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Rodger L. Hardy

Is selling one’s own home without the assistance of a realtor becoming less popular?

Selling your home on your own has become more complicated with an array of disclosures and deadlines that, if not met, means adding more time to the closing deadline.

Last year only 7% of home sellers sold their home on their own, according to the National Association of Realtors. Yet in today’s hot market, home sellers may be more successful in finding a buyer. So the question becomes not whether you can sell without the assistance of a realtor, but whether you can get the most for your home. The latest independent survey by Core Logic found that private sellers on average net 6% less than sellers represented by an agent.

At the time of this writing, the popular website for private sellers in Utah, KSL.com, listed 903 homes for sale in Utah County. Of course, that changes daily and doesn’t consider other websites, compared to 2,356 on the Wasatch Front Multiple Listing Service, also just in Utah County.

Back in 2003, as many as 14% of the nation’s residential sales were by owner. By 2011, it dropped to 10%, with 4% sold to friends or relatives and 6% sold to perfect strangers, NAR research found.

Another complication is just in managing the sale. Novice home sellers usually aren’t savvy in qualifying buyers, financing, inspection and appraisal issues, along with home warranties, which buyers really should get, and run the risk of not getting one as part of the deal.

Then, there are the all-important disclosures to protect both parties. Miss the wrong one and it could come back to haunt you.

A key document private sellers often miss is the property disclosure form. This state-approved document identifies certain issues about the home. Real estate agents ask their seller clients to fill out this form when they list the home. Once an offer is accepted the listing agent gives it to the buyer’s agent to present to the buying client. But if no buying and/or selling agent is in place, this disclosure could be missed. That can cause issues, even lawsuits, later if the buyer finds undisclosed property defects.

Case law rulings find that the seller has a responsibility to tell a buyer about any property defects. Buyers, too, should hire an inspector to learn as much as they can about the house before closing the deal. Buying a house always has risks, but a good realtor can help you mitigate those challenges.

Sometimes, buyers don’t bother with an inspection to save the inspection fee, which requires a waiver. That way, the realtor is protected if issues show up later.

Buyers may use this disclosure and the inspection to request repairs or to ask for a price reduction, even though the purchase contract states the sale is “as is.” Most loan officers prefer a price reduction rather than ask for repairs, because a repair request requires another inspection. Unhappy buyers may use the inspection or disclosure to withdraw from the sale and get their earnest money returned if acted upon by the due diligence deadline in the contact.

Another easily missed document is the lead base paint disclosure for homes built before 1978. Paint with lead in it and flaking paint chips with lead is dangerous if disturbed or consumed. The last private seller I worked with (I represented the buyer) didn’t have a clue what that was until I asked for it. This is a federally-required form and if a licensed real estate agent misses it, the result could be a heavy fine.

In a normal market, selling by owner usually takes longer than listing with an agent. Real estate agents expose homes to more buyers, saving time and holding costs in the long run. They also save time and money by suggesting a correct price and marketing it efficiently, which statistically puts as much or more money in the pocket of the seller at the closing table.

Rodger L. Hardy is a Realtor licensed in Utah. For answers to your real estate questions please call him at 801-360-9133 or email him at rodger.hardy@utahhomes.com. For more information, please visit www.RodgerHardy.com.