Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt / dpa
For most people it will be a one-off act. Selling the apartment or a house, a house that may have feelings attached to it because you've lived there for a long time, or because it's your parents' home.
And yet the sale should of course also bring something.
280,000 one- or two-family houses were sold in total in 2019, many of them have been inhabited for a long time, many are really expensive and some are emotionally charged - like maybe yours.
Self is the homeowner
How do you do that?
The first distinction is: do you do it yourself or do you need a real estate agent?
You manage sales yourself and try to achieve a good result on your own.
You have time to sell and are on site to take the process into your own hands.
And you are happy about the current market situation: Last year, property prices rose sharply again despite the corona crisis.
An example: in 2010 the average asking price for buying an apartment in Berlin was 1550 euros per square meter, in 2021 it is 5100 euros.
In the end, successful means: You have realized the at least five-figure sums that a good sale will bring you more than a bad one.
And you may even have made the buyer happy, because like you, he has saved another five-figure sum for the broker.
The brokerage fee is based on the sales price.
With a property worth 400,000 euros, you have saved more than 14,000 euros in brokerage for yourself and the buyer.
Perhaps you can even get 10,000 euros more than sales proceeds - money that the buyer would otherwise have had to pay the broker.
Entrust the house to the realtor
Or you can choose the
and hire a broker to handle this sale.
That saves you a lot of work and when it has to be done quickly, it also saves a lot of stress.
If the property is on the other end of the country, it might even be the only sensible option.
And sometimes it is also emotionally easier to hire the professional before you completely fall out with your siblings in the community of heirs.
But where do you get the real estate agent from?
There has been a lot of movement in this market over the past three years.
On the one hand, because a lot of money is made there.
Property prices have skyrocketed, often doubling over the past decade.
The broker's payment, the so-called broker's commission, is almost always a fixed percentage of the respective price, which means that a total of significantly more billions were flushed into the broker's coffers.
Almost consequently, the number of brokers has increased significantly in recent years, in 2018 alone their number rose by 5,000 to a total of 35,000.
To the author
, born in 1963, is editor-in-chief of »Finanztip«.
The money advisor is part of the non-profit Finanztip Foundation.
»Finanztip« is refinanced via so-called affiliate links.
More about it here.
Tenhagen was previously editor-in-chief of the “Finanztest” magazine for 15 years.
After studying politics and economics, he began his journalistic career at the »daily newspaper«.
Today he is an honorary member of the supervisory board of the cooperative.
Tenhagen writes weekly on SPIEGEL.de about how to handle one's own money properly.
More doesn't always have to mean better.
Real estate agent is not a protected training occupation: Anyone can call themselves that and do so, if the police clearance certificate is sufficient for the trade license.
After all, the legislature has tried to limit the bonanza at the expense of the buyer.
As of this year, buyers no longer have to bear the costs of the realtor alone when buying a house or apartment.
As a seller, you bear at least half of it.
That should increase price competition among brokers.
As a seller, you can no longer care what price the broker calls for his service.
Brokers who charge less brokerage and achieve the same sales price would be much more attractive for you.
Normal in Germany is 3 percent brokerage fee plus VAT for you as the seller (3.57 percent in total) and just as much for the buyer.
According to the new legal situation, you are not allowed to pay less than the buyer.
more on the subject
New regulation of brokerage costs: buying real estate is so much cheaperA column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen
Find good brokers
More competition due to the new legal situation could in the long term ensure that incompetent providers are flushed out of the market again.
But do you have the time?
Given the current glut of money, no one can guarantee the quality of the brokers, at least in the short term.
The first possibility is certainly to approach the broker choice via the level of training.
Anyone can call themselves a real estate agent, but a real estate agent is a real apprenticeship and there is also an industry association, the IVD.
It requires at least specialist knowledge, regular training, but not business training.
Training and membership in the association are certainly the first indications.
The second step is to take a look at how well and transparently the broker company structures the sales process in the digital age.
The idea behind it, a better structure should in any case produce better results for the customers on average.
This applies to real estate brokerage as in any other company.
Asking the right questions
Determine a possible price, create an expose, get into advertising, organize viewing appointments, initiate a contract, that's what every brokerage company does.
But is the company big enough to be able to offer you professional structures online with specific supervisors at the other end of the country?
Can the brokerage company also have a large list of interested parties at the location of your property? Does the company focus on normal residential real estate or is it more commercial? Does the company react quickly, courteously and systematically to your request? Potential buyers would expect that too. What do the presentations look like for houses that the company has already sold? And does the brokerage office offer continuous digital support for the sales process? So can you see in Berlin at any time how many people are interested in your end-terrace house on the Lower Rhine? When are viewing appointments and what are the results? All of this creates trust. And that's why my colleagues at Finanztip asked and checked exactly these questions.
There are such companies - McMakler and Homeday currently stand out when comparing nationwide brokerage firms.
And there is a tendency for such online brokers to get better and better if they learn from hundreds of thousands of sales conversations with the help of a database and incorporate experience-based knowledge into their own database.
What is my house worth now?
We owe such databases, for example, to the knowledge that Nobel Prize laureate Richard Thaler is right - at least as far as the German real estate market is concerned: Owners tend to overestimate the value of their properties and therefore often charge higher prices themselves than the professionals.
If you are toying with the broker variant when selling, the new players offer an undeniable advantage over the classic competition of banks and lone fighters.
They provide more transparency than ever before: namely a standardized assessment of how much the price you can get for the house.
And that is the crucial question for most salespeople.
And sometimes the anxious question in not so good locations.
The good feeling of knowing the right price is of course only useful if the service is otherwise also right.
And that brings us to the second advantage of this new broker variant: You will receive an initial resilient offer, but you have not yet committed yourself.
You can also face good local competition with the offer.
With all parts of the offer.
How does the local realtor rate the house's value?
How many potential prospects does he have in his file?
And finally: What does the brokerage contract look like that he is offering?
Can you simply cancel after three months if the real estate agent has still not found a suitable buyer for your price?
Does the local realtor require a sole contract - no other broker is allowed to act - or even a qualified sole contract where he always gets his commission, even if the neighbor buys the house?
Does the online broker do that too?
Once in a lifetime
For the sale itself, you only end up with one shot.
But when it comes to getting there, the choice is yours.
Your service provider should be competent, serious, should offer a good handling process.
And then of course he also needs your personal trust.
So if the nationwide active service provider on site entrusts the employee with whom you get along straight away: good for you.
If the local broker, who is familiar with the regional conditions, delivers a good draft contract, is much more personable to you, has she the right training and the initiation process has gone well - bingo.
They have each found their partner when selling a house.
The classic comparison does not exist here.
Selling the house is a one-off act. And in the end you will not know whether the unappealing contemporary from the other brokerage company would not have got 30,000 euros more for you.
What you can know, however, is whether the sales process went well, whether the cooperation with the broker was trusting, the buyer is reputable and you actually received the money in the agreed amount at the right time.
This puts you in a much better position than generations of salespeople before you.
When asked about the best broker, they only had the chance to find out about their experiences with acquaintances.
There was no such transparent market as it is today.
And that's worth a lot.
Not to mention the currently attractive sales prices.