2018 begins a record 5th year of low inventory and terrific interest rates leading many potential sellers to consider responding to those bulk mailings and notes left in the mailbox from strangers promising Top $ for your home (in any condition.)

Don’t be tempted by what seems to be too good to be true.  An experienced agent can help you avoid expensive pitfalls and rookie hassles. According to Chris Rediger of Inman News -selling on your own can often be the most expensive way to sell.  Why? Because the process in MA is complicated and mistakes can be expensive.  Below are 5 areas where a skilled agent or Broker, working on your half can make the process smoother and guide you around major pitfalls.

1) SCAMS Happen

Common scams include fraudulent papers (appraisals, loan documentation), foreign buyer deposits (scammer sends too much in a bad check and then requests a refund), purchases through a third-party (a fake attorney, etc.) and asking for personal information.  Also very common these days are pre-approvals that are issued based only on verbal information from the buyer.  A good Broker can verify the lender has done their due diligence BEFORE you accept an offer.  Likewise for cash offers.

2) Liability is all on the seller

Everyone makes mistakes. A seller (or buyer) who doesn’t have the representation of a licensed agent pays for those mistakes. Attorneys can close a real estate transaction, but they don’t take on any liability related to the home.  A professional agent not only takes on this risk (and is trained to minimize it!), but also carries appropriate real estate errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.  In my practice, we routinely request buyers sign all seller disclosure documents and also provide a unique offer rider with to protect the seller from disingenuous offers. We call this our Consumer Protection System.

3) Limited Market Exposure 

Sellers using FSBO systems or responding to blind mailings  have limited resources to market their home.  The 2015 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed 42 % (of sellers) rely on a yard sign, 32 percent rely on friends and family, and about 15 percent use social media.  In MA an attorney may act as a licensee – but understand they are merely handling the paperwork specifically the legal contracts.   Limited exposure to the full market (and being stuck with one buyer) always puts the seller is in a weak negotiating position.  An experienced residential Broker can not only attract multiple offers, but also negotiate for the best terms for the seller.

4) Inspections are problematic.

Lions and tigers and bears  Oh my!  Buyers are understandably nervous about this life changing purchase and their inspectors will ALWAYS find things that are wrong with your home.  Sellers who don’t know the rules can get stuck with unnecessary and costly repairs. Again – this is where a experienced real estate professional can keep a seller from making unnecessary repairs to keep the deal together.

5. FSBOs spend more time on the market

Most well qualified Boston area home buyers (88%) use a residential Buyers agent or Broker/Realtor.   These agents are loathe to waste time without an experienced professional on the side.  Chief among their complaints?  Sellers often over price their homes and don’t understand the process.  This results in a high probability that the deal will fall apart before closing resulting in frustration all around and lengthy sales times.   

The Bottom Line: It is a well known truism in real estate that buyers think they can get a “good deal” from an unrepresented seller.  Assuming they can find the home – the offers will likely be well below asking price much like a yard  sale.  They are unlikely to pay full price.  Compare this approach to a well publicized and well orchestrated multi-media marketing & pricing strategy where several buyers emerge quickly – submitting robust offers with great fianncing and favorable terms hoping that you will choose their family!

For more detailed statistics on buyer preferences and FSBO ‘s visit: NAR Home Buying Statistics