The advantage of professional experience.

I know it’s probably predictable, but whenever I see a “For Sale by Owner” sign in front of a home I roll my eyes and wonder. It’s not about being insulted or worrying about a lost commission – I just find myself worrying about the results the seller is likely to achieve. You know what they say about a person who represents himself in court.

For me it comes down to the value that I provide to clients through the services I offer. And it’s not just a point of view thing… it’s measurable in real dollars. Self-sellers, for the most part, want to avoid the commission that a real estate professional will charge. But while they may save themselves the fee, they can easily cost themselves more in other areas. Good realtors work hard to maximize results for their clients. And the best of us place a higher value on relationships than commissions.

The value is generated through our experience in the face of a long list of variables. There’s a skill to pricing a house to sell, to staging it to highlight its features, to knowing which issues to address before putting a property on the market and which ones are unlikely to lower your selling price, to maximizing the number of people who will see and have the opportunity to consider your property and (finally) to negotiating the final deal.

In each of these areas it pays to consider the difference between the capabilities of a trained and experienced professional, and doing it as a one-off.

It’s also worth considering the value of the broader network of professionals that a realtor brings to the table. Because we regularly recommend the services of a variety of professionals – from stagers to plumbers to handymen and home inspectors – we can leverage the consideration that comes with ongoing business relationships. I screen my partners for the quality of their work, with full knowledge that my reputation relies on the services they provide. So I’m careful with my recommendations.

There’s also a lot to be said for knowing the ins and outs of the financial considerations that may affect your final take-away – like the particulars of your mortgage, tax implications and other factors. My experience has given me a broad understanding of the issues and options that sellers and buyers face. It’s what gives me the ability to offer suggestions and solutions that a self-seller may not be aware of.

Finally there’s the whole issue of marketing. I have some very strong opinions about the difference effective marketing can make in the final price that a property sells for. The last thing a seller wants is to sign an agreement that’s less than satisfying. And satisfaction comes with confidence that the agreed-upon price is the most the market will bear.

Self-sale is an option for any home owner, and I don’t think anyone should pay for services that are unnecessary. But I do believe that the size and complexity of such a transaction makes it worthy of professional assistance. That’s why my best advice is to consider it as one of those cases where a little help will go a long way.

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