A lot of home sellers naively think that the way to save money when selling their home is to sell it themselves. What most do not understand is that when they try to sell their home themselves the entire real estate industry actively tries to see to it that they fail. They are trying to find a buyer for their home and all the agents in the area are trying like hell to keep their buyers from buying it. They want the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) to fail so they can swoop in, sell the home, look like a hero and pick up the commission. But the home will not sell because of the agent’s knowledge and skill, it will sell because all of the other agents will start cooperating and bringing their buyers to see the home. And if the FSBO home seller does not have a strategy to combat the industry’s efforts, they are likely to be disappointed in the results.
So, why do some FSBOs actually sell in spite of the industry’s effort to thwart them? Because intelligent home sellers understand the three things that have to happen to sell a FSBO for top dollar: a desirable home, a seller’s market and proper pricing. If you have a desirable home in a seller’s market AND you price it right, someone will buy your FSBO home, in spite of any effort to keep buyers away. My sister and brother-in-law did just that years ago when they bought their home. They wanted to see a FSBO home and their agent did not want to show it to them. So, when they were done with their agent, they went back to the home and negotiated with the seller directly. Desirable home, seller’s market, proper pricing. And of the three, proper pricing is by far the most important.
No buyer wants to view an overpriced home, and they sure as heck do not want to view an overpriced FSBO. When you sell your home yourself you cannot give ANY reason why a buyer would not want to visit your home. In fact, you have to make it so enticing that even buyers who are uncomfortable with FSBOs will summon the courage to see your tempting (and properly-priced) home. Because in the end, most buyers care more about buying a home they love at a fair price than making their agent happy.
I have often thought the missing piece to the FSBO puzzle was a professional home showing service that FSBOs could hire in place of a real estate agent. A professional home shower would provide some of the services of a real estate agent, but without being a real estate agent. They could hold the Open House, pre-screen buyers, give buyers tours of the home and answer any questions they may have about the home. In that manner the home showing service would solve the biggest problem facing FSBOs: letting buyers view the home without the home owner being there. And more importantly for the owner, the home showing service would simply charge a nominal fee for their service, rather than take a 3% cut of the sale price. Home showing services would be especially valuable in high priced neighborhoods and would probably provide a more responsive service, since that is all they would do.
I have no doubt that at some point in the future a majority of homes will be sold FSBO. In the age of the Internet, wherever there is an over-priced middleman, eventually that middleman goes away (or is extremely marginalized). It will be interesting to see how things unfold, and if some enterprising new company steps up, offers a home showing service and accelerates the process of making For Sale By Owner the new norm.