Sellers today have a number of options on methods of selling real estate.  Careful analysis should be given to which technique works best in a given situation:

–  Traditional listing agreement with a local real estate agent

–  For sale by owner (“FSBO”)

–  Discount broker offering limited services

Traditional Real Estate Broker Services

Retaining a knowledgeable experienced local real estate agent to list and sell your home remains the choice of the majority of owners.

Depending on the value of the property, the anticipated real estate broker’s time and costs associated with the marketing of the property and local real estate selling environment, the sales commission will vary and is of course negotiable.  Remember that the sales commission as reflected on the listing agreement is split with the buyer’s real estate broker who is likely to give priority to showing homes in which they earn the greatest fee.

Interview several local real estate brokers and ask candid questions about commissions and what their firm can do to effectively market your property.  Be wary of the listing agent who promises you a much higher sales price than other real estate brokers.  They are likely to come back to you after months of inactivity saying your property is “over priced” while you are still locked into their listing agreement.  For this reason, long term listing agreements may not be in your best interest.

Also, beware of real estate brokers who have “add on” fees beyond the sales commission or those who are trying to sell you other products.  If a real estate broker cannot sell your property without imposing “junk fees” or peddling additional services, consider other realty firms that will concentrate on the reason you have retained them in the first place – to simply sell your property.

For Sale By Owner

“FSBO’s” as they are called, presently account for a minority of sales in a given region.  Whether FSBO home sellers benefit over those who traditionally list properties with a real estate broker is based upon a number of factors:

–  Whether a listing real estate broker could have gotten a higher sales price through greater marketing exposure or through their experienced negotiating skills.

– Whether the FSBO seller factors in the value of their time in screening purchasers, showing the property, negotiating with and then contracting with buyers.

–  Whether the region is considered sufficiently safe to have strangers meandering through the property.

For a seller who has the time, the negotiating ability and is in a “sellers market” where limited advertising will suffice, FSBO’s should be considered.

“Discount” Brokers

This category is the fastest growing and consequently one in which consumers should be most careful.  Most of these companies are relatively new and have been the subject of considerable consumer complaints regarding unconventional or abusive tactics as well as misleading “marketing” agreements.

The Internet has enabled many of these “seller assist” companies to attain instant visibility even though they may be little more than a “shell” company.  Some web-based brokers are merely thinly disguised marketing tools of mortgage brokers, insurance companies and other non-real estate sales related service providers.  These companies induce consumers to sign long term agreements often with sizable penalty clauses buried in the fine print.

Questions that should help decipher legitimate discount brokers from others include:

–  How long have they been in business and how many sales in your particular town did they have over the past twelve months?

– Which real estate web sites will your property appear in vs. that of other brokerage companies?

–  Do they have any complaints pending with government regulatory agencies?  Have they ever or do they currently have any lawsuits pending against them by disgruntled sellers and, if not, will they put that in writing?

–  Which Multiple Listing Services (MLS) do they guarantee that your property will appear in and how does that compare to the MLS exposure of full service brokers?

–  Do they object to having your attorney review the “agreement” before you sign it?  If they do object, why?

As with any new service, once the “negative elements” are eliminated, this selling category has good potential for consumer savings and service.  In the meantime, “seller beware.”


–  In an open listing the seller has the right to list the real estate with other realtors and reserves the right to sell the property personally.   That means when the property is sold, only the realtor who procures the ready, willing and able buyer will receive a commission.

–  In an exclusive agency listing, the seller employs only one broker to list the property.  The seller, however, reserves the right to sell the property personally without any obligation to pay a commission to the realtor.

–  In an exclusive right to sell listing, the owner chooses only one realtor to list the property and pays the realtor a commission if the property is sold by any party, including the owner.


The realtor’s commission is open to negotiation.  Most listing agreements entitle the realtor to a commission when the realtor has procured a ready, willing and able buyer, even if the transaction is not consummated.  The seller’s attorney should be able to negotiate a provision that says the commission is only earned by the realtor when the real estate transaction closes.

The amount of realtor’s commission can be calculated in one of several ways:

–  The flat-fee method means that the realtor charges a set price to sell the house, regardless of the sales price.

–  The percentage method means that the broker will be paid an agreed percentage of the sale price. (most commonly used)

–  The net method means the realtor will keep any amount of the sales price in excess of an agreed amount.  Avoid net commission listings, which are illegal in some states.


There are some important steps that you should take before you put your house on the market – all steps that protect your interests and help you get the most return from your investment.

  1. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan – There are sellers who signed a contract to sell their house before they knew if they were qualified to buy another. Either their financial circumstances had changed since their last purchase, and they could no longer qualify for a loan, or they weren’t able to sell at a price that allowed them to buy the type of replacement house they wanted.  They ended up renting or buying something that was far from ideal.  Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you rust and research the housing market in the area where you wish to live so that you have a good idea how much it will take to buy a replacement.
  1. Check Your Mortgage Payoff – Call your lender to check the payoff for your current home mortgage. You’ll need the figure to complete step 6.
  1. Determine How Much the House is Worth – Determine your home’s fair market value. Agents will usually provide a market analysis as a courtesy, but you should take it a step further and order a formal appraisal.
  1. Estimate Your Costs to Sell -Kelsey Law, LLC can assist you by providing an estimated settlement statement outlining the potential costs of your sale.

–  Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.

–  Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner.

–  Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.

–  Conveyance tax for the sale.

–  Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses such as property taxes, sewer and water adjustments, fire district taxes and assessments if applicable.

  1. Determine your Costs to Acquire a New Home – Total your costs to acquire a new home: moving expenses, loan costs, down payment, buyers’ title work and title policy, paying for a new hazard insurance policy and all expenses related to buying which lender should give you a disclosure of estimated costs when you apply for pre-approval.
  1. Calculate Your Estimated Proceeds

–  Deduct your mortgage payoff from your home’s fair market value.

–  Deduct your costs to sell from the remainder to get an estimate of the proceeds you will receive.

Will your closing proceeds cover your costs to acquire a new home? If not, do you have cash to make up the difference?

  1. Prepare Property Disclosures – State law requires that you give potential buyers property disclosures when you sell a home or pay Seller at closing the sum of $300.00 as an alternative. Disclosures typically deal with the condition of the property and its components or facts about its location such as:

–  The age of the home and its components.

–  Whether problems exist with any component.

–  Whether you (or a neighbor) have built something (fence, shed, road, pool) hat extends past property boundaries.

–  If the house is in a flood zone.

–  If the house is on earthquake fault.

–  Other issues important to your specific location.

Don’t assume that disclosures are only necessary for homes listed with real estate agents, because most for sale by owner sellers must usually furnish them also.  Even if a formal disclosure isn’t mandatory, you are required by law to tell your buyers about known problems, often referred to as material facts.  Learn your obligations by contacting Kelsey Law, LLC.

If your house was built prior to 1978, federal law requires that you disclose that the home could have lead paint and give buyers details about past tests for lead paints.  You must also offer buyers the option to do their own lead paint testing.  Most people don’t perform the tests, but you must furnish them with a lead paint disclosure which is available free online from the EPA.

  1. Fair Housing Laws – Individual sellers may be subject to fair housing guidelines which should be reviewed with a real estate attorney.
  1. Make Necessary Repairs – Make all needed repairs unless you want the house to be regarded as a fixer-upper. I do not mean updates, but to items in need of repair.  Anything that is obviously broken gives potential buyers a reason to lower their offer.  It is suggested that you consider obtaining a home inspection prior to selling your property.
  1. Get the House Ready to Show – Most houses need at least a little “spiffing up” before they are shown to potential buyers. Suggestions are to paint indoors (and sometimes out), organized closets and cabinets, sparkling clean windows and clutter-free atmosphere are essential if you want the house to appeal to buyers.
  1. Get Psyched Up to Let People In – If you’re listing with a real estate agent, the agent will no doubt ask you to leave when the house is shown – lurking sellers make buyers nervous. They don’t feel comfortable inspecting the house when they feel like they are intruding.  Unless there’s a real reason for it, don’t ask your agent to be present for all showings.  Other agents want privacy with their buyers.   Make the house accessible.  That means it is always ready to show.  Many agents won’t bother if it takes 24 hours to get into.


Office Location

Kelsey Law, LLC
2275 Silas Deane Highway
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
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True, we build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens, and by our efforts, we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state."

John W. Davis

Attorney & West Virginia Congressman, Early 1900s