This article was written for our sponsor, Linda Rike Real Estate.
When scouring the internet for tips on home-buying and home-selling preparation, you'll likely find swaths of articles detailing the reasons why you should hire a real estate agent. But for those who choose to forgo the help of a real estate professional, what do they risk losing out on?
In short, time, money, and valuable experience going forward.
Carteret County resident Shawn Ellis has been working with Linda Rike Real Estate for almost 20 years, having successfully sold four houses with the help of her team. Throughout those two decades, Ellis quickly realized just how instrumental a real estate agent is in the buying and selling process.
"Everything went like clockwork with her. She's sold four houses for me, and each house has sold in less than a week — most of them three days," said Ellis. "The team walks you through the process and takes care of all the problems and everything that you would think would come up. I built a house 15 years ago and she told me exactly what to improve or fix in case I was ready to sell it. And when we were ready, she listed it and sold it in a day and a half."
Having a real estate professional walk through your home and recommend simple changes to boost your listing price can end up adding serious numbers to your profit. Many sellers who don't work with a real estate agent may think they need to make major upgrades, like complete kitchen renovations or large-scale bathroom remodels. In reality, those large projects don't typically provide a return value that will make up for the cost, and most real estate agents can recommend simple projects — like repainting rooms and replacing kitchen hardware — that will make a difference without breaking the bank.
For those who choose not to work with a real estate agent, they risk spending money just to lose out on making it back once their home sells.
"The four houses I sold, I never had to really go through any major spending to fix anything — it was more like, for lack of a better word, rearranging and cleaning," said Ellis. "Linda would tell me things like, 'Make sure you decorate outside with flowers and plants,' and 'Take down family photos and clean up knick knacks so buyers can picture themselves in the space.""
"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary," he finished. "You just wouldn't think of doing a lot of this stuff on your own, and no one else had ever told me those tips before."
Still, some sellers may think working with a real estate agent isn't worth the hassle and decide to list a home on their own.
Not only does that risk costing more money in the long-term, but sellers will also miss out on invaluable local knowledge that could help them in both the present and the future.
"I did a lot of research, as should all buyers and sellers, but there is no substitute for a knowledgeable, local person who's on the ground. If you don't know the area, and in particular you don't know about owning houses in areas subject to storms, you need someone with expertise to advise you," said Joe Howard, a long-time client of Linda Rike Real Estate. "Carteret County is the third-largest county in the state, and it has a multitude of communities that are unique from each other. A real estate agent can provide that information and, if they are a true 'local,' they can provide you a true feel for one location over another."
"Plus, many homeowners in this area desire to rent their homes for at least some portion of the year," he continued. "Expert advice on the rental market is very necessary, and a competent, quality real estate agent like Linda Rike and her team can advise you on the risks and rewards of the decision."
In his experience working with Linda Rike Real Estate, Howard has purchased and sold multiple homes, each time relying on the expertise of the team to guide him. Thanks to their local knowledge, the agents at Linda Rike Real Estate were able to advise him on everything from site elevation and wind conditions to municipal codes and proposed construction and zoning changes.
Similarly, even though Ellis has sold four homes in the past 20 years — making him a seasoned verteran in the real estate world — he's never considered going at it alone.
"Real estate agents take over the legwork and take the hard parts out of selling for you. It can really be an aggravating process sometimes, and I was working all the time so I knew I couldn't be there to handle everything on my own," said Ellis. "Linda just handles everything, and her assistants will call you and let you know when inspections are coming and plan out exactly what dates work for your schedule. It's a money-making scheme out there for a lot of people, but Linda steers you in the right direction and doesn't let your home go for any less than it's worth."
Selling a home for what it's worth is tougher than it seems. The pricing process requires comparing other sold listings in your neighborhood, evaluating any updates made to the home, and anticipating market trends in order to sell quickly without losing any profit.
When sellers don't hire a real estate agent, they'll have to take care of pricing the home on their own. Not only will this require plenty of legwork and research on their side, but sentimentality can often cloud judgement and make them price the home higher than it's actually worth. In those cases, homes can sit on the market for months without any serious offers.
Not all real estate agents are created equal, however — and some will still price a home to sell in order to make themselves and sellers a quick profit. Working with the right real estate agent means you don't have to compromise on either time or price.
"I'm not in it to make a lot of money, but I'm not in it to lose any money on the house, either. Whenever I've sold with Linda, she'll give me her honest opinion, but she also says, "It's your house. You have to be comfortable with what you're asking for and what you're willing to take for it," Ellis said. "And her method works. I had one real estate agent come and look at a house for me and I wasn't really happy with the things she was telling me. When Linda came in there, we sold the house for $40,000 more than what the other real estate agent told me I could get."
"The other real estate agent wanted to do a real quick flip — but it was still real quick with Linda, and I made what I wanted to make," he continued. "Like I said, I've sold four houses with Linda now, and none of them have ever taken more than five days, max."
The right real estate agent will also have the right connections, bringing down overhead costs on the selling process. In working with Linda Rike Real Estate, Ellis was able to get all of his photography and staging done free of charge — a service which not all real estate agents offer and many charge extra for. Not only that, but thanks to familiarity with inspectors and contractors, if any problems ever arose during selling, Linda would know exactly who to call for a quick response.
For Ellis, after working with the Linda Rike team, he was never tempted to go back — and offered a word of advice to any other sellers in Carteret County.
"Somebody told me one time, 'You do what you do well and you"ll make money, and let other people do what they do well and you'll both make money,'" he said. "If you try to do what they're doing, you won't do it as well. You'll waste your time and won't make the money you could be making. Applying that to my own life has served me well."
This article was written for our sponsor, Linda Rike Real Estate.