As the housing market strengthens, consumer confidence in real estate increases. Along with a stronger home sale market comes the increase of for-sale-by-owners (FSBO). The obvious upside to selling a home on your own is to increase your net. And a study conducted in 2009 may support your FSBO yearnings. But is FSBO the best home sale?
Research conducted by Hendel, Nevo, and Ortalo-Magné (2009; The Relative Performance of Real Estate Marketing Platforms: MLS versus FSBOMadison.com; American Economic Review; 99:1878-98) found that homes that sold on a FSBO website sold for as much as homes that were listed in the MLS. However, homes that sold on the MLS did so with significantly fewer days on market. The authors also found that a significantly higher proportion of home buyers bought homes listed on the MLS. The research concluded that “FSBO attracts a particular type of seller…” A FSBO seller is very patient to wait for someone to pay for their higher priced home.
The research conclusion about sale price is contrary to annual surveys reported by the National Association of Realtors. For example, the National Association of Realtor’s 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reported that the average home sale price for a FSBO was $185,000, while the average home sale price for an agent assisted home sale was $240,000. Of course, the 2009 research indicated that homes that did not sell on the FSBO website were promptly sold on the MLS. Besides being limited to a specific market, excluding “failed” FSBO sales from their data set could have skewed results and could explain 2009 study’s conclusion about sale prices. From NAR’s Field Guide to Quick Real Estate Statistics:
For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Statistics
- FSBOs accounted for 8% of home sales in 2015. The typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $240,000 for agent-assisted home sales.
- Most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers:
- Getting the right price: 18%
- Preparing/fixing up home for sale: 13%
- Understanding and performing paperwork: 12%
- Selling within the planned length of time: 3%
- Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 3%
Going FSBO sounds simple and maybe the best home sale; but going it alone is not for everyone. Selling a home is much more than putting a sign in the yard – especially if you are demanding top dollar. Take your efforts up a notch to increase the probability of realizing your sales goal. Among the many tasks that are essential for a successful home sale, consider a basic marketing plan. Attract more buyers with professional high quality photos. Prepare for buyers to visit your home by decluttering and making minor repairs. You should also have a contract ready in case there is no buyer agent. Even though you are selling FSBO, you still have to comply with federal, state, and local disclosure laws. Be prepared for the details of the transaction, which include: negotiating home inspection repairs; providing sale comps to appraiser; dealing with the buyer’s lender and title company.
If going FSBO is intimidating, consider hiring a real estate agent that offers à-la-carte services. The agent can assist you in many areas of your sale, only charging you for the pieces you need. You can even pay a flat fee for a MLS placement of your sale.
If you’re like many FSBO’s, you’ll realize the value of a Realtor. Real estate agents are housing and marketing experts that can assist you in setting a realistic sale price. Besides freeing up your time, experienced agents can facilitate offers and are expert negotiators. They know of latest home sale trends and are aware of any new legislation that can affect your sale.
The best home sale
You may find selling FSBO attractive. But selling a home is in the details that are executed throughout the transaction. The best home sale may actually be through a Realtor. The research supports the notion that hiring a Realtor can provide a more successful and satisfying home sale than doing it FSBO.
As I wrote about FSBO’s in 2005:
How much money can you realistically save? …there as been a trend of negotiated commissions, so actual savings for a FSBO have been reduced….Additionally, FSBO’s are contracting and paying commission with more Realtors and their homebuyers in this environment of limited home inventory. In the end, the FSBO’s savings from Realtor commissions may be marginal.
… there are some real negative aspects of selling your home FSBO, such as time, expense, and contractual obligations.
How much is your time worth? Selling a home requires the application of time to tasks. Among the many tasks of selling a home, the top things that a FSBO may do include (and is not limited to) preparing the home for the open house, contacting the paper to advertise, putting up signs, meeting potential homebuyers, and negotiating contracts. The time quickly adds up.
Selling your home FSBO is supposed to save you money right? Well, there is a bit of expense that is necessary. A FSBO must have signs in the yard, as well as directionals (the small arrow signs) to point homebuyers in your direction. Additionally, you might consider paying the local paper for advertising, as well as paying for an internet advertisement (although there are many websites that will allow you to post for free). Another expense may be to have your attorney to prepare and review the contract…. It seems that the expenses also quickly add up.
…even FSBO’s are responsible to adhere to certain federal and local laws pertaining to the sale of real estate (i.e., equal housing, lead paint, Maryland disclaimer-disclosure, etc). This is the one area that FSBO’s get themselves in trouble because of the lack of knowledge and expertise. There is an increased liability potential.
Copyright © Dan Krell
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.