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Tips to Homeowners

March 09, 1986|Armand L. Fontaine

Question: Is it really worthwhile to pay a real estate agent 6% to sell my home when I can do it myself? It seems to me that 6% an awful lot of money to pay a real estate agent.

Answer: In the long run, you will usually save money by going to a real estate agent. You must remember that real estate agents do more than just list your house and show it. They are involved in the transactions that secure financing for the prospective buyer.

You should be careful in selecting an agent, as in any other profession or trade, there are people who are hard workers and then there are those who do little or nothing.

I suggest you interview more than one agent. Try to find those who have recently sold homes in your area. You should have a realistic idea of what the value of your property might me. Some real estate agents who are merely looking for listings would let you price your property unrealistically. Others will try to get you to list your house at under-market value for a quick sale.

I once bought a tremendously undervalued piece of property through a small real estate operation. A few years later, when I decided to sell the property, I went to the same real estate person, and though I had done a great deal of upgrading on the home, the agent insisted that the value had not increased very much, and wanted to list the home at about 20% under market value. It was easy to see why the property listed by that firm sold quickly.

You also want a flexible agent. I recently told the real estate agent in listing my property what my net bottom line (after commission) would be.

The agent brought in a proposal that was $2,000 less than my bottom line.

I counter proposed that the real estate agent absorb $1,000 and that I would assume the other $1,000. The answer was no, and the property was not sold.

As a result, I changed agents, only to again find the prospective new agent was interested in my having the lowest-priced house in the development, regardless of the fact that I would be losing more than $15,000 in the transaction. The result was that I listed the house myself and sold it at my bottom-line price.

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