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What Your Real Estate Agent Knows That You Don't

by Mark Brace

When you make the decision to sell your home, you are under no obligation to hire a real estate agent or broker to help you with the sale. Nonetheless, most people prefer to hire a real estate agent in order to better protect themselves. And, it also puts them in a better position to successfully sell the home in a short amount of time.

When you hire a real estate agent, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge that can help keep you out of trouble and will help provide for a smooth transaction. Here are just a few things your real estate agent knows that you probably do not.

The Federal Fair Housing Act

According to the Federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot discriminate against someone when selling a home. The act defines seven different classes of people who are protected against discrimination. These include:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • sex
  • religion
  • handicap
  • familial status

If you do not enlist in the help of a real estate agent, you put yourself at risk of violating this act if you refuse to sell your home to an interested buyer who may be in a protected class. In addition, you might even accidentally violate these laws without realizing it. For example, there are certain words that cannot be included in your advertisements for your home because they are in violation of the Fair Housing Laws. Some of these words include:

  • bachelor apartment
  • children welcome
  • couples
  • gentleman's farm
  • golden agers
  • handicapped
  • integrated
  • married
  • mature
  • mother-in-law quarters
  • professional
  • seniors
  • singles only
  • sports-minded

As you can see, some of these terms seem perfectly innocent. Therefore, it is a good idea to get the help of a real estate agent so you can tap into his or her knowledge and experience in order to stay out of trouble.

State Real Estate Laws

Although there are similarities in real estate laws from one state to the next, each state has its own set of rules that must be followed. If you do not understand these laws, or are unaware of these laws, you can inadvertently break the law when selling your home. In addition, by not being fully aware of your seller's rights, you might actually lose out on money during the transaction.

Taking Advantage of Connections

Aside from legal matters, a real estate agent simply has a vast number of connections making it possible to sell a home more quickly and for a higher asking price. Similarly, because people come to real estate agents when searching for homes, you are able to tap into a much larger market of interested buyers when you get the help of a real estate agent.

Because a real estate agent has experience with selling homes, he or she can also provide you with tips to help increase the market value of your home and to make the process go by more quickly. For example, small things such as painting a room a different color can go a long way when it comes to increasing the appeal of the home. By taking advantage of the agent's expertise, you just might have a much more profitable selling experience.

For Sale By Owner -- Is It Worth It?

by Mark Brace

Sell Your Home Yourself And…You Can Save The Commission! Many homeowners believe that to maximize their profit on a home sale, they should sell it themselves. At first glance, they feel selling a home is simple and why should they pay a broker fees for something they could do themselves? In fact, close to 25% of all the homes sold last year were sold For Sale By Owner (FSBO). However, close to half of the FSBOs said that they would hire a professional next time they sold. Thirty percent said they were unhappy with the results they achieved by choosing FSBO. Why? Many FSBOs told us that the time, paperwork and everyday responsibilities involved were not worth the amount of money they saved in commissions. For others, the financial savings were even more disappointing. By the time they figured the amount of fees paid to outside consultants, inspectors, appraisers, title lawyers, escrow and loan officers, marketing, advertising...they would have been better off having paid the broker’s fee (which would have included many of these charges up front). Selling a home requires an intimate understanding of the real estate market. If the property is priced too high, it will sit and develop a reputation for being a problem property. If the property is priced too low, you will cost yourself serious money. Some FSBOs discovered that the lost money as a result of poor decisions outweighed the commission. Before you decide to sell FSBO, consider these questions and weigh the answers of assuming the responsibility versus employing a professional. A little time spent investigating up front will pay off tenfold in the end.

Questions To Consider:

  1. Do I have the time, energy, know-how and ability to devote a full-forced effort to sell my home? One of the keys to selling your home efficiently and profitably is complete accessibility. Many homes have sat on the market much longer than necessary because the owner was unwilling or unavailable to show the property. Realize that a certain amount of hours each day is necessary to sell your home.
  2. Am I prepared to deal with an onslaught of buyers who perceive FSBOs as targets for low-balling? One of the challenges of selling a home is screening unqualified prospects and dealing with low-ballers. It often goes unnoticed...how much time, effort and expertise it requires to spot these people quickly. Settling for a low-ball bid is usually worse than paying broker commissions.
  3. Am I offering financing options to the buyer? Am I prepared to answer questions about financing? One of the keys to selling, whether it’s a home, a car...anything, is to have all the necessary information the prospective buyer needs readily available and to offer them options. Think about the last time you purchased something of value: did you make a decision before you had all your ducks in a row? By offering financing options, you give the home buyer the ability to work on their terms and you open up the possibilities of selling your home quickly and more profitably. A professional real estate agent will have a complete team, from lenders to title reps, for you to utilize...they’ll all be at your disposal.
  4. Do I fully understand the legal ramifications and necessary steps required in selling a home? Many home sales have been lost due to incomplete paperwork, lack of inspections or not meeting your state's disclosure laws. Are you completely informed of all the steps necessary to sell real estate? If not, a professional would be a wise choice.
  5. Do I have the capability of handling the legal contracts, agreements and any disputes with buyers before or after the offer is presented? Ask yourself if you are well-versed in legalese and if you are prepared to handle disputes with buyers. To avoid disputes, it is wise to put all negotiations and agreements in writing. Many home sales have been lost due to misinterpretation of what was negotiated.
  6. Have I contacted the necessary professionals... title, inspector (home and pest), attorney and escrow company? Are you familiar with the top inspectors and escrow companies? Don’t randomly select inspectors, attorneys and title reps. Like any profession, there are inadequate individuals who will slow, delay and possibly even cost you the transaction.

If these questions raise some concerns, you may want to speak with a professional. We sincerely hope these tips and ideas are of value to you. If there is any way we can be of service, please contact our office. We would consider it a privilege to serve you! Best regards, Mark Brace

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Contact Information

Mark Brace, Realtor, ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES, e-PRO, A
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate
3000 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids MI 49525
Direct: (616) 447-7025
Cell: (616) 540-7705
Fax: (616) 447-7025

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Michigan Real Estate is a full service, locally operated real estate brokerage company backed by the strength of a solid national and global brand. Our full service businesses include Residential, Commercial, Relocation, Mortgage, Insurance, Home Services and New Homes & Land. Our core values, service philosophy, cutting edge technology, and most importantly our people are what make us the leading real estate company in Michigan. We are committed to providing the highest quality real estate services possible and making each customer's experience one that surpasses their expectations.