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Sold By the Owner: Should You Go Alone?

Real estate agents say their help means less headache, more money for the property listed\

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

With apps and websites to help sell a home, do we really need real estate agents?

Or is for sale by owner (FSBO) or purchasing solo just as good? Although the do-it-yourself trend guided by YouTube videos and Pinterest may help a homeowner spruce up the home, selling it is a much more complex matter. Buying has also become more complicated.

Bill Galloway

“Those websites that you’re seeing, they’re usually inaccurate information,” said William Galloway, owner and broker at Century 21 Galloway Realty in Oswego. “We provide quality service by taking care of getting the correct information to the clients.”

The real estate agent also takes care of showings and negotiating between buyer and seller, legal steps and keeping track of the market. All of these tasks are time consuming and can require experience to handle well.

“It’s stressful to do without help,” said Patrick Haggerty, real estate agent with Century 21 Leah’s Signature in Fulton. “There’s tremendous value in having help navigating issues that arise in the middle of a transaction. Having an agent who can think crucially and problem solve helps the transaction go more smoothly.”

But working with a real estate agent is not just about convenience. For a seller, a FSBO deal can leave money on the table.

Patrick Haggerty

“A real estate agent helps you in appropriately pricing and marketing the property and driving demand to the property that will result in the highest price and most solid offer,” Haggerty said.

Especially in the current seller’s market, it pays to have a fresh set of eyes look over the property to highlight where buyers will see value to help accurately price the property. Online tools tend to use algorithms that may underprice a property that has seen extensive renovation, for example.

“There are more factors than the algorithms,” Haggerty said. “They can spit out a number that’s too high or too low. A good agent evaluating the property is vital to ending up with the best offer possible.”

The seller’s market may make the process quicker. However, many sellers receive dozens of offers on their home, and some of those buyers may not be as ready to buy as others. Haggerty said that having a real estate agent field the offers reduces the work on the part of the seller and can help evaluate the offers for credibility and price.

A real estate agent can also help buyers. In the current market where the supply is low, “a Realtor can increase your chances of success in putting in an offer on a home where you’re competing against five, 10 or 15 offers,” Haggerty said. “The responsiveness of the agent is very important.”

Mark Re

Mark W. Re, vice president and regional manager CNY/NNY Region of Howard Hanna in Camillus, said that regardless of the home’s price range —whether entry level or high end — most buyers are up against numerous purchase offers, “many of which are cash,” he said.

Re is president of the Central New York Information Services, Inc., CNY’s privately owned multiple listing service.

The competitiveness of the seller’s market has led to the optional escalation clause, which automatically increases a bona fide offer in predetermined increments to a top offer ceiling. He has led trainings in the escalation clause as it is relatively new to real estate.

The escalation clause can help buyers get into the home, but Re says to sellers who pursue FSBO selling without the clause will leave thousands of dollars on the table. “But I guarantee you if you’d listed with a real estate agent, put it on the market on a Monday, let everyone come through with appointments for three to four days and negotiate 35 offers on Friday, you always sell for more than the asking price.”

Re advises both buyers and sellers to use a real estate agent for the professional guidance they offer.