Profile picture for ctio

For Sale By Owner? Should You Do It?

Historically homes listed by owners sell for far less then when listed by experienced Realtors!  Why?  Sellers assume since no commission, they can drop the price more!!  Top Realtors are strong negotiators, market and expose the proper features that buyers want vs. sellers pointing out features that generally aren't important.  Realtors prequalify buyers and have all of the important information on who is entering the home.  More FSBO will not get true feedback from buyers.  Buyers usually will say, "Great Home", Beautiful...You'll Be Hearing From Me... To no avail.  They just don't know what to say to a seller and don't want to offend them.  A Realtor will get the right questions asked and answered.  Flyers in grocery stores?  Not the way to market!  You Get What You Pay For! 
  • October 29 2013 - US
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Answers (31)

Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"Historically homes listed by owners sell for far less then when listed by experienced Realtors!"

Same old song. Can you objectively prove this with statistics, from other than NAR?

Not saying that FSBO is easy, or for everyone. But, this tired quasi-statistic has yet to be substantiated by anything coming close to "objective". It'd be nice to see the proof.

On the uber-negative side, it'd be sad to know that unsubstantiated claims are being used as the core of an argument for services that should have value in-and-of themselves.
  • October 29 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
@Janet:

What do you think of this study by folks from Stanford on the subject?

or this one from NWestern University?

I look forward to your comments after you've read them.
  • October 29 2013
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Profile picture for MLS4owners
"Historically homes listed by owners sell for far less then when listed by experienced Realtors"

If this is true, why would any ethical REALTOR recommend that a buyer buy a property listed by a full service REALTOR when a better deal for the buyer is allegedly down the street?
  • October 29 2013
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Well, we do sell a lot of FSBOs, and many (if not most) of the FSBO questions on this board involve - how to attract Realtors®.

It turns out that the only people willing to fund this sort of research are the industry itself and someone looking to make a name for themselves in academia by "taking on the big guy," so forgive me if I don't take the three theses as a light to the promised land.

There's this weird magical thinking that some people have that everything is counter-intuitive, and it shows up in real estate by believing that you will net more money if you attempt to sell a home yourself instead of hiring a professional.

Business people do not share this opinion. Whether it's a local dry cleaner or a Fortune 500 company, people whose business is to make profits hire professional sales and marketing forces to drive business. Some companies spend an amount equal to their profits on marketing; I think Coke spent three billion to make two point five in profits last year.

But, you know what, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. If you believe FSBO is the way to go and you want to play the role of real estate agent, life is short, so go for it. And if you want to play the role of missionary for the FSBO lifestyle, I've learned that nothing is going to talk you out of it!
  • October 29 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
FSBO or not? Is FSBO a FSBO if it's MLS-only? Is FSBO really FSBO if there's a buyer REA coop? Should you FSBO? Should you not FSBO?

Frankly, I really don't care. I've used REAs because I have other things to do. I also have negotiated the listing agreement and commissions, because it is my transaction and the listing agreement is the first of multiple negotiations to get to the end.

But...a position/argument is weakened by attempts to bolster it with unsubstantiated claims - especially when those claims are so easy to challenge.

Not "hating on REAs". Just calling out a weak position. (And, somewhat inescapably, many of the positions are taken by REAs, since this is a RE forum.)
  • October 29 2013
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The pattern of making up statistics is in high gear tonight.
This one's even got a new twist on making up statistics.  The phantom sample study sited only includes "experienced" agents.
Of course there is no study ever conducted that supports this statement, but hey, we're Realtors, we are not required to be truthful.

And credit to MLS4, nailed it.  

I'll never understand why so many agents are convinced that lying pays.
  • October 29 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"I'll never understand why so many agents are convinced that lying pays."

Because, due to uninformed consumers, it often does.  ;-)

Too many consumers take the word of "professionals" (be they REAs, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, etc., etc.) at face value. It's much easier than doing any of your own legwork.

And, it's infinitely more self-satisfying to assign blame to the faulty advice (or even downright deliberate misdirection) of others, than to accept blame for one's own errors-in-judgment.

None-the-less, there's always pros/cons to any decision, even FSBO.
  • October 29 2013
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Let's face it, some assertions that agents make here are "troll-call," it's like taking a can opener out of a drawer to call a cat. 

- If this is true, why would any ethical REALTOR

Well, it's because home buyers are searching for a home, not just a deal. But you know who we do sell a lot of FSBOs to? Investors. And you know what - when we work with investors, we don't have to worry about our commissions. They're willing - even eager - to pay for performance.

  • October 29 2013
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Profile picture for CallTheSisters
Forget all the stats and the studies.  I don't care what NAR says. 
FSBO Should I do it?

No matter how you try to package the valuable services a Realtor brings to the table there are those who will tear you down, and accuse you of singing the same ole song.

Zillow is an excellent public venue to feel the real estate pulse.

All you have to do is read these boards and see how many problems FSBOs and FSBO buyers run into.  Things that are rudimentary to the process get all screwed up.  How many successful posts to you see?

FSBOS generally over price.  They cannot support their asking price.  I can't even begin to list the mundane reasoning some of them use.  "the postman said".  "My house is nicer than my neighbor and they just sold for x".

They usually do not offer a sellers disclosure.  "What law?  I never heard about any law."  If they have one it's like a fairy tale.  I can't process a contract without one.  Try to get the FSBO to do it.

They are horrible negotiators.  They don't know how to structure counters including changes in terms.They often times let a qualified buyer slip away over a measly amount of money.

They have no idea what to do after inspections. They get offended and blame the stupid inspector.  Then refuse to do something simple like GFI's.

When the appraisal comes in low they blame the dishonest banks and appraisers.  They try to hold onto escrow when the buyer can't get financing on their over priced home. 

The list of calamities goes on and on.

Should you sell FSBO? Anyone who wants to sell on their own can certainly go ahead and try it.  I've run into FSBOS with a Doctorate who cannot understand a sales contract or know their duties as a seller.  But it's a free market so why not try?

What FSBO sellers need to realize is that real estate agents are not going to flock to their door with pre-qualfied buyers and do all the heavy lifting for them.

 I have done it and it was like getting a root canal without Novocaine.


  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for CindyJoseph
The market that we are in today creates great opportunity for more home sellers to give it the "old college try" and sell their home on their own.  Realtors tend to see a lot more FSBO's because if the seller believes they can do the work of a realtor and negotiate a solid deal, assist with the inspection, appraisal and finance process than my advice is for them to "Go For It"!  To simply state, all owners should not venture into this area is not a truthful statement!  In my opinion, there are many capable people that can negotiate a great deal and walk away making some good money on their home.  With that being said, the amount of time it may take for them to completely understand each aspect of the process can be time consuming and absorb a lot of endless hours.  My recommendation is focus on the things you truly enjoy and let the agents assist you throughout the process!  If that means FSBO's are the way to go for you, I would say do it but be prepared to ride a roller coaster because in this business you never know what to truly expect.
  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
I would suggest to any non-agent passing by considering FSBO that they use their option to pay a Fee (several hundred dollars) to be listed on their local MLS, Realtor.com, other major RE sites & if you have a problem with paperwork ect. you can pay a bit more to have an Agent or RE Attorney assist you
I would also suggest offering a competitive commission to any Agent representing a Buyer.

The National Association of Realtors classifies those using the Flat Fee/Fee for Services option as "Agent-Assisted" and counts the successful sales using this option (Flat Fee) as part of their sold by agents statistics...NAR 2012 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers

A member of the public has options and of course the selection of which option is the best is an important one where ability, time, goals ect. must all be honestly and seriously considered..Shop Smart

Information on the various options and which are available in each state by law are explained on the DOJ anti=trust web site
Consumers can save thousands of dollars in commissions

Competing models of real estate brokerage

What are the laws in your state?

It's definitely an important decision so as suggested...read what's being said by all and consider it




  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
One person that did FSBO wrote an extensive blog with most of the pros and cons to consider...

Unfortunately he has since deleted his blog.  But an older version of his blog still remains on TRULIA:

Thinking About Selling as a FSBO?

Though FSBO is definitely not for everyone, and one must carefully weigh all the pros and cons before beginning such an endeavor, believing false misrepresented statistics is not helpful.  Just because the average price of a FSBO is less than the average price sold-by agent doesn't imply anything about what any given FSBO sold for as compared to market value for that specific home.  All it tells you is that owners at the high end don't want to bother wasting their time on a job that pays less than $30 per hour.  People in the middle class don't have that issue.

As for "complexity" to do the sale?  If it was so "complex", why does it only take a high school diploma, a 1/2 day test, and about 140 hours of "training" to get a license, and only about $2k per year to "be in business"?  Sure, close to 50% of new agents give up within 2 yrs of getting their license, but that is not that much different than any "self employed" business; self employment is not for everyone either.  And it is not the "transactions" that causes them to go out of business; it is the difficulty soliciting clients.

If one wants more realistic statistics on the issue; read it from a party that actually has access to the data for those statistics...
HUD 2008 study on FHA financed home sales.
  • October 30 2013
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Yes, and as the Sisters assert, a significant portion of FSBOs can't close a deal on an FHA buyer.
  • October 30 2013
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But...a position/argument is weakened by attempts to bolster it with unsubstantiated claims - especially when those claims are so easy to challenge.

I totally agree with SoCal's statement - and that is irksome (to me) on these kinds of boards.
Making blanket statements or claims negates any point someone is trying to make, and leaves the claim vulnerable to counter claims.
All of that, imo, serves no useful purpose, and makes the person using those hackneyed comments look robotic, like they drank some Kool Aid.

And - since it was asked above....... in my opinion, a "real" FSBO is not someone who is listed on the MLS. Once someone taps into the MLS, to me, they are not totally selling on their own, as someone is still getting paid (whether it is a flat fee or lower commission) to put them there...AND, more importantly,  they will be paying a buyer's agent a commission to bring in a buyer.

So....they are not selling "on their own" - they are not only seeking help form realtors, but also not "saving" the (whole) commission.

To me, that's a pseudo-fsbo ( I just made that term up!).
  • October 30 2013
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Yes, Debbie, yes. And, let's face it - either every seller is a FSBO, because brokers don't actually own the property, or a FSBO is a seller outside of the monolithic cartel.

A lot of energy has been spent on these boards attempting to portray professional brokerage services as overpriced, overvalued, and delivered at a level of expertise marginally above the amateur - hey, you could do it yourself! Which has affected the industry about . . . not at all.

As far as "unsubstantiated claims," sure, some claims are ridiculous, but isn't it a stretch to point to a few needles and call the haystack "metal?" 

  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
"As far as "unsubstantiated claims," sure, some claims are ridiculous, but isn't it a stretch to point to a few needles and call the haystack "metal?"

Yep it is ...unfortunately some agents and non-agents seem to make it a large part of their yadda especially the "stretch to point to a few needles and call the haystack "metal" part
Imo that trait is cause that's all they have

  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
The truth is that many people should not sell FSBO just like many people should not cook Thanksgiving dinner or put on size 0 sequin dress. You either pack the gear to get the job done or you don't.

Some owners do have the have the background, skill base, time and emotional distance to price and market their property effectively. Other owners know upfront that they don't have what they need to FSBO so they hire a professional to help them.

Other owners feels that have the ability to FSBO and believe that that trying it is a no harm no foul proposition. Those sellers are wrong IMHO. Pricing wrong or putting your house up before it is ready can be hard to overcome.

If you don't pack the gear going in, interview carefully, hire a professional and make sure your house makes the right first impression with your buyer pool.
  • October 30 2013
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@Sunny - "or put on size 0 sequin dress"

alas, that's true -

geesh - and I had one toe in that dress when I read your comment Sunny!
( one toe is all I'd get into a size 0!)

 just like to inject some humor!

ps
the thing is - if one or 2 people are speeding on the highway and the majority are driving at the speed limit, you can't help but notice the speeders -
similar impact with those on these boards who love to use those unsubstantiated claims and rote comments like -   "you get what you pay for"........not taking anything away from those who add thought and value to a thread with  their answers.....but there are too many (IMO) of the blah blah blah - yadda yadda's on the threads.....and they DO make me cringe  - but that's me.

Honestly, I think "they" think they are offering useful advice - they may mean well......they just need, imo,  to step back and reassess their online MO and image
  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for CallTheSisters
@Pasadenan
If it was so "complex", why does it only take a high school diploma, a 1/2 day test, and about 140 hours of "training" to get a license, and only about $2k per year to "be in business"? 

You've used this analogy multiple times.  To me it's like agents who spew out the NAR statistics. 

The auto mechanic who fixes your brakes probably did not even finish high school, got on the job training from Bubba, makes 15 bucks an hour, and never reads the manufacturers specs.  You don't have a problem trusting him with your life!!

When your car is involved in an accident and blood is pouring from a head wound,  your arm is dangling at a funny angle and you can barely catch your breathe - do you ask the first responder if they have more than a high school education?  They have your life in their hands too!!

Oh and when the firemen are about to extradite you from the car with the jaws of life - real close to that dangling arm, do you ask them for their Curriculum Vitae?

So why continue to cover ALL Realtors with one umbrella when you have no idea who they are?

  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
All is a matter of perspective imo but to me often this forum seems to have 2 faces depending on when or how you look at it...

Kinda like Link
  • October 30 2013
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This discussion is rather tit for tat.  There is no one hard-and-fast agreement that will be reached, although I believe in my profession and the value of Realtors. There are good points on both sides but I certainly don't believe you always "get what you pay for." When it comes to Agents & Brokers, sometimes you just get a "lister" who will list and show your house.  Sometimes, you get a go-getter who'll open house, market and devote significant dollars and time to selling it. I showoff my houses (but I'm also a professional stager).  Selling your house is a major job with a major downside or upside!  Too important to be left to amateurs in my opinion.  I'll use me as the example.  My husband and I are both Realtors, but we're not licensed where we own a vacation home.  When we decided to sell, we knew we could sell it as FSBO (with appropriate caveats, of course);  we are very good at what we do. But, I also knew that I am not as familiar with that marketplace and the comparatives as I am with Boca Raton.  The neighborhood nuances and trends are important in the optimal outcome of a home sale and we decided that even though we'd have to pay a commission (which is a big ouch, we wanted top dollar and an easy, stress-free transaction.  There were issues which were resolved for us.  We did well indeed there. I also previously listed a home in Florida also with my brokerage to get maximum exposure. So, if someone else brings the buyer, I pay the commission.  I'm a believer in professionals doing their job, so that the optimal result is reached.  I don't want to risk a mistake or a lost opportunity.
  • October 30 2013
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I don't believe that you "get what you pay for," either - I do believe, however, that you cannot reasonably expect to get MORE than you pay for.

  • October 30 2013
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Savings come at a price: You have to do the time-consuming work that real-estate agents do for  sellers. It is a full time job and skill to successfully facilitate a contract to close. There is also a lot of marketing expenses in market a home and bringing in quality buyers.
  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
To FSBO or not to FSBO...that is the question never to be solved. For all owners, agents and houses are not the same.

So I say once more unto the breach dear friends, once more...and this time let's let the beagle drive so we all get home with a good story.

  • October 30 2013
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For sale by owner for some not all. Hard work and the seller has to qualify buyers. There are many buyers trying to get a great deal on a Fsbo. Sometimes it's better to hire a motivated experienced agent.
  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for parrots1700
I think it has a lot to do with the property itself, the location and price range.  In our area in SW Fla right now, more buyers than inventory for houses in the $150k to $200k price range, so very easy to sell. People are getting over the asking price.  Have worked in RE law, and from our own experience in our neighborhood, realtors lowball prices to sell super quickly. More than one neighbor has heard "you will never get that price for it" from a realtor and sold it themselves at the price they originally wanted.  I would think they would want to ask more for a higher commission, but the fast sell is more important to them in this price range.  There is also a lot of traffic through our neighborhood, so a sign works wonders.  I see people driving around every weekend looking.  I do not think a realtor would get me more in this case, and the 7% they want takes too big a chunk out of a sale in this range.
  • October 30 2013
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THE FOUNDER OF  FORSALEBYOWNER LISTED AND SOLD HIS NYC APARTMENT WITH AN AGENT..
GOOGLE IT , NEW YORK TIMES FSBO
  • October 30 2013
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
"The auto mechanic who fixes your brakes probably did not even finish high school, got on the job training from Bubba, makes 15 bucks an hour, and never reads the manufacturers specs.  You don't have a problem trusting him with your life!!
When your car is involved in an accident and blood is pouring from a head wound,  your arm is dangling at a funny angle and you can barely catch your breathe - do you ask the first responder if they have more than a high school education?  They have your life in their hands too!!
Oh and when the firemen are about to extradite you from the car with the jaws of life - real close to that dangling arm, do you ask them for their Curriculum Vitae?
" -

1) It takes a lot more 140 hours to become a certified licensed auto mechanic.   But I have not met a back yard mechanic yet that couldn't do their own brakes, and wouldn't do their own brakes because some Realtor thought it was putting the car owner's life at risk.  Other than quadriplegic and paraplegic people, I have not met anyone yet that couldn't learn to do a break job safely.

2) Apparently no experience nor knowledge of the process of becoming a Fireman?  Extensive training, extremely competitive application process, and multiple tests; many much more than just 1/2 day.

3) I have heard of no one yet that "died" because of the hundreds of thousands of licensed Realtors that have absolutely no clue what they are doing.  That is why their errors and ommissions insurance is so inexpensive compared to other professions... because they have no liability.

4) NO, I'm not stating that licensed sales agents need more training nor more credentials!  There is nothing that additional credentials would do to benefit anyone.  I'm merely stating that anyone that wants to do home sales can do it if they are motivated to do so, and are willing to put in the time and effort.

5) Yes, I understand that many Realtors would believe they are worthless if they didn't create some false sense of "worth" by comparing themselves to medical doctors or other professions that require more training than "sales".

6) When it comes right down to it, choosing to do FSBO or choosing not to do FSBO is a personal decision that is not affected in any way by what Realtors say in order to do their own solicitations to attempt to gain clients.  And giving false statistics and complaints about how Real Estate sales is too difficult for even Realtors to do will only encourage people to try it on their own instead.

7) As for FSBO asking how to do it on this website?  Having personally read hundreds of thousands of threads on this website, I can say for certain that I've read substantially more threads from Realtors asking how to do something than FSBO's asking.  The most common FSBO question is how to get a flat fee listing in the local MLS.  And both Dunes and Wetdawgs regularly answer those questions more than satisfactorily.  Most Realtors and Brokers don't bother answering such questions, even though they could mention that they provide flat fee MLS listing services and that they can be contacted through their profile by clicking on their name.
  • October 31 2013
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Well, in my experience, every time an agent types, "contact me," five people jump in to rip them.
  • October 31 2013
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I wonder, though, what the difference is when you have people who already want to buy your house.  The house next to me is a rental property and the owner is making his own repairs in prep for new tenants.  I mentioned I was going to move in with my cousin.  his first question was an inquisitive, "Are you going to sell the house???"  He definitely wants to be the first to know.  

He was actually helping *me* fix something, and while I was waiting outside for him to come back from the store, another neighbor who lives in one house and rents out another was walking by to deliver misdelivered mail.  We chatted for a minute and I mentioned to her that I would be moving.  Same thing: "You going to sell the house?  Let me know first."  

When you already have two interested buyers who, I showed inside and even pointed out "serious flaws" they scoffed at, and to both I told it's "as is" do you need an agent for anything more than paperwork?  I'm not paying 6% for that!
  • September 21 2014
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