Taking the word Discount out of Real Estate

Everyone looking to sell a home in Northern Virginia wants to end up with the best net at the end of the sale as possible.  Who wouldn’t?

I’d like to start with dispelling one of the myths of Northern Virginia real estate.  There is NO such thing as a “discount” real estate broker.  There it’s been said out-loud.  For an agent or brokerage to say they are offering you a “discount” means there is something known as a “standard” commission. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact there have been court cases with huge financial implications for agents or brokerages that violate the Sherman Antitrust Act by price fixing commissions. With the understanding that there is no such thing as a “standard” commission let’s take a look at some of your options.

Fixed Rate aka Flat Fee Brokers-charge you a low price to list your home in the MLS.   Some say if you list with them your house will be on all of the major on-line real estate websites.  Guess what?   As soon as your home is listed in the MLS by any agent it will be on most sites by virtue of something known as IDX.   Do they offer enhanced listings on any of those websites?  Not all Flat Fee Brokers are the same, so you need to check what is included in their fee. Will you have any assistance with forms, lockboxes, contract negotiations or photos for your listings?   Some charge an additional fee for each item and each time you need to change your listing could cause the cash register to ring.

Full service “Discount” Brokers-the ones who advertise we will list your house for 4.5%.   No problem here EXCEPT there are agents who may list your house for 4%.   You need to dig and make sure what full service really means AND then look at the past MLS listings for the agent. How do their listings look on-line, how many homes have they sold, how well have they negotiated for their sellers and are they a full time agent, are just a few of the questions you should ask.

Then finally there is the fee for service model.  This model is a bit harder for many sellers to understand.  Partly because there are fewer than 1% of agents in the US who are Accredited Consultants in Real Estate (ACRE) so the model is not discussed often.  If you are familiar with a consulting model, where you pay for only the services you need as you need them, then this way to sell your home will make sense to you.  It also isn’t for everyone but if you are considering using a flat fee broker but are worried about negotiating a contract and making sure you are fully protected, then it might be worth a discussion.

You have a variety of ways to maximize your bottom line when selling your Northern Virginia home.  The choice is yours as to which one makes the most sense for you.  Don’t be lured strictly by the word “discount” and think that you are saving money.  Price your home correctly for today’s market, make sure it is marketed on-line (where 90% of the buyer’s are looking), is fully available to show and you will be the seller with the SOLD sign in your yard.

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