The Market's So Hot: Why Shouldn't I Go FSBO?

Reasons to consider hiring an agent even when homes seem to sell themselves.

Question

My husband and I are downsizing and plan to put our house on the market very soon. Houses around us are selling like crazy; it seems like everyone is receiving multiple offers and selling for even more than they were asking. We aren’t in any rush to sell, and since houses seem to be selling themselves lately, we were considering selling "for sale by owner" and not hiring a real estate agent. After all, why should we pay a commission if all we need to do is slap a “For Sale” sign on the front yard?

Answer

Many sellers in a hot market will consider selling for sale by owner (FSBO). The impression in a hot market is that buyers are ready to jump at the first home that comes up for sale, and no marketing is needed. Therefore, why pay anyone a commission if the house will essentially sell itself?

Although it may be true that there are plenty of buyers, sellers shouldn’t forego the expertise of a professional just yet.

When there is low housing inventory, prospective buyers--the people whom you're hoping will flood in to look at your home--are more likely to use an agent to locate homes for sale, either  before  they come on the market or immediately upon listing. Most of the time, agents are looking on the Multiple Listing Service (a realtor-created and owned database widely referred to as the MLS) or talking with other agents in order to find new listings for their buyers.

Some ambitious agents  might  search want ads or Craigslist, which will be your primary marketing outlets, but they are typically the exception rather than the rule. For the most exposure for your sale, you still want to hire an agent to advertise your home, in order to take advantage of the multiple buyers who are out looking.

Also, believe it or not, receiving multiple offers on your property can be challenging and stressful. For example, you could receive two or more offers for the exact amount of the asking price. Which one should you choose? Just because the offers are for the same amount does NOT necessarily mean they are equal.

If you don’t know how to evaluate the non-monetary pros and cons of offers, you should hire an agent. An agent will also be able to advise you on whether or not you should counter any offer (with new or changed terms) when you receive multiple offers.

Receiving multiple offers puts you in a great negotiating position. If you’re not sure how to navigate negotiating those offers, though, you will be leaving money on the table. An agent will make sure you get everything you can from your sale, monetarily and otherwise.

Beyond the initial receipt of the offers, an agent can be extremely valuable in a hot market. You may, for example, be likely to lose a buyer after the home inspection report comes in, since many buyers in fast-moving markets simply put in an offer to see whether they can get it accepted, then worry about the details later. The inspection leaves the impulsive buyer an easy way out. If the buyer flakes, you need to know how to handle that situation. An agent can advise on whether you should make improvements before relisting or just get the house on the market again ASAP.

There are other obstacles that you should consider as a seller in a hot market. Appraisals can present unique challenges, as can tight deadlines and fast sales. Take a minute and also review  Selling Your Home in a Hot Marketfor other pointers you might find helpful. Best of luck with your sale!

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