Basics of selling your house

So you plan to sell your house and don't know where to start? Make sure you get your money's worth, no matter what else you do. For example, perhaps you can sell the house by yourself; that is, if you have the time and are willing to make the effort. The experience you gain by selling your house yourself is invaluable, of course.

But if you must sell your house quickly, you may decide to go to real-estate broker and let him find a buyer -- for a commission, that is.

Shop around first. Choosing a broker is a personal experience, indeed. Personalities differ, both yours and the broker's. Don't make the mistake of putting yourself in the hands of the first broker with whom you talk. If the broker knows barely more than you do, your hope for a quick sale is slim.

There is far more to real estate that finding someone who has passed the state real- estate saleman's or broker's exam but won't try anything new or different as times change in the industry.

The broker you finally choose to sell your house should know the territory, be able to explain things clearly, and should understand the new methods of financing that are helping to move the houses that dom sell in a tough money market where interest rates are scraping the sky.

The idea is to hire someone who can do a better job than you could do. Don't settle for less. A knowledgeable broker will be able to scour the market for you.

The broker should present or receive offers on your behalf, offer suggestions for improvements, be able to achieve favorable lending terms, plus a host of other factors that might make the completion of a deal more certain.

Learn from a broker and you can get your money's worth for the commission paid.

If you are buying, the broker should be able to assess your chances of finding what you want in your price range. He should expose you to comparable properties so you can get a feel for the current housing market.

The person you select should have solid contacts in the fields of escrow, cleanup, title, painting, and financing -- in fact, any area in which you might need service. He should have access to a multiple-listing service so that his inventory of available housing is broader than just his own listings.

By law, commissions are negotiable. However, if a broker has been prequalified and meets your criteria, you may be well advised to pay the 6 percent or more -- and then make sure that you are satisfied with what you get.

You may find one whose commission is 4 or 5 percent, but you may get less than 5 percent worth of services. If the deal never comes off, who is to say you received anything at all?

On the other hand, a broker who meets your needs may also be "creative" enough to take a note or a share in the property as part or all of the commission, especially if the deal is so creative that nobody has cash.

Some sellers will list with a broker for a full commission -- say, 10 percent for vacant land -- but will include a written stipulation that the selling office is to receive 7 percent and the listing office only 3 percent.

When you stop to think that both the listing and selling houses split the net commission, and that the selling salesman may split with the selling house, there is some merit in biasing the commission split to favor the selling house.

If you have confidence in your broker, if the property is priced reasonably, and if the salesmen in the listing office are aggressive, your property may never appear in the multiple-listing service because a deal will be quickly closed.

To wrap up, if you have done your homework, followed the preliminary analysis of your property, and understood what was happening, you will be in a good position to evaluate whether or not you, in fact, got your money's worth.

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