As a layperson, you don't know what you don't know when it comes to handling the single largest transaction you'll likely make in your life;
A real estate agent serves as a Ninja Negotiator to achieve the best price and terms that the market will bear while protecting your interests;
Agents (in Alaska agents are called Licensees) are connected to a plethora of industry professionals to help you get the deal done.
As with most important things in life -- you wouldn't try to handle a legal situation without an attorney, building or build a house without a contractor, or take on the IRS solo to challenge a tax matter -- and buying and selling a home is no different.
Here's 10 reasons why you should never buy or sell a home without a real estate licensee.
1. Knowledge is NOT power.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to real estate. At the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone you can get an instant valuation of your property from many internet sources. Is that value realistic? On which properties is it based? What did those properties have or didn't have that yours does? What were the dates and details of those sales?
That valuation could be significantly more or less that what your property is actually worth. Just like using the internet to self-diagnose a medical issue is not the best idea, the same applies to real estate.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to real estate.
2. What do you know about the local market?
As a seller, do you know what options buyers are likely to consider when they are looking at your home? Do you know who the typical buyer audience is, where they are coming from and how to find them?
Do you know what licensees likely work with this group? What is the average number of days on the market for homes here? What percentage of asking price are they getting? Are there any particular terms of sale that are a trend in this area, such as sellers paying closing costs for buyers or other concessions?
"Margaret is an excellent agent, and a caring and friendly person. We are so thankful for all of her effort in selling our home and helping us buy a new one. She was always available to answer our questions any time of the day. We will recommend her to anyone looking to buy or sell a home."---H. Jipping, Sand Lake area, Anchorage
As a buyer, what types of properties are most realistic for your price range and the kind of financing you will be doing?
A good licensee educates you about "Real Estate Reality" as far as what you can get for your money in your desired areas and criteria that are important to you.
Lastly, whether a buyer or seller, do you know why properties in one particular location sell faster than another? Are there challenges, perceived or real, that can affect values?
A good licensee educates you about "Real Estate Reality."
A stellar licensee can prevent you from making an expensive mistake when it comes to buying (such as a home near a soon-to-be-constructed highway or busy railroad tracks--no wonder it was priced so cheap!). And alternatively, that same licensee can help sellers position their property in the best way when taking into account external factors around it that can affect value. School locations are a great example.
3. Licensees are expert problem-solvers.
What happens when that inspection reveals carpenter ants, a roof leak, or plumbing issues--or worse yet, when an inspector paints a picture of a fairly minor repair issue far worse than it is? What happens when an appraisal comes in at less than the contract sales price?
These are issues that licensees face every day. They don't make our palms sweat and cause us to faint, but instead we know how to deal with these issues with professionals in the industry.
If you are selling your home on your own and encounter these situations can you prevent your buyer from running for the hills? Do you have a list of experts you can call upon on a moment's notice to help?
As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly? Sellers can be in "repair denial" as they never had any issues as far as they are concerned.
Do you have a list of experts you can call upon on a moment's notice to help?
4. Licensees excel at overcoming objections
You are selling your home on you own. Do you have a record of who has come through and when? If they had a licensee, who was it and what did the buyer think of your home? If they didn’t buy your home, what did they buy instead and why?
That's what licensees working with sellers manage. Are there any themes emerging? If there are concerns that are presenting as a challenge for buyers, do you know them and how to address them?
Experienced licensees can effectively address objections such as "I don't like the layout" or "needs too much work" and how to position the property effectively so buyers go from "just looking" to writing an offer.
Edna C., a happy homeseller, represented by Margaret Nelson of Denali Real Estate.
5. Effective negotiation skills are Key
As a seller, you received a low offer on your home. Do you make a counteroffer, outright reject it, or respond?
As a buyer, you want to make an offer that asks the seller for everything and the kitchen sink (well, of course that, but more!).
How do you formulate a strategy? Do you know the other parties to the transaction? Just how much should you offer or counteroffer?
Does your response risk alienating the other side? What about more than one offer? How do you facilitate, manage and negotiate effectively to keep all interested buyers in play?
The negotiation landscape can get complex, which is why it is good having a licensee negotiate for you and act as a buffer zone to separate emotion from facts and work to reach an objective outcome.
6. "Preventive medicine" equals more money in your pocket
The saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" certainly applies when it comes to real estate because surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling. A good licensee walks you through the necessary steps before you start your property search or put your property on the market.
As a buyer, there are certain things that you must do before starting your property search, such as getting "prequalified" (which means applying and getting approved to buy at a certain level with a mortgage lender) so you don't waste your time looking at properties you can't afford.
As a seller, are there items that should be addressed before putting your property on the market? Should you get a home inspection before listing your home for sale? Are there any repair items that need to be done prior to listing?
What about staging a home? How about cleaning or removing personal items?
In short, a top-notch licensee can guide you through the critical steps you need to take before stepping into the market. These steps can save you time, headaches and hassle.
7. Marketing expertise is needed to sell you home
Image is everything when it comes to real estate, and a poorly presented property can keep buyers from even looking at your home.
Do have have access to professional real estate photographers, video producers, stagers and interior designers that will make your property shine?
Although you might that marketing your property on your own is easy, there is a difference between snapping a photo with your cell phone and hiring someone with an objective, critical eye for what kind of marketing will attract the right buyers.
A poorly presented property can keep buyers from even looking at your home.
Are you able to find the money shot? What photos are going to present the property best? Should a drone be used and for which shots?
Are you able to create a video to effectively tell your home's story and how to best find that story and articulate it? What kind of marketing collateral can you prepare that's going to community your home's features, benefits and advantages over another home effectively and how is that collateral going to be distributed?
Do you have access to vendors that might be able to offer incentives or discounts to buyers who could benefit from the services of a new home?
8. Social network exposure is unmatched
Can you broadcast your property across numerous websites and various social media networks to pique buyer and licensee interest locally, nationally and possibly internationally?
Are you able to reach hundreds, thousands or even more with the click of a mouse? Are you able to use predictive analytics and targeted digital marketing to put your property in front of the right prospects? A top licensee is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.
A top licensee if skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.
9. Licensees are connected
Licensees are connected to just about everyone and everything. The three degrees of separation rule applies here.
Licensees are constantly in the know---it's their job to be. They leverage their relationships with every real estate related service provider, lender---and most importantly---other licensees and agents around the country, to bring a sale together.
Licensees also have access to properties that are not officially on the market and often know deals not advertised that building might be offering in terms of discounts or specials that can help save you money.
Need a handyman or really good painter? Ask your licensee about the contacts he or she has and get connected to great services.
10. Trusted advice and an available point person are your best friend when it comes to buying or selling a home
Who else can you go to with a question or concern almost anytime of the day or night? Yes, as much as we don't like to admit it, there is no such thing as "closed for the day" for a real estate licensee.
A good licensee is your trusted adviser every step of the way for your real estate transaction. Unlike your attorney or accountant, you won't be charged for every phone call or email.
"She's [Margaret] was kind and very helpful. She always got back to me right away with answers to any questions I had, she found us just what we were looking for in a house in the area we wanted in a short amount of time."---Sasha S., homebuyer, Abbott Road area
Who else can you unload your qualms, fears, worries upon regarding the buying and selling process? When you friends, family and co-workers are giving you unsolicited and confusing advise, who can you really trust for objective information to make the best possible decision? Your licensee!
Don't go into the buying or selling process blind. Let a real estate professional be your guide so that you can celebrate this incredible milestone without worry, knowing that the heaving lifting and problem-solving will be done with your licensee.
---By Cara Mmeer of Inman real estate magazine and Margaret Nelson, Broker/Owner, Denali Real Estate
Call Margaret Nelson today for a FREE consultation!