I’m sure all of you were very concerned that our monthly blog did not happen in September. This is because my licensed assistant was in the middle of buying her own home. Against her better judgement she found a place that was being sold without an agent. I’ll let her tell you the rest…
September was swamped as my husband and I settled on our own home. It was not my first home, but the last one I bought was ten years ago and in a different state. At that time, I knew I didn’t have a great agent, but I was assigned one through my relocation process and I didn’t have a choice. (It’s a story for another time.) I’ll admit I dragged my agent all over looking for a home, not really sure which area I wanted to live in or what I was looking for in a home. I did know the moment I found it, however. As questionable of an agent that he was, he did help me secure the home that had just hit the market.
This time around was different. I’m a licensed assistant, but now it wasn’t just me looking to find a home. I had my husband’s wishes to consider. We settled on one particular block where we wanted live in Baltimore City and, as luck would have it, several houses were for sale. They ranged in price, but we found one we loved. Within 24 hours going on the market, we put our bid in. So did two others. Because the house was in great shape and priced correctly, they were under contract within four (4) days; just not with us.
Devastated, we considered the others on the street. Of the four that were on the same street, all were structurally the same, though the prices ranged greatly by $50,000. We didn’t exactly go knocking on doors, but shortly thereafter we found ourselves viewing a home that wasn’t even listed yet. The Seller of the unlisted home wasn’t interested in using a real estate agent.
A year ago I had no idea what Real Estate agents did besides show homes and collect commission. Now I spend my day supporting Greg and our Atlas clients. I keep the paperwork moving, schedule the appointments, and interface with the cooperating agents. I can tell the difference between a good agent and a questionable agent. All agents get paid at closing, but you will likely never know when a good agent “earns” their commission, because they’ve kept the process moving so the contract stays in place. They may also keep you out of legal trouble. Surprisingly, not everyone, understands when both parties sign the offer, they are now in a binding contract with strict clauses and deadlines.
Understandably, from the Seller’s perspective, he should not have to pay a full commission because he did not have to market the property. However, getting your property priced and marketed properly to receive an offer is not where a good agent’s job ends. It is their job to make sure the offer is a good one and to keep it moving smoothly. In our case, the Seller had no agent to represent their interests in any disagreements. I was under no obligation to keep them from doing something stupid.
If you are using an agent and find a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), they earn their commission, but have the threat of not being paid. As the “agent” of my own sale, I still had to do everything an agent does to earn a commission. I screened out homes during the day and spent nights and weekends viewing homes. I consulted with other agents on what they see in the market and did research about trends. I wrote three contracts. And once we went under contract, I had to resolve conflicts with the Seller’s side. And we did have conflicts.
It started when the Seller whined when we scheduled the home inspection. And then our home inspection didn’t go well. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it could have gone better. It was evident that major systems were not kept up to code and that work had been done without pulling permits. If the Seller had an agent, that agent would have taken a look at the home inspection and known things that needed to be fixed. Instead, it was up to me, the buyer, to have the awkward conversation about fixing up the home they thought was perfect.
It became an emotional battle instead of a business transaction.
It was when the HVAC contractor’s report came back that I almost lost my mind. I can laugh about it now, but when the Seller forwarded the “report” from the licensed contractor it was a combination of textspeak, slang and very bad grammar. It instilled no confidence in the quality of the contractor’s work. Fast forward to the weekend after settlement, when we legally owned the house, my father found the real source of the issue and could tell the problem hadn’t actually been investigated.
If I had to do it all over again, I doubt I would have agreed to work with a seller that was unrepresented. It protects you as a seller and eases the stress as a buyer. There is no downside to being represented as a buyer, however, if you find a FSBO, just know your agent will more than earn the commission, and the money may come out of your pocket.