Stories From The Street – November 2014

Thinking of Selling Your Home? Should You Sell Yourself or Hire An Agent???
(Part 1 of 2… continued next month)

An excellent question. Frankly, I wish that I could tell you that hiring a Real Estate Agent to help sell your home is a no brainer and should be done without question. Unfortunately, this is not true. This has more to do with the business practices and professionalism of my colleagues rather than the rational argument of saving money by selling yourself.

The savings that you may incur by doing a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and selling your home without hiring a Real Estate Agent/Brokerage is a significant amount of money and, for some, could be worth the savings. However, for most, the risk, the emotional roller-coaster, the legal liability, and the unknown are not worth selling your home yourself, and hiring a professional is well worth it.

The Process of Selling a Home.

The best way for you to decide whether to hire a Real Estate Agent to sell your home or to try and do it yourself is to consider the entire process of selling: what happens that the public doesn’t see, the legal ramifications, and the possible financial consequences.

Since there is limited space in this article, I going to give you the ‘Cliff Notes’ version of selling your home. For an in-depth explanation we can schedule a one-on-one consultation where I can expand on each subject.

Pre-Marketing and Preparing Your Home for Sale

You wouldn’t just wake up one day and decide to sell your home and put your house ‘on the market,’ would you? That is foolish and could cost you TENS of thousands of dollars. Most of the sellers that I encounter plan ahead and know a few months in advance that they want to sell their home. I typically need between 3 and 6 weeks from an initial meeting with a seller to help them properly prepare and present their home to the market.

Stacy and Sharon at Limelight Staged Homes are brought into onboard for all my listings, they are a key component in my ‘Warren Buffett Approach to Sell Real Estate’ –a Value-Driven Approach, and how I teach my sellers to look at their home as a business with a stock price, instead of a home with a sales price. Having Stacy and Sharon involved can easily put an extra $5k-$10k in your pocket at settlement.

The award-winning Annie Walters is hired to professionally photograph your home and tell your home’s story – visually. What Annie does with a camera is nothing short of amazing. In a recent study by National Association of Realtors (NAR) the number of buyers that start their home search online is over 90%, so if your photos do not stand out and more importantly tell your home’s story, then you will be missing out on possible showings and, thus, possible buyers.

Additional services that our clients can receive leading up to the actual listing of their home are: a professional cleaning by Heidi Robar, a pre-listing home inspection that can uncover costly and unknown issues that can be addressed prior to listing, and a pre-listing appraisal that can help determine the value of your home.
Your cost a seller hiring these services individually to help properly prepare your home for sale is $2,000-$3,000.

Listing your home…

Imagine that the last month has been spent preparing your home for sale. All the work has been completed, the staging done, the furniture properly positioned for the photographs, the artwork hung, the photos taken, your house professionally cleaned, the issues from the pre-inspection have been fixed, and you are ready to list your home…

The sign has to be ordered and installed. How many times do you think buyers drive around an area looking at one home, then they see a sign for another home and want to see that home also? It happens more than you think. So you need to get a professional grade sign on your home.

Now your listing has to be disseminated to the public and Buyer Agents. From the MLS listing your home gets syndicated to the top websites: Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor and any of the hundreds of search engine websites, but none of this happens without getting your home on the MLS. And guess what? Only Real Estate Agents can use the MLS. Now there are companies that will put your home on the MLS for a ‘flat fee,’ but again, this costs money, and this is the ONLY service you receive with these ‘flat-fee’ companies.

These agents who are bringing, or possibly bringing, buyers through your home are known as ‘buyer agents.’ They represent the buyer, serve the buyer, and protect their best interests when purchasing a home. What I have found over the years is that 95%+ of buyers that are searching homes have an agent representing them and their best interests. And guess what? These agents expect to be paid for their time and expertise. These agents expect the SELLER to offer compensation in the range of 3% for bringing a buyer to your home. The seller offers ‘buyer agent’ compensation through the MLS listing and for agents to show and sell your home, the higher the compensation the more incentive these buyer agents have to sell your home. Think of ‘buyer agents’ as the gate-keepers to potential purchasers of your homes. You want these agents promoting and showing your home.

Next you need a lockbox. You don’t want to leave your keys under a mat on your front porch; you want to be able to monitor who visits your home. You want to be able to screen, if you will, the agents and buyers that come through your home.

How do people gain access? We have a company called Centralized Showing Service (CSS) that automatically uploads my listings from the MLS. Any potential agent that wants to show your home calls CSS, and they verify the agent is who he/she says she is and keeps records of your showings. Plus, they also follow-up directly with the agents to get feedback on the buyer’s showing.

The above services will cost you between $800-$1,200 PLUS Buyer Agent Commissions.

Marketing Your Home

Stories are written for our listings that help buyers create an emotional attachment to your home. Once a buyer has an emotional attachment, has visually moved into your home, has placed their furniture in your home, and the kids have picked out their rooms, the likelihood of them making an offer and purchasing your home increases. To see examples of some of my listings’ stories, check out These stories are molded from strategies learned from Madison Avenue and some of the best direct sales copywriters of all times. Make sure you read a couple of these stories.

Your home’s story is then turned into a 4 page booklet that is left at your home and also used in the sign rider. Imagine how much more powerful it is when someone picks up one of these stories from the sign in front of your home instead of the standard ‘features sheet’ of bedrooms, baths, etc. There is no emotional attachment from a ‘features sheet’. The entire premise of these stories is to help buyers envision themselves in your home.

A large component of being able to sell your home is getting your home’s Story in front of a mass group of people. Once the story is disseminated to the public, the likelihood of finding ‘the right’ buyer increases exponentially. Have you ever searched for a product online? Might be shoes, a TV, a book, clothes, or sporting equipment and you find an item, but you don’t purchase that product, you then notice that specific product’s ad shows up on other sites that you visit like Facebook, USA Today, CNN, ESPN or any of hundreds of other sites. Basically that product, that ad follows you until you purchase. I’m not sure exactly how this works, it has something to do with the cookies in your computer. Well, I’ve hired a company that once a potential buyer goes to Trulia and Zillow and searches for a home in your area, any home, that your home’s ad follows them around the internet, while drawing them back to your home’s story on

Properly marketing your home could be the difference in selling your home vs. not selling your home.

What happens next?

So far, I have covered what goes into preparing your home for sale, getting your home on the MLS, and marketing your home. This accounts for only the first 35-40% of the entire process of selling your home.

Next month, I’m going to take you through the process of what when you receive an offer and how to get your home from CONTRACT TO SETTLEMENT!

If all this sounds overwhelming, IT IS! After 12 years of doing this full-time, I’m still learning, still innovating, and still creating new ways to help my clients. Selling a home is a STRESSFUL process and even more stressful when you aren’t armed with a full tool kit of knowledge and strategies