To list or not to list, that is the question

Heather Morse

So, it’s time to sell your home. Will you use a realtor, or are you planning to navigate the sale on your own? Here are some things to consider before you decide.

Are you tech savvy? Without the ability to market online or keep up your online profile you are hindering your chances of selling your home. About 90 percent of homebuyers use the internet in their home search at one point or another. Hundreds of sites, including Zillow, Trulia and Craigslist, provide the ability to search for real estate with specific criteria in mind. They also allow homeowners to purchase and create their own listings and maintain them without the help of a realtor. If you choose to market your property on one of these sites, you will need to create each listing individually and maintain the information separately. If you want to change the price, description or status of your listing, you will need to log onto each site and change it manually.

Real estate agents pay to have access to these sites, as well as to hundreds of others that the real estate Multiple Listing Service (MLS) automatically populates. This offers an online presence where information is updated throughout the day. Beginning the day a listing goes into the MLS, and including any change an agent makes to the data, information is automatically updated on all other sites from a single change in the MLS data. Realtors pay dues and purchase services to help provide the best marketing plans for their clients. Online presence is one of the perks that benefits sellers when using a realtor.

Selecting the perfect price point to get a quick and acceptable offer is important. Overpriced homes tend to stay on the market longer than well-priced homes. Stale listings can also lead to low-ball offers as buyers perceive sellers as getting “desperate.” Realtors have the tools, knowledge and experience to help you pick and understand the best starting price for your home.

Homeowners can try to select a price on their own, but for an accurate price it would be in their best interest to hire an appraiser to help them understand the market. Remember that the home has to appraise at or above the sale price for a buyer to obtain financing. When you list too high you are eliminating many potential buyers who are qualified to purchase the home at fair market value. Underpricing is also a risk. According to, “The typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $240,000 for agent-assisted home sales.”

Selling a property on your own requires diligence by the homeowner. The owner has to be present to show the house. Buyers can be uncomfortable opening up in front of sellers and closely examining the property. Sellers can be uncomfortable checking with potential purchasers to make sure they are qualified. Realtors act as third parties, screen potential buyers to see if they are qualified and are present at the showings or provide secure access through a computer-monitored lock box for other realtors to show the home. Having other realtors bringing buyers to your home also increases activity and showings far more quickly than if each buyer contacted you directly.

Selling your property on your own can save you from paying a commission, but it can be a full-time job— and you will still incur costs by involving an attorney to create and review contracts, an appraiser to help with pricing of your home, and a home inspector who can do a pre-listing inspection to reveal maintenance issues that may need attention prior to marketing our home.

These professionals would still be involved on a transaction if your property were listed with a realtor. However, their involvement will be far less complicated. The forms that are provided by a realtor within a transaction are written by an attorney and are designed to have protections for both the buyer and the seller. Listing your property with a realtor gives you access to their pricing tools to come up with a price for your home without an appraisal, and they can point out many maintenance issues that should be corrected prior to listing. The appraisal and the inspection would then take place after an acceptable contract is signed—and then they would be paid for by the buyer.

Selling on your own is not for the faint of heart. Even with an agent a real estate transaction is stressful. One of the best things to do is to interview a realtor before you make your decision and ask them how they earn their commission. They are happy to help, and remember, a realtor is not paid until your house closes—even more incentive to work hard for the sellers who are their clients.

Heather Morse of Charlotte is a Greentree Real Estate agent. For more information, send her an email.