Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 4, 2022

Real estate isn’t a do-it-yourself project

Growing up, I was fortunate to be around a lot of different kinds of cars. I loved the lines and the character of the different makes and models.

I’ve always considered cars to be moving pieces of art. Their speed and thunderous growl are just bonuses to how they look. Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about how they work and how all the parts fit together.

I know my way around cars quite well, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m just a shadetree mechanic. I can save a few dollars and work on them myself, but I also know a professional has expertise and knowledge I don’t.

Changing the oil is one thing, for example, but rebuilding a transmission is another. So, I know when it’s time to consult a professional.

While it might not look like it on the surface, Realtors and professionally trained mechanics have many things in common. We both have specialized skillsets and access to tools and knowledge-based training that make us experts in our respective fields.

While both car maintenance and real estate might appear to be easily accessible fields, it takes time to learn the intricacies of the profession, and failure to recognize the potential pitfalls while relying on limited or outdated knowledge can result in an owner losing a lot of money.

My point is this: Some homeowners and homebuyers are going it alone without engaging the services of a Realtor. This for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, approach is due in part to popular TV shows that suggest the only thing you need is a computer and/or a sign in the front yard.

In the current competitive housing market, properties can sell quickly, but in many cases, it might not be in the parties’ best financial interest to not employ a Realtor. According to the National Association of Realtors’ “2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” 90% of home sellers were assisted by a real estate expert.

Based on the national median sales price, the typical FSBO home sold for $260,000 compared to $318,000 for agent-assisted home sales. In any price range, a 22.3% difference is a lot of money to leave on the table.

According to the 2021 profile, FSBOs accounted for 7% of home sales in 2020. I also found it interesting that 34% of FSBOs did not actively market their property and 26% of FSBOs relied only on a yard sign.

So, this is the part where an expert’s tools come into play. Realtors have marketing expertise and reporting to make sure a property is priced correctly and to ensure the home seller gets the most for their investment and a homebuyer is educated and advised throughout the transaction.

Plus, buyers or sellers have a few key pitfalls to consider when preparing to purchase or sell their home on their own. While many individuals might be competent in representing themselves in a real estate transaction, many obstacles can come into play.

For example, as a seller, one must consider the limited audience a FSBO property will reach. Real estate agents have access to large networks, while FSBOs cut out a significant portion of the people a home might attract when using a Realtor.

There’s also the risk of dealing with a buyer who’s not qualified to purchase the home. Realtors make sure homebuyers are prequalified before they bring them to your home.

These are two examples of what a seller might face once they’ve decided to place their home on the market as a FSBO. But let’s address the earliest part of the process – the preparation.

If you’re a seller, do you know which aspects of your home you should change to get top dollar? Real estate agents do, and they know which changes will make a difference to the bottom line and which will not.

Now let’s say you’ve found what we in the industry call “an able and willing buyer.” How do you know what to negotiate? Are their costs associated with the transfer of property? What terms and fees need to be considered for each party to get to the closing table?

The simple answer, if you haven’t already guessed it, is to hire a Realtor. Trust me – maximizing your investment is as much of a priority for us as it is for you.

What if you’re buying a home that’s a FSBO? Do you just pay the seller their asking price and get the keys once you’ve figured out how to obtain financing? Do you know which legal aspects of the property to consider? What evaluations could affect the value of the home? Should you do every inspection, or are there any you can forgo?

Real estate agents work closely with lenders and mortgage brokers to assist you from the beginning and introduce and define important factors in the earliest part of the process.

A Realtor also understands how the results of inspections or assessments can affect the value of the home in both the long- and short-term.

The simple answer is – again – hire a Realtor because you need an agent’s advice and expertise.

Let’s go back to the car mechanic analogy and consider what happens if someone does fraudulent or unnecessary repairs on my vehicle.

For starters, I’d raise my concerns to the business owner and the governing body that certifies the mechanic. Every industry has folks that prey on it, and real estate is no exception.

Not only do Realtors adhere to the Code of Ethics, but we’re also trained on potential scams that impact the industry, such as fraudulent loan documents, improper titles or repair scams.

When selling or buying property on your own, you don’t have a Realtor working on your behalf to help you sidestep or address these issues, if needed, and avoid unnecessary costs or legal woes.

The process of buying or selling property can be wrought with difficulties to the untrained and unrepresented consumer. That’s why utilizing the professionalism and expertise of a Realtor is vitally important.

Realtors work for our community’s buyers and sellers every day. That’s Who We R.

Founded in 1912, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is a regional organization with more than 2,500 members servicing Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. The Association is one of approximately 1,100 local associations and boards of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors owns and operates a Multiple Listing Service that is one of approximately 600 MLSs in the country and services more than 2,700 users.