Private home sellers want to know two things: how to get more buyers in the door and how to sell their house faster.
What most home owners don’t know is that over 90% of those currently in serious house hunting mode are already working with an agent. Most of the unrepresented buyers shopping private sales are investors or buyers looking for a house on the cheap.
The best and biggest source of buyers is often overlooked by sellers. That source is agents.
The question is, when a buyer comes knocking, and they have an agent with them, are you open to working with them?
Two Things that Keep Buyers Away
Barrier #1 – Money
Your ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign is up in the yard, and you’re ready for buyers to come knocking. There are other homes for sale in your neighborhood too, you’ve noticed, but they’re listed with agents.
When an agent wants to show homes in your neighborhood, they know that if their client buys a house listed with another agent, they’re getting paid for their work. If their client buys a house that’s privately listed for sale, yours perhaps, the agent doesn’t have that assurance. They might be doing all this work – the research, the time, the tanks of gas – for free.
So… if an agent sees two houses that match their buyer’s criteria, one is listed with an agent, and one is for sale by owner, guess which one they’re more inclined to show their buyer?
The one they know will pay.
How to Overcome It:
Are you willing to pay a real estate pro if they sell your property? If not, expect to continue to miss out on represented buyers. If you are willing however, here’s how to handle it (without having to list your property with an agent): There is a form called a Fee Agreement Between the Seller and Buyer’s agent. Don’t worry, this is not a listing agreement. The agent has no permission to put up their for sale sign in your yard. You do not have to list with an agent in order for them to complete the sale.
If you and I sign this agreement it means I’m representing my buyer, not you, but you are willing to pay me if my buyer has an acceptable offer for you. It’s a standard agreement.
If a private seller would tell an agent right away “I’d be willing to pay you X% if you write an accepted offer” the agent would be relieved because they know they’ll get paid. They would also know you’re serious about selling, and that you’re cooperative and willing to communicate with them to get the job done.
That’s a welcome sign for agents to bring buyers.
Barrier #2: Lack of Information
When I show a listing to my buyer that’s listed by another agent, I have access to all the property information that’s needed. I know it’s the agent’s job to supply all that, and they know what kind of info to provide and where to get it. Often, private sellers don’t know the info needed or where to get it. That means more work for the buyer’s agent.
I recently SOLD a listing that was online with a private sale company and was really surprised at the lack of information the seller had. They had paid the fee, gotten the sign, and were apparently equipped by the company to sell, but this company didn’t provide forms to seller, inform them which forms they’d need or where to get them, or even help them understand why all these legal forms were necessary. They gave instructions online to real estate agents to use the fee agreement I mentioned earlier, but don’t tell the seller what it is or how or why to use it. Which bothered me on the seller’s behalf. They paid good money to be no more educated or informed than the guy down the street with a dollar store “for sale” sign. In addition, the company did not even send someone to view their home to give them an estimate of value.
I was also frustrated on my behalf because I had to educate the sellers on the what, how, and why, and explain every word on the form. Honestly, I kind of resent coming to a private seller in need of information and then being expected to do all the work and research the listing agent would have done. I dished out $143.00 to get information. (not likely to be willing to do that again)
It would be easier to just go sell a listed house.
And that’s exactly the kind of thing that is a barrier to buyers.
How to Overcome It:
This is a fairly simple fix, that I’ll illustrate with a story first.
The other day, I showed another privately listed house. Before I brought my buyer to look I asked the sellers to please have a look at this video I’d made where I talk about the property information we’d need from them. When we arrived, they had typed up all the info and had everything waiting on the counter for us. They were clearly cooperative and prepared; it was a very pleasant experience! In fact, it encouraged me to want to sell it.
Want buyers? A Couple of Tips
- Real estate agents are not the devil. They are not out to get you. If I’m bringing a buyer and showing you forms, I’m not trying to get you to sign your soul and children over to me. I’m trying to help you sell your house and get money. Keeping an open mind toward agents will help them keep an open mind about working with you too
- If you have had a bad experience with a real estate agent, I’m sorry that happened. Try not to punish the rest of us though. I know a LOT of high integrity, fantastic agents who are good people. Keep trying. You’ll find one.
- If an agent brings a buyer, expect to pay. If that agent then needs to do a lot of extra work to help you sell your house (like a listing agent normally would), expect to pay even more.
12 Things Buyers (and their agents) Need You to Provide
- A copy of your most recent tax bill
- Get the hydro company to give you a printout of the last year’s hydro bills so the buyer has verified utilities costs
- Get a Property Disclosures Statement from your lawyer and fill it out.
- List of service providers (internet, septic tank, garbage services, plumbers, electricians, etc.)
- Survey or building locations certificate (or, if not available, provide the property dimensions and location of boundaries)
- If it’s a rural property, let the buyer know what type of septic system it has and if it complies with the Manitoba Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Regulations.
- If it’s a rural property, identify the water source and whether the well is shared or owned.
- A copy of the Well Agreement if it is a shared well.
- Does the property have knob and tube wiring? Aluminum wiring? The buyer needs to know this, as it affects their insurance.
- If the property has a woodstove, was it WETT inspected? How long ago?
- Does the property have an alarm system? If so, with which company, when does the contract end, what are you paying, and are you willing or able to discontinue the contract with short notice?
- What year was the house built? This is critical because CMHC needs to know. Missing crucial information – even small details like the age of a home – can cause a delay in financing.
Here’s that video, too, that outlines this and a bit more.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate