For Sale by Owner – Realtor Secrets 101 For FSBOs

It’s no secret that today’s real estate market is tough.  Worried sellers are trying to sell their homes themselves.  Home property values are down, and they desperately want to save the cost of a real estate commission, so they try to market their properties as FSBOs (for sale by owner sellers).  Makes sense, right?

Yes, “if.”

If you are accustomed to taking responsibility for yourself, have some business sense, have bought and sold homes before, have some time and money to invest in the project, and know and can use the tools and techniques that good Realtors use, then the answer is an unqualified and resounding, “Yes!”   You have the right mind set and the ability to actually earn the Realtor’s commission.  Either the whole commission, or just the part the selling agent would have gotten.  Earn is the operative word here.

So how do good Realtors do it?

Good Realtors start with the basics and work through a systematic, well designed and thought out, integrated, multi-media marketing plan.

Property Condition

At the risk of alienating new listing clients, good Realtors tell it like it is when it comes to getting a home into shape to show well.  If you plan to be a successful FSBO seller, you need to do this for yourself.  Do one or more rooms need to be painted?  Do carpets need to be shampooed?  Are all door knobs and locks tight, and in good working order?  Does it have “curb appeal?”  Is it clean, tidy, uncluttered?  Are closets jam packed, or tidy?  Have any burned out lights been replaced?  If you are smart, you’ll take care of these sorts of items before your property goes on the market, and keep them in good order.

Price

Realtors who continue to earn a living in down markets are very good at getting their listing clients set realistic asking prices for their properties.  A Realtor friend of mine often asks her clients, “Do you want to list your property, or do you want to sell your property?”  Price can make a huge difference in the outcome, and my friend knows that.  A person can put property on the market at any price.  It will not sell unless the price is realistic.

Buyers are out there even in a slow market, but they are VERY price conscious.  In areas where the market is weak, it’s generally effective to be priced just under the list price of any comparable home that’s for sale in your neighborhood AND a bit lower than the recent “sold and settled” comparable properties in the neighborhood.  Time and again, I’ve seen people make the mistake of coming in with a price above those things.  The property lingers on the market.  They lower the price again and again, but if they’re just behind neighborhood prices and the market prices continue to go down, they “follow the market down” without making a sale even though they’re lower than what would have sold a few weeks or months ago.  Try not to let that happen to you.

Internet Marketing

Realtors put information about the homes they hope to sell in their local, Realtor multiple listing service (MLS), and on the Internet.  The best ones see to it that full information about price, number of bedrooms, number of baths, number of garage spaces, size and location of lot, plus interior and exterior photos, and what makes the property attractive appear on the Internet.  You need to do the same.  There are several really good online MLSs for FSBO sellers and buyers.  Use one or more of these sites, and take advantage of all the bells and whistles (many photos, captions under the photos, a place for descriptive text, map to your property, hit counters, a unique web address for your property, etc.) they offer.  Today, approximately 70% of home buyers begin their search online. 

This is just getting started.  In “Realtor Secrets 201,” we’ll discuss the next steps.   

For Sale By Owner Websites Offer Many Options

With the recent despair in the housing market, house values are dropping substantially throughout the US. Homeowners are researching ways to recoup some of their losses by selling their homes on their own.

Hiring a real estate agent to sell your home has always perplexed me. I have sold numerous homes over the years and the listing agent never actually sold my home. In one case I even sold my own home when someone knocked on my door after seeing my sign. I negotiated a price then and there and shook hands on it without the real estate agent. The sad part of the matter was that he made 6% on my home sale ($16,000) without doing anything. I remember asking him if he could give me a break in the commission price since I sold the home. In a rude manner he said that it was his sign in front of my house that sold the home, not me.

According to 2006 National Association of Realtor statistics, 13% of all homes were sold without a real estate agent. 90% of FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sellers end up going to realtors in the end. Be that as it may, I decided to check in to some of these websites and the options they offer.

I started my research by searching on Google. I found a list of National For Sale By Owner websites. Here is a quick overview of my search results.

1. HomesByOwner.com: You can list your home for free. You can upload 1 photo in the free section. If you would like to add more photos, it will cost you.

2. BuyOwner.com: They do not have a price listed on their website, they recommend that you call them. They offer great Virtual Tours. BuyOwner sends people out to your home to take these Virtual Images. I am not sure on the price, but I had a friend who used their service and spent $2,300. Contact BuyOwner.com for more details.

3. Owners.com: They provide a free listing service. They also offer a $377 MLS listing fee to add your property in to the Multiple Listing Service. If an agent shows up and sells your home, you would only pay the 3% to them as opposed to paying the full 6% if you hired a agent as I have in the past.

4. ForSaleOwnerHomes.com: They also offer a free listing service. These free websites like ForSaleOwnerhomes.com make their money through things like Google ads, that is why they can keep their listing services for free.

5. ForSaleByOwner.com: Fee for a listing is $89.95 a month or a flat fee of $199 to be listed until your property is sold.

There are more websites, but you get the general idea of what is out there. If you are planning on selling your home, I recommend you go through the same research I did and list on as many free websites as possible. If you hit it and sell your home, you will only have more money in your pocket in the end.

Using a Realtor to Sell Your Home VS For Sale By Owner

In the real estate industry we call home owners that market their property for sale on their own FSBO’s or For Sale by Owners. The obvious main goal of a FSBO is to save money on real estate commissions. In the past few years we have seen more For Sale By Owners, especially in the lower price points and in the neighbourhoods outside of city cores. There are a few reasons for this increase including an opening up of the MLS system, perception of a Realtor’s role and the market conditions.

Recently the MLS ( Multiple Listing Service) was opened up to the public, meaning a FSBO could list their property on the MLS (still through a Realtor and Brokerage) but could manage the selling process on their own without offering a co-operating broker a commission for finding a buyer. The reality is, Realtors will work with a buyer client for months, sometimes years so naturally a Realtor would like to be paid for their efforts. For this reason, Realtors may not work with you and bring their qualified buyers to your home. FSBO’s also tend to overprice their property, but a Realtor knows the true value and will introduce their client only to properly priced properties.

Realtors are often placed in the same category as a used car salesperson – perception has it that Realtors are rolling in the dough for very little effort. Over the past few years the real estate market has been booming making a Realtors job look easy with properties listed on the MLS selling hours or days after being put up for sale. What people do not realize is that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when selling a property and a lot of liability as well. It’s a full time job and people do not realize this: a Realtor’s job includes setting the price, marketing the property, manage appointments, negotiate the contract and ensure a smooth closing. We are talking about huge amounts of money when buying or selling a home and in most cases this is the largest purchase someone will make in their lifetime. Working with a Realtor as a buyer is a free service so there is really no benefit to the buyer not to as the buyer is protected by their own Realtor. As Realtors we live and breathe real estate so for us selling or buying a property is second nature: we know the questions to ask and what to look for.

The nice thing about working with a Realtor is that the seller doesn’t pay for the service unless the property sells. In the case of a FSBO, each time they engage a lawyer for assistance, they are charged an hourly rate regardless of whether the home sells or not. In the end, there are FSBO that sell their property on their own but about 80% of FSBO’s do end up listing and selling with a Realtor.

For Sale By Owner and the Web

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the Internet has radically changed society. In real estate, this has led to a massive surge in for sale by owner properties on the web.

For Sale By Owner and the Web

In the past, choosing to go the path of “For Sale By Owner” could turn out to be incredibly difficult and overbearing. Realtors dominated the market because they had proprietary access to the multiple listing service, known as MLS, and you had to be listed in it if you wanted your property to be seen. Thankfully, the Internet has made selling a home yourself incredibly easy in a variety of ways.

If we flash back 10 years to the pre-internet days, we would find a real estate market that looks foreign to what we have today. In that market, the number one method for selling your home was to list it in the multiple listing service controlled by real estate agents. This, of course, allowed them to get their hooks into you and squeeze out a commission regardless of the quality of service they provided. If we flash forward to the present day, we find a new landscape.

A 2005 study of homebuyers across the United States revealed a fact that most realtors are loath to admit to, but know exists. Over 70 percent of homebuyers shop for potential properties on the internet. Yes, seven out of every 10 are hopping online and finding the property of their dreams. Why? The reason is very simple. Would you rather drive all over town looking at homes that don’t really match what you are after and blowing your valuable time or would you prefer to sit at your computer and click through properties with pictures? Unless you really love driving, the answer is obvious.

In our modern society, time is the most valuable asset. Listing your property on the internet is a huge time saver because it is all point and click. If you are selling, you can upload descriptions and pictures for buyers to view. If you are buying, you can see pictures of both the inside and outside of potential properties while relaxing at your desk. Either way, it beats sitting in traffic while driving all over town.