When you’re looking to buy a home, you may wonder, “Does it matter if the property is listed with a real estate agent or the owners who are trying to sell it themselves?” Um, yes. It matters. A lot. The truth is: When it comes to signing contracts, handing over escrow money, and digging into the home’s history, going it alone can end up costing homebuyers a bundle.
The following are 6 reasons to avoid a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) home.
1. Are you sure it’s legit?
Unfortunately, scams abound and the real estate industry isn’t immune. If you don’t have an agent looking out for your best interests, it’s easy to be duped. For example, would you know what a proper sales contract looks like if real estate is not your field of expertise? Depending on the state in which your reside, there are a number of legal forms that must be completed. In addition to a contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements, and lead paint records are just a few documents that must be signed. Because sellers aren’t bound by a code of ethics as Realtors® are, there’s no way to be certain they won’t try to take an unsuspecting buyer for all he or she is worth. No would-be buyer should suffer sleepless nights wondering where that escrow money ended up.
2. Full disclosure
Obviously, when you’re making a significant investment you want access to as much information as possible. Real estate agents have the ability to get you the answers you need. Whether it’s about repairs made to the home or liens against the property, the more you can find out, the better off you’ll be when it comes to negotiating. Plus, no one likes an unpleasant surprise. Remember: Knowledge is power. On your own, would you know what to ask a seller? And, more to the point, would you know if a seller is hiding key information? It’s a risk better off not taking.
3. Are you a skilled negotiator?
In the course of doing business, you’ll probably have to go back and forth quite a bit — and not just about the price. What if repairs need to be made? Are you ready to haggle over who takes care of a leak or a structural issue? What if you can’t agree on a closing date? When you have an agent, he or she will handle all that for you.
4. Is money an issue?
The main reason sellers choose to sell their homes themselves is to save money by not having to pay an agent’s commission. So what happens if your seller is strapped for cash but problems pop up during a home inspection and they can’t afford to fix them? This, in turn, raises a red flag as you start to wonder if they took the cheap way out when making important home repairs.
5. Are you ready to deal with the homeowner all the time?
When it comes to arranging the home inspection or any other viewings of the house, your agent can serve as your go-between so you don’t have to contact the homeowner repeatedly. Unless you’re completely comfortable making all those appointments yourself, you should probably have someone representing your best interests.
6. What’s the timeframe?
When a seller hires an agent, you know they’re serious about making a deal. With a FSBO, are you sure the sellers are really going to get moving? Some may have put the home on the market just to see what offers it could attract. If you’re an interested buyer, you need to know that the seller is just as eager to make a move; otherwise you’re wasting your time and getting your hopes up for nothing.
Of course, there are reputable sellers out there, but when it comes to making one of the largest investments of your life, you don’t want to take any chances. Having a real estate agent working on your behalf at every stage of the transaction can offer peace of mind and end up saving you money and countless headaches.