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“By Owner” My Truck

People often ask me “why shouldn’t I sell my home myself?” and I don’t usually have a great explanation for them. I know why, but I’ve never been really good at explaining it. Until now.

See, this month I’ve been in the market for a new truck to pull our holiday trailer. I don’t want a fancy truck, and I don’t want a lot of bells and whistles; the only thing this truck will be doing is towing and hauling. Most importantly I don’t want to pay very much for it because it’s just not worth it to me.

So I’ve been watching sites like kijiji.ca and autotrader.ca for great deals to pop up. I’ve done my research, I know what I want, and I know what I should pay for it. But, and I admit this freely, what I SHOULD be paying for it isn’t what I WANT to be paying for it.

It wasn’t until today that I finally made the connection between buying my truck and the “For Sale By Owner” mentality in real estate. But it’s the clearest analogy I can come up with, and it works quite well in explaining why a REALTOR is so valuable.

I’m very well educated on what I want in my truck, what it’s worth, and what I’m willing to pay. I know the features, options, and abilities of the various trucks. I’d also say that 15 years of negotiating real estate transactions (combined with being the parent of 4 children) makes my negotiating skills significantly above average and gives me the confidence to negotiate with just about anyone.

The deal I’m looking for isn’t going to be on a car lot. I know this. Why? Because the dealerships also know their product and understand the market conditions surrounding a truck in Alberta. They know what it’s worth, what the features are, and what influences the value. They make a point of detailing the cars, doing the “value added” repairs, and are also experts at negotiating a sale. They’re professionals at what they do, and they do it full time every day.

So I’m focusing my time and attention on someone selling their own truck privately. It’s not as well detailed (if at all), some of the small repairs aren’t done(if any), and that’s OK. Because I’m using those items to hammer down the prices on the trucks that I’m interested in. The seller likely isn’t a professional negotiator with years of experience and market knowledge behind him. But most importantly, I know that the sellers not focused on THIS truck, but rather on the NEXT truck. He has “skin in the game” as it were; an emotional attachment to making the transaction complete.

It’s “seller beware”, and I’m holding all of the cards.

It dawned on me today that buyers like me exist in real estate as well. They don’t mind the inconvenience of working with the seller directly, because they know they can leverage the situation for more than the inconvenience is really worth. They know the seller isn’t a professional in this field. But most importantly, they know the seller has an emotional attachment to the transaction than the buyer doesn’t. They can use their direct access to the seller to leverage this position, and get a better deal on the price.

See, one thing sets buyers like me apart from the ones who go into a dealership. I’m not in love with my truck. I could care less, it’s a commodity to me. The same goes for many of the buyers who are looking at privately listed homes; the buyer knows the seller has an emotional involvement in the sale and can use that emotion to profit from. That buyer also knows that a Realtor doesn’t have an emotional attachment, so those types of “mind tricks” just don’t work.

There you have it. My explanation of why it’s a bad idea to sell your home privately.

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