Get an Agent or Sell Yourself?

Many people try to sell their own house. Here's what you need to know if you go that route.

By: Tammy Stoner

Given the hunk of the money pie sliced off for your real estate agent's commission (usually 5 percent to 6 percent of the final sale price of the house), many people consider going it alone. If you feel confident selling your house on your own, we strongly recommend having a real estate lawyer go over your paperwork. This is a high-dollar deal, and you don't want to screw it up.

The advantages of working with an agent are numerous. Your agent will list your property in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a national database of homes for sale. This means your home will be picked up by thousands of Web sites. You cannot list your own home in the MLS because only licensed Realtors can list homes there. But you can hire a "flat rate" broker who will list your property for a low fee, and then you handle the rest of the deal.

A real estate agent knows how to market, negotiate and sell homes, and often your agent coordinates your entire "selling crew" -- all the wild cards -- from home inspectors to escrow agents. The agent can be your greatest ally.

If you decide to use a Realtor, hire someone referred by a friend. Think seriously before splitting your agent's loyalty by allowing him to "double" -- meaning, allowing him to represent both you (the seller) and someone else (the buyer).

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