You’re an agent about to sell your own home. Would you hire yourself to take the listing?
Recently, my husband and I decided that we want to build a new home. We picked out the lot and are in the process of finalizing the plans. An important issue we must now address is how to handle the sale of our current property. I’ve been in the real estate business since 1978. During that time, I’ve represented some of the wealthiest and most sophisticated sellers in the world. I speak all over the country on how to generate more leads, market your listings, and earn a full commission. If you were in my shoes, would you hire another agent to list your home when you clearly had the skill set and the license to sell it yourself?
The way you answer this question provides a clear snapshot of how you view the real estate profession and the value that a professional Realtor brings to the table. If you answered that you would hire the best Realtor you could find, you are clearly aware of each of the following facts:
1. You can never negotiate as well for yourself as someone who is not emotionally involved in the transaction.
2. Like most sellers, you probably lack the objectivity to see your property and the market with the same detachment as a highly qualified listing agent.
3. Your presence during showings may scare off buyers who prefer not to have the seller hovering over them as they view the property.
4. Buyers and their agents are reluctant to share objective feedback with you.
On the other hand, if you said you would represent yourself, chances are that you are not hiring the best person to represent you. Perhaps you would argue, “Why should I throw away 3 percent of the sales price when I can do this myself? I can put the property on the market, list it in the MLS, and handle the marketing myself.” All of this is true; however, isn’t this the same argument that for-sale-by-owners make?
When we become sellers, we shift from being objective professionals to having a strong emotional attachment to the property. For example, about half the homes in our neighborhood have a pool. My husband and I have no interest in having a pool because we travel so much. Furthermore, our community pool, which is only two blocks from our home, is one of three Olympic training facilities in the country. It is a beautiful facility and a focal point for our neighborhood. Nevertheless, our agent is telling us that without a pool, we will get less for our home. In response, I’m tempted to say, “Find someone who doesn’t want a pool that appreciates a beautiful backyard where they can garden rather than look at a bunch of cement.” Granted, we may find the buyer who loves to garden and appreciates our lush backyard. The truth of the matter is, however, no pool means less purchase price in our area.
The real issue here is that when we decide to market our own property, we are no longer selling a house. We’re selling our home. Like most sellers, we’re inclined to think that it’s worth more than the comparable sales suggest. It’s tempting when you’re doing your own comparative market analysis, or CMA, to say that your home favorably compares to the most expensive comparable sales rather than the ones that accurately reflect what price you will achieve.
Negotiation is another sticky problem. Granted, negotiating with the buyer is difficult enough. The challenge, however, occurs when you disagree with your co-owner. For example, who will mediate between the two of you when you cannot reach an agreement? This is particularly difficult because of the stress involved with “losing your home.” When you move, you’re pulling up roots. You haven’t moved into your new property and yet, you’re being forced out of your old property. While this makes perfect sense logically, emotionally it creates extraordinary amounts of stress. Perhaps the most important role that an agent plays in the transaction is being the calm in the middle of the storm. You may not be able to persuade your co-owner to be rational or unemotional. In contrast, a competent agent can often provide the dose of reality necessary to achieve a satisfactory solution.
Would you hire yourself to sell your home? While I can’t answer for you, I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to happily pay the commission to the best agent in town and be grateful knowing that I’m in the best possible hands no matter what happens.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.