home, they’re going to contact you no matter what-and the odds are good that they’ll be happier dealing with you than with an agent. It is no secret that a huge number of homes are not selling and expire before the agent ever gets the home sold. Do a Google search and you’ll see the amount of training material the real estate industry offers to teach their agents how to persuade sellers to renew their listings for a year. There is no magic in what a real estate agent does.

To give you an example of the advantages of selling your home yourself, think about signs. When you list with an agent, they get to place a mini billboard in your yard that includes a tiny bit of advertising for your home and a huge amount of advertising for their company. The whole industry should have moved on to customized signs a long time ago-but they haven’t. You’ll have a significant advantage by tailoring your on-the-ground marketing plan to your home, including your FOR SALE sign.

Do homes sell for more when listed with a real estate agent?

That’s what the National Association of Realtors funded by real estate agents says, but there’s no independent data to support their statistics. If a real estate agent tells you they can get you more money for your home, ask them to bring you a buyer; if they can’t, they need to leave you alone to sell your house. Far too many listings handled by agents expire, unsold.

An agent’s opinion is not going to get your home sold. It’s easy for people to make guesses and conjectures, but to win in today’s market, you have to deal with hard facts.

How much time and effort is this really going to take?

It takes about as much time to sell your house as it takes to plan a long vacation. The marketing side requires the most time up front, but once you’ve gathered your facts, it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to get your marketing plan started. You’d have to gather that same information for an agent, if you used one. And the process has been streamlined for you on sites like simpleandsold.com.

If you’re skeptical, take the amount you’d pay in commission to a real estate agent and divide it by the number of hours it takes to plan a vacation. The result should help you see that time you put into selling your house will be time well spent.

A real estate agent told me it would be dangerous to sell my own home, since I’d be letting strangers in my house all the time. Should I be worried?

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to let strangers in your home to sell it. But you would have to do this with or without a real estate agent, so this is almost a moot point. Remember that you can open your home any way you want: you can take down information for safety purposes; you can schedule your viewing appointments so that you won’t be alone in the house; and you have the right to stop the process if you ever become uncomfortable with a person’s presence. This is something even real estate agents face.

Do I need to use a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to get the exposure I need for my home?

First, you should understand what MLS is. It was not designed as a marketing venue for homes; rather, it’s a simple way for brokers to negotiate compensation with each other, so that Real Estate Agent A can tell Real Estate Agent B, “Sell my listing and I will pay you X.” Period.

My local MLS, which was named #1 in the country, is still way behind the times. It allows me to upload approximately eight tiny (two-by-two-inch) pictures and about three sentences of description. I’m not even allowed to link to anything. How is that a viable marketing tool?

Look at Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo! Real Estate and you’ll see how much the MLS has been eclipsed. It’s become just an outdated method for real estate agents to protect their turf. Some systems are not even Mac compatible.

With Simple and Sold, you can put your home up for viewing on hundreds of websites, and you can add up to thirty-six large, high-definition photos in your listing. You can have paragraphs of description about your home. You can attach listing brochures and other files, which interested buyers can view online or download. You can add background music or a voice-over about your property’s features; you can provide links to area schools and anything else you want.

What is the NAR?

NAR stands for the National Association of Realtors, the lobbying group listed at #4 on opensecrets.org’s list of political heavy hitters. It’s the organization about which Joe Nocera of the New York Times once wrote: “You have to wonder sometimes what they’re smoking over there at the National Association of Realtors.”

According to Bloodhound Realty Blog, The NAR has stayed under the radar while doing a monstrous amount of damage to the economy, the housing market, and most importantly, the consumer. Bloodhound Realty Blog states (this blog does a great job of exposing the NAR), “It was the NAR that lobbied for each law and rule change that resulted in the housing boom, the sub-prime lending catastrophe, the wanton bundling of fraudulent loans, the ongoing subsidization of the secondary mortgage market, etc. The villain behind all the villains in the collapse of the American economy is the National Association of Realtors.”

“The real estate licensing laws, written in their original form by the NAR, exist to limit competition in real estate brokerage, eliminating alternative sources of real estate brokerage to artificially sustain higher commissions for NAR brokers”

John Crudele of the New York Post recently stated: “The real estate industry lives by the motto: “location, location, location.” Next week it’ll be known for “deception, deception, deception.” People want the truth and the NAR is deceiving the public all to save the sacred real estate commission. Crudele also reports: “The National Association of Realtors admitted that it has been reporting bad figures on sales… Jeez! Tell the truth!… The Realtors aren’t doing the country any favors by sugar-coating their stats… and the people at NAR don’t seem to be bothered by the practice.”

Don’t most people trust real estate agents to get them the best deal?

Unfortunately, people don’t trust them. In the most recent Gallup poll, they ranked lower than bankers but higher than congressmen in terms of ethics.

In all fairness, it’s not the behavior of real estate agents that has been unethical; it’s the way their organization, the NAR, has worked to block their competition. As I see it, and as most Americans see it, competition is for the competent. You own your home, so you should have the choice to sell it any way you choose.

The NAR got a public slap on the wrist in 2008 from the Justice Department when the organization tried to stop real estate agents without a physical office from participating in MLS. The Justice Department had to sue the NAR to allow mobile, internet-based brokers-the kind who operate from laptops and Starbucks instead of fancy offices-to practice their trade.

I think the NAR should be ashamed of making taxpayers pay for this lawsuit, which (in the words of the DOJ itself) “requires NAR to allow Internet-based residential real estate brokers to compete with traditional brokers.” The Department said the settlement would enhance competition in the real estate brokerage industry, giving consumers more choice, better service, and lower commission rates. NAR is now bound by a ten-year settlement to ensure that it continues to abide by the requirements of the agreement.

But don’t Realtors operate under a Code of Ethics?

Ironically, the NAR emphasizes a “Code of Ethics” for all its members-but at the same time, they have been called on the carpet for deceptive statistics on homes sales.

In my opinion, anyone who needs an organization to tell them how to be ethical probably doesn’t understand the code of ethics that they’re swearing to uphold.

Are Real Estate Agents Worth Their Fees?

There’s no doubt about it, people use real estate agents to sell and buy property all the time. On the other hand, some people, choose not to use a real estate agent and in turn, buy and sell their own properties. This often leaves many wondering if real estate agents are truly worth their fees. The answer is, “it depends on your lifestyle and the time in your life that the real estate transaction is completed.” That is, each person’s circumstances will dictate the answer to this mind-boggling question. We will now discuss this in further detail.

First, of all, let’s discuss why some people employ an agent. Many people employ an agent simply because they don’t have the time or the energy to sell the property themselves. Take me for instance, when I employed a real estate agent to sell my residential property, I was working a full time job, caring for children, my husband and my home. We were both very busy and simply didn’t have the time or the energy to take care of the details to get our property sold. We had too much going on and we simply needed to get the property sold quickly so that we wouldn’t loose out on our “dream home.” In this instance, conducting the entire deal ourselves simply would not have been a wise decision. Instead, we hired a professional real estate agent and we paid her 4% of the selling price. Although this may seem like a lot, it actually wasn’t. Our real estate agent closed the deal quickly and got us 10% more than we thought the property was worth. She really knew her stuff and we were smart to hire her.

Second, let’s discuss why some people might choose to conduct their own real estate transaction. There are many reasons but the most common is that they have the time and energy to handle the deal and they don’t want to share the profits with the agent. Let me use myself again as an example. Once I became an empty nester and started looking for additional income, I decided to play the real estate investing game by selling a piece of property that I already owned. As an empty nester, I listed the property in the paper, showed it, and handled contract negotiations. As a result, we received a nice offer for the sale and when it closed, we received a hefty profit due to the fact that we didn’t use an agent. In this case, an agent simply didn’t make good financial sense.

In conclusion, I’ve learned that real estate agents can be worth their fees however it depends on your personal situation. If you don’t have the time to sell or buy property yourself, for whatever reason, it pays to use an agent. If you have time and energy, then using an agent makes no sense at all. So, do what works for you and enjoy your profits – either way, you earned them!There’s no doubt about it, people use real estate agents to sell and buy property all the time. On the other hand, some people, choose not to use a real esate agent and in turn, buy and sell their own properties. This often leaves many wondering if real estate agents are truly worth their fees. The answer is, “it depends on your lifestyle and the time in your life that the real estate transaction is completed.” That is, each person’s circumstances will dictate the answer to this mind-boggling question. Let’s now discuss this in further detail.

Buying A New Construction Condominium? Bring Your Own Real Estate Agent To The Sales Office

Most people are unaware that when they go into the sales office for a new condo development, the sales staff there to help you work for and represent the interests of the builder so it’s a good idea as a potential buyer to have your own representation with you.

Retaining your own real estate agent to represent you in your new construction condo purchase won’t cost you anything and could actually end up saving you plenty of time and money. A good real estate agent not only represents you in the transaction with the builder, but also ensures you understand the process of what you are buying and clarifies all the hidden costs of your purchase.

In buying a new construction condo prices are not negotiable however your real estate agent can negotiate that certain charges like builder administrative fees or community and education levies be taken out or capped.

In launching a new condo project, builders have VIP events in which they invite real estate agents to bring their clients prior to opening the project up to sell to the general public. This gives your realtor the opportunity to obtain the best floor plans and the best prices for you.

Even though your own real estate agent’s commission is paid by the builder, your agent is independent of any particular condo developer. Therefore your agent can educate you as to all the new developments that may be coming up without bias to a particular builder or condo development.

How do you know the price the builder is asking is fair? Price guidance and comparison may be the most important asset of retaining your own real estate agent when buying new. Not only can your real estate agent inform you of current market conditions in the new construction and resale markets, but your agent can also provide you with asking prices of units in similar developments and what comparable units in newly built buildings are selling for on MLS.

A good real estate agent will be able to give you insider knowledge of the neighbourhood as they are aware of new construction proposals for both new residential and commercial building projects that are coming down the pipeline and even paint a picture as to how the neighbourhood skyline will look two or three years down the road when your new condo building is finally finished.

Why limit yourself to just one project? The builder’s sales staff are only familiar with their own units in their own project. Not only does your own real estate agent have access to information on all the new condo developments in your neighbourhood but a good real estate agent is also aware of buying opportunities of new construction units for you in the resale and assignment markets as well.

If you like the idea of living in a new condo but you don’t want to wait a few years for the project to be built then exploring the resale market of newly built condo buildings may be for you. Often times newly built and registered buildings have several units available for sale on the MLS that have never been lived in and are available for immediate occupancy. This also eliminates the guesswork of wondering if the floor plan can accommodate your flat screen television or if your view overlooks the garbage dumpster as you can see the unit for yourself and know exactly what you are going to get.

Had your heart set on a particular new condo project but you didn’t move fast enough? Now the development is all sold out and they’ve even broken ground and are starting to build. Buying an assignment might be for you.

An assignment is basically buying a right to own a condominium that is either not built or not ready for occupancy and has not been registered yet with the Land Registry System. Sellers of assignments are usually people who bought into a new condo project when it was first launched but now realize their plans have changed and want to sell their right. So even though a new condo development has sold out there still can be buying opportunities in the condo project through assignment and a good real estate agent will be able to find these assignment opportunities for you.