Selling FSBO vs. Hiring a Realtor
Real estate is a complex industry, so much so that many who venture into it as aspirational agents struggle to build their clientele or close sustainable commissions. Not due to a lack of skill, but rather, the very nature of the home transaction process. Whether you’re buying, selling, or representing someone doing both, there are many challenges that can potentially upend any deal, be it an abundance of appraisal and repair contingencies or a basic lack of communication.
It’s this reality that causes many realtors to warn buyers and sellers against going into a home transaction without an agent. They caution, justly, that recent industry trends and longtime realities, like increased competition from buyers overseas, tightening mortgage lending criteria, and densely worded legalese making going it alone a serious pitfall, especially for first-timers.
It’s important to note, though, that there are very clearly biases on that end of the argument. More independent home sellers mean less business for various agencies. Losing a standard 6 or 7 percent commission may not seem like much when put in those terms, but if you’re an agent facilitating the sale of a home listed at $450,000, that’s $27,000 in lost commission. Now imagine you’re a realtor that loses multiple deals like that because your clients opt to sell FSBO. It’s easy to see how you would quickly become disenchanted by the idea.
FSBO Statistics Can Be Deceptive
Recent survey data present a mixed bag regarding the efficacy of FSBO sales. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), less than 10 percent of all home sales are FSBO, which sounds damning, until you examine the nature of most agent relationships with buyers and sellers. Often, instead of paying a realtor full commission, sellers will pay a flat fee to real estate professionals to list their property on a multiple listing service. However, even those relationships are grouped into the “agent-assisted” category, which skews and confounds the data immensely.
The data from a later survey by Redfin provide better insight into the driving motivations for FSBO sellers and home sellers in general. According to the survey, nearly 60% of all home sellers receive a discount on realtor commission, totaling, on average, a 40% fee reduction. It’s clear that, regardless of whether a home buyer or seller opts to go solo or hire an agent, their intention is to net the most money possible. Selling FSBO will allow you to do just that.
FSBO Sellers Enjoy More Control Over Their Home Transactions
Not only do FSBO sellers have more money for home inspections and renovations, but they also have greater negotiating flexibility and control over how their home is marketed. These are huge advantages, but only when capitalized on. For example, one of the most interesting statistics presented in the NAR findings is that over 70% of FSBO sales are primarily marketed through either yard signs, or not at all. This, more than any other factor, contributes to the huge discrepancy in FSBO sales. It’s not due to an inherent flaw in the process, but plain inaction.
If you are adept at social media engagement, videography, or photography, you can absolutely create a marketing plan that rivals one you may get from a realtor juggling multiple property deals. Another advantage of not hiring a realtor is being able to apply your own intimate knowledge of your neighborhood to entice prospective buyers. Unlike a realtor who serves multiple neighborhoods or an entire region, you may have more knowledge about current and future area development, or marquee amenities, like a great school district or quiet neighbors. A realtor that only works in your area sparingly may lose sight of these details, or fail to leverage them properly.
For instance, if you live somewhere that experiences a lot of severe weather, siding and windows are especially crucial home features. While homeowners in other areas of the country may judge these fixtures by their aesthetic, those living in Tornado Alley or on a coastline place more stock in their durability and impact resistance. If you’re selling FSBO, you likely know every square inch of your property (and its renovation history) like the back of your hand, and there’s no one better to convey those details than you—without a middle person.
Homeowners have difficulty selling their houses for a wide variety of reasons. It could be that that sort of property isn’t massively in demand right now, that there’s a dip in the market or even that it’s at a quiet time of year. Generally speaking, no two sales are the same.
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