The real estate agent is considered a villain by a great many. They occupy a contemptible space between the traffic warden and the lawyer. Only in Canberra could you find a bigger nest of crooks than in a real estate agency. This perception arises because the real estate agent serves the vendor. They will do almost anything to achieve their goal of selling a property and earning their commission. In this information age where anything you want to know is available online, many choose to sell privately. They may not know what they’re doing, but they’re coaxed by professional-looking websites promising easy listings and guaranteed sales. Their selling point is that the vendor avoids paying the agent’s commission. And that’s a persuasive incentive to go it alone. We made an unbiased comparison of both options to find out which is the better choice.
Setting the Sale Price
Real Estate Agent
When selling through a trusted real estate agent, despite what listing websites contend, the market is their specialty. Those sites that talk about real estate agents’ underquoting and overquoting invariably have certified real estate agents on hand. A good agent knows the market and makes it their business to do so. They follow the trends and are up-to-date on the property values in their given area. Moreover, they’ll factor in all the prevailing market conditions to suggest the best price for the vendor. Whatever methodology they might implement to achieve their goal of making a sale is irrelevant. Remember, the buyer is out to save as much as they can, while the real estate agent’s job is to get you the best price. It would be an unsuccessful agent that recklessly pursued dubious strategies of pricing too high or too low without success.
The private seller has options. As we mentioned, some sites will value their property. More to the point, the seller can do the research themselves by comparing properties in the same location. It is by no means strictly a skill commensurate with those who carry a real estate agent’s license. Having said that, there are other considerations. For instance, a real estate agent builds networks. They keep their ear to the ground about prospective buyers. This doesn’t prevent the private vendor from attending auctions and observing first-hand how high bidders are prepared to go. Domain and realestate.com also offer accurate sales stats, trends, and data. Also, this isn’t to suggest that the advice they might get from comparison sites that provide evaluations isn’t reliable. A person with a strong will and common sense will seek the information and determine the right price.
There are enough resources to enable a private vendor to decide a selling price for their house. However, a real estate agent has inside knowledge that is unavailable through common channels. They maintain a network of contacts who share tips and whispers about prospective buyers. With such knowledge, they’ll possess a sharper sense of what potential buyers will be willing to fork out. This is a slight edge, but an edge nonetheless. And in the parlance of the property market, a slight benefit often gives rise to a significant advantage.
Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent understands the importance of presenting a house in such a way as to attract buyers. A house presentation involves highlighting the assets and features of a property and accentuating its saleable attributes. This may mean basic stuff such as repairs, renovations, touch-ups, and upgrades. The real estate agent knows the local trends. They advise on “kerb appeal,” which is the desirable presentation of the home’s exterior. Better yet, they have the contacts to get the work done. An agent will have a reliable network of handymen, builders, and decorators. They’ll be on professional terms with the specialists whose gimlet eyes will cleverly determine how best to stage your home.
As a private vendor, you can figure out the concept of home presentation. It is surely a profession, but not in the category of rocket science. There are a plethora of websites with all sorts of tips on design and style. If you choose to do the home repairs and upgrades yourself, YouTube features channels that explain everything. Knowledge is there for the taking. Should you be fortunate enough to have the time and the patience to do these things, then hooray! You can de-clutter your home, trim the hedges, spruce up the garden, and there you go! If you’d rather conduct your home staging, Better Homes and Gardens has the advice you need.
You don’t need a degree in rocket science to present your house to buyers. If you have the time, money, energy, and inclination, you can do all the chores yourself. But let’s think about that: do you have the time? How long will all of this take? Much of being a private vendor implies that one is free from obligations that require them to spend their hours otherwise. The field of private sellers shrinks in this category when excluding busy working people with family and other distractions. Here, the advantage lies with the real estate agent. They can oversee all the professionals required to complete the job. They’ll do so while bearing in mind whatever budgetary restrictions you may be under. These are matters that can be negotiated. Unless your house is a real fixer-upper, most of this will involve cosmetic makeovers.
The Business Of Marketing
Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent has all the marketing bases covered. Marketing doesn’t just involve listing your property with a cheesy photo. Nowadays, there is so much more than an agent can do. Potential buyers can examine the floorplan of your house in 3D. There is aerial imagery, high-res pictures, and best of all, virtual tours so that buyers can explore your property before a physical inspection. Again, there is also the word of mouth factor, which is seldom listed under the marketing heading. And, if their agency is developed enough, your beloved house will be listed professionally with gleaming copy and top-class pics on their website. This means not only locals can see your “for sale” sign, but investors from all over this bright blue earth. Advertising is a key area of a real estate agent’s expertise. This can all be arranged in the terms of your agreement.
Online agencies will have you believe there’s little more to advertising your property than listing it on their site. And they’re right to claim that most buyers search for property online. You’ll need eye-catching pics and dynamic copy, and with today’s camera technology, that shouldn’t be hard. As to the copy, well, that’s a skill. It’s not included in the fee you pay these agencies for the listing. Writers work for years to acquire the gift of gab and put it down as the written word. If you are a wordsmith and have an eye for a good shot, you’ve got half the job done. The rest is up to the exposure your property receives. And, if the DIY websites are right about this, you’ve just saved a packet on marketing. Better yet, you won’t have to pay a real estate agent’s commission.
Marketing is a matter of money, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. So, if you want your property listed with an online property agency, all you’ll need to pay is the listing fee. According to their spiel, they’ll have you across the web in no time. Buyers’ eyes will be glued to your fabulous house. But is that really how it’ll be? The fact that you’re selling without an agency might excite some and deter others. Some cynics may think you’re a born sucker. Your lack of investment in marketing may imply to others that you’re careful with money. They’ll wonder whether that extends to the upkeep of your house. When they switch to the real estate agency site, they’ll find a similar property. Then they’ll take a virtual tour of that home. Your competition won’t know it, but their marketing just paid for itself.
Negotiating The Sale
Real Estate Agent
If real estate agents are good at one thing, then it’s negotiating. If they can’t haggle, then they’ll quickly find themselves looking for a new career. The agent does this for a living and knows how both sides think. They understand the business inside out and could talk a starving dog out of its dinner. The agent won’t be easily sandbagged, and you’ll want them on your side. They are not simply bargaining for the seller, but themselves. What’s good for you is good for them. On the other hand, many buyers understand this. They’ve been verballed by a good cross-section of chatty agents, and they don’t trust them. Through negotiations, they’ll get the feeling that they’re somehow being screwed on the deal. They mightn’t be able to put their finger on it, but they’ll know.
How hard can negotiating a sale be? Frankly, a large chunk of the population is terrified by the idea. But if you’ve chosen to sell your house privately, then clearly you have confidence in yourself. You’ve got a price in mind. While you may appreciate that you’ll need to cut the buyer a little slack, there’s a figure that you won’t go below. No way, Jose. No one on earth could talk you into doing so. You’ve just stuck to your guns. But have you sold your house? Is that figure you’re so inflexible about? Are you not open to negotiating just a teeny bit more? You ask yourself, what would an agent do? But you’re not a real estate agent, so you don’t know. But you do remember that you read online about how we’re all born negotiators? It’s a piece of cake.
Negotiating is not a piece of cake, and we’re not all born negotiators. If you are a motivated seller doing so privately, then you’re already at a disadvantage. The art of negotiation takes nerves, cunning, and a grasp of human psychology as well. This is something that only a person who negotiates for a living and chooses to sell privately should undertake. Everyone else should leave it up to the professionals because in all the excitement you’ve forgotten something. You haven’t considered what type of negotiator the buyer is! What kind of a shark are they in their everyday life? What you lose on the deal might be far less than what you’re trying to avoid paying to an agent.
We lied about not being biased. We’re naturally predisposed to promoting real estate agents. It’s our business model. We chose it precisely because we know the industry. Only a qualified real estate agent can provide the breadth of skills and services a serious vendor needs. We unashamedly recommend you choose a real estate agent. However, that doesn’t mean we cheated on the comparison! Our arguments are informed by the wisdom born from experience. If you’re thinking about selling but want to do it privately, bear in mind our caveats. If you already know that you need a good agent, then contact us. We’ll match you with the perfect agent. That’s our pledge!