PCS orders have finally arrived! With all the questions you already have about that doozy of a situation, now you’re asking yourself the monumental question: should you use a realtor or sell your own house? Can you do it yourself and save a boatload of money?
Selling a home is a stressful chore for any family, but especially for one that has a no-joke time limit governed by the military’s not-so-flexible timeline. At least you only have two options to this particular question: sell it yourself, or work with a realtor.
Let’s break down both options and look at the pros and cons, all with the goal of helping you decide which option is best for you as you navigate the selling process.
Option 1: Using a Realtor to Sell Your Home
Using a realtor to sell increases your scope of buyers, as many realtors don’t trust sellers without a professional broker behind them. As a result, buyers using a realtor might not even be shown a house—perfect as it might be. Plus, using a realtor allows your home to be listed on all of the databases only realtors can access.
Selling a home can be a very emotional task, and a good real estate agent can dodge emotions. Having the realtor serve as a liaison between you and a buyer will stabilize the emotions that are sure to surface throughout the process. This can help reduce last-minute changes, overpricing, and a longer than necessary selling process.
Even if you aren’t selling your house because of a PCS, chances are you don’t have a completely free schedule to allow for the time needed to put your home on the market. It’s not an impossible task, but with all the other pressures involved with moving, finding a new house, and keeping your family sane throughout the entire journey, it’s definitely a daunting task.
A realtor has this time—it’s their job! They can take phone calls from potential buyers at all times of the day. They can arrange for professional pictures that will show off your house. And most importantly, you don’t have to be chained to the house every minute of the day for open houses or walkthroughs.
Pros to Using a Realtor
Don’t like confrontation? Then you might not love the inevitable negotiations process of selling. If you want to get a justifiable price for your home, you will have to put your foot down at some point. The majority of buyers aren’t going to give in to the first price you offer. A realtor will be able to step in, put their foot down, and be the authority presence during the negotiations. They will be your advocate for you and your precious house.
As your advocate, your realtor will also be your friend in avoiding legal risks. Real estate requires a lot of forms with a whole lot of small print. Unless you’re confident in your understanding of real estate legal language, consider this detail of the selling experience when considering using a realtor.
Cons to Using a Realtor
Now obviously the biggest con to using a realtor is the commission fee, which the standard averages to be about 6% of the selling price of the house. And if you or your spouse already has knowledge about selling a home, play to your strengths! You’re already a great photographer? Take your own pictures. Only you know every nook and cranny of your house, and only you can testify to how wonderful an asset it will be to the next owner.
Option 2: Selling Your House on Your Own
The number one reason most owners choose to sell their home for sale by owner (FSBO) is it can save you money on realtor commissions. Typically, the seller pays both agents commissions. On a $300,000 house, that’s $18,000 just in realtor fees (at a 6% commission). This doesn’t include closing costs incurred from finishing the paperwork. So if you want to save a bunch of money without using a realtor, you need to arm yourself with knowledge.
Pros to FSBO
As stated above, you can save a ton of money. It can also be a relatively easy process if you already have a buyer—like a tenant already living in the house. However, do make sure you provide the necessary disclosures. States differ on these but a quick google search will tell you what you need to know.
Generally, after you negotiate a selling price, the inspection and appraisal will be ordered, and then you’ll take it all to a real estate attorney to close. This is not an exhaustive list of all the steps, so do your research to make sure you don’t miss anything. Ultimately, FSBOs work best when everyone is honest, which is the biggest pitfall.
Cons to FSBO
Admittedly there are more potential negatives to FSBO than there are positives. It usually takes much longer to sell since most realtors are not willing to show homes FSBO. There are many legal documents and disclosures that must be completed and delivered within the correct time frame. If these are not, or you choose not to disclose something, the sale can fall through or worse, you can be sued later.
A buyer with an agent may try to take advantage of the fact you don’t have representation. You could end up leaving thousands of dollars on the table since those using a realtor to sell their homes typically sell their homes for more. It’s a fine balance. These are all things a good realtor should advise you on or do for you.
What’s Your Choice?
Like most things we choose to DIY, it would be much easier and quicker to hire someone to do it for us. Be honest about your time and experience. It’s a lot of work to get a house ready, staged, priced, advertised, manage showings, and make sure all the legal paperwork is finished at the right time. It’s similar to choosing a DITY move. Only you can answer if the amount of money is enough to justify the effort.
Also, make sure you have the time for it to sit on the market. If you have three months or more to sell it and homes are going relatively quickly, an extra month won’t put you behind. If that’s too much to handle or you need to find a buyer ASAP, considering using a realtor so they handle it and you can focus on other things.
At the end of the day, selling a house will be stressful. Worst case scenario, you may have to rent it for a few months. The advantage of having a home near a military installation is that there will always be turnover, and there will always be someone looking for a house.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Settle In: Make a Quick Adjustment After PCS
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