(Fortune Small Business) -- Not long ago, for sale by owner (FSBO) Web sites were heralded as a fresh entrepreneurial wave that was going to upend the staid real estate industry. In 2006 real estate sales "unassisted" by a broker accounted for 20% of sales made, says Steve Murray, editor and owner of Real Trends, a market research firm in Castle Rock, Colo.
Then the bubble burst. During the past four years, David Zwiefelhofer, who designs FSBO Web sites and sells them to real estate entrepreneurs, has sold about 50 regional FSBO sites through his company, FSBOWebsite.com. Only 30 to 35 are still operating.
"I used to get a phone call a day from people interested in FSBO Web sites," Zwiefelhofer says. "Now it's maybe one call a week."
So were FSBO sites just flashes in the pan? Murray says that with properties harder to sell these days, sellers are returning to brokers for professional marketing help, causing the unassisted slice of the market to slip to around 15%. But he expects the FSBO market to bounce back - eventually.