I often talk to people who have their homes For Sale By Owner. Why? Well they have raised their hand and said, “YES! I want to sell my home!” I list properties as well as work with buyers so it is advantageous for me to touch base with these Sellers so that I am aware of all the inventory in the market, but also so that if they decide they need help selling their home, they know who to call – and at a weak moment don’t end up with a weak agent.
Generally I find there is one main reason that people try to sell by owner. And that is to save money on Realtor commissions. I get it – its a hard economy right now and everyone wants to save money. But before you decide to go FSBO (For Sale By Owner), there are a couple of things I want to point out for you think about.
1. How are you qualifying people before they walk into your home? How do you know they are who they say they are? Could they be just “lookie-lou” neighbors or are they serious buyers? Or could they not have good intentions at all (yikes!) – more on that in #3. Realtors only put qualified buyers into their car – gas is expensive! So make sure you aren’t just letting anyone into your home.
2. Are you available mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends to show your home? I recently had a FSBO that I wanted to preview for a buyer tell me “It’s only available to see weekdays after 6:30 or on Sundays.” Good luck with that, Ms. FSBO. Buyers want to go on their schedule, not yours, so its advantageous to have a Realtor who will pre-qualify all buyers and can show them your property when you aren’t around or available. My buyer for this FSBO only liked to see homes on weekdays during the day due to his work schedule so when I told him what the Seller said he said “Next!”
3. What is your family’s safety worth? I’m not trying to scare anyone – but seriously. Would you let the cable guy in if he wasn’t a licensed and insured contractor? Of course not. What about people who see your For Sale sign and knock on the door? Do you let them in? Or, consider a phone call from a potential “buyer”: “I saw your ad on the web this morning and was wondering if you’d be available Monday around 2pm?” You reply “No, sorry I’m at work then, how about 6pm?” “Great, see you then”. Then guess what, you arrive home at 6pm to find your home has been broken into. I’ve seen it happen. A creative criminal can come up with a dozen things to say to an unsuspecting FSBO. I only bring this up because I don’t want to see something like this happen to anyone, whether or not you use my services. Be careful!
4. What advantage does a buyer have when buying from a FSBO? I know the Seller is saving money on commissions, but why would a buyer who is qualified and has to find a new home right away go to a FSBO? The simple answer is most of the time, they don’t. They are represented by a Realtor because it costs them nothing, and a Realtor can show them everything in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). They will put them in their nice car and drive them around and find exactly what they are looking for. Perhaps they’ve had a job transfer and need something yesterday. Buyers don’t drive around looking for FSBO’s generally, if they are motivated, they have a Realtor.
5. Won’t Realtors show my FSBO listing? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s the thing. There is a large percentage of Realtors in Tampa Bay right now that are not full-time agents. They have been affected by the economy and have taken other jobs. The stat is actually that the average Realtor only sells 4 homes a year. So if that’s true, do you think a Realtor with a qualified buyer is going to take a chance on a FSBO listing, knowing they’ll be doing double the work for half (if any) of the commission? Probably not. Fortunately we sell a lot more than 4 homes a year and we don’t discriminate against FSBOs, but most often they simply aren’t getting enough exposure and we as Realtors don’t even know they exist. Sad but true.
“But what if I’m listed on the MLS using a Flat Fee Service”?
In the MLS, there’s a section called Realtor Remarks, and it shows Realtors who’s listed the property and any special notes. It always shows Realtors that its a flat fee service, and often, unbeknownst to the FSBO, the Flat Fee service charges a large MLS fee to buyer’s agents of as much as $700, so Realtors will not show those listings. The flat fee service is not really interested in selling your home, they are interested in collecting their upfront money and being on their merry way.
6. Are you familiar with Florida Real Estate Law? Do you know which contracts, forms and disclosures are mandatory to be completed to sell your home? I recently got a call from an attorney acquaintance of mine. He explained that he’d purchased a FSBO home last year, and just found out from the neighbors that it had a prior MAJOR sinkhole issue. Yikes. I asked, “Did the Sellers give you a Seller’s Property Disclosure?”, “Um, no.” “Did you ask for one?!” “No.” By the way this attorney is a REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY! Hello?! And he didn’t even know what forms have to be completed and now may have to take legal action against the former owner because they didn’t disclose a “materially known fact” about the property that has potentially affected its value significantly. We’ve all heard the expression that “you get what you pay for”. I do this day in and day out and I know what things to look for in a transaction. Again – is it worth saving a few percentages in commission for having potential issues about your biggest investment ever not disclosed? I bet this FSBO is now wishing they’d hired a Realtor, because now they need a good attorney.
7. Will you save as much as you think by going FSBO? Let me tell you a stat that is going to blow your mind. Homes sold by a Realtor, on average, sell for 32% more than when sold by owner. So while many people are concerned about saving 6% (or so) in commissions, they may be losing 32% of their equity! I’ve recently seen a lot of FSBO’s that are actually underpriced and they don’t even know it, and the only reason they haven’t sold yet is they have no exposure. I am an expert marketer and can expose a home to more buyers – local buyers, buyers out of state, even international buyers! The more buyers interested in your home, the more showings we’ll have. The more showings, the more offers. And if we have competing offers, it drives your price higher. I’ve seen many homes priced right sell for over asking price lately. It can happen, but not if you don’t have the right exposure of your listing to all the buyers out there. I can help you sell your home for the highest price our market with bear. But do you know what that correct market price is? Please don’t go by the Zestimate – its almost 15% inaccurate for the Tampa Bay area. Don’t let your equity slip away.
Thinking about listing with an agent? Contact me for a free analysis of what your home is worth in today’s market from an expert – no obligation. Give me the opportunity to interview for the job of selling your home and you’ll see why I’m different and so many FSBO’s list with me.