Should I hire a real estate agent or sell on my own?

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Q. I have a two-bedroom, 2-bath ranch condo, which I bought 25 years ago. I’m 76, and I plan to move closer to my family. Many friends have asked that I tell them when I’m ready to sell because they are interested or know of someone who would like to buy a ranch condo. Apparently ranch condos are rare, yet ideal for “the newly wed or nearly dead.” What’s involved in selling on my own? How do I decide on a price? Or should I get a real estate agent?
— Unsure

A. Many people have success selling a home on their own, but there are lots of potential drawbacks and challenges.

From the limited information in your question, it seems you don’t have a lot of experience in this area, so using an agent to sell your home will give you the expertise of a professional.

A good real estate agent will be able to let you know the pricing, what updates or repairs you should do to your home prior to putting it on the market and be able to have a marketing plan to sell your home, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

He said if you do it yourself, you won’t know what it is worth and could price it too high or too low, and you will lose money.

Unless you already have someone who wants to buy the condo, getting the word out isn’t easy.

“You probably have no way to attract potential buyers and more importantly, you don’t know what to say,” he said. “That popcorn ceiling that you will be bragging about went out of style 20 years ago and you will turn off the buyer.”

Lynch said that while a 5% commission is a lot of money, a real estate agent can probably sell the condo faster and at a higher price than you would on your own.

“The point is simple,” he said. Don’t play games with money when you have no idea what you are doing. You will lose money!”

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This story was originally published on Nov. 22, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.