We recently were representing a seller and we received an offer on their home – through an online home buying service. At first, the offer just seemed low – but then we realized the fees involved with accepting this already low offer would be more than double a typical realtor commission – PLUS repairs! Fortunately, we were able to find another buyer and the seller did not feel pressured to consider the online offer. But, it started a conversation in our office. Why would buyers and sellers use online realty services rather than working with an agent?
First, we should clarify that there are several types of realty services being offered online. We have put them into 3 categories:
- “A La Carte” Realty Services
- “Home Buying” Services
- Trade-In services
A La Carte Services
A La Carte realty services are attractive to buyers and sellers who are confident they can sell or purchase their own home without needing the assistance of a local agent. For some people, these services will work. Just be aware that for the lower fees, you are agreeing to take on the hassle factor and responsibility that your agent usually manages.
In many cases, the main service being provided through an a la carte realtor is getting your home listed in MLS. Sellers may still be responsible for all of their own marketing expenses. Usually, sellers have to schedule their own showings and negotiate their own contract. In other cases, the a la carte agent is paid a salary and has no incentive to help you sell your home quickly or for the best price. Depending on how much you are doing on your own, the risk here can be great if you don’t have someone with knowledge of your state’s real estate laws and requirements helping you with your transaction.
Home Buying Services
The online Home Buying services offer the advantage of a quick sale. Typically, they purchase your home, do repairs, and then put it back on the market. You can expect that if you sell your home through a local agent or if you use an online home buying service, the same buyer will likely purchase your home in the end. The difference is that instead of you, the home buying service owns your home during the marketing period.
This may be attractive to some sellers – just make sure you know all of the costs involved. After doing some quick research about these services you should be aware of a few things we noticed. You can expect to be paid a lower price for your home and to incur additional fees on top of an average 7% real estate commission, in some cases resulting in fees that double the commission you would pay a real estate agent. These additional fees are compensation to the service for the time they expect to own your home while it is marketed for sale. Also, you will be responsible for paying for any repairs they require.
Trade In Services
The trade-in services reminded us of trading in your car. You identify a home you would like to buy and they offer you a trade-in price for your home and help you sell and buy a new home in one transaction.
How do the online options compare to using your local realtor?
Buyers and Sellers are attracted to online realtor services because they believe it will cost them less and that realtors charge for many unnecessary services. So, we decided it might be important to share what services our agents DO charge for and what you might be paying for using an online service.
First of all, when you work with Team Pogue to sell your home, we typically include a 6% real estate commission in our contract. That commission is split between the listing agent (Team Pogue) and the agent representing the buyer. That is the only fee you pay your agent to sell your home. Compared to the online services, the only other fee you will pay for is repairs. These will be negotiated through your agent to help you pay a fair and reasonable cost for any repairs needed.
Typically, if you list your home with Team Pogue, we cover all of the marketing expenses UP FRONT to help you sell your home. For example, we hire a photographer to take professional photographs of your home, we create an online virtual tour and post it online to prospective buyers and agents to view, we list your home in MLS, we advertise your home online, we print brochures to leave at your home, and more. We will host open houses, community tours, and send out targeting advertising to help market your home and others we have for sale. All of the marketing expenses are paid for by your agent BEFORE your home is sold. We also incur other marketing expenses that are not specifically related to your home, but do include your home for sale such as our website, online ads, signs, and ads in local publications. We are only reimbursed for these expenses out of the listing agent’s commission once your transaction has closed.
We also provide a secure, electronic lockbox to monitor all agents who access your home for showings.We have noticed that some iBuyer companies use a new tech & sensor option to allow unescorted showings for properties. Would you want a stranger to gain access to your home via automated door lock/sensor and then tour it without anyone there to supervise? Just one more reason to hire an agent.
In addition to marketing your home for sale and providing a secure way to monitor potential buyers touring your home, Team Pogue provides many other services that help you with your transaction.
- We offer invaluable advice and expertise on the local market and how to position your home to sell.
- We know what homes are available and whether or not there are pocket listings that meet your criteria. We have relationships with agents and can help negotiate the best terms on your behalf.
- Our agents have completed rigorous licensing and continuing education requirements to become Certified Senior Advisors, which helps them provide personalized service to our clients who are active adults and seniors. They are knowledgable about state laws that govern real estate transactions.
- We offer professional photography services, virtual home tours, staging advice, custom flyers, and marketing services.
- We utilize services to schedule showings and coordinate repairs – removing the hassle factor from your list of things to do.
- Our agents prequalify buyers so that only qualified prospects will be previewing your home.
- We have relationships and a network of agents who specialize in our local market and can connect prospective buyers with homes they are looking for.
- Our team has been working in Indian Land for over ten years. Our agents are licensed and familiar with the particular nuances of the real estate market in our community. We know what issues can be a cause for concern and how to navigate those issues throughout the entire transaction.
- Our team lives, works and plays in Indian Land, so we have a personal stake in this community. We want the best for our clients because they are also our neighbors.
Things to Consider
Bottom line, we know buyers and sellers have many options available to them as they consider their real estate transaction. And, we realize that every client has different needs and goals. Here are just a few things we will leave you with to consider if you are looking into an online service.
- At first glance, these services may seem less expensive. However, beware of getting nickeled and dimed by hidden fees that may not be obvious at first. You may end up paying for costs (in time and in money) not even mentioned in your contract at all. In every case, there is a trade off between the services provided and cost to you. Is the savings worth the hassle factor?
- You may have access to a licensed agent, but they aren’t familiar with your particular market and the buyers and sellers who participate in it. They are limited to what they can find in an online search. Do you need an agent to do that for you?
- If you have bought or sold a home before, you may feel it isn’t worth paying an agent to help negotiate a deal for you or to manage the sales process. This might be true if everything goes smoothly in your transaction. However, this is rarely the case. There are always repairs to negotiate, emotions involved, financing issues and state laws which govern real estate transactions to consider. Is the savings worth the hassle factor?
- If there are issues or problems, your deal may be at risk if there are delays. You may have to do extra research to find solutions to a problem or contact contractors or vendors to get the deal done. Our agents negotiate transactions every day. We have relationships with vendors when we need something done quickly and we know who to contact when there are problems with specific builders or communities. Your transaction may not be delayed at all if you are working with a knowledgable agent who is familiar with the area and potential roadblocks to getting a deal done in your community.
If you are considering utilizing an online service, please also consider making an appointment with an agent before making a decision. Our team will be happy to meet with you at your convenience and help you compare the fees and services being offered. As always, we strive to provide Real Estate with a Personal Touch!