Consumer Alert: Choosing the right realtor

Choosing the right realtor. Caption Choosing the right realtor. Caption

Selling a home can be a difficult and stressful time for most homeowners.

Many sellers say that they often worry about picking the right realtor or if they even need a realtor at all.

One of the biggest expenses when selling a home can be the real estate agent's commission. Realtors typically get 6 percent of the selling price of the home.

Retired real estate agent Dan Desmond wrote a book criticizing commission-based real estate. He says that the price of a house has nothing to do with how much work it takes to sell it.

"It's the same transaction. It's like going to the car wash with an expensive car or a less expensive car," he says.

But the New Jersey State Board of Realtors insists that commissions ensure the seller and their realtor are on the same side. They say the more money the seller makes, the more the realtor makes.

"In most cases, working with a realtor professional will actually enhance and actually get you a greater price," says the board's Robert Oppenheimer.

Sellers and realtors can negotiate on commissions. Many agents will take less than 6 percent. But real estate experts warn not to cut the commission by too much, since agents typically need to share the commission with their broker and sometimes the buyer's agent.

Some realtors will work for flat fees, but those agents may only offer limited services in return.

The Board of Realtors says that homeowners who want to sell their homes on their own should be warned. The board says that unless the homeowner is a good negotiator, they may not save any money.

"A buyer is going to see the 'for sale by owner' sign and immediately discount the offer by, they think it's 6 percent," Oppenheimer says.

Kane In Your Corner says that hiring a realtor is pretty much like hiring any other professional. Homeowners should check references and get referrals. Owners should find someone they trust, especially if they are given advice they don't want to hear, such as the price of their home is set too high.

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