Going It Alone
Keys to Selling Your Home Without an Agent
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Most home sellers use real estate agents, but there's nothing that says you have to.
If you go it alone, you won't have to work around an agent's schedule or follow her advice on what color to paint your kitchen. And you could save all that commission money -- typically about 6 percent, or $30,000 on a $500,000 property.
Of course, you will have to fit showings into your own schedule and decide on that paint color yourself. And you could end up having to pay a commission to the buyer's agent -- usually 3 percent.
Even fans of FSBO -- pronounced fizz-bo, short for for-sale-by-owner -- say you shouldn't expect it to be a cakewalk. "Many people underestimate the complexity of the transaction," said Kevin Wood, president of 1-800-ByOwner.com.
Perhaps that's why only 13 percent of U.S. home sellers took the FSBO route in 2005, down from 15 percent in 1995 and 19 percent in 1991, according to a survey for the National Association of Realtors. (Of course, that's not a group that's enthusiastic about selling without an agent.)
Here are some points to consider for FSBO success:
· Prepare your property for sale. "It takes more than a yard sign" to get a home ready, said Ann Telthorst, marketing director for Owners.com, an online real estate service. Outside, mow the law and plant flowers, paint the front door, repair chipping paint, cut shrubs, and trim trees that obscure the house.
"Curb appeal is very important," said Michael T. Malkasian, president of FSBO.com. "You don't want potential buyers second-guessing the house before they get to the door."
Inside, paint rooms that look drab, repair anything broken and de-clutter your home by removing personal effects such as photos on the fridge.
· Set the price right. "It's a real art," said Colby Sambrotto, chief operating officer of ForSaleByOwner.com. "Set the price too high and you won't attract buyers; set it too low and you leave money on the table."