Is selling a property without a real estate agent a good option in Costa Rica?
Some property owners simply don’t like to hire a real estate agent, for whatever reason. Others own a property in an area not serviced by agents. Both are good reasons to try selling a property without a real estate agent.
I won’t weigh the pros and cons of hiring an agent in this piece – and in any case, even if you list your property with agents, you can still try selling the property on your own. Unless you sign an exclusive listing agreement, you can save money this way, although you’ll have to do all the work. Therefore, I’m going to give you 10 tips to help you make the best decision for you.
1. Get your property ready to sell
There are tons of articles available online about getting your property ready to put on the market. You should know that your house should look spic and span and that you need great curb appeal. Fix anything that needs fixing. Pay attention to the details. Ask a friend to give you an honest opinion, and act on it.
2. Set a realistic price
It is really quite impossible in Costa Rica to run a Comparative Market Analysis. There is no register of what prices property in your neighborhood has sold for in the past. You can either hire an appraiser, or you can do the homework yourself. Do NOT overprice your property; it will be on the market forever.
3. Learn how to sell
Not everyone is a born salesperson. It is quite difficult selling something you have owned for a long time, such as the home where your kids grew up in and where every room holds some special memory. Therefore, you need to learn what to say and what not to say during showings. When you want to try selling a property without a real estate agent, you should learn as much as you can about sales techniques and how to behave during a showing.
4. Invest in good photo material
Now that you are going to save money on a real estate commission, you can afford to spend some on marketing materials. Once you have done everything necessary to make your property picture perfect, find a professional real estate photographer – not a wedding or portrait photographer. Include interior and exterior photos of your home. If you can afford to have a drone video and aerial photos made, do so. They often give the property a much better perspective, especially for a hillside property with views.
5. Write an attractive description
If you are a good writer yourself, spend some time and effort writing up an attractive description of the property. Don’t make it too long and get to the point. If you are a bad writer, find a friend or pay someone to do it for you. Do the write-up in English and Spanish. Make sure to use a call to action in your advertising.
6. Buy a good sign
Get a good weather- and sun-proof “For Sale by Owner” sign. Don’t buy the little plastic ones that they sell at the local office supply store. You want to let the whole world know that you are selling a property without a real estate agent. That means that buyers can deal directly with the seller. It also means that the buyers can save at least 5% in real estate commissions.
Count on it that you will receive phone calls at ungodly hours and people who will knock on your door asking to see the property during dinnertime.
7. Research your advertising options
Learn how to advertise your property and where. Catching a buyer’s attention is not easy, and there is a lot of competition.
Most buyers search for property in Costa Rica online. You do not have any access to real estate agent’s websites or an MLS, so you need to find out where to advertise your property. Start with trying to set a budget for advertising.
Properties do not sell if you don’t spend any money on promoting the sale. Start by talking to the Tico Times sales department and see what your options are. There are also some other options like Encuentra24.com, OLX.com, and Craigslist. Printed magazines and newspapers don’t do as well as before, but there might be some options. Do your homework.
8. And get your property on social media
In today’s market, advertising on social media is a must. You can try selling a property without a real estate agent on Instagram and Twitter, but your best bet is Facebook. You can either hire a social media expert or learn how to advertise on Facebook and boost an ad to specific targets. Use the photographic materials you have ordered.
9. Be available
Make yourself available to take calls at all times of the day, every day of the week. Potential buyers will call at 6 am or at 10 pm. If they’re from out of the country, they will probably call in the middle of the night.
Most buyers look at properties during the weekends, so be available. You might miss out on that one buyer while having dinner or taking a bath.
Also, check your email daily; buyers lose interest if you don’t respond quickly.
10. Be patient
Do not expect your Costa Rica property to sell within 24 hours. If it does, great, but be patient and don’t freak out too soon.
Don’t you want to go through all the work described in these 10 tips? Then contact a local real estate agent to take care of all the above. Find out which agents work your area best and are well connected to other agents. Most importantly, pay attention to pricing the property correctly, so it won’t stay on the market forever.
Ivo Henfling, a Dutch expat who has lived in Costa Rica since 1980, founded the American-European Real Estate Group back in 1999 which was the first functioning MLS with affiliate agents from coast to coast. Ivo Henfling can be reached at (506) 2289-5125 / 8834-4515 or at [email protected]
This article was first published in 2017