For Sale by Owner


Did you know?  There are sites that will allow you to post your home on multiple listing service and tell you you can sell your home for a mere 200 dollars…as though just posting in MLS is all there is to selling your home.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

First, and most importantly, your agent doesn’t get the entire commission.  The AGENCY gets the majority of it, and that’s because there’s a gargantuan amount of marketing being done, by that agency, on your behalf, about which you know nothing because you don’t see it going on.  For example….you might post your home on the internet, but does it show up on the top of the search engine page?  I’d bet not.  That costs dollars, dollars your agency spends to get your home the best marketing position going.  Would you like to have your home on the Relocation market too?  That also costs dollars, and your agency will have your home right up there for anybody not IN this area, moving TO this area also seeing your home and being put in touch with someone to bring them in to see it.  You aren’t going to get that with FSBO or for limited marketing (such as entry only agencies).  It’s not just A web site; it should be THE web site.  Fonville Morisey has a web site that other real estate agents from other companies use…because ours is the best.  Period.

Technology is key in marketing.  I’ve seen the technology other agencies use.  None can compare to Fonville Morisey.  That’s just a little side note because I’m a nerd.

Second, selling your home is not just about putting a sign in the yard or getting the home in MLS.  It’s about having professionals who know the market and real estate laws to look after your  financial AND legal interests.  Let’s talk about your buyer.  What if it was built on a drainage easement?  Do you understand the implications of that?  Are there encroachments on your property?  What if you are listing unheated square footage (or other rooms accessible THROUGH unheated square footage) as actual heated square footage and CHARGING for that space?  You are not allowed, by law, to do that.  Your buyer can come back and sue you for the dollars they spent in error because you ‘misled’ them. And…are you SURE about the square footage you’re advertising?  Square footage errors are the biggest reason for real estate lawsuits.  That’s just one example.

Did you know that 50% of FSBO sellers waste precious marketing time and end up having to hire a Realtor anyway?  True.  And the experience is often such a hassle, that 90% of FSBO sellers say they will hire a Realtor next time.  Also true.  Every market has a wax and wane aspect.  If you try to sell by owner and miss the hot market, your agent (and statistics say you’ll probably call one) now has to market in the slow market time and you might end up sitting right there for another season while the market goes through its cycle.

There’s a new contract, which includes a due diligence period.  Part of that due diligence package involves you, the seller, getting a check as compensation for having your house off of the market (limited marketability) while the buyer does their investigation and gets the loan in order.  If they walk…for any reason or for no reason…you keep that due diligence money.  That’s, by the way, the easy part of the contract.  The lastest offer to purhcase is intricate and involved.  And while your agent is FAR more than a paper handler, it sure helps that he or she IS good at that part. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your realtor is just a fill-in-the-blank paper pusher.  Not so.  We are professionals who know the law, have to take classes every year to stay current on the changes…and there are a lot of them…and we work while others are spending time with their families.  Realtors never really have a day off.  I think we’re one of the most misunderstood segments of business society.

Let’s talk negotiating!  That’s the real meat of the process.  Do you know what a buyer can and cannot expect you to do?  Do you know what your legal liability is if you sell a termite infested home?  Buyer?  What if you buy a gorgeous home and fall through the floor when you move in your piano because termites have eaten the floor supports?  Do you have a recourse?  Oh and let’s talk about mold and radon gas….no, let’s don’t.  But you should think about it. A big part of the realtor’s job is to protect you, buyer or seller…from down-the-road issues like this.

My personal feeling is that I wouldn’t try a for sale by owner simply because of the litigious nature of our society these days.  It doesn’t take much for someone to sue someone else.  And ignorance of the law is still no excuse.  Some ‘honest’ mistakes can be very costly…even more than the amount of commissions.  And remember…when you buy your next home, you don’t pay your realtor OR commissions. Your seller does.  So it balances. 

Some buyers automatically assume, if you are selling without an agency representing you, that you can’t afford it and they’ll target you for a lowball offer.  They will assume you are in financial trouble and treat you accordingly.  And speaking of low ball offers….did you know that most people who sell their homes as a fsbo actually net LESS than they could have with a realtor/professional, pricing their home?  I know…you think you can look at a sale price and divide by square footage of a nearby sold home, then multiply that number by the size of your home.  That’s EXACTLY why people net less.  That’s not the correct way to price a home.  If you do that, there’s a great chance you’ll either get zip for activity (very over priced) or you’ll sell way under what you could have sold for (very under priced).

So, the moral of the story is this: 1) the real estate agent does not get that whole commission; 2) the real estate agent will spend out of pocket dollars…in ADDITION towhat the agency spends…to market your home. If it doesn’t sell, we lose money; 3) the real estate agent is a trained professional with great credentials and a knowledge of the market you need to get the most for your property; 4) the real estate agent is not a paper pusher.  We are trained negotiators and we are trained in real estate law that will save you from a lot of hassle…and you won’t even know it.  With an agency representingyou, you get what you pay for and THEN some.

Oh, and let me debunk a myth that runs rampant in the homes community:  Contrary to popular belief, real estate agents are not rich.


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