Help available for FSBO sellers
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Naturally, the more services you want, the more you
pay. Turner notes that those with experience selling or with more
time available can go with the no-frills plans offered by the Web-only
companies, while those new to the process may want to deal with
a company that has a local office and can do more hand-holding.
She notes that paying an extra fee for a MLS listing will usually
help your home sell faster, but points out that you may have to
pay a commission or fee to any real estate agents that bring buyers
Photo and ad on the Internet: These can range from
one or more photos of the home to a full-blown tour with more than
20 photos and a detailed description. For an extra fee, many sites
will place your home in a preferred or featured section of the site.
Yard signs: These range from the basic, which lists
your phone number, to a more informative sign. Some services also
provide a personal toll-free phone number that takes messages for
you, protecting your privacy.
Access to the Multiple Listing Service: The MLS is
a database of homes in your area. Turner believes that an MLS listing
is critical to getting buyers into your home.
Customized ads placed for you in the local newspaper.
Phone or in-person support during the selling process:
Brokers with local offices may come to your home or be available
by local phone to answer questions. Web-based services may offer
a toll-free phone number to handle your questions.
from a real estate agent in preparing a purchase contract and other paperwork.Legal
forms or actual assistance from an attorney or title company.
Customized brochures depicting your home.
Assistance in setting an asking
are usually tiered or a la carte, and can include the following:
Costs vary widely. ForSaleByOwner.com's least-expensive plan runs
$79.95 a month and includes six color photos of your home on their
site, a virtual tour and a 3,000 word description of your home.
Prices go up from there. The highest-priced plan is the Platinum
Package, which includes yard signs, a listing on the Web site until
the home is sold, unlimited access to a toll-free real estate consultation
line, as well as special placement on the Web site, all for $699.
Owners.com has a rock-bottom basic listing package
of $14.95 for a listing of five photos on the Web site. They add
in yard signs, a virtual tour taken by a professional photographer,
and other perks for a one-time fee of $99.95. Listing in your area's
MLS for six months is available for a flat fee of $499. FSBO.com
offers various packages including ads and basic signs, running from
$69.95 to $199.95. The flat fee MLS package costs $499.95.
Mary Ann Brugnoni, a homeowner in Rochester, N.Y.,
went with America's Choice. She paid $900 for a package of services
that included ads in her local newspaper, yard signs, custom-designed
brochures, ads on the America's Choice Web site and consultations
with local America's Choice Realtors. Costs for America's Choice
depend on the services you pick and the office location. Assist
2 Sell offers several packages, including an MLS package and a paperwork-only
package. Like America's Choice and Help-U-Sell, prices vary depending
Although her house hasn't sold yet, Brugnoni is
pleased with America's Choice. "Working with America's Choice has been great,"
she says. "They are very responsive to any questions or concerns. Keeping
your house show-ready to accommodate buyers is the toughest part of selling. That
is work and has to be done whether selling on your own or with an agent."
Regardless of which service you sign on with, here are some
common gaffes experts advise you to avoid:
- Bad Pricing. To
price your home to sell, you need to get some hard data on the
selling prices of similar homes in your neighborhood. Too many
FSBO sellers fall into the trap of looking at asking prices rather
than selling prices and end up pricing their homes too aggressively,
leading to the painful process of repeatedly lowering the price
of the home over and over again until you hit the sweet spot where
the home is realistically priced. Steve Hatton, owner of HomeOwners
Advantage in Chicago, www.affordablelistings.com, recommends that
sellers take several steps to appropriately price their home,
including surfing Web sites such as Realtor.com, www.realtor.com,
the official site of the National Association of Realtors, getting
a free market analysis from a local Realtor, and looking in the
local newspaper to see what other nearby and comparable homes
have sold for. Lastly, hard-core sellers can go down to the local
courthouse and peruse home-sale records.
- Overestimating the value
of your home. Many sellers overestimate the value of their
home based on what they've put into the home over the years, says
Bob Irwin, author of "The For Sale By Owner Kit." "Pricing
your home too high is the single biggest mistake that sellers
make," he says. "You know how much blood, sweat and
tears you've put into the house over the years and you want to
get it all back. But the value of your home is determined by the
marketplace. If your home is selling for a higher price than the
competition, it simply won't sell."
- Undermarketing. For
FSBOs, marketing your home is a continual process. Brugnoni recommends
that FSBO sellers do as much networking as possible. She says,
"Tell your friends, relatives and clients that you have a
great house on the market." Other savvy sellers put together
fact sheets about their house, pay a fee to get their home listed
in the MLS, hold numerous open houses, and follow up with interested
Quitting too soon. Many sellers underestimate the time
it takes to sell a home, Turner says. "Too many people quit after a month
or so and get a real estate agent," she says. "If you price the house
reasonably and get the word out, the house will sell. Just don't give up too soon."