Humboldt County For Sale By Owner: Going it Alone or Getting Help

Services for Real Estate Pros with Bigger Communications

The main reason most Humboldt County For Sale By Owners go it alone, is to save on the commission.  And I say if you can do it on your own more power to you.  However there's more to Humboldt County Real Estate than meets the eye.  So I guess it comes down to value.  I can give you a list of over 50 to 75 tasks that I do for my sellers before, during and after the sale.  A lot of it is behind the scenes and I do try to present this information clearly when meeting with a potential home owner who's thinking about selling their home in Humboldt County CA.

Several weeks ago I sat down with a lovely couple who had tried to sell their home in Trinidad CA with a local Realtor 2 years prior and they were unsuccessful.  After sending them some information about the market, they gave me a call to see if they wanted to put the house back on the market after waiting 2 years.  Needless to say the market was quite different now than 2 years ago, but based on our economy the likelyhood of them getting more for their Humboldt County real estate investment a year from today was slim.Humboldt County Real Estate

So they needed time to ponder what was the best situation for them.  After some discussion they decided to continue to rent their home and ride out the Humboldt County Real Estate market.  Until I received a phone call from them yesterday.  Stating they decided to go it alone and sell their home on their own.   And luckily they attracted an interested buyer. "Good for You" I mentioned on the phone to them.   But they called me because they know that there's a lot of footwork to be done to get the sale through.  And they weren't exactly sure how handle the sale on their own.  They considerrd whether to hire me to handle the sale.

Since I didn't list the home, and do the marketing, I offered them a reduced rate to handle the sale of their home.  But there was hesitation on the other end of the line.  They really wanted to save as much as possible and I can completely understand their situation.  It's an investment and every cent they can get out of this sale is important - it is part of their retirement.Frustrated Humboldt County Seller

She considered using the lender or the title agent to help them through the deal.  And here's what I said to her on the phone.

"Yes the lender might be able to guide you through the sale and maybe even the Title agent, however neither party deals with the ins and outs of a real estate transaction.  Hiring a Realtor to handle the sale is like hiring a conductor for a symphony.  There are all kinds of little details that must be addressed and handled throughout the sale."

Then it got me thinking about what we do as listing agents for our sellers.  Here's a list of thoughts below:

1) Making sure the buyer really is qualified to buy and he gets a preapproval letter from a legitimate lender.  And remember if the lender says he's going to help you - Who is he working for?  He's working for the buyer...not YOU the seller.  I'm not sure if lenders or title agents are really allowed to provide services that Real Estate agents provide.  Not sure on this, but....

2) Making sure the contracts are written correctly to protect YOU the seller and explaining those contracts in detail to make sure you understand what and why you are agreeing to certain terms in the contract.  If you aren't going to use a real estate agent than it's probably a good idea to hire a real estate attorney.

3) Making sure you understand, fill out and sign all the disclosures that you are required to provide the buyer per the state of California real estate law.  So if god for bid the buyer comes back to sue you - hopefully if you disclosed everything you were supposed to and your agent was diligent in making sure every aspect of the sale was documented, including the conversations with the  buyer - then it's going to be harder for this buyer to nail you on something.  No guarantees, however you have a better chance of protecting yourself this way.  The "I didn't know I was supposed to dislcose that piece of information" does not excuse you from the disclosure requirements.

4) Making sure all inspections are done and if there are problems creatively coming up with solutions to solve those problems so the deal doesn't go south.

5) Making sure the lender is on task and moving forward with the loan so we can close on the agreed time.  I've run into lots of lenders who tell you what you want to hear and then in the end can not deliver the loan.  None of my lenders have had problems, but other agents have told me horror stories.

6) Making sure the buyer gets his walk thru before the close of escrow, everyone gets to the table to sign closing documents and all funds, cash and loan are in place - keeping the escrow officer and title officer on task.  These are just a few items to name on the list.

Hiring a Realtor to handle the ins and outs of a transaction is like hiring an event coordinator to handle your party.  The question is:  Do you want to be stressed at your own party, making sure the food and wine is flowing, the entertainment is keeping guests happy, etc. or do you want to enjoy the event?  Same goes for real estate.  Do you want to handle all the minute details that go into selling your home - no this is not like selling a Big Screen TV or a Washer and Dryer at Sears - it's more involved, trust me - or do you want someone who deals with selling homes day in and day out to take the reigns?

It's up to you and in the end it's your decision.  Is it worth a few thousand dollars to have peace of mind and to know someone is handling all the major details of the sale or are you a do it your selfer who would rather be in the thick of it and save some cash?

Copyright 2009 Jessica Bigger. All Rights Reserved. *Humboldt County For Sale By Owner:  Going it Alone or Getting Help*


Are you thinking about selling your Humboldt County Home and want a stress free sale.  Give me a call and we can chat about your situation.

Jessica Bigger RE/MAX Humboldt Realty - 707-496-5770

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is supplied by several sources and is subject to change without notice. California Coast Real Estate Blog does not guarantee or is any way responsible for its accuracy, and provides said information without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. Entries on California Coast Real Estate Blog represent the opinions and ideas of the author(s). California Coast Real Estate Blog does not express the views of RE/MAX Humboldt Realty or those of the broker.

Comments (9)


We thought we would try to do a "For Sale by Owner" on our first house when we decided to sell. After much thought however, we decided to do what we do best, and get a realtor to handle the sale so we could get on with our lives (sorry Jess, this was before you got licensed!).

The realtor sold our house in a timely manner, and we got a good price. Nearly two years later, the crankey old farts that bought our house tried to sue us, claming that our roof was defective. It leaked after the big New Years Day storm of 2006, and a BIG EXPENSIVE WELL-KNOWN LOCAL roofing company tried to tell them that the previous install was done incorrectly.They told the old farts that they roof had to be torn off because it was bad.

Well, thank dog we had a realtor, because she backed us up 100 percent and handled the issue. Turns out the buyers got our roof inspected during escrow, and it passed. We had our paperwork, and there was no way they could come back and say that our roof was defective.

Thanks to our realtor, we never had to deal with the cranky buyers or their lawyer. Two years later, our realtor was still on our side. How's that for service?! Had we gone the cheapo route and sold it ourselves, we wouldn't have known where to start and probably would've had to hire a lawyer to deal with it.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of using a professional for this kind of thing. Stick with a realtor and you can't go wrong. Don't cheap out!

Mar 25, 2009 03:09 PM
Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Pine Bush, NY
Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY

Great post Jessica.  You know the old saying save a penny spend a dime.  You do get what you pay for and sometimes you get stuck by not paying for it!

Mar 26, 2009 12:34 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

So what did she say, Jessica? Did they let you handle the transaction?

sacramento agent

Mar 26, 2009 02:37 AM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Rene - thanks for sharing your experience!  I'm glad you had a good "due diligence" REaltor.  Those are so important.  So how are things?  Email me when you get a chance - the link is at the top of this blog to the right :)

Paddy - Very true.  Although I have a feeling these sellers are still going to go it alone.  In the end it's my job to help people who want the help.  I'm happy for them that they were able to attract a buyer on their own so quickly, but we do a heck of a lot more for our clients during and after the sale.  It's more than just sticking a sign in the yard and marketing.  That's only one part of the puzzle.

Mar 26, 2009 02:41 AM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Elizabeth - She had to think about it, which means the answer is going to be no.  Although I'm going to call her today to check in just in case.  As Realtors we do provide quite a bit of value especially in our state - we don't have attorneys handling the contracts - we do that, plus facilitate the whole deal and in the end we're totally accountable if something comes back to bite us or our clients.  Knowing that if I were the lender or the title person - I'd recommend these sellers work with an agent.  It amazes me that the lender (who works for the buyer no less) is telling the sellers that he can handle the sale for them and guide them through it.  I smelll major liabilty coming down the pike on this one. 

Mar 26, 2009 02:44 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I've seen sellers actually loose money because they didn't hire a professional and let themselves get "taken" by purchasers who went in for the kill.

Mar 26, 2009 06:54 AM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Hey Tammy - Yeah it's sad but sooo true.


Update to all:  I checked in with the sellers - they are going to hire an attorney.  So in contract world - that should help.  But they have to deal with all the minute details to bring the deal to a close.   In the end I guess it's not our job to convince someone to hire us.  If they want to do it themselves more power to them (especially if they have a real estate attorney), but if they want someone to coordinate the whole enchilada then that's what we're here for.

Mar 26, 2009 07:16 AM
Chuck Capan
REMAX River Cities - Moline, IL
REALTOR Licensed In IL. - Moline Homes Quad Citie

Glad they hired an attorney...hate to see lenders or title companies get the "practicing real estate without a license" thing slapped on them.  They could have been the ones who steered the sellers toward an attorney.

Mar 27, 2009 10:52 AM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Chuck - I'm not a real estate attorney, so I don't know the extent on whether lenders and title agents can actually pratice real estate, but what I do know is if you want to get the job done and you don't want to do it yourself - hire a Realtor to handle the transaction.  It's more than just dealing with the contracts at hand.  It's facilitating the deal all the way through and being there to solve problems when they arise.  Hey we deal with this stuff every day.  We know the ins and outs of a real estate deal and it's not as easy as people think.

Mar 28, 2009 02:58 PM