Vail Daily column: Should you sell a home on your own or get a Realtor?

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: My neighbor just put his house on the market as a for-sale-by-owner property. He has been talking about how the market is much better now and there are hardly any homes on the market, and he says it will be easy to sell his own home and keep from paying any real estate commission.

He is working on getting it on sites that take for-sale-by-owner homes, and he is writing ads for the newspaper and running around trying to get his house looking nice and taking some pictures that will only show the good side of things. He is excited, hoping he might have a buyer soon, but I question some of his logic, not to mention his ability to be a good sales person since he is an engineer type by trade.

What are his chances of selling his own home, do you think?

FSBO Next Door

Dear FSBO Next Door: He may or may not be able to eventually sell his own home, but I am quite confident that a knowledgeable Realtor can net him more money at closing than he would ever get on his own. Yes, the market is quite active in many areas, in some price ranges, and yes the inventory is low right now, once again, only in certain areas and price ranges, but selling a home for top dollar takes a lot of work and knowhow.

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Many of us successful Realtors offer a staging expert to pinpoint where the seller needs to spend the most effort to achieve the maximum “bang for his buck” to make his home appeal to the broadest range of people possible. We also have experienced photographers to show off a home in the best manner possible. Our marketing, internet and social media connections are all in place to get the best and broadest exposure immediately.

And, equally as important as securing a buyer are the following, possibly costly processes necessary to get to a successful closing: 1) securing an offer that is at, or close to, market value; 2) securing a buyer who can qualify for an appropriate loan from a qualified lender; 3) working through any and all inspection objections the buyer may have without taking a significant price reduction; 4) assisting an appraiser with adequate comparables, if necessary; 5) coordinating any and all amendments, date changes, contingency resolutions, etc., so the contract stays together and reaches the closing date on time, getting the most money with the least amount of inconvenience to the seller.

Lastly, most buyers in today’s market want a professional Realtor representing them when they are making a purchase of this magnitude. Often, if a buyer is looking at a for-sale-by-owner home, then he or she is looking for a rock-bottom deal and will never make a market-value offer.

Even if your neighbor offers some compensation to Realtors, then most Realtors will seek out “listed” properties first for their buyers, so they are guaranteed compensation and so they can work with another professional through the challenging processes to make for a smooth, successful transaction. If your neighbor has not already done so, then he should consult with one or more respected Realtors so he has a better understanding, prior to making a possible costly error with one of his largest transactions in his financial portfolio.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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