“Dear South Seattle Realtor” is a new column hosted by a series of hyper-local realtors with deep experience and knowledge of the South Seattle community. Send your questions to email@example.com. This month’s answer is provided by Serena Heslop with Windermere Mount Baker. She can be reached at (206) 999-8159 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear South Seattle Realtor,
I am writing to ask your advice about my property. I have lived in my house for many years and have taken care of it as best as I could, but it is not in the greatest of shape. It is a small house on a big lot in southeast Seattle. The neighborhood has changed quite a bit and a lot of small houses like mine have been knocked down and several townhouses have been built in their place.
I am nearing the age of retirement and have considered selling and moving to a quieter neighborhood. I receive several letters a week from real estate agents, and individuals asking to buy my house, one letter looked like it had been written by a child! All the letters suggest I will save a lot of money if I sell it privately to them, as I will avoid paying the realtor fees, plus they will give me a good amount of time to move, which is appealing to me. Can you tell me your thoughts re this?
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Dear Should I Stay or Should I Go,
I’m so glad you asked! This is big pet peeve of mine, as I think sellers are often being taken advantage of by this tactic of agents and private developers sending letters, offering all sorts on incentives. The reason they want to buy it from you privately is because they want a good deal and do not want to compete with other builders and developers.
Land is extremely valuable in Seattle and the only way for you to know what your property is worth is to put it on the market. It is a seller’s market and a good agent would be able to negotiate a longer time frame for you to stay in your home or anything else you might need, as part of the sale and more than likely fetch you a much, higher price, so the fees would be a wash.
There are also people who are hired to door knock too, targeting older run down homes and assuring the elderly owners that they will get the best price if they buy through them. I heard a horror story recently of an elderly woman in West Seattle, who did just that, but had made no alternative plans as it seemed she had some dementia and she eventually got evicted by the new owner!
Of course, I am not saying that sometimes it may work out for the best to sell it privately, however I strongly believe that a seller needs their own representative, to protect them and advocate for them.