Thursday, September 5, 2013

For Sale By Owner (FSBO): The Drawbacks of Going it Alone on a Home Sale

With housing on the upturn, multiple offers and rising sales prices are being reported in our market. Some potential home sellers might think that selling their home simply requires placing a “for sale” sign in their front yard. Many sellers have learned the hard way that selling a home in today’s marketplace is much more difficult than they imagined; their efforts to save money on commissions may have been more costly than they anticipated.
Before venturing into doing the do-it-yourself option of being a for-sale by owner (FSBO), you need to fully understand what is involved in the selling of real estate and then compare the perceived advantages and the actual disadvantages of trying to sell your property on your own.
Here are seven good reasons why hiring an experienced professional REALTOR® may actually net you more money on the sale of your home when all is said and done – as well as save you countless hours, headaches and stress in the process:

Being a FSBO may not actually save you as much as you think. While you might save some of the cost of hiring a professional real estate agent to represent you, you may still need to pay 2 percent or more to the buyer’s agent in order to attract a larger pool of buyers. Additionally, the true “savings” may be far less after you add all the other costs associated with selling – advertising, brochures and flyers, for-sale signs, attorney fees to draw up documents, etc.

You may get less for your home. The National Association of REALTORS® found that the typical FSBO home sold for $174,900 compared to a sales price of $215,000 for agent-assisted sales. That equates to an 18 percent loss for those do-it-yourselfers hoping to save a 6 percent commission. In addition, prospective buyers of a FSBO property, looking for a bargain, may automatically reduce their offer by the amount of the real estate commission the seller is attempting to avoid paying.

A LOT goes into selling a home. Less than 10 percent of sellers sold their home on their own last year, according to NAR®. Novice sellers may think you just stick a for-sale sign in the front lawn and buyers will beat a path to your door. Guess again! Professional agents develop comprehensive marketing plans, take professional photos, manage inspections and appraisers, oversee staging, hold open houses, place print and online ads, seek out potential buyers and negotiate with the buyer’s agents to get the best price possible for their seller. Homeowners need to ask themselves if they are ready and capable to do all of that work on their own.

FSBOs limit their potential pool of buyers. FSBO properties are usually not listed on as many of the home search engines and websites as listings handled by real estate agents. This is problematic given that 90 percent of buyers use the Internet to commence their home search, according to NAR®. Also, FSBOs typically can’t put the advertising, marketing and networking resources into reaching as many potential buyers as real estate professionals do. And with commissions reduced or even eliminated for buyer’s agents, there’s little incentive for real estate agents to show your home to their clients.

Setting the right listing price is hard to do. Real estate professionals review comparable sales and local market conditions, as well as the pluses and minuses of your home as they suggest the list price. As an owner, you may not have a clear or objective sense of what that price should be. The right price may get your home multiple offers and perhaps even bids over the asking price. However, if the list price too high then many potential buyers may not even look at your home, let alone make an offer. On the flip side, you could undervalue your home’s features that may justify a higher sale price.

It’s not always easy to be a “closer.” Getting a potential buyer to make an offer isn’t the end of the process. It is not uncommon for agents representing buyers and sellers to negotiate back and forth on many of the terms in the purchase contract, including price, occupancy requirements and other conditions of sale – and there are often additional negotiations regarding credits and repairs during the escrow process. FSBOs may find themselves sitting across from an experienced “closer” looking to drive a hard bargain and cut the best deal for themselves rather than working to reach a “fair” compromise between both parties. This is a critical part of the transaction; FSBOs should ask themselves who is looking out for their best interests? Working with a professional REALTOR® could help sellers avoid several of the pitfalls during the negotiation and closing processes.

Legal landmines in selling a home. There are a myriad of potential legal landmines for FSBOs. Who will write the purchase contract? What if a buyer’s contract proposal has clauses and other terms that could be detrimental to you? Sellers are obligated to disclose all material facts about their property and any omission or incorrect information could later be grounds for a claim or lawsuit. A REALTOR® can help you through that process by providing you with the correct advisories and disclosure forms.

Selling a home is a lot harder than most people realize, even in a good market. And it’s very easy for non-professionals to make mistakes along the way that will end up costing them in the long run. With the sale of a home being the single biggest transaction most of us will ever make, this is the time to use an experienced REALTOR® to manage the process. I’m ready to help. Visti me at