For Sale by Owner

FSBOTrue, there are multitudes of websites out there appealing to the “do it yourself” seller.   But this is not a bicycle you are selling or a fence you are repairing.  You are about to sell one of your greatest financial assets and there is not much room for a learning curve. 

Once a home goes on the market it has a fairly short window in which to sell before being perceived as having something wrong with it.  You want to come out of the gate with your home marketed at its absolute top potential.  If you try to sell it yourself and are unsuccessful, even an experienced agent may have a harder time selling it for you after that. You need to do things right so you can get a good price and have a smooth transaction.

You may wonder, though, if hiring a Realtor is really worth it?  The bottom line is your net take on the home’s sale. Consider this statistic: homes sold with an agent sell faster and for 15-20% more money 1.  When you subtract the 5% commission you’re still 10-15% richer than if you sold it by yourself. Additionally, consider the following:

1.  Do I know how to describe my home to buyers? The description of your home used in any marketing materials or on the internet needs to not only be well written, but must make your home appeal to the most buyers possible.  Experienced agents know just what to say to bring buyers in the door and what to highlight to keep them intrigued. 

2.  Can I produce outstanding marketing materials?  The value of something is often perceived through the subconscious.  A home that has been professionally photographed and has full color multi-picture brochures will somehow seem more valuable to a buyer than one who has faded black and white one page flyers.  A top agent will invest in those things to give your home the “wow” factor.

3. Do I know how to price a home? Most sellers honestly believe their own home is worth more than comparable homes in the same neighborhood. Usually, they’re wrong. Real estate agents are in touch with what is going on in the current market, which can have a huge effect on how to price a home.  Do you price it low to encourage multiple offers?  Will it price slightly higher this month than it did last month?  Overpricing a home is a sure way to deter potential buyers. 

4.  Do I know where to market my home?  In a recent survey, the primary method used in For Sale By Owner situations was newspaper ads.  These sellers apparently didn’t know that only 13% of homebuyers use that method to search for a home.  Experienced agents not only know what advertising avenues work best, they also know where to specifically go within those avenues to find the buyers you’re looking for.  It is part of the job of an agent to stay on top of the latest marketing methods.

5.  Do I know how to stage my home? Staged homes sell statistically faster and for 17% more money than non-staged homes2.  You have only a few seconds to make a good first impression on a buyer.  Do you know how to neutralize and accessorize your home to appeal to the greatest number of buyers?  It’s usually hard to be objective about your own home.  Top agents will provide a Home Stager to help prepare your home to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.  This service could cost you thousands of dollars were you to hire a stager on your own. Since only about 6% of sellers properly stage their homes3, you will have an excellent chance of making the best overall impression, compared to similarly priced homes. 

6. Do I have someone to show my home whenever needed?   Today’s busy lifestyles mean showings can be requested at various and multiple times throughout the day.  Is your schedule flexible enough to allow you to get to the house on little to no notice?  If a buyer can’t get in to see a house they will go on to the next one, and perhaps never bother to go back to see yours.

7. Will I inhibit potential buyers?   Potential buyers will spend less time in a home if the owner is present during the showing.  What you want is for buyers to take their time in the home, discussing the pluses and minuses as they start to envision themselves living there.  They won’t do this if the owner is within earshot.  Also, buyers will feel more comfortable making an offer if they know there is an agent representing the seller who must abide by the highest standards and ethics.

8. Do I understand the paperwork and will I stay out of legal trouble? The sale of real estate involves complex and often complicated legal transactions, full of potential liability for unwary sellers. This is particularly true in states such as California that have extensive disclosure requirements.  If you miss even one required form or legally mandated disclosure you could face a long and expensive lawsuit from the buyer after the transaction closes. In fact, a survey of sellers doing it on their own say understanding the paperwork was the most difficult part of the process. Experienced agents can guide you away from potential pitfalls, advise you on ways to protect yourself, and help ensure the transaction closes smoothly.

1  Source:  National Association of Realtors
2  Source: Real Estate Staging Association and US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
3  Source: Academy of Staging and Design

Copyright Wilbur Real Estate Group 2014