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In some ways, a real estate pro acting on their own behalf makes a lot of sense. They know the local market and the ins and outs of the industry. Arranging the perfect staging, getting gorgeous photos and hosting successful open houses all come naturally. But some ethical and legal questions do come into play in this situation.
So, can a Realtor sell their own home? Yes, technically. But there are specific considerations to ensure everything goes smoothly, so let’s explore the details.
How can a Realtor sell their own home?
Professional real estate agents — including Realtors, or agents who are also members of the National Association of Realtors — can sell their own residence the same way they would any other property. That means listing it for sale through the usual channels, including adding it to their local MLS, or multiple listing service.
“The typical real estate agent would post their property for sale through their brokerage and MLS,” says Bennie D. Waller, Ph.D., a professor with the University of Alabama’s Alabama Center for Real Estate. “Depending on the broker/agent relationship, they may be able to list their property for little to no cost, or avoid having to pay their broker a commission on the sale.”
As with any other home sale, the agent will need to navigate things like:
- Reviewing local comps
- Setting the listing price
- Staging the house
- Coordinating showings and open houses
- Reviewing and negotiating offers
Is there anything a Realtor should consider first?
All Realtors must abide by the National Association of Realtor’s Code of Ethics. Article 4 of that Code speaks directly to Realtors selling their own homes: “In selling property they own, or in which they have any interest, Realtors shall reveal their ownership or interest in writing to the purchaser or the purchaser’s representative.”
Even an agent who isn’t a Realtor should disclose that they are the owner of the property to any would-be buyers. While disclosure laws vary from state to state, being forthcoming makes sense to ensure there are no unnecessary entanglements and keep everything above-board.
“Seasoned real estate professionals recognize the importance of their reputation and the importance of transparency,” Waller says. “It is important that clients don’t feel like their listing is competing with a property their agent has listed. It is equally important for broker/agents to be cognizant of the amount of time they are allocating to marketing their personal properties at the expense of their clients.”
Pros and cons of an agent selling their own home
As with anything, a real estate pro listing and selling their own property comes with both benefits and drawbacks.
- They can save on commission: In most home sales, the seller pays the commission for both their own agent and the buyer’s agent. This usually comes to around 6 percent of the sale price, split between the two agents. But when it’s a Realtor selling their own home, they don’t have to pay that fee — at least not for half of it, because they are acting as their own agent. In other words, they don’t need to pay themselves.
- They can apply their expertise: “As local experts, agents know the market and very well may [already] have a client in mind when selling agent-owned properties,” Waller says. Regardless, their deep knowledge about their neighborhood will help them pinpoint ideal buyers. And they’ll certainly be able to effectively market the best aspects of their home.
- Emotions can complicate things: While a real estate agent or broker specializes in setting aside the personal feelings of their clients to optimize their home transaction, it may not be so easy when it’s their own place. For example, if they really love the home or have many fond memories, they may subconsciously feel that it’s worth more than comparable properties in the area.
- Their clients may feel neglected: If a Realtor dedicates too much time to their own listing, their other clients could potentially feel they aren’t getting enough attention. Worse yet, would-be clients may look for a Realtor who isn’t tied up in trying to find a buyer for their own place.
Can a Realtor sell their own home? Yes, provided they meet their ethical obligations and disclose to potential buyers that they’re the property owner. But can they juggle all of the emotions and to-dos that come with selling their home with their other clients’ needs? That could be a bit more difficult — but it’s certainly not impossible.