Who Needs a Realtor?

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Do you really need a realtor to sell your house? Most would say, “Of course you do!” Last week, I sold my house of 22 years without hiring a realtor. I saved a bundle ($20,000) by doing so. Heck, the house sold for $60,000 more than it was appraised for as recently as July. In my opinion, it helped I didn’t have a realtor yapping in my ear, “Lower the price!” Be forewarned, if your goal is to get top dollar for your house, you have to learn how to do a realtor’s job, and learn to do it well. And that isn’t easy. Here’s how I did it.

Before putting the house for sale, I repaired even the most minor of flaws. I pressure cleaned the driveway, the patio and the roof, and professionally polished the floors. Even in my dingy garage, I installed fancy Decora switches and slapped on a fresh coat of paint. I then worked to get the outside of the house to look as manicured as a Four Seasons. I saved a fortune on landscaping, which is mostly labor costs, by doing the work myself. Only then was I ready to list it.

Everyone knows about seller websites like Realtor and Zillow. Realtors will see your listing there, but they may not show it to their clients. Why? Because they know they’re only going to make 3%, not their usual 6%. I didn’t get much action on my house until I listed it on FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and paid for an MLS listing. I also upgraded my cheesy, store-bought sign to a professionally made For Sale sign and hired a professional real estate photographer to take stunning pictures of my home. Before long, I had a steady flow of potential buyers.

The only issue that remained was what price to accept. Unless you live under a rock, you are already aware the real estate market is hysterically hot right now. I knew it was just a matter of  time my house would sell, and so I remained patient and stuck to my price. Sure enough, two weeks into January, I was offered $15,000 less than the list price, which was a solid offer. The only stipulation I added was the house be sold as-is without any further price concessions. The buyer agreed, so a deal was struck!

For closing, I hired an attorney that I trusted. Prices vary from $500 to $3,500, so choose carefully. 60 days after signing a contract, the sale closed. The only scary issue I experienced afterwards was that my mortgage balance had not yet been paid-off four days after closing. My lawyer, Jay E. Auerbach, did his best to reassure me. “It is very, very rare that an escrow agent runs off with money they are holding,” he told me. Nevertheless, I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until the money was deposited into my account.

Would I use a real estate agent the next time? I couldn’t use an agent this time because it wasn’t economically feasible. But an outstanding real estate agent is well worth the fees they earn. So yes, I plan to use a real estate agent when the need arises again.

Is it possible to sell a house for top dollar without an agent? The answer is yes. Heck yes!

Now you know how.

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Joey Maya

Joey Maya is the author of The Drummer of Miami Beach: The Story of Joey Wrecked.