Help available for FSBO sellers
For the average home seller, making an end run around
real estate agents is a risky business. Often overpriced and under-marketed,
these homes, known in the industry as "for sale by owner,"
or FSBO, can languish unsold for months.
But if you go into the process
armed with the correct information and ready to put in the hours
necessary to sell your home yourself, the result can be sweet: thousands
of dollars saved in real estate commissions. In these days of spiraling
home values, a 6-percent real estate commission isn't small change.
Buy a $350,000 home and you're looking at a commission
of $21,000; a $600,000 home, $36,000. Do your own math and you can
see why more sellers are at least considering doing the job themselves.
As in many areas of life, the Internet has revolutionized home selling,
giving both sellers and buyers access to information and home listings.
A number of FSBO services, both on and off the Internet,
are challenging the iron grip that full-service realtors once had
on home sales. Most provide a variety of services, from information
about the nuts and bolts of the FSBO process to signs, Internet
ads, real estate forms and even access to multiple listing services,
Before signing on the dotted line with one of these
outfits, take a deep breath and think about what help you need.
"Which company and which services you need really depends on
the amount of support you need and how comfortable you are with
the selling process," says Marcia Layton Turner, co-author
of the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Selling Your Own Home,"
due out later this year.
first step in the FSBO process is to familiarize yourself with the process of
how to research your market and sell your home. There are numerous books on the
process, and many of the Internet-based FSBO firms offer free advice and booklets
on the process, including "The Complete Guide to Buying and Selling Your
Own Home" on ForSaleByOwner.com.
"The three most important aspects of selling
your home yourself are pricing the home appropriately, marketing
it and transferring the title," says Colby Sambrotto, chief
executive officer of ForSaleByOwner.com. Foul up any one or all
of these three and you may not only miss opportunities to sell your
home, but also can get into legal trouble.
Turner advises sellers to be realistic about the time
involved in selling a house. "It takes more time because you
are doing all the marketing yourself," she says. "Agents
have a built-in pool of buyers to bring to your home. You'll have
to have more open houses, you have to give the tours yourself, you
have to schedule the appointments and you need to do the follow-up."
In terms of securing FSBO assistance, there are basically two
options: Internet-only Web sites and low-cost or discount real estate brokerages
with both Web sites and brick-and-mortar offices. Not all firms with offices have
a nationwide presence, so check out the various companies' Web sites to see which
are in your area.
The Web-based firms offer a variety of packages. Virtually
all include a listing of your home on their Web site for a specific
period and yard signs. More complete packages include some
advice, access to the Multiple Listing Service and special placements
on the Web site. These firms include ForSaleByOwner.com,
Owners.com and FSBO.com.
Most low-cost or discount real estate brokerages with
offices offer a wider variety of services than Internet-only firms
do. These include the signs and ads and extend into agents visiting
your home and helping you set a price, as well as, customized brochures
and ads placed in your local newspaper. Firms in this space include
U Sell and Assist