Why I’m Selling My House For Sale by Owner Without an Agent

3 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Are No Longer Necessary

My wife and I bought our first home in Atlanta, GA, just outside the perimeter, yet still within the city of Atlanta.  We had buyers remorse and decided to put the house on the market and purchase an inexpensive condo in Midtown.  During these real estate dealings, we worked with a bad buyers agent, a good buyers agent, three sellers agents, a lawyer, a lender and received advice from several other agents, lenders and friends who worked in real estate. In the end, we decided the work that agents do is not worth the money that either comes out of your pocket or the equity of your home.

Buyers Agent Remorse Leads to Buyers Remorse

As a first time home buyer, I expected a realtor would have inside information on areas that I was not aware of, or know something more about homes in general, or have some additional home listings the general public could not access.  I guess these really good agents only exist on HGTV.  It wasn’t until shopping for the next home, I found out the most value a buyers agent provides is to quickly do the footwork of contacting people or searching online while I am busy at my own job.  Our experience with a good agent was with someone who actually did real estate as a full time job.  The bad end of the spectrum are the part time agents who do less work than me and my wife, send us lists of houses that don’t meet our criteria, or worse yet, send “the perfect house” they found for us that we had already asked them about in an earlier email.

After our first house purchase, we ended up with buyers remorse and realized what a poor job our agent did. Our  agent achieved for us nothing we could not do ourselves.  She hooked us up with a lender and lawyer.  Ideally, we should have shopped around to get estimates from several lenders to make sure we got a fair deal (however in the end, I think the lender did OK).  The lawyer did the paperwork at closing just fine, which I would expect from any closing lawyer. So the lawyer and lender, who were obviously necessary in the process did their jobs just fine.  But, the actual house shopping and negotiating by the realtor left us feeling like her role was unnecessary.  She confided with me that after the real estate bubble burst, restrictions were made on realtors that they were not allowed to give opinions on areas or say anything that could sway the buyer.  We pretty much found and decided on our home without any input from her.

Choose your buyers agent carefully.  In my opinion, the best thing they can do is to do the footwork and homework they are supposed to do during normal workday hours.  Test them to make sure they really do work 9-5.  They may not be able to take every one of your calls during the day, but should be able to respond within less than an hour. Only use someone who is proactive and responds quickly.

Atlanta House For Sale

A couple months after moving in, for several reasons we decided to sell the house. My wife got pregnant, we decided we didn’t need such a big house, all our life outside the house remained in our old neighborhood, and the commute to our old neighborhood and our jobs seemed too long, especially while pregnant and knowing every minute on the road would be a minute not spent at home with the baby.

Seller Agent Agenda

Our biggest question in selling the house was could we do it without taking a big loss.  We were still paying for the appliances and repaying a “gift” from my mother to help with the down payment.  We were already house poor from the purchase.  Shelling out a lot of cash at closing was not an option.

After reaching out to several nearby real estate offices saying I wanted to list my house for $200,000, which would give a little negotiating room above the recent appraisal.  I got a response from one that was interested in listing the house.  The agent ran comps, did a break even analysis and suggested a list price of $212K.

It seemed impossibly high, but she insisted the comps proved it was worth it.  It sat there for weeks with no offers and very few showings.  After a couple weeks, that agent notified us she was leaving to a different office and we could go with her to the new office or take another agent at the same office.  A little small talk eventually revealed she was moving to an office located near higher priced homes where she would make more money.  Our $212K listing along with one other gave her portfolio high enough listings to get her the position in the other office.  We chose to have another agent take over our listing and stay in the same office. Concerned our house was listed too high, we asked our new agent, who recommended we keep it where it was.  Weeks passed and we kept asking about the price. Finally that agent ran comps and realized the house was listed about $20K too high!  She claimed it would never sell unless it was lowered.  We looked over numbers and found that with her commission, we could not cover costs and still sell the house at a fair price.

That agent left the office, leaving us with the option to stay with her at her new office or trade to another agent at the current office.  We decided to sell by owner.

Seller Agents Compete to List Our House

Ever since listing our house for sale by owner on Craigslist, agents have been contacting us, wanting to list the house. One agent in particular tried to talk me into putting the house up as a short sale.  She wanted me to damage my credit so she could make a commission selling my house.  My wife and I are amazed at the number of unprofessional and unethical real estate agents.

One thought on “Why I’m Selling My House For Sale by Owner Without an Agent

  1. I don’t understand the comment from the first agent at all. I know of no restrictions that says a buyers agent can’t express an opinion or share facts about neighborhoods etc. That’s what representing the buyer means, their experience, knowledge, strategizing and negotiating skills is why you’re hiring them – even though they often get paid by the Seller’s Broker.

    Maybe you could rent the house out until the market improves – and rent the midtown place until the house sells. Another option is to approach the Broker in Charge of the original real estate company, explain the situation and see if they will list your house in the MLS as a limited service listing – whereby you get access to all of the agents in MLS and only have to pay one side of the commission. Some MLS associations allow limited service listings – there is usually a small fee and the showing service typically calls the Seller directly.

    Professional agents typically add value to the transaction, it’s unfortunate that you had a bad experience. I would be very careful inviting prospective buyers found of Craigslist into your home. A Realtor is familiar with safety and security precautions and typically know something about the people they bring inside your home.

    The market has been tough and somewhat unpredictable – it’s very difficult to build enough equity to cover fees for a move in such a short period.

    Hopefully soon, we will all be benefiting from a more robust economy, more jobs, and a much stronger real estate market.