Home Seller Tips December 18, 2020

The Downside of Selling Your Home Off Market

Who wouldn’t want the enticement of a full price offer on their home before it even comes to market? At first glance it seems like a compelling opportunity, but it comes at a steep price.

With the shortage of homes today, friends and neighbors are all on the lookout for up-and-coming listings. They aren’t hard to spot amongst the buzz of spruce up activity that often occurs as a home is being prepped for the market. Often the buyer or their broker contact the seller or their broker to request an early showing and you can guess what transpires from there. You and your broker have a list price in mind and the buyer’s offer comes in at that price. What could be better?

Are you leaving money on the table?

For starters, consider that homes in the Seattle-Eastside region are typically selling well above their asking prices. Local market data shows most homes bring in 3-8% above their listed prices during the last several months. This occurs when multiple buyers are competing for the same property…something that doesn’t happen when negotiating off market with a single buyer. Consider a home at Seattle’s median price of $800,000, 3-8% equates to $24,000-$64,000 left on the table.

But that isn’t all there is to consider. In our current highly competitive market, it isn’t unusual for buyers to waive contingencies such as financing and appraisal, pre-inspect or waive the inspection contingency, and often even release their earnest money as non-refundable. This does not often happen in a non-competing situation and leaves you vulnerable to transaction challenges before closing.

In addition, it is often the buyers who can’t effectively compete in an open market that are most motivated to try to get you to sell off market. This benefits the buyer significantly, but eliminates the benefits to you of a strong seller-favored market.


What about iBuyer company offers?

iBuyers are companies that agree to pay a set amount for your home up front and then list it for sale after you move out. They have gained popularity in some markets-Phoenix and Atlanta especially. In 2019, they had 59,000 transactions nationwide or about half of one percent market share of the 5.38 million transactions last year. Amidst COVID and economic concerns, iBuyer market share was down dramatically in 2020 and remains uncertain for 2021.

Nationally, their sweet spot has been predictable subdivision homes priced around $250,000. They have traditionally avoided higher priced markets due to the added risk in pricing. And they have historically avoided Washington State because of our real property transfer tax that adds ~2% to the cost of sale.

While selling to an iBuyer might seem easy and intriguing, it helps to remember these companies are in business to make a profit at your expense. iBuyers charge a 6-10% service fee in addition to factoring in the cost of needed repairs or updates (data shows an average of 2-5% of the sale price). Atypical expenses, like our state’s 2% transfer tax, are also calculated into the net. Add it all up and it is a hefty price to pay for the convenience of not having to go through the sale process.

On other thing to note is that iBuyers also profit by selling the names of homeowners who contact them for a bid, but do not accept that bid (93-98% of inquiries, depending on the company), to real estate agents without an established client base who are willing to pay for leads. These are typically not the most successful real estate brokers in a given marketplace. Not only do sellers who use these brokers often lose out on the benefits of working with a knowledgeable and established Realtor, that broker’s marketing budget is consumed largely by paying for leads instead of prominently marketing your home.


Final thoughts

It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of an off-market offer. And it’s flattering to feel like your home is so appealing that people are knocking on your door before it even debuts. For some, the privacy of an off-market sale offsets the considerable dollars left on the table. But for most of us, those dollars matter. And having multiple interested buyers instead of just one means better terms and more certainty as you head towards the closing table.

Still have questions? Contact one of our knowledgeable brokers for assistance with how to purchase, sell, or determine the value of any property you are considering.


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