Model House flipped upside down | Windermere Stanwood Camano

Don't Be A Flip!

I get asked by friends and family from other areas what they should do to sell their homes? They use terms like “We don’t want to give it away” and “This money really matters to us, so it is different than a typical home sale.” Their idea is to “save money” by not paying a professional, or perhaps going with a low-cost alternative. They believe that real estate is different in that area, they “know people that sold on their own and SAVED lots of money.

I readily agree that using a full-service broker to list your home is expensive wherever you are in the world, and they surely can ‘save money’ by doing it on their own. This surprises them. As they nod confusingly, I clarify that while they can save money, they will likely lose much, much more…and have a frustrating experience. A home can easily be sold for $100k+ lower than its market value, to save a few thousand dollars in real estate fees. We see it often; these are usually homes that investors ‘Flip.’

If a homeowner truly wants to make the most and get it done efficiently, they should find a good, full-service broker in their area that will represent them. Once they decide WHO to use then trust that professional. Period.

Once the broker is on their side, then your best interest is inherent in the relationship. It has to be: You don’t “Pay” or even “Owe” most real estate professionals, until YOU are ultimately satisfied, and happy. Even if you decide not to sell, after all the time and money the broker spent, nothing is due. This simple arrangement is the truest, most honest form of representation in my opinion.

After you narrow down the search for your broker(s): Look at the prospective broker’s marketing of their listed homes and compare it to others. (I’m underlining ‘their listed homes’ here, on-purpose. Many pretend to list homes, by reposting the listing broker’s work). Reach out to the listing broker you like. If it takes a few hours for them to respond, that is ok. They should be busy!

Ask for a CMA (comparative market analysis) on your home. This will involve the broker coming over for a visit, and a tour of your home. It should be free, with no obligation, and take about an hour. During the visit, try not to mention the price YOU think it should be. Instead, let them do their own evaluation. Once that is done, they should get you the report within a day or two, and it should provide you with suggestions on repairs/ improvements, marketing strategy, process, and most importantly, data on comparable home sales. And of course, a resulting market value, with a net-proceed estimate.

Respect their advice and know you will need to detach yourself from your personal home. For most people, their homes represent more than a simple asset; they are a deeply personal part of their life. The broker will give you an honest opinion, to help you. Smells, stains, overgrown yards all can cost you terribly. The true market value of your home can be very uncomfortable. It might be more, and it might be less, than what you thought. It is ok to discuss this difference with that broker. If their market value is higher —just make sure they aren’t overpricing to simply get the listing. If their price is lower, have them explain why. But know that they are likely correct. If you have more than one opinion, you shouldn’t trust the highest, or the lowest; but the report that has the best comparable sales.

Lastly, discuss with your broker how to offer a generous compensation for your buyer broker. This is important, to ensure you are getting the best buyers in your home. Buyers are in a volatile situation, and they learn quickly to use a professional. You need to have those buyers, along with their brokers, looking at your home to buy.

A few pitfalls to avoid when selling a home:

  • Don’t put too much reliance on Zestimates, assessments, or other online evaluations. (My zestimate says I should weigh about 180 pounds.)
  • Don’t sell your property to someone that approaches you without consulting a professional, unrelated broker or appraiser.
  • Don’t ask Facebook for advice or alert others to your sale…. until you get an honest, professional opinion and understand your market value.
  • Don’t wait. The earlier, the better; have your professional recommend repairs you may have missed or prevent you from wasting money on unnecessary improvements.

Selling your home with a dedicated, full-service broker costs a lot of money. It should. It’s important to protect your investment and get it done right. No matter where that property is located, Don’t let it be a “Flip.”

I'm interested in hearing about your experiences as a home seller, regardless of whether you sold the property yourself or enlisted the help of a professional real estate agent.

Written by J.P. DeBoer

Broker | Waterfront & Land Specialist

Windermere Stanwood & Camano Island