For Sale By Owner? Read this first.

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If you’re like most of the general population, you think the job of a real estate agent is a fairly cushy one and you could do it yourself and save a ton of commission cash. It doesn’t look too difficult, right? Stick a sign in the yard, put an ad in the newspaper and maybe do an open house. Then, voila – the buyer appears and you sign the papers. Pat yourself on the back and go off happy, saving lots of cash in the process. Once in a while it does work that way, but it’s not typical.

While selling yourself can be done successfully, not everyone is equipped/happy to do what it takes to make it happen. Yes, I realize that my statement is self-serving but it’s also accurate. The following paragraphs of advice to FSBO’ers (italicized) jumped out at me while researching statistics and need to inject a healthy dose of reality. My comments are in bold.

“As an independent thinker and seller, you’re in a perfect position to show the buyer that you’re working toward the same goal as they are.”

NOT LIKELY. Your goal is to sell for as much as possible while saving those commission dollars for yourself. That’s the main reason to sell without an agent, isn’t it? This is directly opposite of the buyer’s goal! They want the lowest price possible and expect low offers to be acceptable because they know you aren’t paying an agent.

“You can control the timing of your actions and the buyer’s actions to simplify the process. You can control the feedback so the buyer knows exactly why he or she should buy your house.”

If you’re lucky enough to get honest feedback from a buyer: listen & act on it! But more often than not, the “feedback” you get won’t be their true feelings about the house. Buyers are often very uncomfortable talking directly to seller and would prefer to view your house without you being there.

“And you can arrive at a perfect market price and control the way the buyer sees this price.

Again, my thought is: PROBABLY NOT. You cannot control how the buyer views your price. Truth is, some sellers do a great job of marketing their homes but the vast majority fall short. And almost all unrepresented sellers, try as they might, fail at one critical step. It’s not their fault and they can’t help it, but they fail to price correctly. Because of the emotional attachment inherent in being the owner who loved and maintained that home, it’s incredibly difficult to be impartial and view it the same the buying public will.

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Allow me to share a personal experience. Approximately 30 years ago, when selling our first home, I wanted to save that commission too, so we tried it. Marketing efforts consisted of an attractive flyer, a weekly ad in the newspaper and an open house. (ah yes… the days before social media.) Anyway, we painted, cleaned, and spiffed up the yard, and were confident the asking price we set was a bargain compared to our competition. Plus, we reasoned, it would give us enough for the down payment for the next one. Well… lightning struck! We promptly got an offer shortly after the open house; which we deemed too low to accept. The buyer’s agent, who expected us to pay her, (we sure didn’t expect that!) did her best to explain why they were offering that amount, but we said “no.” I don’t recall exactly how long we were for sale by owner but despite a healthy number of showings, it didn’t work and frustration built. Not only was it physically exhausting to keep the house show-ready (is that even possible with little kids?) but the advertising costs were mounting, which added to the stress.

We ended up listing with a local broker and lost out on the place we wanted. With 20-20 hindsight and many years of experience since then, my self-critique sounds something like this: We did pretty well with marketing but our pricing was off. And in the end, being emotionally attached and inexperienced prevented us from being impartial and knowing what to watch out for. And that made all the difference.

Luckily, help with your home sale and whatever scenario you’re facing, is at at your fingertips. Reach out to me anytime to discuss your dreams – no pressure or obligation. Ever.

But, if you’re still considering selling on your own, check back here next week where, in “For Sale by Owner part 2,” I share what it really takes to reach the closing table. Then you can make an informed decision.