There’s a reason nearly high-end property sellers use a reputable listing agent: Selling land or a house takes time, knowledge of neighborhood trends, and negotiating skills. So while eliminating the agent’s commission of the sale price, on average—sounds mighty tempting, try to resist.
The agent’s chief tasks are to help set the right price and then get buyers in the door. Agents have access to the most up-to-date information about recent sales of comparable properties and competing listings in your neighborhood. The market is shifting every day. It’s the agent’s job to keep abreast of those changes.
A good agent also will market your home aggressively. That means recommending staging techniques to make the place look great, maximizing the listing with professional-quality photographs, and showing the house to prospective buyers. Most important, the agent will vet potential buyers so you can deal only with serious prospects.
Once you’ve found a buyer, the agent will negotiate counter-offers, track the paperwork, and generally hand-hold through the most nerve-racking part of the process.
Many direct sellers offer commissions to buyers’ agents as an enticement to bring their customers to the home. Owners who pay 2%-3% are 25% more likely to sell than those who offer nothing, according.
Before skipping a full-service agent, think hard about the time and effort you want to spend, particularly if the process drags on. The average property takes at least six months to sell. If costs are a concern, you should feel comfortable having a frank up front conversation about how and how much the agent expects to be paid.
Once you’ve found an agent you feel comfortable with, sign a contract for the shortest possible period, say 30 or 60 days. That should give you enough time to evaluate the agent’s performance; besides, if the property is properly priced and properly marketed you will be reaching your most serious buyers in the few weeks of listing.