Traps for owners: How to sell real estate without a broker

Owners can sell their property without an agent.

Traps for owners: How to sell real estate without a broker

Owners can sell their property without an agent. You need patience, strong nerves and a feeling for the market for the project.

Do it yourself or hire a broker? This question arises as soon as the decision to sell your own four walls has been made. The main argument in favor of selling without professional support is the cost argument: there is no commission. If you sell without a broker, you save your share of the fee. For this, however, owners have to do a lot of work, protection and overcoming.

The first hurdle that should be considered has nothing to do with formalities, but with emotions. It is the close bond with the family home. It often obstructs the neutral view that is necessary for assessing the market value, says Detlev Schmidt, who coaches both private real estate sellers and buyers from Cuxhaven.

"One closes one's eyes to mistakes and shortcomings or is attached to certain things," he says. This leads to price misjudgments. Schmidt's tip: keep your distance, look at everything self-critically and realistically consider problem areas, such as old heating or dampness, and disclose them to the interested party. It would be even better to fix deficits.

In this way, owners can also reduce their liability risks. For example, according to a judgment of the Federal Court of Justice, concealing defects can lead to the payment of damages (Az.: V ZR 133/21). In order not to fall into legal traps, Schmidt also advises correct information in the exposé. This primarily includes the residential and property area and the energy certificate.

Those who want to sell must obtain the documents required for their project themselves. Among other things, an entry in the land register, cadastral map, list of building encumbrances, receipts for repairs, invoices and guarantees are required. In the case of condominiums, the minutes of the owners' meeting, declaration of division and community regulations are added. Ideally, everything should be available retrospectively for ten years. Gathering them is tedious, and it can take weeks to go to the authorities.

The documents will be offered to prospective buyers for inspection during the viewing. With this transparency, "sellers make a major contribution to getting out of liability themselves," says Schmidt. Because the interested party does not look in, this can be at his expense in the event of a dispute. Sloppy documents, on the other hand, threaten to boomerang. Buyers could use them as an opportunity "to subsequently lower the purchase price or to demand reversal in order to benefit from the currently falling market prices".

Estimating the value of the property is one of the most difficult tasks when selling without an agent. Advertisements of comparable properties in print and online media, sales platforms and a look into the shop windows of brokers and banks offer orientation. If you want a well-founded valuation, consult an appraiser.

Appealing presentation in the synopsis is part of marketing. Private sellers have to take care of its creation themselves. Be careful with pictures: Retouched photos can give a wrong impression of the object. It's legally risky.

Experts consider the friendly spring to be a more favorable time to sell than the gloomy winter. This, in turn, is suitable for preparation: painting, repairing, clearing out so that the property appears attractive during viewings. Sellers can also use the dark season to practice negotiation and viewing. If someone is unsure, there is room to get support from family or friends with commercial and legal experience or negotiating skills.

Checking the creditworthiness is usually part of the broker's task, which is not left to the owners. "You should look at the bank's confirmation of financing or the proof of equity," recommends the Nuremberg notary Susanne Herrler. Among other things, she and her colleagues draw up the purchase contract and act as a neutral authority between seller and buyer. Notaries also take care of the transcription in the land register.

In addition, they make the purchase price due by sending the buyer the so-called due date notification. Sellers must check the receipt of the money on their account themselves. The notary names two security instruments: "The keys will be handed over when the money is there. Only then will the land register transfer take place."

She warns against giving out the keys in advance. If there are nevertheless such agreements, notaries enter a risk note in the purchase contract. The purchase contract can also regulate modalities relating to moving out. Selling owners should remember that they will need a new home by the date and allow plenty of time to search.

Both the seller and the purchaser can propose the notary. Most of the time they talk to each other. "In practice, it is often the case that the seller initiates the process," says Herrler. The buyer usually pays the notary fee.

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