For Sale By Owner, or FSBO for short, can be tempting for those home sellers who are wanting to take on the responsibility of selling a property themselves and avoid the commission cost associated with a real estate agent.  While seemingly advantageous at first, there are some HUGE reasons why having a professional do this for you is the smarter choice.  In most cases the risks of doing it yourself can outweigh the benefits of saving a few thousand dollars.  One of the biggest risks for a FSBO is not having the experience or knowledge to navigate through the legal and regulatory requirements of selling a home.  Here are five reasons why choosing a real estate agent to sell your home can be better than doing it yourself:

#1.     Real Estate is a Full-Time Job

Can you rush home from work when a potential Buyer wants to see your home?  Can you excuse yourself from a meeting when a potential Buyer is calling to ask questions about your property?  Do you have a marketing plan for advertising the sale of your property?  Have you worked with a Title Company and Mortgage Lender before when selling a home?  Can you write real estate contracts in accordance with legal requirements and oversee the transaction in entirety?  Do you know the sequence of a real estate transaction?

Your answer to all of these questions is probably “no”.  A real estate agent’s answer to all of these questions is “yes”.  A lot of what an agent does is behind the scenes.  From gathering property information and tax records, to physically inputting information into an electronic system, completing documents, maintaining contact with title companies and mortgage lenders, ensuring Buyers are qualified, maintaining contract deadlines, strategically making counter offers and inspection responses, pricing the property accurately, marketing the property, ensuring the security of the property… and the list goes on and on.  A good real estate agent makes the process seem easy for the client, but the amount of time and energy put into the process is exhausting.

#2.     You Ignore the Flaws in Your Home

Real estate agents are experts at what makes a home sell.  They can walk through your home with you and point out current conditions that may need to be rectified in order to ensure a quick sale and desirable home sale price.  While you may absolutely love the floral curtains in your living room… (Hello, 1980 is calling and wants their curtains back!), a potential Buyer could interpret this as the seller of the home has not kept up with updates and is out of touch with the current market.  Most professional agents also input the home sale into a showing service that allows Buyers/Agents to disclose feedback about potential negatives they see in the property.  The listing agent can then share this information with the Seller and adjust accordingly to make the home more desirable for Buyers.

#3.     Exposure to Legal Risks

Fair Housing Act, contract law, liens and judgements… ever heard of these?  A real estate agent certainly has, and it is their fiduciary responsibility to ensure that their client is selling the property while abiding by all of the regulatory laws.  A lot of legal paperwork is involved in a home sale, especially more recently as compared to before the year 2000.  One of the most important documents to be completed is called a “Seller’s Disclosure”.  The seller of real estate has a legal duty to disclose any fact of material defect in the property or any items that may hinder the desirability of the property.  A seller can be held liable for negligence, breach of contract, or fraud if they do not disclose this information properly.

Unless you are a real estate attorney, your agent probably knows more than you do about disclosure laws.  If a seller fails to disclose a certain item, the Buyer of the property could sue you.  There goes the money you saved by choosing to avoid selling the property with a professional agent!

#4.     Limiting Unqualified Buyers

An agent can find out if a potential Buyer has been prequalified and is actually capable of purchasing your home.  This will eliminate nosey neighbors, window-shoppers, or even fraudulent buyers.  It’s a lot of work to put your life on hold to sell a home and make your house look perfect every time a showing is scheduled.  You want to try and limit those hassles to the showings that will most likely lead to the sale of the property.  Real estate agents are trained to ask questions determining the seriousness of a potential Buyer and motivation of a prospect.  It is also awkward for a Buyer to have the Seller present a showings.  Nothing makes a potential buyer more uncomfortable than the current owner being in the house.  When this happens, most Buyers will rush through the house and won’t notice or remember much of what they saw.

#5.     Agents Access Larger Networks

Yes, you can list your home on Zillow, Redfin, Craigslist, and even the Brokers Listing Cooperative (BLC/MLS) that agents use.  But will this be enough?  Even if you have a large personal network, people often do not care enough to share the fact that you are trying to sell your home.  You don’t have relationships with clients, other agents, or hungry Buyers to bring the maximum amount of exposure to the home sale.  A good agent should have a professional social media site with hundreds or even thousands of followers to market to.  They may also purchase postcards or flyers out of their own expense and mail them to surrounding properties or let other agents in their market know of a listing that will be going live soon.

The Bottom Line:  It can be extremely challenging to sell your house without a real estate agent, and selling your home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life.  Doing it alone can save a small amount of money, but hiring an agent has many advantages.  Agents have a broader exposure to the Buyers in the market, help negotiate a better deal and higher sales price, dedicate more time to your sale, and prevent emotions from sabotaging the sale.  Agents bring expertise to the transaction, which most Seller’s do not have.