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Seller Tips

Do I need a REALTOR® to sell my house?

  • Posted Feb 1, 2021

The New Jersey real estate market was one of the most dynamic regions in the nation in 2020. Our housing market in 2021 and 2022 promises to offer new sale opportunities in all of New Jersey-especially in the northern NJ counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic. If you’re ready to sell your house, market trends suggest 2021 and 2022 will look favorably on your timing.

Before embarking on such an important activity, you likely have multiple questions about how best to sell your house. Plotting a success-driven approach helps to maintain your peace of mind moving forward, as well as to reach the ultimate goal—selling your home at the right price.

Should I use a real estate agent or should I do it alone?

The “For Sale by Owner” option

As tempting as staking a “FOR SALE BY OWNER” sign in your front yard might be, consider all your options first. Making more money by selling your home without a REALTOR® is not a promise or guarantee. Many factors play a role in marketing and selling a home. To maximize opportunity, unique skill sets are needed in a number of specialized areas.

Considering the daily addition of so many homes for sale in New Jersey, including the high-density counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic, expect some difficulty getting your house to be seen, stand out and be sold. As a result, although there are exceptions, selling your home by yourself is an option few pursue. Learning and applying the needed real estate sales skills is challenging enough. Add to that the necessity to maneuver through changes in the local marketplace, and the FSBO process is even more daunting.

So, what does a REALTOR® do?

“What does a REALTOR® do?” or more to the point, “why do I need a REALTOR®?” are appropriate questions to ask—especially if you’re a first-time seller. In trying to find the best approach to quickly sell your house and maximize the financial opportunity, your real estate vocabulary will surely grow.

You’ll hear about Multiple Listing Services (MLS). You’ll understand the difference between listing price and selling price. At some point, your education might include how to stage an open house and how to draft and present a contract. “For Sale by Owner” requires that you learn and execute these and many more jobs on your own. The degree you engage and apply these tasks will directly correlate to your success or failure at selling your house yourself. If a significant degree of engagement and dedication doesn’t fall within your comfort zone, think twice before planting that “For Sale by Owner” sign in your front yard.

Reasons to use a New Jersey REALTOR® to sell your home.

Whether attempting the “For Sale by Owner” option or deciding to use a REALTOR®, you’ll need to engage in a number of activities throughout the process. Remembering your ultimate goal of selling your house quickly and maximizing your selling price, we define these activities into four groups:

  1. PRE-SELL
    • Preparing your house for selling & setting the right price
  2. SELLING
    • Effectively listing and marketing your house
  3. CONTRACT
    • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing a contract
  4. LEGAL
    • Executing mandatory requirements to legally transfer ownership from one owner to another

It will become evident that retaining a REALTOR® facilitates meeting the objectives of all four of these groups.

Here are some advantages of using a New Jersey REALTOR®:

1. PRE-SELL

Question #1: What’s my house worth? A REALTOR® initially proves his or her worth by helping to answer this important question. They determine realistic purchase and listing prices (it’s important to appreciate the difference) utilizing far more market knowledge than the average homeowner possesses. Comparable home sales, historic market data and competing properties all play important roles in establishing your listing price.

New Jersey real estate pricing challenges.

Online platforms don’t provide all the information needed to set an appropriate house listing price. These web-based resources determine estimates using a high percent of user-input data. Nothing replaces the advantage of a REALTOR®, with all their industry knowledge and proprietary resources, taking an actual tour of the home.

Be ready to hear additional tips from an agent at this stage. A REALTOR® will offer recommendations for repairs or cosmetic work on your home—upgrades proven to have a positive influence on selling your property faster and at a higher price.

2. SELLING

Listing your home and marketing your home go hand-in-hand in selling your home. Appreciate the differences as you move into this second group of activities. The advantages of using a New Jersey REALTOR® will again become evident.

What does an active MLS listing mean?

After establishing your listing price, the next step a REALTOR® undertakes is getting your house listed in a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). An MLS is an online database sponsored by cooperating real estate brokers that provides information about properties for sale. A Multiple Listing Service is probably the most important component needed to sell your house. Since you have to be a licensed real estate agent in New Jersey to list a home on an MLS, it’s one of the most valued services a REALTOR® offers to home sellers.

How does an MLS actually work?

The reward of a multiple listing service is immediate and enduring. Your listing will have an active MLS number, allowing other agents to see your listing details. It’s just like having a team of thousands and thousands of agents working to sell your home—both within and outside of your REALTOR®’s brokerage, including local, regional, state-wide and even agents throughout the country. Since a large percentage of real estate sales are cooperative sales, meaning an agent other than yours brings in a buyer, having a large universe of agents familiar with your property gives you a significant advantage.

Through your REALTOR®’s membership in the New Jersey MLS, you’ll benefit even more through exposure on our public site (NJMLS.com). Here, potential buyers can easily find your listing, including details, open house announcements and ability to request more information or contact the listing real estate agent for a showing. Millions and millions of interested home buyers visit this site every year, making NJMLS membership an important consideration when choosing a REALTOR®.

With a steady influx of interested agents and buyers searching for and finding your home, personal appointments are next in line.

Does having my house on a multiple listing service help me get top dollar?

Though the value of a listing exposure on an MLS can’t be overstated, the right set of marketing activities, executed by your agent, work to get you top dollar.

Only a local New Jersey agent knows when, where and how to advertise here in New Jersey. Experience helps to plot which medium, format, frequency will work best for your home. Today’s smart buyers expect professional photos and videos to accompany your MLS listing. Your agent can help get this done. When a buyer searches for “open houses near me,” your New Jersey real estate agent will position your house to be found. Open Houses or individual appointments need scheduling and coordination. Your agent will get this done. Not excited about strangers coming into your home? Agents will work to pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects for an escorted tour of your property.

3. CONTRACT

Handling the negotiations can be delicate, difficult and time consuming. Having a truly interested buyer is great news, but getting that buyer to agree to your terms is where your REALTOR®, working on your behalf, continues to earn their commission and your respect and devotion.

Your agent will fill out the price and terms on the contract. Then, working back and forth with the buyer’s agent, hammer out the details for all parties to have a win-win agreement. Though this initial agreement is a wonderful goal to achieve, it is only the start of a lengthy set of mandatory steps that follow.

After an agreement is made between seller and buyer, a home inspection (by a professional home inspector) works to bring everyone to a final contract stage. Your agent not only provides counsel and advice at this juncture, but also can help with a list of trusted professional services to address any repairs or concerns expressed by the buyers. Here, your question of “do I need a REALTOR® to sell my house?” is once again answered yes.

4. LEGAL

Since selling your home is probably one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make, mistakes are not something to accept. A multiple page legal instrument contains topics, restrictions, codes, zoning issues, disclosures and many other conditions that are presented in legal language only a real estate lawyer appreciates. Your agent can recommend the right lawyer to work with and be with you during the complete closing process. Whether your sale happens in Bergen, Essex, Hudson or Passaic counties—special code, zoning and filing procedures need to be followed. Your agent, along with your lawyer, will attend the closing, making sure you understand all paperwork before you sign. Trusting the professionals at your real estate firm puts you at ease during this final, but most important, step.

Appreciate that not all New Jersey real estate agents have the same degree of experience and skills to execute your needs. Make sure the REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTOR®s and that they proudly display the REALTOR® logo on their marketing material.

Likewise, not all multiple listing services are the same. The New Jersey Multiple Listing Service offers agents, buyers and sellers the most features, benefits and resources to either sell or buy properties. And to those interested in northern New Jersey homes for sale, NJMLS offers the most complete inventory that you’ll find anywhere. You’ll find it all at NJMLS.com.

If done right, selling your home brings a positive reward that can last a lifetime. To maximize this opportunity, partner with a REALTOR® member of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service. You’ll be getting an unmatched set of resources and expertise dedicated to selling your home quickly and at the right price.

Start your journey today by finding a REALTOR® at NJMLS.com/members.