How to save money without engaging a housing agent?

Read the headline again, it’s a rhetorical question.

I have had questions like “Why should I pay you 2% while other agents only charge 1.5%?”..Actually I can even show you agents who charge 0.5%. And also, this other question, “This looks simple to do. I can do this deal myself, no need to engage agent.”

Well, let’s see why agents deserve what they charge..and why you shouldn’t pay peanuts, cos you will get monkey who masquerades as agents

How to market and sell your house on your own without engaging a real estate agent?

To succeed in selling a house, you need to be competent in real estate marketing, legal, financial, operational aspects, and other knowledge and skills. This is important because you need to negotiate with increasingly sophisticated buyers. You need to outperform competitors, use latest technologies, and stay ahead of the fast changing market.

These competencies are developed through years of experience, continuous training, and constant improvements, especially learning through failures and setbacks.

Here are just some of the basics that you need to implement effectively and efficiently, on your own, to avoid time-consuming, costly and frustrating failures.

#1 – Conduct Pre-Sales Research

To achieve the best results, you need to be constantly updated on market conditions, including past transaction data and reliable projections. You need to review and compare similar houses that are currently in the market, especially those that have been sold or not sold in the past six months.

#2 – Price Your House Correctly

Pricing is a challenging and delicate art that can trigger major consequences. If you price it too low, you are giving away money that rightfully belongs to you. On the other hand, if you set a price that is too high, it will result in failure. You will be wasting your time, energy and money. At the same time, it will make your competitors’ houses look cheap and they will enjoy a faster sale. You are selling for your competitors indirectly.

Should you decide to lower the price subsequently, you would have lost the right buyers who will pay the best price. The market will have a negative buzz and will look at your house with great suspicion. In our industry, we call it a ’shopworn’ phenomenon and it may cause permanent damage to the selling process.

#3 – Use Powerful Technologies

In a technology-driven market, you must use technologies that will provide you with powerful, timely, and accurate information to make better-informed decisions. They include InfoProp, Skylearner, WIS, SISV PowerDesQ, InfoTool, Power Search, Realink 21 and Virtual Tour. These expensive tools are absolutely necessary and you need to go through proper training and guidance to use them correctly to enhance the results.

#4 – Prepare Sales Documentation

You need to prepare a comprehensive suite of contracts, forms, and other documentation to meet the needs and requirements of unique buyers in different circumstances. They include comparative market analysis, transaction database, option agreements, financial plans, home loan applications, property profile, property inclusion and exclusion lists, and relevant market data. It is not good enough to use a standard form. You need to understand every clause and provision in the document because they can hold back your sale for months or even years.

#5 – Dress Up Your House

This is a creative process that you need to undertake to ensure your house stands out in the market and attracts qualified buyers to make the highest offers. It includes profiling strengths and advantages of your house vis-a-vis the competition, overcoming weaknesses, and applying marketing techniques to make your house look more appealing to the buyers.

As the owner, the key challenge is your familiarity with your own property. This may cause you to be blinded to its negative aspects and hinder your ability to dress your house effectively to achieve a sale. I personally engage a professional to take photos of a home, that is very appealing to the eye. And your 1st few steps to a sale is already done, before the prospect steps into the house.

#6 – Set Up A Virtual Tour And Virtual Open House

As transport cost increases over time, more and more buyers prefer to view properties online. Therefore it is very important that you setup a virtual tour for the property you’re selling. A virtual tour provides great convenience to potential buyers, investors and yourself. It is a 24/7 selling tool for you, even while you are sleeping, and so it’s the best salesperson you can ever have! You can see a sample of virtual tour by clicking here. The next step is to announce and invite active property market watchers to your virtual open house.

#7 – Managing The Marketing Process

It is important to manage the marketing process correctly. This includes organising the marketing campaign, handling phone calls, qualifying buyers, conducting viewings, organising open houses, negotiating prices, completing the paperwork, and closing the sale.

It is not sufficient to just place your advertisement in the newspapers. You need to plan an integrated program that includes direct marketing, effective networking, and online promotion. Every word and sentence must be appropriately crafted as the fads and fashion of the market changes very quickly.

Very importantly, you need to position your house correctly, maximize its exposure, and enhance its appeal as it will compete with many similar properties in the tough market. You need to generate a database of qualified buyers including foreigners and expatriates so as to find the right buyer whose requirements match that of your house and is therefore willing to pay top dollars for it.

Monthly Estimated Marketing Expenses (Based on Top Agent’s Comprehensive Marketing Plan)

Advertisements (Straits Times), twice a week – $80 x 4 weeks = $320 (Based on 4-liners ad only)
Online advertisements in at least 5 property websites = Minimum $200 (Based on 1 month exposure per ad)
Flyers Distribution and Direct Mailers (Neighborhood blocks only) = $800 based on 16,000 color copies.
Setup Virtual Tour & Virtual Open House = $300 for each property.

Engaging Professional Photographer = $100

Evaluation report = $180

Having setup a virtual tour is not good enough. You need to announce to all active property market watchers and invite them to your virtual open house through mass emailing, SMSes and listing your property in Google search engine.

Mass Email to more than 10,000 top income earners = $200 (Based on 2 cents per email)
Mass Email to more than 20,000 corporate contacts = $400 (Based on 2 cents per email)
Mass Email to more than 100,000 subscribers, including expats = $1000 (Based on 1 cent per email)
Mass SMSes to more than 11,000 active agents and referrals = $550 (Based on 5 cents per SMS) + $100 service fee.
Engage SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist to list your property in Google, the largest search engine in the world. This approach attracts locals & overseas buyers and investors. = Minimum $1000 and above per keyword. See below for real example:

Total Estimated Monthly Marketing Expenses = $5,150 and above (miscellaneous which includes transport, indemnity insurance, etc)

Having the maximum exposure for your property is important BUT are you prepared to spend more than $5,000 monthly to ensure you don’t undersell your property and get the best returns from your investment?

#8 – Sell To Prospective Buyers

You must be prepared to respond to every phone call, including prank calls and calls from competitors, property sightseers, and nasty buyers. In addition, you may have to conduct viewings of your house without advance notice and at your inconvenience. At the same time, you must be able to answer difficult questions about the house, neighborhood, and all other aspects related to the sale.

When you, as the owner, sell directly to buyers, they are normally more reticent about asking you questions and raising any objections than with a third party like a real estate agent. You need to probe, find out confidential information, and understand their deep-seated requirements so as to qualify the buyers and lead them to a sale. Through this process, a personality clash can occur quite easily especially when both of you are protective of your own interest. The ensuing emotional tension can lead to the loss of a sale.

Buyers may also require you to show them similar properties in the market. You will have to compare them with your house and show why yours is a better investment. Chances are you will not sound believable as you have a stake in the house and an interest in the sale.

The more you push for a sale, the more your buyer will think that you are desperate and will therefore, make you ridiculous offers. They will also ask you for a discount as they know you will be enjoying a saving from the real estate commission.

Unless you walk carefully on the above tight rope and avoid these and other pitfalls, you will have an even steeper climb ahead.

#9 – Negotiate To Close A Sale

Negotiation is a sophisticated skill that will contribute to the success of your sale. To do so, you need to suppress your emotions to prevent conflicts, handle unreasonable criticisms, and respond to buyer’s whims and fancies. It also includes responding to snide remarks, answering frustrating questions, and negotiating terms and conditions in your favor.

You need to know how to follow-up and seemingly compromise on your demands without giving the buyers any impression that you are desperate to sell. In addition, you need to manage all closing details, any of which can cause the sale to fall through.

Through it all, you need to liaise closely with a team of professionals from the legal, financial, and property disciplines in order to complete the sale without any problem or hassle.

#10 – Provide Financial Assistance

You need to work closely with banks and other financial institutions to stay abreast of the latest home loan products, including fast changing interest rates and other terms and conditions. To close the sale, you need to compare the wide variety of home loan packages, explain the details, and guide buyers on how to make a decision.

You may need to uncover private and confidential information to determine if they are eligible for a loan. In addition, you need to respond to technical questions and recommend to buyers the most appropriate package for the best financial support and returns.

#11 – Protect Yourself From Danger

You must protect yourself against unscrupulous buyers. They can be very skilled in employing highly unethical and manipulative tactics to try and lure you into a trap. You need to also protect yourself, your loved ones, and personal belongings as you will be serving many strangers in your house.

You may unwittingly open your house to people who have criminal intentions on your loved ones and personal possessions. While most buyers have no such intentions, the incidence of petty thefts, deceptions, frauds, and other problems are a cause for caution.

In addition, there are legal requirements pertaining to the sale of a property that you should be familiar with. A successful sale can turn into a long legal battle if the transaction is not completed correctly.


From the above information, you can see that saving on agent’s commission will not cover the expenses needed to market your house successfully. In addition, you need to invest a lot of time, energy and effort. By taking yourself away from your work and other endeavors, you will also incur unnecessary opportunity costs. There is also no assurance that you can beat the market and get the results you want.

That’s why you need an agent – not just an ordinary agent – you need a professional and competent specialist, equipped with the best tools and knowledge to serve you and lead you to success!

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