When you see a Realtor pose a question about a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) versus Realtor you may naturally assume I’d side with using a Realtor. But you may not know that I am one of the few crazy people who can say, “I love to do research!”. After beginning to design a marketing campaign geared toward assisting FSBO’s; with the hope that they may end up listing with me down the road – I decided to find out the real answer to the above question, “Won’t I net more as a FSBO versus using a Realtor?”. It sounds logical, right? What does the research say? Also as importantly to me, what are the motivating factors that cause people to try selling their own home, aside from believing they will make more profit? And so began my search…..
Statistics showed a resounding “NO” to the title question. You will not make more money selling your home by yourself. Not only that, but FSBO’s take an average of 19 more days to sell. Also when you consider that about 20% of FSBO’s end up listing with an agent, that average lengthens to an extra 68 days. The average difference between what homes sell for with a Realtor and FSBO more than compensates for the brokerage fee. The national average broker fee is $15,000 but the average amount Realtors garner versus FSBO in home price is $40,000. So, statistically speaking, you should be ahead of the game both financially and time-wise by listing with a Real Estate Professional.
While reading through dozens of articles online, I tried first to focus on institutions for the research facts, like the National Association for Realtors and independent entities like Quicken Loans. After that I switched gears and read some blogs and personal testimonials of people who sold or unsuccessfully attempted to sell For Sale By Owner. I wanted to know what their biggest hurdles were in the process and as stated earlier, why they went that route in the first place. Let’s take a look at those hurdles first.
Ever hear of or been a parent who was confused by their 6th grade child’s math homework? I remember being confused when my 2nd grader came home with math and it asked for her to rename the equations. I had no idea what that meant. After being stumped for half an hour I finally called the teacher, feeling like an idiot – only to be told that renaming was what we had called borrowing back in my day. Oh – pretty simple subtraction. So here I am a college graduate twice over, stumped by 2nd grade math. Why? The language. It appears that FSBO sellers biggest hurdle is the paperwork, the language. It’s not because they’re not smart, but unfamiliar. Did you know you can lose out on thousands of dollars just by having your taxes prorated in arrears if you’re in an area that customarily does them in advance? By not being familiar with language in the Purchase Agreement or title work – it could literally cost you big bucks.
How about pricing? As a home-owner it’s not easy to pull up what all the neighborhood homes have sold for. Sold prices are what appraisers and Realtors use to assess your home’s value. Current list prices don’t necessarily reflect value. If someone isn’t willing to pay it; it isn’t worth it. Combine the difficulty of finding sold comps and accurately pricing with the fact that only 2% of interested buyers will look at your home if they believe it to be even 10% above Fair Market Value – you could be in trouble. The first three weeks are crucial when selling a home. It is by far the greatest period of activity. If your price isn’t right from the get-go, you are eliminating a huge number of prospects.
I would state that especially in a market like Mid-Michigan; the inability to effectively market a home is the greatest trial of a FSBO. It is true there are more options for marketing now than in the past, but it just isn’t possible to get down all the avenues without having it listed by a Realtor. When I list a home it goes to more than 1000 websites. Considering that 43% of people first find their home online; that is an important factor. The second biggest way people find homes is directly through a Realtor, 33%. The largest piece of that 43% of people who find homes online first; is marketing done by Realtors.
I’m surely not saying that selling your home yourself is impossible. In some markets, you may have the perfect home in the perfect location and it will fly right out the door. Looking at the cold hard facts though, your Realtor could be worth their weight in gold – – ok, maybe not quite but an average $40K higher is pretty good, plus you don’t have all the headaches. I do want to note that aside from “saving” money, the other biggest reason people list their own homes is because of previous experiences with a bad agent. Yup! They’re out there. I’d like to write a little bit more on that – what’s bad, what’s good, what should you expect? Since I can’t wrap that all up in a two sentence nutshell; I’ll put it in my next post.
If you are currently listing your home FSBO and are having a hard time, please feel free to message me. I’d be more than happy to help you out, no matter where you are – no pressure, just good advice from years of experience. Have a super awesome day!
Here are a few of the first articles I read. The Public Relations Princess testimonial by Claire was a great insight from a FSBO experience.