Dear Monty column: Six considerations in selling your home yourself

Richard Montgomery
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Our readers today are considering selling their home without using a real estate agent. As home prices rise and real estate fees rise with them, the industry is experiencing resistance. There are more and more options appearing to meet the demand for lower rates.

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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Reader Question: ​We are considering selling our home. We have not been in the real estate market for over 30 years. We are weighing the idea of selling it on our own. It appears to us that the internet has changed the way home buyers shop. We spent two entire days going from house-to-house with a real estate agent when we last bought. Today it looks like homebuyers do the shopping online, and when they find the one they like, they call an agent. Is selling your home yourself a good idea? 

​Monty's Answer: ​Most buyers today start on the internet. Here is a link to an article about the home search process published by The National Association of Realtors (NAR). Here is an article from the New York Times that advises skepticism about surveys from 1993. Since the publishing of this article, we have seen the advent of fake news, native advertising and biased survey questions designed to influence opinions. This statement is not to imply that the NAR survey is not accurate, but only that a reader should understand a trade organization wrote the NAR article above.   

Alternatives to internet shopping

  • Homebuyers find houses when they drive by it or see the yard sign first.
  • Homebuyers contact an agent before they even start looking.  *Homebuyers visit an open house.
  • Homebuyers learn of a home "for sale" through a relative, a co-worker, friend,or neighbor.
  • Homebuyers specifically look for owners selling their homes themselves.

Your decision

Consider your circumstances in the following areas:

  1. Your time availability. Do you have the time to invest? Determining value, preparing an accurate offering circular, preparing, and showing your home, qualifying prospects, negotiating, and more.
  2. Your personality. Are you comfortable meeting new people? Can you be objective in comparing your home to others? Can you handle rejection when a prospect decides not to buy? Are you patient?  
  3. Your access to data. The Internet today is full of active listings that may be your competition, and sold homes comparable to yours. If you have a computer and a broadband connection, you can search for the data you need. 
  4. Your family and occupational history. Individuals with occupations that deal with people is a plus. Contractors, customer service, managers, and salespeople are examples of the wide variety of such individuals. Most people are good with other people.
  5. The real estate market. Is there a short supply of inventory and many buyers seeking homes. Is your home in a desirable location? Is your home in top condition?
  6. Your financial situation. Would an extra $10,000 to $30,000 or more make a difference in your circumstances? Are you cautious about money matters? 

There are alternatives

Home values have risen, and real estate fees have followed suit. Some consumers have put pressure on real estate commissions by considering alternatives, one of which is selling your home yourself. While some homeowners will not attempt it, or attempt it and give up, many homeowners are successful. Only you can decide what your best option is.

Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money - An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty, or at DearMonty.com

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