Do What He Did: How Jason Fisher Sold His Condo By Owner

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Downtown Milwaukee was hot, hot, hot in 2005 when Jason Fisher bought a two-bedroom condo there.

Now, that market is not, not, not. And Fisher has moved on – to Florida, where he is involved in a business start-up.

How to sell the condo in a market saturated with condos of every type, from lofts to pricey high-rises to historic conversions?

Fisher quickly realized that he’d lose money if he listed with a real estate broker. He figured that his corner unit with numerous upgrades would stand out as a best buy in the building. And he also knew he could call on the goodwill of his neighbors to show the unit if buyers called when he was in Florida.

In 2005, Fisher had purchased the unit for $178,800 in 2005 and spent about $10,000 in upgrades. He put it on the market for $179,000. A listing with ForSaleByOwner.com quickly drew interest. Calls started coming in from the multiple listing service option that Fisher tapped into, which put his condo in the mix of all those for sale by agents and owners.

After just three weeks, a single woman came by. The first time she saw the unit neighbors ushered her around. She balked at the price, though, noting that other two-bedrooms in the neighborhood had sold for about $160,000.

Fisher thought that if she saw how his unit compared to others in his building, she would be persuaded of its greater value. He offered to escort her on a quick tour of the six other units also for sale in the building.

She agreed. “I can’t find another place I like as much as yours,” she said three weeks later. They agreed on a price of $175,000. The deal closed in late May 2010.

Though Fisher did not get back what he spent on upgrades, he did recapture most of his equity. “I didn’t have to hire an agent, so I considered it a wash,” he said. “She felt comfortable with me. That’s part of the FSBO process. You have to spend time with people and walk them through it.”

“In today’s market, spending 6 percent on an agent just makes you sick when you’re already losing money on the deal,” he added. With his equity intact, Fisher is well positioned to pick up a deal in the depressed Florida condo market.