Selling it yourself? Think again.

April 17, 2008 at 8:59 pm 3 comments


For every homebuyer, there is a seller. And for every seller, there is someone who has – however briefly – thought about selling his or her own real estate. In real estate circles, property listed owners is referred to as “fizz-bo,” the pronunciation of the acronym FSBO, which stands for “for sale by owner.”

Obviously owners can and do sell their own property. There are Internet sites offering all manner of tips and suggestions designed to help you sell your home. But hints to sellers on how to spruce up a home to help it sell are usually good ideas for every seller – even those who elect to use a professional real estate agent. The fact that the do-it-yourself sites feel it necessary to have articles on “contingencies,” “credit scoring,” locking-in interest rates,” “buy downs” and “home inspections,” speaks volumes about the need for a professional to handle your transaction.

Sellers deny themselves the benefit to using a real estate professional because they want to “save” money. If selling it yourself is such a good idea, why are FSBO transactions only 16 percent of home listings nationwide?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced an advertising campaign recently in which they hope to persuade FSBOs to use a Realtor. The FSBO spot illustrates the convenience and expertise Realtors bring to complex transactions. It makes side-by-side comparisons between selling a home with and without Realtor expertise and lets viewers draw their own conclusions about which method is preferable.

Despite the sellers’ markets in many locales and predications the Internet would diminish the role of agents, a recent NAR study found only 16 percent of homes were sold directly by owners in 1999, even fewer than the 18 percent in 1997. Also, the survey revealed the median selling price of a home sold directly by an owner was $113,000 while the median sales price of a home sold using and agent was $129,900. What’s even more telling, however, is that of those homeowners who did successfully sell their home without a professional’s help, 50 percent vowed they would never do it again. They cited these complexities and hassles:

• holding open houses,
• arranging for appraisals and inspections,
• understanding and filing paperwork,
• helping buyers obtain financing and
• having time to do it all.

Again, it should be emphasized that it is possible to save commission costs by selling a home on your own or using discount firms. You must understand, however, the trade-offs involved. Namely, you deny yourself access to someone trained in real estate terminology and practices, which can be most advantageous.

Experienced real estate agents are able to provide up-to-date reports on comparable sales in your neighborhood. Because they work in the local market daily, they have a much better understanding of what is happening there and what financing options are available. If the agent is a Realtor, they can provide more exposure, via the Multiple Listing Service, than most homeowners can obtain on their own. In most cases, it takes less time to use a licensed real estate professional to sell your home.

If you do elect to use a licensed real estate agent, how do you know which one to pick? The Texas Association of Realtors offers these guidelines to help find the broker that’s right for you.

• Choose your agent with care – as you would a lawyer or doctor. Talk with friends, neighbors, and co-workers who have recently bought or sold a home in the area. What kind of service did they receive? Would they use the same broker or company next time?

• Attend an open house. Observe the salespersons in action, and judge their expertise. Were you shown the home in a professional manner? Had they done their homework so they were familiar with the property?

• Focus on real estate companies that specialize in residential sales. Look for “sold” signs around town and in your neighborhood. A successful track record warrants your consideration.

• Read the real estate section of your local newspaper for listings of homes in the same price range as yours. This will help you identify companies that market homes similar to yours. And, you can see how your home stacks up against the competition.

• Contact potential listing companies for an interview. Look for salespersons that take copious notes.

When you visit the prospective listing companies, here are some questions you should consider asking the real estate broker.

• How long have you been licensed?

• How long have you actively worked in the area?

• How many home sales have you closed in the last three months?

• Do you work full time as a real estate professional?

• Can you give me names of three references whose homes you’ve sold recently?

• How will you work to actively seek buyers for my home?

• Have you earned any specialty professional real estate designations? If so, which ones?

• What professional courses or training sessions have you attended recently?

Any good real estate broker keeps the clients’ interest in mind at all times, provides frequent status reports and has a clear understanding of the housing market and financing terms. To maximize exposure and minimize problems, enlist the services of a broker. Your peace of mind and a great deal of money are at stake. With professional assistance, the home-selling process can be much easier.

Contributed by David S. Jones, reprinted with permission from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.





Entry filed under: Austin, Smart Real Estate, Smart Sellers. Tags: , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  April 18, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Selling a house yourself is not as easy as many people think. If you are looking for some great answers to real estate questions check out This grat new online resource is free and is similar to Wikipedia but focusses only on real estate.

  • 2. N. Stephen Schatz  |  April 18, 2008 at 2:58 am

    There is an illusion that selling your property yourself will save you money. Even with a median sales price of $129K after commissions are cut to the realtor the homeowner is still making more than $113K.

    But are homeowners that go through realtors more likely to have more valuable homes than the majority of people that sell their house on their own as FSBOs. This could be a hidden factor that skews the results of this statistic.

    Hmmmmmm…any insight on this stat?

  • 3. West Toronto realtor  |  April 19, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Perfect article! I am dealing in Dekoven Mews and people often don’t understand, what’s the real job of a realtor. They think we just take commissions for nothing. But realtor profession emerged from people’s needs,as a piece of chain connecting buyers end sellers easier. If buying a new car, you don’t travel to factory – you buy it from dealer and it’s the same in realty…


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