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Do You Really Need a Real Estate Agent?

If youre preparing to sell your home in Texas, you could go it alone and broker your own sale. Its a sellers market, after all. So, why do 88 percent of sellers in the U.S. engage the services of a professional real estate agent? If youre a first-time seller, you can easily underestimate how demanding it is to list, stage and market your home and thats before you reach the technical and legal challenges of closing a sale on your own. Discover the difference a professional agent can make, and why its a valued talent in Texas, contributing more than 16 percent of our gross state product.

Why sell your own home in Texas?

According to Zillow, 36 percent of owners nationally try to sell their homes on a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) basis. However, many soon come to regret the challenge they have taken on, and only 11 percent of sellers complete the process unassisted. Millennial sellers, in particular, might feel empowered with their digital research and marketing skills to try an independent sale, but statistically, its the 74-plus age bracket who are most likely to sell their own home, with 10 percent opting for FSBO. This is most likely in cases where the homeowner is selling to a family member or someone they know, one of the most common scenarios where a sale takes place without a real estate agent.

The other popular reason for FSBO listing is to save on paying commission to agents, which is typically 5 or 6 percent of the sale price. Bear in mind, however, that a seller typically pays both sets of commission in an agent-brokered sale, so there is still the buyers agent commission to cover in a FSBO situation. Here are five top reasons to hire a real estate agent.

1. Real estate agents clinch a faster sale.

Even if it doesnt take long to sell a house in Texas, with an average of just 43 days on market in January 2021, FSBO sales typically attract fewer offers. Research by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 46 percent of FSBO sellers did not even market their homes, so its easy to see why they dont move as fast. It takes more than putting a For Sale sign on the front lawn. In fact, a real estate transaction can involve 184 distinct steps. In particular, a real estate agent can deliver a faster sale in two key areas:

Quality control. An experienced agent can pre-qualify potential buyers and weed out the tourists from your open house. 

Market insight. Professional agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which has off-market properties. This gives them extra visibility of market trends and value.  

2. That commission can earn you a better sale price.

Selling a home is an emotional process, making it difficult for some to set a listing price, negotiate and counter a lower offer, all with a cool head. A professional agent turns that process into a rational one, leveraging their knowledge of market conditions and value, as well as their skills in negotiating. Although 22 percent of sellers drop the listing price at least once, a real estate agent can advise on what features add value and which upgrades offer a return on investment. 

We could point to some statistics from a few years back which showed that using an agent can add upwards of $39,000 to a sale price, but the claim is a little misleading. The types of homes sold as FSBO often include single-family homes in rural areas, condominiums and mobile homes. For example, mobile and manufactured homes are sold six times more under FSBO. These homes sell for less than the multiple family homes or downtown apartments that real estate agents will typically handle. Hiring a real estate agent wont magically add another zero to your sale price, but when it comes to negotiating the numbers, an experienced professional will more than earn their commission.

3. A quick sale needs full-time skills.

According to the NAR register, the median skill level for members is eight years of professional experience. From extensively researching the market and negotiating with buyers agents to pre-qualifying buyers and preparing legal paperwork for the closing, a great real estate agent has a vast range of tasks to master. They are also plugged into a close network of contacts and other agents when it comes to taking care of the associated challenges of selling a home. For example, your real estate agent can find you an interior designer for staging your home professionally, which typically adds 20 percent to the sale price. 

4. Paperwork matters tremendously.

Even after an offer is accepted on a home, it can take more than a month to complete the legal paperwork. The sellers disclosures are not to be taken lightly. The seller can be legally liable for any failure to fully disclose a defect or hazard. In this scenario, a real estate agent is more than an objective pair of eyes on a homes fitness for sale: They can be a valuable safeguard against potentially devastating legal action. 

5. Buyers prefer to work with a real estate agent.

Why do 88 percent of buyers use a professional agent? Most see their agent as an essential resource for such a big investment. With 91 percent of buyers claiming they would use their agent again for a future purchase, few seem to regret it. Heres a real estate secret that not every buyer knows, however: Many agents prefer not to show their clients FSBO homes. The risk is just too high for wrangles over commission; poorly staged or maintained properties; listing rices that do not represent fair market value; and slow progress once an offer has been made. Buyers are much more comfortable dealing with a reputable professional who is part of a network of agents familiar with the local market.

Selling your home in Texas? Avoid the many pitfalls of going it alone and find the perfect real estate agent for a smooth sale. Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty is standing by to help  as it has since 1960 and counting. 

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