Post Trib Article

Real Estate Agent with Willems Realtors


In today's tough housing market, selling your own home isn't so easy


May 20, 2008 <script type="text/javascript"></script> Recommend
From staff and wire reportsNEW YORK -- Savanna Forbes grabs a Swiffer mop to pick up a few stray dust bunnies before the open house she is holding in her Manhattan apartment. She already has printed out full-color flyers and tucked away dishes, books and personal items she considers unsightly.

It's all part of her effort to take on the risky real estate business without the aid of a real estate agent. Forbes is selling For Sale By Owner -- FSBO, in real-estate speak.

"This is not normal living," she said, laughing. "It's unnatural. I'm a tidy person, but not a paper is out of place."

But despite all her efforts, Forbes is prepping a home for no one to see. Her open house gets no visitors.

In the past, people who sold their own homes could pocket the commission that otherwise goes to a broker. But in today's tough housing market, doing it yourself isn't so easy.

"Two years ago, homes were selling overnight, and all you really needed was a yard sign," said Steve Udelson, CEO of, a resource site for buyers and sellers.

Now, sellers need to be more flexible by sharing the work -- and commission -- with a buyer's agent, Udelson said.

The National Association of Realtors

says 12 percent of home sellers went it alone in 2007, a drop from 18 percent in 1997. But Udelson says that number is misleading because it fails to count the nine percent of

sellers who went without a real estate agent but added their homes to a home

listings database.

Darlene Herrera, owner of NuAge Real Estate in Hobart, said about 20 percent to 25 percent of homeowners in Northwest Indiana are selling their homes on their own.

Herrera said the location is what determines how successful the sale will be.

A couple whose home was in a good location sold their home after the first open house, Herrera said.

Douglas Willems, owner of Willems Realtors in St. John, said not all for-sale-by-owners are as lucky. He said many for-sale-by-owners have to lease their house until it is sold.

Willems said he helped lease a home priced at $400,000 in Schererville recently.

Leasing houses has become a trend, especially for houses that are priced higher, in Northwest Indiana since the market is not at its peak, Willems said.

"Selling your home on your own is like winning a beauty pageant," Willems said.

Mark Camphaug, president of, another buyer and seller resource site, said many sellers fail because they're "marketing-challenged." It's no longer enough to list in local papers and free online sites. Investing in the Multiple Listing Service is "a no-brainer," he said.

"Look at it as a buyer," Soto said. "Buyers tend to overestimate the cost of repairs."

Forbes realized her apartment, priced at $495,000, was too much. With the help of a friend who's a real estate agent, she settled on the new price of $439,000.

Contact Doug Willems for more info. 219-730-8275


Comments (0)