Home sellers do less than 3 hours of research, hire the first agent they meet

May 16, 2019 - 4 min read

Home sellers hate homework

Thinking about selling your home? Prepare to do your proper seller research. Because rushing into the process without knowing the facts can lead to regret. It could result in dissatisfaction with your agent. You may also get less for your home than you had hoped.

New data suggest that seller research is lacking. The study finds that many sellers have confidence but lack know-how. That’s because they may not be doing enough due diligence when it comes to selling a home and choosing a real estate agent.

So get ready to do your homework. Learn what’s involved in selling a home. Choose the best method to sell your property. And select an agent carefully if that’s the route you choose.

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Results of a new study

SOLD.com recently conducted a poll of homeowners. Among its biggest findings:

  • Sellers are self-assured. 94% of consumers feel confident about selling a home.
  • But there’s not enough seller research. In fact, 58% of sellers who sold before spent less than 3 hours researching how to sell their home.
  • Sellers aren’t very picky about agents. Four out of five who use a traditional agent hired one of the first two agents they met with.
  • Many overvalue their home. 44% check the value of their home via an online valuation site monthly. Experts recommend trusting in a local agent/professional to assess your home’s value instead.
  • Sellers’ top concerns are: getting a home ready to sell (chosen by 43%); the stress and anxiety of moving (27%); and financial implications (21%).

What these findings mean to you

Matt Woods, president of SOLD.com, found these statistics telling.

“The survey results validated that people think they know what they’re doing when it comes to selling a home. Yet, it turns out that a large knowledge gap exists. And most people don’t know that there are alternatives to selling via an agent or FSBO,” he says. “They’re not doing their due diligence and utilizing resources available to them.”

The survey also suggests that seller research on agents is lacking.

“Many seem to believe that all agents are created equal. Therefore, they don’t do much homework on which agent to hire,” Woods adds. “Our survey found that most consumers believe agent commissions are overpriced. Yet, they think that an agent is one of the only options available to sell their home. So they accept the commission.”

Other experts agree

Suzanne Hollander is a real estate attorney and Florida International University senior instructor. She concurs with the poll’s finding that many sellers overvalue their home.

“Many sellers have a hubris and think their property is the best. Often times, their thoughts are incorrect. Too often, sellers aren’t familiar with comparable properties in their market,” she says. “Sellers should know where their home stands in terms of price and desirability versus other homes on the market.”

Also, too many sellers only meet with one agent whom they end up choosing, says Bruce Ailion, Realtor and real estate attorney.

“Many sellers select the agent they used to buy the home years ago. Or they rely on a relative or friend’s recommendation. But that may not be the best agent for their situation,” Ailion says. “I see many homes sell for less than they should. That can be due to an inexperienced agent.”

Seller research recommendations

To improve your chances of a quicker sale and a higher sales price, try these tips:

Explore different selling options. “Picking an agent who works on commission or opting for FSBO aren’t your only choices,” Woods says. “Instead, you can hire an agent for a flat fee or extremely reduced commission. You can enlist a limited service agent who will do less but cost far less. You can sell your home to a cash buyer without prepping or improving it. Or you can sell your home through an auction platform.”

Get familiar with your market. “Gather information on and visit comparable properties for sale in your area. Look at sale prices over the last 12 months. And see how many days these homes were typically on the market,” advises Hollander.

Meet with multiple agents. “Interview at least three agents, and ask lots of questions.” Ailion says. “How much training and experience do they have? Do they have advanced education and designations? What resources will they bring to the job? How are they going to market and position your home to meet your goals? What is their negotiating style? Is this person a good listener and do they respond to your queries quickly?

Negotiate the commission if you feel it’s too high. “But note that an agent who is quick to lower their commission may not do the best job,” adds Ailion. “They may also be quick to negotiate a lower price for your home.”

Prepare to do your homework. “Expect to spend at least 10 to 15 hours in doing your seller research, even if you’ve had experience selling a home before,” Ailion notes.

Why seller research matters

The bottom line? Sellers need to take the home selling process more seriously. And they need to invest a lot more time and effort into preparing to sell their home.

“A lot of money is at stake, after all,” says Hollander. “A home sale is often the largest transaction a person will make in their lifetime.”

Consider, too, that making the wrong decisions can be time-consuming.

“If the agent you choose is not successful, you lose time. You have to pursue a new strategy,” says Ailion. “That may mean picking a different agent, lowering your price further, or relisting your home.”

Thinking of selling your home?

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Erik J. Martin
Authored By: Erik J. Martin
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Erik J. Martin has written on real estate, business, tech and other topics for Reader's Digest, AARP The Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.