There are many options available to you when you have a home to sell. Choosing the best option for your circumstances is often the first in a series of decisions during the home selling process. Why use a realtor to sell your home when you could sell it yourself? This is often times the first question homeowners ask themselves.

The for sale by owner option (FSBO) is attractive to many sellers because of the prospect of saving thousands of dollars in realtor fees. While saving money is great, if you’ve never sold a home or don’t have ample time to commit to the home selling process, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

To be successful at FSBO, a seller must avoid common real estate pitfalls, conduct extensive research into the housing market, and manage all the paperwork, marketing, negotiations and management of the process and timelines. Make one mistake, and you could lose a substantial amount of money.

If you’re a home selling novice, it’s a good idea to consider working with a realtor. Realtors are licensed professionals who hold membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Realtors may belong to the following categories of professionals that can help you:

  • Real estate agent
  • Real estate broker
  • Broker-associate
  • Managing broker

Some real estate agents are also licensed to assist consumers with buying and selling properties, but they choose to not belong to the NAR. Therefore, they aren’t subject to NAR’s educational and ethical requirements. This is something to consider because it might be an indication of a real estate agent that will not work out.

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Regardless of NAR status, states require all licensed real estate professionals to undergo between 30 and 90 hours of annual training. Which you get to use to your advantage by having an educated and licensed professional assist you in the sale of possibly your most valuable asset.

When you choose a realtor, you’re choosing someone with training above and beyond a real estate agent who is not a NAR member.

So, why use a realtor to sell your home? Check out the top 11 reasons.

1. You Have Not Sold A House Before


If you’ve never sold a house before, there is a pretty steep learning curve to acquire the knowledge necessary to achieve optimal results. Remember all those education requirements we were talking about?

Many people who decide to go the FSBO route underestimate the work involved and experience required. Your first step in the home selling journey is acquiring the knowledge necessary to get the job done, with the best possible results. There is a specific skill set required to sell a home successfully:

  • Knowledge of your local real estate market
  • Negotiation skills
  • Marketing skills
  • Expert communication skills
  • Legal knowledge

There’s a lot more to selling a home then those high-level items, but what we’ve listed above are among the most important skills. If you’ve never sold a home, learning these skills will require a significant investment of time.

Your journey won’t end with acquiring knowledge. The next step is preparing to sell your home on your own. You’ll have to determine your home’s value. Price it too low, and you’ll lose money, canceling out any money you saved by not hiring a realtor. Most FSBO homes sell for less than homes sold by a realtor.

There’s also a significant outlay of money. You’ll have to pay to list your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) with a flat fee MLS service, which costs between $300 and $500. Although there are FSBO listing sites, the MLS is the most important, with 9 out of 10 sellers listing their homes on the MLS. If your legal skills aren’t up to par, you’ll need to pay for a real estate attorney for drafting and/or reviewing your purchase and sale agreement, which is a legally binding contract.

It’s easy to get in over your head when attempting to sell your home FSBO. Even if you follow all the correct steps, there’s still no guarantee you’ll successfully sell your home.

Which is why if you have never sold a house before, you should give some serious thought to hiring an agent. At least, contact a real estate agent for an interview and ask questions to get a feel for the process and how you would like to proceed.

2. You’re Too Busy


Selling a home is time-consuming. In many ways, it’s the equivalent of a full-time job. Selling your home involves a lot more than putting a for sale sign up in your yard.

If you work full-time, selling a home on your own will be an additional burden to your already long workday. A few questions to ask yourself before listing your home FSBO include:

  1. Do I have time to field questions from potential buyers throughout the day?
  2. Do I have time to leave my job to show my home to prospective buyers?
  3. Will I have the energy to commit to taking advantage of all opportunities to sell my home?
  4. Do I truly have time to devote to the entire selling process?

If you answered no to any of these questions, FSBO is probably not the ideal option for selling your home. And it doesn’t stop there; selling your own home will require organizing an open house, deciding where to advertise online, showing your home to potential buyers, and many more large and small tasks before selling your home.

When you hire a good realtor, selling your home becomes their full-time job. They don’t have to make time for staging your home, fielding calls, evaluating potential buyers, or listing your property. All of the above are part of their job. Realtors come with all the tools necessary to sell your home successfully and efficiently.

Acting as your own real estate agent is a time-intensive endeavor. Think carefully about the time commitment involved before opting to sell your home FSBO.

3. You Don’t Know Real Estate Marketing


Successfully marketing your home is one of the biggest tasks leading up to a sale. Get the marketing wrong, and your house could linger on the market for months or longer. When you work with a realtor, they’re responsible for the marketing plan of your home.

An essential part of a realtor’s toolkit is the MLS. An FSBO seller can list their home on Zillow or Facebook, but a realtor knows how to take full advantage of the MLS, which includes listing your home on other sites including:

  • Zillow
  • Trulia

While an FSBO seller can pay a real estate agent to list their home in the MLS FSBO, this is also included in the realtor’s commission when working with a listing agent. An MLS listing exposes your home to potential buyers and other realtors. Under NAR’s code of ethics, Realtors must use cooperative relationships to benefit clients, making cooperative sales common practice. A realtor’s contacts in the local market may result in the sale of your home and could be worthwhile for just that reason alone.

Moreover, a realtor knows where and how to advertise your home and what works best for your local housing market. Realtors will also help you with staging your home, hiring a professional photographer to ensure quality listing photos, and writing an effective description of your home. They also host open houses and show your home to potential buyers to highlight the features that would appeal to the buyers needs.

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4. You Need Access To Professional Realtor Tools & Apps


Realtors have many tools at their disposal that the average FSBO seller doesn’t have access to. We have already discussed how beneficial realtors access to MLS is to selling your home. Now we’ll take a more in-depth look at MLS, and other tools realtors use to sell homes.

MLS is a database limited to licensed brokers and agents who pay a membership fee. Realtors post all details about a home to the MLS database, including pictures, number of bedrooms, and square footage. All realtors have access to this information and share it with their clients. MLS is one of the most powerful tools in a realtor’s arsenal.

A very popular tool that agents are using these days is called ShowingTime. As the name suggests, ShowingTime is an app that realtors use to keep track of and confirm showings. This app simplifies the process of showing and selling your home. They receive feedback from potential buyers and share all of this information with sellers, keeping them informed throughout the home selling process.

Another tool realtors use is the Supra lockbox to store the keys to the home being sold securely. The automated lockbox is usually located at the front of the property and can be opened with a code or synced with a phone, making it easy for a realtor to show your home on demand. These lockboxes also provide a level of security for a home seller because all access is requested and approved as well as logged.

Yard signs are still an essential part of a realtor’s home selling strategy. A nice white wooden post with a eye catching for sale sign with the agents contact information has resulted in many, many homes being discovered and sold by passing traffic. Don’t underestimate the power of the for sale sign with an eager real estate agent waiting for a call from a potential buyer.

5. You Are Concerned With Your Security


Realtors take many steps to ensure the safety of your home and themselves when dealing with potential buyers. One way of doing that is pre screening potential buyers. A prescreened buyer has already received pre approval from their mortgage company. A pre-approval guarantees a mortgage company has done the following:

  • Confirmed the buyer’s income
  • Review the buyer’s credit
  • Verified other financial and personal details

How does pre approval contribute to safety? It shows the buyer is serious about purchasing a home. It also means the lender has researched the buyer, has their social security number, job history, and other relevant information. Most FSBO sellers won’t have access to pre approval letters before showing their homes.

You can feel at ease when a realtor shows your home, knowing that they’ve done the background work to ensure potential buyers are trustworthy. A realtor won’t show your home to anyone who asks to see it, or at least they shouldn’t be. Realtors also handle your open house; they can access lockboxes and track showings with tools such as ShowingTime and the Supra lockboxes as we discussed previously.

6. You Are Uncomfortable Negotiating


Top-notch negotiation skills are a must when selling a home, and good realtors are skilled in the art of negotiation. Poor negotiation skills could result in losing thousands of dollars when selling a home and have buyers walking away with the better end of the deal. If you’re not confident in your ability to negotiate a real estate deal, it’s best to leave this job to the experts.

Your realtor has a fiduciary duty to get you the best possible price for your home. They are also trained negotiators, knowing what works and what doesn’t when it’s time to close a real estate deal. A realtor will keep you from making poor decisions, they guide you through the decision process and negotiate on your behalf, according to your instructions.

Realtors objectively evaluate a buyer’s proposal, ensuring your position isn’t compromised. They also have no emotional stake in the outcome, so they can maintain independence while ensuring your home sells for top dollar. All the above is another answer to the question, why use a realtor to sell your home?

picture of a superhero real estate agent

7. You Don’t Understand Real Estate Contracts


Without formal training, it’s difficult to understand the ins and outs of real estate contracts. There are many laws governing home sales, and these differ from state to state. A realtor has the training to help you navigate the legal paperwork and ensure you stay within the bounds of the law.

A real estate purchase contract has a lot going on in them. Especially when you add in all the contingencies, riders and addendums that make the deal come together but each have very specific legal ramifications that you will need to be aware of and understand how each will impact your home sale.

One of your most important responsibilities when selling a home are the seller’s disclosures, which become part of the real estate contract. A seller is responsible for disclosing to the buyer any material fact that may affect the home’s value or desirability. Fail to disclose, and you could be held liable for fraud, breach of contract, or negligence.

Your realtor has the expertise to ensure you don’t run afoul of the law when selling your home. Realtors also stay up to date on the changing legal landscape that may impact real estate contracts. If you fail to disclose something negative about your home, a buyer could sue you. Realtors can and do make mistakes, but they have business liability insurance.

An FSBO seller has to learn all of these laws and regulations on their own. There’s a lot of legal jargon to sort through, including the differences between binding and non-binding contracts.  If you hire a realtor, you’re hiring an expert in real estate law.

8. You Don’t Know How To Price Your House


Realtors are experts in determining how to price your house. They have an array of tools at their disposal to ensure they accurately set your house’s price, so you get the best deal possible. One method they use to determine your home’s value is comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA estimates your home’s value based on recent sales of similar homes in your area.

When conducting a CMA, realtors use the following tools and methods to price your home:

  • They consider current homes on the market
  • Home appraisals
  • Market Conditions
  • Home size and usable space

These factors are all key to determining how a realtor prices your house and ensuring it sells at the best price. A realtor can also recommend ways to improve your house, such as repairs and cosmetic work that will increase your home’s salability.

Realtors stay current on home prices in your market. They closely monitor the market paying attention to any changes that could impact your home’s value. They make sure your home is listed at an accurate price that garners potential buyers’ attention while allowing you to sell at the best price.

Sellers who go at it alone risk undervaluing or overvaluing their home; having an emotional attachment to their home makes it difficult to see it objectively. A competent realtor will help you avoid these pitfalls.

9. You Don’t Know The Escrow Process


Escrow is the time between when a buyer makes an offer on your home that you accept, and you close the deal. The escrow process begins after you and the buyer have signed the purchase agreement; it ends when funds are disbursed at closing. Being in escrow refers to the legal procedure for transferring the title of a house. If you’re working with a realtor, they’ll have an escrow account for you to use for deposit funds and help you navigate through the process.

An escrow officer will secure essential items related to the sale until the deal closes and the property officially changes hands. Escrow protects all parties to a real estate deal by ensuring money doesn’t change hands until all sale conditions have been met. Tasks that need to be completed as part of the escrow process include:

  • Home inspections: home inspector checks the interior and exterior of your home for anything broken, defective or hazardous
  • Repairs: After the buyer’s home inspection, the buyer will have an opportunity to negotiate repairs to be done before closing
  • Appraisal: The buyer’s lender will order its own appraisal of the property to protect its financial interests
  • Mortgage approval: Buyers must wait for bank approval and secure financing before closing

At all steps in the escrow process, the seller and buyer can negotiate terms. Remember what we said earlier about the importance of negotiation skills? If a realtor isn’t representing you during this process, your best interests may get passed over.

Wading through the escrow process as an FSBO seller can be confusing, not impossible though. But as we keep saying, if you are unsure of yourself, it’s best to leave it to a professional agent.

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10. You Want Someone There At Closing


Closing a home is a complicated and emotional process. One of the biggest benefits of working with a realtor is you get their undivided attention focused on your needs during this time. Knowing you have an expert with you as you close your home can have a calming effect. Realtors are legally bound to look out for your best interests, closing included.

Realtors understand the complexities of closing paperwork and know what needs to be done while working with your attorney or title company. Contracts and disclosures are often difficult to understand and have many opportunities for items to come up last minute. Your realtor will ensure you understand any last minute bumps in the road and that everything at the closing goes as smoothly as possible.

Having an agent to advocate with you and for you during closing is invaluable. You’ll also have someone to celebrate with once the sale has been finalized!

11. You Are Ok Paying A Commission


If you’re still wondering why use a realtor to sell your home, I’ll share my answer. From my perspective, having a realtor by my side when selling my house is well worth the commission if you are not 100% onboard with the for sale by owner route. Research also backs my position.

As we mentioned earlier, homes sold FSBO often sell for less money than those sold by a professional realtor. The realtor ends up paying for themselves when your home sells at a higher price.

A realtor brings expertise to selling a home that you don’t have, nor do you have the time to acquire the expertise needed to sell a home effectively. A realtor will negotiate on your behalf, ensure that prospective buyers are prescreened and not wasting my time, they understand the local real estate market, and they have a wealth of connections.

You should appreciate how realtors put their clients first and take pride in their jobs and deserve to get paid for that work. Now, if you think that agents make too much money with the traditional real estate commission model then you can negotiate commissions with agents directly, or you can check out our agents that we have already negotiated lower commissions with!

picture of a superhero realtor

Final Thoughts

Selling your home is a complex process that requires expertise in real estate. Choosing a realtor to help you with the home buying process is one of the best decisions you can make on your journey to selling your home. A realtor is a licensed professional who is an expert in your area’s real estate market.

Saving money by selling your home FSBO may be tempting, but when you look at the facts, it’s hard to dispute that using a realtor is the best option for the vast majority of home sellers.

Let’s return to the question we posed at the outset: why use a realtor to sell your home? By working with a realtor (even a 1% agent), you’ll ensure you get the best price for your home while protecting your interests throughout the sale of one of your most valuable and complicated assets.


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