Many homes are placed on the real estate market with several different listing agents every day. However, homeowners rarely know the real questions about homeowner costs and market expectations to ask those agents. What are the fees being charged and what are they applied to? How long should your home be on the market? What happens once I get a contract? Homeowners deserve an honest answer.
Choosing the real estate agent to list your home can be the most important decision in the home selling process. Ask questions of your agent? Are they a member of the local MLS? MLS members have access to place your home online and be seen by other MLS members. In Rutherford County TN alone there are over 1,200 REALTORS on MLS. In other words, if your home isn't on MLS, several thousand REALTORS who may have a buyer will never see it for sale! What experience does the agent have with listing homes? If an agent works with only buyers, do you really want them trying to sell your home when they have no resources or marketing experience to advertise your home? Experienced listing agents have several avenues of advertising including online, print and direct mail. Can your agent provide referrals from customers they have worked with in the past selling a home? Any good listing agent should be able to give you at least 10 referrals with contact information for you to verify. What is the commission rate and are there any other fees? Commission rates are not set by law and are negotiable between the seller and the real estate brokerage. However, you as the homeowner need an explanation of what advertising and promotion is going to be done at the set commission rate. In other words, if you are only paying 5% of the sales price as commission, ASK what services the agent is offering. Normally the higher the commission percentage, the more services and advertising will be offered to the client. NEVER PAY AN UPFRONT FEE TO PLACE YOUR HOME ON THE REAL ESTATE MARKET!! Upfront fees are not the norm and there are several companies that will work with you with NO UPFRONT FEES. Ask your agent about brokerage or transaction fees. Transaction/Brokerage fees are fees usually charged at closing and can be as much as $500. These fees need to be disclosed upfront when listing the home for sale. Brokerage/Transaction fees are usually paid to the real estate brokerage as a "paper processing" fee. I personally don't charge these fees because I don't like them either! They are like those "doc" fees when you purchase a car. You never really know why you're being charged that extra money, but they try to push it through without you noticing.
How long should you home be on the market? This all depends on your location and price point. A home 5 miles down the road may have sold for a really high price doesn't necessarily mean your home will also. Location is the number 1 factor in selling a home. Desirable location is simple economics. Higher demand equals better sales. Price point is also a difference maker. In many rural areas in Tennessee, homes over $300,000 take much longer to sell just because the pool of buyers is much smaller. Fewer buyers and more homes equals lower prices and longer market times. Your agent and you may have a difference on proposed list price, but both sides need to listen and work out a reasonable list price. PRICE sells homes and overpriced homes don't sell.
What happens once you get an accepted offer on your home? First, read your contract and ask questions of your agent. Your agent should have went over the contract line for line and explained the offer fully. However, all agents don't do this and the homeowner suffers. Ask about inspection periods, ask about what happens if the home doesn't appraise, ask about buyer loan approval and most importantly ask what your bottom line is going to be. That means how much money should you expect to receive at closing. Agents not disclosing to the homeowner the amount they are going to receive has killed more real estate transactions at the closing table than any other. When you're expecting $50,000 and you receive $40,000, you want to know where the $10,000 went. Even amounts as small as $500 can kill a deal if not known prior to closing.
Be an educated homeowner before you sell your home! Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for explanations. If you still have concerns, please call me personally at (615) 653-0080 or email at ExitRealty@GregoryGoff.com
EXIT Realty Bob Lamb & Associates
PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING!