In tough times, more try to sell homes on their own

Market Conditions
Written by Jerry W. Jackson, Orlando Sentinel   

A white house in Orlando.Orlando listings grow as housing prices fall and owners try to save money.

As home prices have fallen and sales have slowed, more people are trying to sell homes on their own.

During the first half of this year, Orlando had .

A report by the nation's leading for-sale-by-owner Web site, released this week, showed Orlando trailed only Charlotte, N.C., in the growth of listings, year over year, from January through June.

Orlando's growth rate was 306 percent. Charlotte posted a 417 percent increase in the number of For-SaleByOwner listings.

Others in the top 10 were Cincinnati, Ohio (174 percent); Provo, Utah (173 percent); Salt Lake City (111 percent); New Orleans (111 percent); Greensboro, N.C. (44 percent); Cleveland (39 percent); Houston (32 percent); and Pittsburgh (30 percent).

Nationwide, the number of ForSaleByOwner Web-site listings increased 10 percent from the first half of 2006.

Greg Healy, vice president of operations, said more sellers are trying to save money as prices and the equity in homes have fallen. A glut of homes -- new and used -- has contributed to a rare, nationwide drop in prices.

Realtors, who are the middlemen in home sales, contend that they add value and are worth the typical 6 percent or 7 percent commission.

On a home that sells for $250,000, the approximate median in Metro Orlando, a 6 percent commission means the seller gives up $15,000 to the real-estate agency. The agent gets a share of that.

With ForSaleByOwner -- owned by Tribune Co., parent company of the Orlando Sentinel -- sellers pay between $89.95 and $899, a flat fee based on the level of marketing and sales assistance selected.

There is no commission or other fee paid to ForSaleByOwner at closing. If the seller chooses a package that includes entry in the Multiple Listing Service, and agrees to allow a Realtor to bring a client and com-pletes the sale, up to 3 percent might be required to go to the Realtor, but not to ForSaleByOwner.

Jack Frey, president of the Osceola County Association of Realtors, said frustrated home sellers, facing the slowdown, are trying to sell on their own when their regular Realtor listings expire.

Frey said selling without Realtors is no more likely to succeed in such a stagnant market. Even auctions, typically a last-ditch effort, are not doing well.
"Nothing is working," Frey said. "I'm not sure what will work."

Frey said that while Realtors are trying to remain optimistic, focusing on positives such as the big selec-tion of homes for buyers and low interest rates, focusing on those positives will not alter the underlying econ-omy or psychology.

"It just takes time to turn things around," said Frey, a 25-year real-estate veteran.

With home sales sluggish and the number of homes on the market at record highs, more sellers are trying to sell without Realtors., founded in 1999 and the largest such online marketplace, reports that gains for its listings in the first half of 2007 have soared in some communities.

Charlotte, N.C......417%
Provo, Utah.........173%
Salt Lake City......111%
New Orleans.........111%
Greensboro, N.C......44%


via Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida)
Syndicated with permission.


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