Selling a Home? Pick the Right Realtor!
Home owners selling their home in Indiana typically work with a licensed real estate broker or agent. A good real estate agent will help price your house, market your house to buyers and handle other tasks, such as reviewing house purchase documents and negotiating with buyers. I recently sold my home and can tell you, from experience, it was much more stressful than I thought it would be, and part of this was from a realtor that tried to sooth me with responses such as, ‘Things always work out”. While this may be true, it certainly wasn’t the response I was looking for. It pays to get a realtor onboard that is in sync with your wishes and even your personality if possible. Reading online reviews and word of mouth is a good way to narrow down your options.
Once you choose a real estate agent, you’ll sign a “listing agreement” giving the agent the right to handle the sale of your house. Most real estate agents use standard forms created by their state Realtor association, such as the Indiana Association of Realtors. The listing agreement typically will explain the agent commission that you, the seller, will pay. The typical commission in Indiana is five to six percent of the house sale’s price. This is split between your agent and the buyer’s agent. While most will not vary from this commission, it does not hurt to ask the realtor if this commission can be lower. Most listing agents will want you to sign an exclusive right to sell listing, which obligates you to pay a commission to the agent regardless of who brings in the buyer. Other arrangements are possible, however, such as an open listing (you agree to pay a commission to whichever agent brings in a buyer), or an exclusive agency listing (in this case, your agent is the only agent you authorize to sell your house, but you agree to pay a commission only if the agent brings in the buyer (not, for example, if you do)). Talk this over with the agent in detail in order to get the best option for you financially. Trust me, it is worth the time to go over their commission in detail. Glossing over this like I did may leave you wondering where the rest of your equity went when you get to the closing table and get your check.
Part of the agent’s job is recommending the appropriate selling price by comparing prices of similar homes (“comps”) that have been listed in your immediate area, and data found in a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Websites such as Zillow can also help give you a sense of a home’s worth. Again, research the realtor to make sure that his or her reviews do not show them downplaying a home’s value for a quick sale. It is better to price too high and lower the price if needed, than price too low and find out later that you undersold your place.
A buyer who wants to purchase a particular Indiana home will make the seller a written offer, specifying the price, proposed down payment, and any contingencies. You may reject an offer outright, accept it as, or (as is most typical) give the buyer a counteroffer, accepting some or most of the offer terms, but suggesting changes to others, such as a higher price. It is the realtor’s job to examine the offer and advise you on the offer’s value. The realtor has an obligation to tell you what is a reasonable offer and what is trash. My realtor was quick to jump in when I had multiple offers and weed through ones that were less than desirable. However, do not be shy about expressing concern over any offer that does not sit well with you. A good realtor will listen and respect your concerns.
A legally binding contract, typically called a purchase agreement, is formed when you accept a final offer (agreeing to any changes from the original offer), and notify the buyer of its acceptance. Your agreement will contain key terms of the sale, such as the agreed-upon price, contingencies, financing terms, dispute resolution, and closing date. Once you and the buyer both sign the purchase agreement, the closing date will be set at an agreed upon date and time. At my closing, which I did attend, I had the realtor’s partner at my side instead of the realtor. It felt a little off-putting, considering the amount of my money they were ‘earning’. In fact, after the closing, the buyer and her realtor were discussing where to grab lunch. I have yet to receive even a gift card from Starbucks as a thank you.
While choosing a realtor is not for everyone and you certainly can sell a home on your own, using a realtor does, in some ways, make your home selling easier. That being said, using the right realtor can make all the difference. The right realtor will be knowledgeable about the market, respectful of your individual needs and wishes, and add those personal touches that make them stand out from the rest of the agents. A realtor should act like you are his only client even though that obviously would not be the case. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Selling a home is a big decision. Picking the right realtor makes this big decision easier.