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Do-it-yourself real estate tempting, but beware of pitfalls

Signs proclaiming ‘For Sale by Owner’ often pop up in front of houses only to be replaced by a Realtor’s sign in a few days or weeks. It’s tempting for homeowners to try the do-it-yourself kind of property transaction but the professionals warn of pitfalls in doing so. The Realtors interviewed by the Mississippi Business Journal say most folks have no idea what they’re getting into when trying to sell their homes. That’s why the for sale signs change quickly.

A check list to consider before trying to sell your home:

• Time involved to show the home at all hours of the day.

• Cost of advertising.

• Having an open house is time consuming and people must be carefully watched.

• A contract is a legal document that must be exact.

• Through multiple listing service (MLS), Realtors have access to more potential buyers.

• Realtors can pre-screen and pre-qualify buyers.

• Realtors also have access to more market information.

Buyers should beware of purchasing an owner-sold property because owners are not required to disclose anything about the property as Realtors are. The disclosure will contain information regarding repairs, whether or not the home has flooded or had termites. This information is especially prudent for buyers coming from out of town who know nothing about the area.

“More than anything, most people do not have the time and knowledge to sell real estate,” says Esther Brown, owner/broker of Prudential Magnolia Realty Co. in Tupelo. “It’s a very time consuming and complicated process. It’s not as simple as it sounds.”

Brown, who’s been in the business for 30 years, says homeowners could be letting people into their homes they might not want there. Also, open houses are still a great source for buyers but they must be handled carefully. “You can’t just let people wander through your house,” she said.

Cheryl Fair of Chase Fair Realty in Southaven says her best advice for anyone wanting to sell a home is to call a Realtor. By using a professional, sellers and buyers get expertise and protection.

“Homeowners don’t know what they’re getting into. They think they can stick a sign in the yard, run an ad in the paper and that’s all there is,” she said. “Doing it that way they are not reaching all the potential buyers. We have over 1,000 Realtors in our area so putting it in the MLS gets the word out to many more people.”

Additionally, Fair says someone must be at the home every time it is shown, often during the homeowner’s work hours.
“If someone is in a hot area and I know them, I might tell them to put up a sign and see what happens,” she said. “Nine times out of 10, they’re coming back to me because they don’t know what to do next.”

Chase Fair Realty covers burgeoning DeSoto County, where Fair says sales haven’t slowed down, and Tunica, Tate and Marshall counties.

Brown, whose company has offices in Tupelo, Oxford and New Albany, said, “Our company has a lot of properties that start out ‘for sale by owner’ and then come to us. It’s really not simple when you’re dealing with a legal document for a sale. Everyone must understand their rights.”

Based in Pascagoula, Mark Cumbest is broker/owner of Cumbest Realty and handles residential, commercial, industrial and land sales all over South Mississippi. He also serves on the State Real Estate Commission. His agency frequently has listings that begin ‘for sale by owner.’

“It happens a lot. I think the main reason is the perception is that sellers would save money by not using a Realtor,” he said, “but the fact is that using an experienced real estate professional for selling or buying will save money.”

Cumbest says that’s because Realtors have access to the latest market information as to value of property. Once an individual has priced their home and it’s listed, it’s too late even if it’s priced too low. He points out that by doing searches through the multiple listing service, Realtors can find buyer matches financially and other ways. They also provide information on schools and community amenities to potential buyers.

“The biggest thing is that Realtors can help with negotiations and determine due diligence,” he said. “You want an experienced negotiator working for you. Realtors can handle a transaction from start to finish.”

Most of all, Cumbest, who’s been in the business 32 years, says Realtors can mediate objectively and evaluate proposals without emotion.

“I don’t recommend owners sell on their own,” he added. “A home is one of the biggest financial investments people make and they need advice from professionals. When you have a tax problem, you consult a CPA.When you have a legal problem, you consult an attorney. When you want to sell property, consult a real estate professional.”

Cumbest stresses that Realtors are licensed members of a national association and maintain a code of ethics.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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