Do I Need a Real Estate Agent to Sell My House?

Real estate agent consulting with home sellers

If you are looking to sell your house, one major decision you will have to make is whether or not you decide to hire a real estate agent to represent you and your property. To be clear, you do not have to hire a licensed Realtor® in order to sell your home. How you sell your house may determine if you need one or not.

The 3 Most Common Home Selling Options

It’s important to understand you have options when selling. There are typically three primary ways to sell your house:

  1. On the open market through a real estate agent
  2. On the open market by yourself (“for sale by owner”)
  3. Off the market to a real estate investor or cash buyer

Traditional Real Estate Sale

Let’s look at those first two options, because this is really when the decision to hire a real estate agent needs to be made. If you have the time, money and resources to sell your house on the open market through a “traditional” real estate sale, then you will be able to get the maximum selling price. This is no secret. Just remember it will take some time to prepare the property, market it, review offers, negotiate the contract and go through the standard closing process. On average, a traditional sale will take around 3-6 months to complete.

Should I Go “For Sale By Owner?”

Whether or not you want to hire a real estate agent to coordinate the sale is completely up to you. You can go it on your own with the “for sale by owner” approach. This will require you to prepare and market the home yourself, as well as review offers, negotiate and prepare contracts. Not everyone is ready for these types of responsibilities.

It’s true that selling your house on the open market without a Realtor® will save you some money because you are not paying their real estate commissions (usually 3% of the sales price goes to the selling agent/broker). You, the seller, may still have to pay the buyer’s agent’s fees if they have a Realtor® representing them (also up to 3% of the final selling price). The seller paying all real estate commissions is common practice in the industry.

The Benefits of an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Unfortunately, the research shows that houses sold “for sale by owner” generally sell for less than those represented by real estate agents. Good real estate professionals will pay for themselves with expert guidance, proven marketing programs and stronger negotiation strategies. If you are selling your house on the open market in a “traditional” sale, we highly recommend you hire a licensed Realtor®. If you need referrals in your area, just let us know.

Off-Market Home Selling Options

The third option is one that often gets overlooked by home sellers. You don’t have to go through a traditional home selling process. You can sell your house privately in an off-market deal, typically to a cash buyer or a real estate investor (who may also be paying cash).

This is a smart option if you want to avoid the hassles and time investment of a traditional sale. If you want (or need) to sell sooner, then an off-market sale may make more sense. It’s also a good idea if you are in a state of financial distress or dealing with a personal situation that requires a quicker and simpler home sale. We’re talking about divorce, job relocation, inherited property or an unwanted investment.

The Advantages of a Cash Home Sale

The advantages of a cash home sale or other off-market transaction (which could also include various creative seller financing options—click here to learn more) are pretty clear. First, this kind of transaction can be completed much faster and simpler. Your sale could be completed in a few days or weeks rather than several months. You will save on expenses like real estate agent commissions, repairs and ongoing homeownership expenses (mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, etc.). Most real estate investors and all-cash buyers are looking to buy houses in as-is condition because they intend to renovate anyway.

The downside of an off-market direct sale is that you typically won’t get as high a selling price for your house. Buyers are paying less because they are able to make the closing process less complicated and that’s a fair trade-off for most sellers. In some cases, sellers actually come out further ahead by the time they add up all the savings of expenses and fees. In other cases (especially those where financial distress is involved), the seller gets out from under a bad situation and can move on as soon as possible.

It’s important to explore all your selling options and this may determine whether you need to hire a real estate agent or not. However you choose to sell, PropertyLark is here to help. We can make you a fair cash offer on your house, or we can help you navigate a traditional real estate sale. Our team can show you different selling options, so you can decide which solution is best for your specific situation. Contact us today to learn more.