One of the best reasons to list your home with a real estate agent isn't just about getting more money for your home. While a real estate agent can get you up to 14% more for your home, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, he or she can also protect you and your property.
When your home goes on the market, you don't know where your buyer is going to come from -- the Internet, the sign in your yard, a neighbor referral or the buyer's agent. Having your home professionally listed makes your agent the point of contact so you don't have people coming to your door who aren't qualified and ready to buy a home.
To expose your home to the most qualified buyers, your listing agent operates within a cooperative of real estate brokers called the multiple listing service (MLS). Competing brokers may bring their buyers to your home and receive a share of your agent's commission for helping to sell your home.
The MLS is the fastest and broadest way to expose your home to as many ready, willing and able homebuyers as possible. Through the MLS, your home may be promoted on Internet sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, where homes are showcased with virtual tours and multiple photos. Your agent may showcase your home in local media and put a sign in your yard so interested buyers can drive by and see your home's curb appeal.
Serious buyers use these tools to choose homes they're interested in. They realize that your home is listed through an agent and will get in touch with their own agent or your agent if they're interested. Anyone who ignores or tries to circumvent these obvious signs of agency is not the buyer you want.
Real estate professionals have ways of identifying genuine buyers. True buyers are prepared and ready -- they've been preapproved by a reputable lender, they're represented by an agent, and they're willing to share information about their parameters and timeline for buying a home.
What about open houses? Most real estate agents offer them only when they have increased security to protect your home (and themselves), such as asking another professional or a lender to accompany them.
Open house visitors are required to sign in, and some agents ask to see and make notes of drivers' licenses. Serious buyers won't mind these precautions, but someone who is interested only in decorating ideas or stealing prescription drugs from your bathroom won't likely comply.
Since you're being represented by an agent, there's no reason to open your door to anyone who says he or she is a real estate agent or a buyer unless they have an appointment.
Simply direct doorbell ringers to call your listing agent for an appointment. If they try to plead, bargain or get angry with you to get you to open the door, don't do it. Call the police.
There's a good reason why 88 percent of sellers list with a real estate agent over selling their home by themselves. Don't risk your safety -- it's never worth it.