Real estate: Can you save money selling your own home?

Friday , May 19, 2017 - 5:00 AM

By J​en Kirchhoefer, Real estate columnist

If you have a thumb, I guess you can pretty much do about anything — even sell a home.

It’s an interesting concept to me, especially since I have been in the business of selling homes for some time now and I haven’t yet figured out how to complete this task by simply using my thumb.

For those of you who haven’t looked up from the road to glance upon billboards while driving south along Interstate 15, you won’t know what I am referring to. And you are probably a much better driver than those of us who are averting our gaze away from the road to educate ourselves with the fascinating and enlightening advertisements that entertain us along the way.

I’m referring to a specific one of those aforementioned billboards. This advertisement implies that selling your home is so easy that you can do it simply by clicking on an app on your phone screen with your thumb.

Apparently, that is all it takes to attract a slew of qualified buyers to your home. It’s like magic. It must be because your home won’t be listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service, the Realtor database that lists data about properties for sale). It can be, but that’s extra. All you get with the “thumb” marketing plan is a sign for your yard.

What you don’t get with the proverbial “thumb” plan is a detailed market analysis with a person to explain all of the details that go into determining value. You don’t get someone to order title, review title information, supply property disclosures and, if needed, lead-based paint disclosures. You don’t get verification and negotiation of inclusions or exclusions or lot size or square footage.

But you do get to schedule your own showings, even to those “buyers” who are not only far from being qualified, but are three months late on their payment for the current pants they are wearing. You also get to figure out how to read a contract and interpret every single line to be sure that you, as the seller, aren’t giving away the farm with the house (it’s in the fine print).

No worries though, once you’re under contract, it’s practically a done deal. Or is it? Of course, there are inspections that need to be scheduled and accommodated. You will probably need to miss work to let the inspector in, since there isn’t a key box on your door. Then you will need to negotiate repairs after inspections. It sounds like a lot to do, but keep focused and think of the money you are saving.

After accommodating the appraisal, following up with the lender on several occasions to be sure the loan is going through and making all agreed-upon repair requests, all that is left is to prepare paperwork and schedule a closing.

Don’t be discouraged if, eight days before closing, the buyer decides to cancel the contract. It rarely happens — only about 1 out of every 10 deals right now.

After all, you get their earnest money deposit, right? I guess it depends on what was negotiated. According to contract, earnest money is protected (as in refundable back to buyer) if backing out due to finance and appraisal, all the way up until that last date on the contract. It varies, but it could easily be 5-7 days before closing.

So maybe your thumbs don’t charge commission. But computer software doesn’t call for feedback after showings or adjust price based on current daily market trends.

But this particular “thumb” marketing plan does encourage you to “offer a discount on your home compared to other homes in the neighborhood.”

Interesting. I guess you didn’t save money after all.

J​en Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor with Ascent Real Estate. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

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