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 – 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.