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Traditional vs. instant home selling: which is right for you?

Posted October 3, 2019 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2019 12:00 p.m. EDT

A key benefit of a traditional real estate agent is that the home seller has a single, experienced point-of-contact who is readily accessible to answer questions and to provide counsel throughout the entire sales process. (kuran/Big Stock Photo)

This story was written for our sponsor, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston.

Looking to sell your home and wondering whether you should follow the traditional home selling process or test the waters with an instant home buyer?

Here are some of the key differences between the two processes:

Selling through an Instant Home Buyer

When selling through an instant home buyer (also known as an iBuyer), homeowners simply:

  • Log on to the iBuyer's website.
  • Enter the address of the property that they wish to sell.
  • Take approximately five minutes to complete an online form about the home.
  • Receive an offer from the iBuyer within 24 hours via email.

The key benefits of working with an iBuyer include:

  • Receiving a cash offer for your home in 24 hours or less.
  • Avoiding the traditional processes of listing the home, prepping the home and showing the home.
  • Having the option to complete any needed repairs, or skipping the repairs and deducting the cost of the repairs from the price of the home.
  • Enjoying flexibility of the loan's closing date.

In addition, some iBuyers offer the added convenience of free, local moving by a professional moving company.

Selling through a Real Estate Agent

When selling through a real estate agent, homeowners simply:

  • Call or email a local agent and make an appointment for an in-home visit.
  • Complete a home walk through with the agent to discuss any needed repairs, the home's estimated sales price, as well as the seller's future housing needs.
  • Make or schedule any needed home repairs, and prep for showings.
  • Make the home available for agent-led showings.
  • Review all offers in partnership with the agent.

The key benefits of working with a realtor include:

  • Having a single, experienced point-of-contact who is readily accessible to answer questions and to provide counsel throughout the entire sales process.
  • Gaining access to the agent's extensive roster of service provider contacts (lenders, repair specialists, etc.).
  • Leveraging the marketing muscle of the agent's digital, social and traditional advertising media.
  • Tapping into the negotiation expertise of the agent when working with prospective buyers, lenders and service providers.

Instant or Traditional? A Needs-Based Decision

Connie Batten, a real estate agent with local firm Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston, noted that speed and convenience are often the primary motivators for homeowners who choose to work with an iBuyer.

"Yet, many homeowners don't understand the cost of that convenience," Batten cautioned.

Because initial iBuyer offers are calculated based on a combination of seller-provided and market data rather than actual in-home inspections – and because iBuyers deal exclusively in cash transaction – iBuyer home offers are typically lower than real estate agents' recommended home selling prices.

In addition, iBuyer transactions also include service fees that are comparable to (if not more than) a real estate agent's rate of commission.

Batten acknowledged there is a time and a place for iBuyers though.

"An iBuyer transaction may prove attractive to someone who is either financially or physically unable to make needed repairs to a property," she said. "It may also be attractive to a homeowner who needs to quickly sell a home, perhaps as the result of a retirement or an inheritance."

Yet Batten encourages all prospective home sellers to arm themselves with more than one estimate.

"It doesn't cost a seller anything to consult with a realtor upfront," she said. "Today, we are in a seller's market. So, it's more important than ever that homes are properly marketed, presented in excellent condition and priced correctly.

"I'm a full-service agent. I work hard to put my best foot forward for my clients to ensure that their homes sell for top dollar."

When selling your home, situational needs may tip the scale toward either the traditional or instant home selling process — you just have to figure out what's best for you.

This story was written for our sponsor, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston.