GO GET THAT FSBO ... Here's some AMMO

Real Estate Agent with High Lakes Realty and Property Management

 At first thought, selling your house by yourself might seem tempting. After all, how much work could it possibly be to sell a house anyway? You just plunk a sign out in the yard, run a couple newspaper ads, park yourself in the rocker on the front porch for a while and wait for the buyers to start showing up, literally at your doorstep.

I'll admit that perhaps that particular strategy has worked, and may still work on that rarest of rare occasions... at least getting the buyers to your door, that-is. The problem is that even if that was the extent of your Marketing strategy, there's still some major hurdles to be cleared before you've got signatures on the dotted line and have actually closed the transaction. But we'll talk about all the paperwork and other hassles later.

For now, lets get back to the Marketing. Perhaps the most compelling reason a seller should use a local professional Real Estate Agency to sell their property is because that agency has the ability to "list" homes for sale through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS.)

The Multiple Listing Service is a cooperative arrangement between most Real Estate Brokers to pool information about Real Estate for sale into a common data base from which all cooperating members can access. When a house is listed by one company, that information is shared with all cooperating companies. In most cases any commissions generated by the sale of such a property are then split between the listing agency and the selling agency. This creates a win-win arrangement that generates traffic and allows listings to be effectively shared among the membership.

The most important result of this arrangement is that any property placed on the MLS can be sold by any other member (Real Estate Broker) of the MLS.

In other words (and this is important,) real estate brokers don't just sell their own company's listings, they can sell any within their MLS. This is extremely important for the seller. Without information being shared via the MLS, Real Estate would be exceedingly difficult to market beyond what newspapers, periodicals or any other advertising would be able to accomplish.   Without the MLS, you'll usually be sitting in that rocker on the front porch waiting for your house to sell for a while. But that's not the only reason to use and Agent.

An Agent is your advocate in every regard who's job it is to provide you with all possible information and or services that will be of benefit throughout the transaction. A good Agent will field phone calls, distribute information and stand between you those who might waste your precious time.

Without the help of a professional Agent, you run the risk of misjudging market conditions. A home that is priced too high may waste precious time sitting on the market for longer than it should. On the other hand, what could be worse than to price your home too low? Other than the likelihood that it will probably sell in record time, there's nothing good about losing money that you shouldn't have by under pricing your property. Among the tools an agent can provide for you is help with pricing information via a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA.)

The Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) prepared by your agent/broker will compare active listings, recent and pending sales, days on market, price adjustments etc. of "like" or comparable properties first in your immediate neighborhood, then in the surrounding similar neighborhoods within the region. CMAs are given by brokers in pursuit of a listing free of charge. It's important to stress however that a CMA is an informal instrument meant to be used as a guide, never as a substitute for a formal appraisal. When or if a formal appraisal should be used is another question your broker can help you answer.

Don't forget the mountain of paperwork an Agent can help get you through. Earnest Money Agreements (that you might need help understanding) run at least eight pages in Oregon, and that's not including any counter-offers back and forth or the state-mandated disclosure forms that will have to be completed and presented to any potential buyers before you can close a deal. Just shuffling the paper and keeping track of it all is a huge undertaking. Taking that paperwork and dealing with buyer's lenders, appraisers, title companies, escrow officers etc., should be reason enough by themselves to convince anyone to make good use of a professional Agent and his Brokerage.

It is estimated that more than 80% of FSBOs end up getting listed by a professional agency in the end. Unfortunately, this usually only happens after the seller has wasted much more time and effort than was necessary. In worst case scenarios, this decision finally to list professionally comes only after markets have softened and prices have weakened to a point that have cost the seller much more than any possible agency commissions would have originally.

After time, you might be successful selling your home on your own. However, without the help of tools like the MLS and an Agent to help you get you through the paperwork, doing it by yourself is likely to take a lot longer and be a lot more work and trouble than you were expecting.

Fred Jaeger is a licensed Oregon Real Estate Broker and e-PRO Certified Realtor® associated with Gilchrist Real Estate Company in La Pine Oregon. He can be reached directly at 541 598-5449 or fred@gilchristrealestate.com

Comments (10)

Karen Monsour
Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert!
Got one yesterday...9 months on the market with FSBO, not in the MLS not one call! They were thrilled with the listing I did for them and emailed from the MLS!
Dec 14, 2007 09:46 AM
Fred Jaeger
High Lakes Realty and Property Management - La Pine, OR
Real Estate Connection - Central Oregon
Good for you Karen.  That's what I'm talkin' about!
Dec 14, 2007 10:59 AM
Pat Laracy Baker
Realty Executives Boston West - Holliston, MA
Pat Baker Dream Home Maker
Hi Fred, This is a great post. I am going to bookmark it for future reference,. Real Estate agents sell houses and for more right? 
Dec 14, 2007 01:08 PM
Fred Jaeger
High Lakes Realty and Property Management - La Pine, OR
Real Estate Connection - Central Oregon
You're right on Pat.. by a margin of about 10%.
Dec 15, 2007 09:43 AM
Linda Schulte
Keller Williams - Alpharetta, GA

Great post, Fred.  I listed a FSBO recently and got a workable offer after our first weekend on the market.  The owners had been trying to sell it themselves for at least 3 months with no success.  They needed exposure, and then, after the offer, good negotiating skills to get to the final price and then through the inspection issues.  We are headed for the closing table in mid-January! 

Linda Schulte, Atlanta

Dec 17, 2007 07:33 AM
Fred Jaeger
High Lakes Realty and Property Management - La Pine, OR
Real Estate Connection - Central Oregon

That's what I'm talkin' about Linda.  Congratulations!!


Dec 17, 2007 08:30 AM
Dawn Coulter
eXp Realty, LLC - Bloomsburg, PA
Helping clients say "Hello" to a "Good-Buy"....
To many, FSBO's are scary....you make this easier for agents to reconsider pushing themselves more. 
Dec 18, 2007 02:55 PM
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
Fred - you are right - and helping those that are already looking to sell can be as easy as you make it.  Nice post. 
Dec 30, 2007 02:40 AM
Rob Lusk
Habitatboom.com - Charlotte, NC
There are some great FSBO systems available to guarantee a full pipeline.  Start by understanding the free listing sites, Zillow, Craigslist, Habitatboom, etc.  The more you can educate the Seller and give to them without asking for the listing, the better chance you're going to have in obtaining the listing.  The free listing sites are a great start.  You can also leverage those to market yourself w/o actually listing their homes.  Remember, they feel that they can do this on their own.  They also get a gajillion calls from pushy Agents telling them what they're doing is wrong.  I've found that by offering them something without asking for anything, they use me everytime.  The key is a great understanding of the market, the technology, and most importantly, the follow up.
Jan 06, 2008 02:51 PM
Jody Deeds
Key Realty, LTD - Columbus, OH
"Helping You Move On With Your Plans"
I have found good follow-up is key.  Most agents try once and if they don't get the listing that 1 time, they move on.  FSBO's just take a little more time, but are usually a good source of business for those that work it.
Jan 09, 2008 12:18 PM