This is a story that was told to me recently by a couple that sold their home on their own, without an agent.
BY TIM O’DWYER
“When we decided to sell our home we knew a lady agent who’d given us a free market analysis – an estimate of what our house was worth. We asked what her commission would be. She said it varied, it wasn’t always a set amount, and it could range anywhere from six per cent to nine per cent, depending on the market.
We agreed to use her because we felt we’d have less turmoil. But before we signed anything, we were contacted by a number of people who’d heard we were putting our house up for sale and they wanted to see it. One couple wanted to buy it right away. So we contacted our local lawyer and asked if we could sell our home ourselves. No problems, we were told.
He said our buyers could use him or have their own lawyer, but we’d eliminate the agent’s percentage. So we could sell privately – no problems – because we already had a buyer.
We saved something like $10,000. There was no sign and no advertisement in the paper.
The buyers really wanted our house. They said they’d get their bank finance, would use our lawyer and there would be no problems. We knew that because we had clear title on the house.
Word of mouth sold it. People knew we were building our new home. They knew we were going to sell, so we never actually put it on the market. We were going to, but people called us before we did. We showed it to this first couple on our own, but we had read a lot of articles on what sells a house. Price, location and condition. The three most important factors.
I did have a little sales experience – twenty-two years of selling ladies clothing. When I sell a garment I start from the beginning, ask the customers what they’re looking for, what style, and I don’t stop talking until it’s in the bag and they’re out the door. Then I send them a thank you. I make sure they know they’ve bought the right item, they know how to use it and how it’s going to be practical. But I don’t quit then. I reinforce their decision by telling them how easy it will be to take care of. How it will look nice when they wear it – with these pants or those pants, dress it down or dress it up or whatever. If they’re buying a gift for someone else I tell them they can always change it at another one of our stores. Just keep your slips, you get the price you paid, there are no problems.
We should have figured we could do better than an agent because when we were looking at homes with the agent I knew I would have shown us more than she did. She just wafted through. I would have talked it up. The agent was nice, she was pleasant, easy to work with, but she really didn’t talk much. I mean you walk through a house, look at a house. She just kind of walked with you. She didn’t sell it. She didn’t sell the product.
I don’t think agents know how to sell sometimes. They should be a proper salesperson first.
I would have said, look at this lovely hot tub, sure there’s a shower, but with a tub you can sit and soak. I’d mention the view from the verandah, I’d point out the nicer cabinets. I’d downplay any negatives, but I’d sure build up the positives if I was an agent.
Within 35 minutes our house was sold. We had a pretty good inkling because we’d seen many other properties where condition and price were a problem. If the price was high, the location was good but not always the condition. You knew you had to spend money on it. We knew our location, our price and the condition of our house were way ahead of what else was on the market.
My husband and I were a sales team. He knew about the structure and what he had done with the heating and electrical and plumbing. Our buyers could see the meticulous yard and the quality of the workmanship in our home. We didn’t see that a lot in other people’s houses.
We never had to speak to our lawyer. We only talked to the secretary. She took care of everything. She had all the papers ready when we went in there. The people who bought the house had been there earlier in the day. They signed the papers, we signed the papers and we were done. That was it – no problem.”
Have you ever sold or even bought a house in a situation where there was no real estate agent involved, or have you ever considered not using a real estate agent? Are there benefits to it, or do you think real estate agents have an important place in the selling process?
Tim O’Dwyer is a Queensland solicitor, firstname.lastname@example.org