For Sale By Owner, What Are You Really Saving?


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Most people who try to sell their homes themselves, will put “Brokers Welcome" in their ads, fact sheets and flyers. That is a great idea, considering that over 90% of all homes sold, are in fact sold by real estate agents, even For Sale By Owner Properties! This means these sellers are willing to give licensed Realtors their 3% or 3.5% commission if they bring a qualified buyer. That leaves a perceived saving of 3 - 3.5%- what is typically paid to the “listing" agent.

In order to save that 3% or 3.5% listing fee, you as the seller will have to:

Spend a minimum of $1,000-$2,000 on advertising, color fact sheets, flyers, postage, signs, and internet presence. You'll have to take time off from work or spend your personal leisure time showing the house, (try to estimate what your time is worth). You'll have to trust your ability to negotiate the best deal with a tough buyer or a seasoned professional real estate agent. Hire a real estate attorney to go over paperwork, assist in writing contracts, to possibly defend you if there is a dispute. ( If there is a legal dispute, attorneys charge by the hour! ) Statistics indicate that roughly 40% of For Sale By Owner transactions were involved in legal disputes involving after sale disputes last year (2003), non disclosure, escrow disputes, etc. . .

To sell “By Owner" requires the sellers to become marketing experts with in-depth knowledge of mortgage financing, contracts, taxation, advertising, direct mail strategies, psychology, face-to-face selling, and negotiating. Owners must remain at home to man the phones when buyers call. Answering machines do not satisfy the needs of real buyers.

Statistics show (National Association of REALTORS®) that For Sale By Owners actually net less, (27% less in 2002), without a REALTOR. Year after year the seller is netting less on average without a professional agent. Do I sound like I'm defending myself or my profession? Maybe, but if you consider that I'm writing this article for a global market, I'm surely convinced, since I only sell residential real estate in Orlando, Florida.

Pretty quickly, the perceived savings are drying up. And the selling process is more difficult than it has to be. Are you a busy person? Are you always available to take calls on your ads and sign? Are you available to show the house at a moments notice? If you think serious, motivated buyers will wait until you are available to show your (one) house, while they can easily look at hundreds of others right away, think again! If you are a stay-at-home seller, and have the time, are you prepared for your own/family security? Did you pre-screen, prequalify the prospect with a lender first before they enter your home? If you're depending on paying a real estate agent to bring your buyer while you represent yourself to save money, are you aware that agents are typically shy of For Sale By Owners? It's much easier for them to show homes that are listed with other agents, or themselves so that their fee is guaranteed. Remember, these agents do this for a living, this is no laughing matter to them, in fact, most agents, if not all, consider their business to be quite serious, they don't work on a salary and they spend thousands of dollars on local, national and even international advertising to get their phones to ring. If they do agree to show your house and represent the buyer, who is looking out for you? YIKES!

Think about it. Is it worth it to save a few hundred dollars? And, in the end, did you really get what your home is worth?

You need an expert, make sure you get one!

Scott Taylor, REALTOR® is a top producing agent with CENTURY 21 Elite Properties in Orlando, Florida. He has recieved Century 21's highest production achievement award. You can visit his website at


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