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Online Searches, For Sale By Owner - Agents Top Both

Even though most searches begin online, an agent is still the go to source, and For Sale By Owner costs sellers more than they think.

We live in a digital age, where many of us turn to online information sources on a daily basis.  With all the information in the world at our fingertips, we can also be increasingly independent - do it yourself videos and tips are easy to find for most fields and interests.  So what about Real Estate?  Is the REALTOR obsolete?  Not even close, according to recent studies.  In fact, Real Estate Agents are still the go-to source for home searches and for closing sales, by far.

Tech Assist - The Online Search

New data from the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reflects what we might expect - that the first step for many people who are interested in a new home is to look online.  42% of buyers start searching for homes there, and another 13% look online for general information to educate themselves about the home buying process.  

Agents recognize this and are definitely utilizing technology in assisting their clients.  Many home buyers using online searches do so through an agent’s website, or their company’s site.  And agents are adapting to their client’s tech use.  93% of Realtors communicate with their clients via email, and 85% use text messages as well.  Social media use is also way up, with 80% of Realtors using Facebook and 71% using LinkedIn.  Agents say that at least half the reason for social media use is to promote listings, while also citing marketing, advertising, and general visibility to clients.  NAR President Chris Polychron says, “There is nothing more important than helping people find and land their dream home, and since technology helps Realtors® do that, it will continue to be a priority.”

Agents Still Win Out

What effect has all the online searching had on the use of real estate agents?  In 2015, 9 out of 10 people closed their sale with the help of an agent.  That’s actually up from 83% in 2010.  What’s more, for buyers that did most of their home search online, on average they visited 10 homes over the course of 10 weeks before they purchased.  Buyers that worked with agents visited five homes over five weeks before they made their purchase.  The numbers indicate that working with an agent can save buyers valuable time and effort.

"Consumers have the ability to do more home buying research online and be more connected during the home search process than ever before, but research proves they still are seeing the value a REALTOR® brings to the transaction from the initial search to well after the closing," says Polychron.

For Sale By Owner - What it Costs Sellers

What about that small percentage of people who choose to sell without an agent?  As it turns out FSBO’s are costing people.  Research shows that they end up having to spend a lot more time than they expected and end up with a lower selling price than comparable listings sold by an agent.   Last year, the median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000.  The median selling price of homes sold with the assistance of an agent was $249,000.

Sellers have to ask themselves, “Do I have a lot of extra time to market my home and do all the work to meet and greet properly? Am I versed in local trends on the housing market and know the latest regulations for closing a sale? Do I have a list of potential buyers ready to view my home?”  These are just some of the areas an Agent takes the lead, and why most leave it to the professionals.  This year, 8% of sellers chose to list themselves, a number that has steadily declined since 2004, when it was 14%.

Experts suggest talking to an agent to find out what they suggest for the commission, and then do the math.  The closing price with an agent is likely to be way higher.  Why not save yourself the the time and make more money by working with a professional that is motivated and excited to sell the home?

Jim Cheeseman

Jim Cheeseman
LEED Accredited Professional



CA BRE #01265543

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