Can I Buy or Sell a HomeWithout a Real Estate Agent?Today’sreal estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory.With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re
Can I Buy Or Sell A Home Without A Real Estate Agent
Dated: April 22 2021
Can I Buy or Sell a HomeWithout a Real Estate Agent?
Today’sreal estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory.With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeingmultiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in themost sought-after neighborhoods. This has led some sellers toquestion the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on alisting agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in theyard then watch a line form around the block?
Somebuyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a propertywithout an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceedingwithout a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out fromthe competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the sellerpays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourselfpurchase sweeten the offer?
Weall like to save money. However, when it comes to your largestfinancial asset, forgoing professional representation may not alwaysbe in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh therisks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a homeon your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.
SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT
Mosthomeowners who choose to sell their home without any professionalassistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a directsale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expectfrom either of these options.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
Forsale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers theopportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction,showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his orher real estate agent. According to data compiled by the NationalAssociation of Realtors, approximately 8% of homes are sold by theirowner.1
Inan active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like ano-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty ofbuyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in yourhome. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’scommission and have more control over the way the home is priced andmarketed.
Oneof the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the homeappropriately. Without access to information about the comparableproperties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home(causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home(leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2
Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the mediansales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homessold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And duringa more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBOhomes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-representedproperties.3 This suggests that, while you may think thatyou’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, infact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay foran agent’s assistance.
Withoutthe services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you toget people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for theonline listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’sbuyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professionalphotographer, writing the listing description, and designingmarketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer andgraphic designer to do so.
Oncesomeone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings anddevelop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule anin-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potentialbuyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offersand determining their financial viability. You’ll need tothoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies anddiscuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection andclosing process.
Whileyou’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll stillneed to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh yourpotential savings against the significant risk and effort involved.
If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll savesignificant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk andliability. And the increased profits realized through a moreeffective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make upfor the cost of your agent’s commission.
iBuyershave been on the scene since around 2015, providing sellers theoption of a direct purchase from a real estate investment companyrather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable,streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.
Theidea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, thehomeowner completes an online form with information about theproperty’s location and features, then waits for an offer from thecompany. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’slocated in a good neighborhood—one that’s easy to flip and fallswithin the company’s algorithm.
Forsellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer mayoffer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale.That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make anupfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations.
However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, afar lower sale price than the market will provide as well as feesthat can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estateagent’s commission. According to a study conducted byMarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditionalsale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees andassociated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estateagent’s commission.6
Ina hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars onthe table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll loseout on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increaseddemand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable duringtimes of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operationsfor most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As aseller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuyingonly to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping yourtransaction in its tracks.
If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can stillexplore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage ofthe added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying theprotection and security of having a professional negotiating on yourbehalf.
BUYINGYOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT
Accordingto the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estateagent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’sagent is with you every step of the way through the home buyingprocess. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offerto navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyersfind their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part isthat, because they are compensated through a commission paid by thehomeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no costto you!
Still,you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly withthe seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed todeal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with theneighborhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is noreason to get a buyer’s agent involved.
However, putting together a winning offer package can bechallenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situationwhere you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefullycrafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process canget emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for aproperty or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. Inaddition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process thatlisting agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.
Ifyou decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, andnegotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need toschedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsiblefor reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you willneed to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent andyour lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other relatedparties along the way.
Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whosecommission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket.In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of themost important financial transactions of your life. If you decideto go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, formost people, their most important and consequential financialdecision.
SO,IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?
Itis important for you to understand your options and think throughyour preferences when considering whether or not to work with a realestate professional. If you are experienced in real estatetransactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating underhigh-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on yourhands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you.
However,if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like anexperienced professional to manage the process, you will probablyexperience far more peace of mind and security in working with a realestate agent or broker.
Areal estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expertnegotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, aswell. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with moremoney than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation thatcan help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way fromcontract to closing.
Accordingto NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers(89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’srepresentation and would recommend them to others.1 That’swhy, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellersfind the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.
QUESTIONSABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS
Thebest way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or brokeris to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insightsyou need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about thevalue-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell intoday’s competitive real estate landscape.
National Association ofREALTORS-https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
National Association ofREALTORS-https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think
Otniel Gil has been a top agent in Treasure Island, FL real estate for over 10 years. Prior to entering the real estate business, he was in the insurance & wealth management industry and his backg....