You may have heard friends or neighbours talk of ‘good luck’ stories about selling their property privately and saving tons of real estate agent commission. But is this always the case? The benefits of real estate agents’ local market savvy, their individual industry experience and that of their agency, along with their existing networks and knowledge base cannot be underestimated, and it’s impossible to know whether a private sale ever reaches the figure to which a professional real estate agent may be able drive it, so you may end up saving commission only to sacrifice it for a lower sale price. In NZ, just 14% of real estate sales were concluded privately in 2020, so you can feel confident you’re in the majority when you hire a real estate agent to do the job for you.
Your pool of potential buyers will be limited
A number of factors influence the visibility of your house sale, and therefore the number of potential purchasers interested in knowing more about or viewing your property. Professional real estate agents and agencies have the ability to reach thousands of potential buyers almost as soon as the ink is dry on your contract. All agencies have their own websites and use real estate agent search engines and other channels like social media and internal promotion to promote their listings. Right from the initial agent group ‘walk through’ (sometimes referred to as a caravan) awareness of your property immediately increases multiple-fold, and it’s not unusual for agents within an office to bring offers forward before you even begin your marketing campaign, if they have clients looking for homes just like yours. Don’t forget, buying and selling houses usually goes hand-in-hand, so not only do you have access to multiple real estate agents who want to sell on your behalf, they’ll in turn be connected with dozens or even hundreds of clients looking to buy property too. And in some cases, real estate agents have access to printed materials and websites which private sellers can’t access, widening your exposure even further.
Agents work together, and they’re all working for you
Real estate agents are in business to sell houses, just like bakeries are in business to sell pies and cakes. You, the vendor (seller) of the property, are in great hands with your own real estate agent and their entire pool of colleagues wanting to sell your house as quickly and profitably as possible, so they can move on to sell the next one. A bakery doesn’t want its tasty treats to sit around in the cabinets any longer than it needs to, and neither do real estate agents want properties to languish on the books without getting sold. These professionals will work as hard as they can to help you prepare your property for the market, promote your property to as many potential buyers as possible, deal with all those interested parties and help you negotiate issues and offers with all the knowledge they possess. Each real estate agent in a branch office, as well as through their wider agency network, is engaged in the same activity for multiple house sellers like you, many of whom are also buyers. Once your house is listed within an agency, all the real estate agents there represent potential connections that will ultimately get your house sold for the best price.
Selling privately is likely to involve emotion
Many of us find it difficult to be clear-headed and impartial when strong emotions are at play, and you’re likely to have bonds to your own property, especially if it's been your residence. These emotional connections may waver depending on your situation; you may think you’re less connected to a home if your children have grown up and left, or perhaps a relationship has ended, but these milestones could actually heighten your emotions about the property. Remember, emotion can be a wily and untameable beast, flaring at inopportune moments and sneaking up when you’re least expecting it. An irrefutable benefit of choosing a real estate agent to sell your home for you is the relative distance you can put between yourself and the process of sale. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. It’s not only the most sensitive of us who can feel uncomfortable overhearing home viewers criticising our wallpaper or puzzling over our choice of flooring. Anyone is likely to feel a little exposed when they open up their home for inspection. Equally, emotional factors may make it hard for you to accept your property’s shortcomings, or could influence your decision-making in a negative way. When assessing which real estate agent to choose, and comparing appraisals and commission proposals, be sure to remember that the costs you may be endeavouring to save by considering selling privately are not always financial. It’s widely understood that selling a property can be very stressful, and these emotional issues will do nothing to alleviate that stress. Choosing a great real estate agent, though, will help to shield you from the worst of it.
Can you negotiate as effectively as a real estate agent?
Some people are blessed with natural negotiation skills, and some acquire those skills during the course of their life or career. But many of us shy away from the overt nature of the art of negotiation, and even those with the ability to negotiate in other areas may struggle when it comes to a house sale, especially when it’s our own. The extent to which real estate agents are good communicators who understand negotiation, and how effective they can be using it to get the best deal for their clients, comes down to their own innate abilities, training, mentorship and experience. In some cases real estate agents work with colleagues to bolster, enhance or complement their own negotiation skills, but one thing is certainly true: no real estate agent ever chose the profession thinking they’d never need to negotiate a deal. By contrast, many vendors thinking of selling privately may not consider the negotiation stage as they anticipate streams of keen buyers pouring through the door and lining up to make lovely, large offers that require nothing more than a smile, a signature and a handshake. The reality is usually somewhat different though, and that’s where a professional negotiator in the form of your chosen real estate agent comes in. You’ll be able to sit back and issue your agent instructions while they do the hard work of liaison and negotiation on your behalf.
Do you have the same amount of time as a real estate agent to work on getting your house sold?
For most professional real estate agents, theirs is a full-time job. Are you able, and do you even want to dedicate a similar amount of time and energy to getting your property sold? The resources a real estate agent will throw into getting a sale for you and all that entails including preparing, listing and promoting your home, is likely to be a good deal more than you have the ability or desire to spend. Dedicated time and energy is another somewhat less tangible, although just as important cost you should consider before making the choice to sell privately.
Discerning the real buyers from the time-wasters
Not only does your chosen real estate agent have the reach and experience to promote your property effectively, they’re also likely to have finely-honed skills to be able to spot the tyre-kickers from those who are genuinely interested in buying your home. This comes from experience and savvy around the kinds of questions buyers ask, the information they share and their interest in establishing a relationship with the real estate agent. Selling privately is a different matter, however. While the real estate agent is able to act as a kind of third party screen for the potential buyer to discuss information, prospective purchasers are likely to share far less when face-to-face with the home’s owner.
Avoid any legal or regulatory traps
Real estate agents are licensed to sell property on your behalf, and this means they can often identify potential problems before they occur, advise you on how to deal with them, or even avoid them altogether. Legal issues can occur if your home has weather-tightness problems, boundary niggles, or may crop up around disclosures or information withheld from prospective buyers. Again, experience in the world of real estate is a major advantage over a private home seller who may be blissfully unaware of any such unforeseen pitfalls. Real estate agents do also operate under strict codes of conduct under the terms of their license, giving you further peace of mind.
So… when to contact a real estate agent? You can see how many benefits there are to choosing to work with an agent, but which real estate agent to choose? MyPitchlist makes it so easy. You simply list your property here for free, then sit back and wait for the agent proposals to come in. While the use of a real estate agent is not a legal requirement to sell your home, their experience, professionalism, network and know-how are just some of the reasons you might choose to use one. All this, plus avoiding the pitfalls of emotional turbulence, difficulty in negotiations or unforeseen legal hassles go to show that hiring a real estate agent is a very smart choice.