More than 80 percent of homes sold are on the MLS, so it makes good business sense for FSBO sellers to think and market like agents — and respect what they bring to the table.
But because by-owner sellers have so many resources at their command these days, they can successfully accomplish the tasks of a home sale, such as pricing and marketing their property, that were once considered the exclusive domain of real estate agents.
In fact, thanks to online services, selling a home is well within the capabilities of anybody willing to follow a series of step-by-step home sale instructions.
“Sellers reach motivated buyers who are conducting their own home searches regardless of whether they’re working with an agent or not,” says Eddie Tyner, general manager of ForSaleByOwner.com, one of several online services that help sellers bypass real estate agents and their 6 percent commissions.
FSBO sellers can achieve the same results as agents by following their exact steps:
- Use the Multiple Listing Service. “Harnessing the power of MLS is key to getting maximum exposure for any listing,” Tyner explains. “FSBO sellers with listings on their local MLS get their homes in front of the entire buyer agent community.”
- Be seen on other home-buying websites. Agents don’t rely solely on the MLS; they cover all possible online bases, including Zillow.com, Realtor.com, Yahoo Real Estate and Craigslist. A good online service will automatically syndicate by-owner listings to these resources.
- Create a professional listing for your property. Because most buyers begin their home search online, an attractive listing with creative text and compelling photos is essential.
- Market smart by networking. Successful sellers know that people talk. That’s why printing fliers, advertising in community newspapers, mailing postcards to all of your neighbors and telling everybody you know about your property is so important. You never know who might have a friend who’s looking for a house just like yours.
- Have an open house. This is where many by-owner sellers fail to emulate the pros, according to Derek Morgan, manager of broker services at ForSaleByOwner.com. “Too many sellers just stick a sign in the yard,” he notes. A top-notch open house requires that it be promoted several weeks in advance, that signs be placed around the neighborhood and that visitors be screened to determine which ones are seriously interested in the property and deserve follow-up contact.
- Assemble a team of professionals. FSBO sellers can’t do it all themselves. Just like agents, they need to have an experienced real-estate attorney and title agency in on the deal. Tyner describes hiring a lawyer — usually for no more than $500 or so — as one of the most cost-effective steps in selling a home.
When FSBO Sellers Will Want to See an Agent
Although a by-owner seller won’t need an agent to sell a home, often a buyer will bring his or hers to the table. At this point, you’ll need to realize that an agent who delivers a high-quality buyer deserves to be compensated. Typically, you’ll grant them a 3 percent commission.
“We are in favor, actually, of paying an agent if they bring you a buyer, as this is value you might not otherwise get,” Tyner says. “But listing the house, getting it on the MLS and all that, we just don’t think it’s worth the tens of thousands of dollars that some people pay.”