Realtor reality check

Selling your home without an agent can be more lucrative than you think.

by

Online only.

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In the wake of the Competition Bureau’s move to open up the MLS system to everyone, realtors and real estate boards have been talking up the risks of selling your own home. One of their arguments is quite persuasive: you’ll get a lower price if you sell on your own. But is it really true?

A 2007 study by Northwestern University’s Igal Hendel, Aviv Nevo and François Ortalo-Magne found that there was no difference in sale price between houses sold without an agent and agent-sold homes, though sellers did save between 3% and 6% on commission. Another paper, published in 2008 by Stanford University’s Douglas Bernheim and Texas A&M University’s Jonathan Meer, says that houses at Stanford University actually sold for 7% more when no agent was involved.

Meer says that could be because  houses sold by realtors sell faster. “Agents are acting in regard to their own interest—to sell the house quickly—even at a lower price,” he says, adding that waiting another month to sell a house for an extra $10,000 will only net the agent about $150 after expenses.

There are some drawbacks to selling on your own. Having your house on the market longer can mean more mortgage payments. People selling on their own also have to factor in advertising and legal costs, and “inconvenience costs,” like having to show the house yourself. Plus one-third eventually give up and switch to a realtor anyway.

But despite the downside, Hendel says selling without a realtor is an attractive option that could put pressure on realtor fees. “There’s such an easy alterative platform,” he says. “It’s surprising that agents keep charging their 5%.”
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103 comments on “Realtor reality check

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Realtor reality check | MoneySense -- Topsy.com

  2. Realors pay for MLS If you don't pay you can't use it. Let the private sellers set up there own system at there expense

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    • Realtors don't pay for MLS. The buyers and sellers do. I guess the government doesn't spend your money either – their just tax dollars.

      Reply

      • How do the buyers and sellers pay for the MLS? Realtors pay thousands of dollars a year to CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) who actually owns the MLS and therefore, Realtors DO in fact pay for it.

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        • The point is, realtors pay for it with the money they made off the overpriced fees they charges the buyers and sellers

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          • some may consider the wage you get paid is outrageous too – I'll bet your employer does – unlike a Realtor though when you finish your work you get paid – thats not always the case for a Realtor – but hey your probably right – you should become a Realtor and you too can make unbelievable amounts of money – play golf all day – and just enjoy life like Realtors do

    • commissions are for houses are too high in the booming market. but in quiet market effort labour etc make effort based commission is justified if the owner anxious to sell and get on his way. negotiations is best.
      we are all here to make a buck. effort should be rewarded

      Reply

  3. okay, in reality the joy of social media is that anyone has the tools to sell their house online, the questions really are, do you know the legalities, do you have the time to deal with the legalities, do you have the market knowledge that a professional in the real estate sector does. If you do, consider it, there are lots pf syndication tools out there that can help you take advantage of social media, quickly and easily, getting your property out to millions. One of these that is being given away for free as part of the Open Road 3 launch is Sellpoint. This a great tool whether you are a realtor or a own home sellet! http://ht.ly/23rN6

    Reply

  4. No Realtor/Real Estate agent is worth 5% of your property selling price. They 'list' your property on MLS which includes a few blurbs about your property & a few pics & supply one (sometimes two) Open Houses for you which are 2 hours in length & then they answer some calls & emails from/for you & the perspective buyer. You still need a lawyer to do up paperwork for you so please explain again why I should consider giving this guy $20,000.00?
    I think that 'profession' really needs an overhaul. 1% of the selling price would be more than ample compensation & enough to cover any 'expenses' they incur in selling your home.

    Reply

    • As with any business Realtors have many more expenses than ones specific just to your home sale. There are the thousands of dollars spent in education, fees to be part of CREA, their provincial association, their local board, broker fees, advertising & marketing, plus their time which often includes full-time weekends and working until 11:00pm a few times a week, plus they INVEST their money in trying to sell your home. They do need to know what they're doing and how they can best serve you. It's always amazed me at how people think ALL Realtors are useless. And, more importantly that using a Realtor means THEY PAY FOR ALL THE ADVERTISING for your home and if the sales doesn't go through – THEY are the ones who lost that money – not you!

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  5. What a timely issue! I just put my house up for sale privately. My partner just listed and sold her place with an agent. We have worked with tis same agent on the purchase of a new house. Given the sale and purchase commisions that the real estate agent was anticipating (remember they generally split the total commission of 5%) we were able to negiotate a reduced commission rate.
    I have to say we have gotten good value for the money. She has been available to sign papers and answer our questions at all hours. I retain the services of many consultants and rarely get the service and value added that has been provided for less than $2,000.
    All that being said, I am going the private route on the slae of my own home. Found a great website where you can create your own webpage with all the selling info, pics, etc, and then post the link in all venues that you can identify. Admittedly, I live in a part of town, where simply putting a For Sale sign on my lawn has generated significant traffic.

    Wish me luck.

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    • Good luck – but remember that most people do use the MLS as their first place to start. Finding your house online is difficult only due to the number of FSBO sites there are. Most home buyers work with a Realtor as well as they just don't have the time or energy to spend on searching, setting up appointments, etc. And, Realtors only know about your FSBO home if they see the sign as you will not be part of their local board.

      But, I really do think you can do it yourself…just might take a bit longer, make sure you work with a good lawyer. Also, some Realtors will work with you as a consultant instead of actually listing your home for you, you should look into it!

      Reply

    • Only 2% of homes sell through the owner, even less by signs. But there is always that one chance you might find the right buyer who is also looking to save $$$ in commissions. Years ago I thought I would try to FSBO by own home too before I became a Realtor. I had no idea what I was in for. But like most people some things just have to be learned on your own and tried. I don't mind dealing with FSBO's if I happen to have the buyer, but it is the last place I look for a home if I can't find it on MLS. Why because it is a hassle. You have to schedule showings with the seller there and then there is the whole offer process, the sellers always need your help with the paperwork etc.

      Reply

  6. Oops! dropped a zero on that commission number. Still better values than many "consultants" I've dealt with.

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  7. The biggest rip off that agents like to promote is their insistence that if you renovate your kitchen ($25,000) and redo tthe bathroom ($20,000) it makes the property easier to sell and the homeowner will recoup about 90 per cent of the cost.

    But look at it another way. Renovating adds, in this example, $45,000 to the asking price. At 5 per cent commission (2 per cent for the listing agent, 2 per cent to the selling agent and 1 cent to the real estate board), the agent(s) stand to earn an extra $2,250.

    So now, for making the real estate agents' job easier, the houseowner is coughing up an extra $2,250. Hell, they should be paying the homeowner. And price-fixing? And you're worried that maybe the oil companies are fixing prices at the pump when only tenths of a cent are concerned.

    Now you tell me. Does that make sense?

    Real estate agents are right up there with the world's oldest profession … and I don't mean solicitors!

    Reply

    • How many Realtors have you worked with? From the sounds of it, you must have sold thousands of homes to be able to wipe all Realtors with the same brush. We really all aren't that way. In fact, I've never told anyone to do more than painting, a good cleaning and staging.

      Reply

  8. lol – the competition bureau first of all is not making any moves to open up the mls system to everyone – please check your facts before you post. They are simply trying to make sure the rules are adjusted properly so that Realtors can work under as many business models as possible including but not limited to flat fee commission listings. There are plenty of low cost alternatives available in today's market to all customers out there including commissions as low as 1%. It all depends on the package of services you wish to purchase.

    2nd – what about using some real studies when posting an article like this and not small studies from 2007/2008. We are in 2010 btw.

    Private sales are for some, but not for everyone. You always have to work with the market no matter what. At the end of the day every house has a buyer for the right price.

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  9. Ok so now you sell your own home and something goes wrong! The buyers want to sue and without an agent guess who they sue and who has to pay legal bills? The average person sells maybe 2 to 3 homes in their lifetime, I figure it is money well spent. I have seen some of the legal bills on lawsuits for homes, you would cringe and happily pay commissions in exchange.

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  10. Realtors are just taking your money to get more listings. The old style of real estate is dead. technology will eliminate the old broker houses and usher in real selection of services for the consumer. Problem is the competition bureau has no teeth. so it drags on All costs for agents have gone down except their own industry specific fees or the luxury cars they drive. I paid $50,000 for universtiy a real estate license course is under $5000 and can do most of it on line. You sell off the internet, you automatically email information not look up listings, your buyers drive them selves around (you will meet them there), you do not take ads in the newspaper, you do not send out flyers unless your face is 20 times the size of the home. In the last 10 years real estate has gone up least 40% in most markets. Did agents costs go up 40% I think not. So 10 years ago an agent got 5% of $300,000 or $15,000. Now that house is $420,000 at 5% $21,000. $6,000 more to do the same thing????? It was not the agents that increased the market price. Good Bye Crooks!

    Reply

    • Well said (Disgruntled Consumer)

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  11. If you think you can sell your home cause agents are making it look so easy and you could save so much money, well give it try. Don't forget the advertising dollars, the photos, feature sheets. Don't forget your home becomes a museum overnight with strangers who start calling asking for the price…its the price they want to know and start negotiating even before they see the property. If MLS becomes open then you'll need to pay a fee. You'll be representing yourself as the vendor so make sure you make full disclosure or you stand to be sued, Can this visitor afford your home? What questions will you ask? How will you know what the market vaalue is our your street or area?

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    • Part 1
      Okay disgruntled realtor…And where in your 'comment' does it say the realtor has the right to get thousands of $$? Now, what advertising $, no one looks in newspapers or magazines anymore? What photos, everyone has a digital camera or two, how hard is it to take a picture of your house? Feature sheets? $5 for 250 sheets of paper from Staples & $21 for a colour ink cartridge for my printer (again, like a digital camera, everyone has a colour printer these days). I don't get you museum overnight comment as if your house is for sale; it is for sale & needs to be kept in tip top shape regardless. Strangers calling for a price? So do realtors, they just funnel the calls & call the client at all hours of day or night, what is the difference? Paying a fee for MLS? it would be waaaay lower than hiring a realtor, that is for sure!

      Reply

    • Part 2

      Full disclosure is mandatory whether you have a realtor or not. Can the visitor afford your home? How would a realtor know? They don't. Market value of my home? most people pay attention to what similar houses are going for in their neighborhood & check previous sales (which you can get online anytime & not through MLS) So I guess what I am asking is can you please explain why I should pay some person $20,000.00 to sell my house?

      Reply

      • Pricing always reflects a commission as the pricing of homes sold and tracked includes it. I'm sure if you want to sell your home you are still wanting the similiar price your neighbour recieved,while paying a commission. You don't have to pay a full commission to a Realtor if you don't want. Commission is negotiable and level of service goes with it. Compare apples to apples though as you seemed confused and uneducated about what a top agent can do for you. We have a code of ethics and responsability to Vendors and Buyers and if you have been dealt unfairly by an agent as it seems you feel, you can take it up with RECO and they will get to the bottom of it for you.

        Reply

    • As for establishing the listing price, the bank will send over their own appraiser when an offer is made (unless buyer paying cash). If the appraiser figures the sale price too high, deal doesn't go through anyhow.

      Reply

  12. To all, get the real estate license and than start to comment

    Reply

    • exactly – and after you get it post here to tell us all how well your doing at it HaHaHa :)

      Reply

      • I'm in the process of selling my home privately now, and having great success!! So, I don't have a real estate licence, but I do have an education! I did my homework; went through Bytheowner.com; took photos; printed feature sheets; posted signs, etc. This took a bit of my time, yes, but savings $20,000 seems like time well spent! Also, who better to showcase my house at an open house than me?? I know every detail about the home, the builder, the neighbourhood. I also have the control to show the house when I want to. I have had several calls from Realtors wanting me to list with them, and that's great for them as I've already done most of the work, and yet they're still asking for their 2.5% commission? Seriously?

        Reply

  13. Some agents are terrible and some agents are fantastic.
    when you break down the 15,000 into buyer and seller, that's 7500 for selling.
    They pay for membership fees, and INSURANCE, not to mention the marketing costs, and they do this at a risk. If your house doesn't sell, they get $0, and lose the money they spent.
    Some agents might work miminal hours and just expect the cheuqe to eventually come in. Others might work 100-150 hrsover the course of a transaction, from selling to paperwork to follow ups, and that works out to $50/hr or less, which is less than many independant tradesment make.. and don't forget the risk of making $0, which exists in very few professions.

    It's hit or miss – to paint all realtors with the same brush, EITHER WAY, is silly. There are bad and there are great.

    Reply

  14. Wanted to buy foreclosure, renovate it, flip it and make some cash. Didn't know anything about foreclosures but figured realtor knows, that's her job. Was pressured to make offer in very short period of time. Asking price of home $359 9000. Realtor said home worth $430 000 when renos complete. After deal was done, we discovered similar house on market in same neighborhood, beautifully renovated, listed at $395 000. Also found out, with no help from realtor, we could have lost shirt with foreclosure because any outstanding liens on house would have been ours to pay. Only grace of God house title was clean. So now we're doing renos and don't expect to receive any recompense for our labour. No realtor allowed, it's not like she did anything but pad her own wallet quickly. She could have just as easiliy steered us into buying something actually profitable.

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  15. Hello. To "Learning the Stupid Way" I don't think your agent would have "beaten you up to get you to sign the offer to buy the foreclosure." In Canada, all foreclosures have to go before a judge/Magistrate, and all offers are
    presented, and often sent back to the listing agents to review the offers with each of their buyers and then come back to court same day after a short recess, at which time the Magistrate/judge makes a decision to "accept,"
    "reject" or "send the offers back again to their agents." This can happen a few times on a few days, in order
    to get the best deal for the sellers…usually the mortgage company who is foreclosing, with left overs to the Strata Corp. of they are involved, and/or any other creditors involved, and NET to the owner being foreclosed.

    Reply

  16. The realtors fees are protected, as the Courts seem to realize that what agents do is worth the effort, if only 2 or 3% less than the competitve marketplace. As far as second-guessing what a property will be worth 6 mos. or a year from the time you get your court approval of sale…better polish up your "Crystal Ball." Everybody has one,
    and not all of them work to a buyers/sellers best advantage, regardless of WHO THEIR AGENT IS! 😉 All have to rely on the same MLS information when (and that's the key!) they are counseling buyers or sellers. What happens today, isn't necessarily what's going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month!

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  17. Note to Bryan who started this commentary. You really should read the transcripts for the years of negotiations between the Realtors Associations and the Governments umpteen "committee members" who, as soon as they caught on to the truth, would be replaced by a newbie who had to be clued in to the fact that any realtor could have any "business model" they chose, and the sellers could be as involved as they wished from almost day 1 of the real estate service industry –decades ago. NOTHING CHANGED, except the members of the Committee, on a frequent basis! I've only been involved with this business for about 35 years continuously, and a few years off and on before that in the early 60's, when kids were younger and the baby-sitter made a whole lot more than I did as a Licensed Realtor!!! The "GRASS is always GREENER" on the other side of the LISTING/SALE! I've had to pay the HST on my last sales, for deals to close! 12% is a deal-breaker, to say the least! 😉

    Reply

  18. I think MLS is on its way out, the site has a crappy search, it only just got google maps in the last couple years, and there are many new ways to market your property. Think Facebook, Craigslist, UsedEverywhere, FSBO…with lots of online vendors like Property Guys, Listings by Owner, etc, you can create a really good quality ad for your property and market it yourself.

    We put our condo up for sale two years ago through a real estate agent and I hoped to at least get good quality photos for the MLS listing – they were terrible. I could take better myself and to me good quality ad copy & photos will help sell a house more than a huge picture of my realtor next to a tiny picture of my apartment. There was no floor plan, very few details about the property, and guess what it didn't sell.

    Reply

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