The FSBO Conundrum: Five Things to Consider if You Want to Sell Your Home Yourself

7203 Morton sign

7203 Morton

I found this cute house over off Inwood and Lovers, on a little street called (7203) Morton.

Sorry, no links: it’s a for sale by owner. On the plus side, there was a flyer in the flyer box, which is rare. According to the flyer, the home is 1,579 square feet, updated with new roof, new hardwoods, carpet, and a step-down third bedroom with travertine. Totally new kitchen and updated baths, separate utility room. New sprinkler system, new fence, new private gate, new deck, flagstone patio and outdoor accent lighting. They are also offering a home warranty from American Home Shield, but I wonder why with all that new stuff? So here’s the $269,000 question: where is the website? You have to call about this house, and when I did, I left a message that was not returned.

How can this seller sell this house?

I get it: some people think they can sell their home themselves, and some can. I did it once, actually. A few years ago, 80% of all FSBO (for sale by owner) buyers surveyed by the National Association of Realtors said they would not go FSBO alone the second time around — they’d hire a real estate agent. Still, the number of FSBO sellers willing to represent themselves seems to have grown in recent years. Now only 50% of FSBO buyers say they’d let an agent do the work. Which is weird, because the market has less inventory and way more hip pockets. If anything, I think Realtors are becoming MORE necessary.

Often, homeowners undergoing a financial hardship think they can sell their home themselves to save money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way and the house remains on the market longer, selling for less or short selling. The agent can also save you enormous amounts of time. Here are five things to consider if you think you might want to “Play Realtor.”

1. What Is Your Home Really Worth?
The biggest shocker for most sellers is the true value of their homes, determined by a comparative market analysis (CMA), an appraiser, or actual offers from buyers. The reality is that markets change, and home values rise and fall. Many factors affect home values, and most of them are subjective and difficult to measure. Home values on the same street can be vastly different. And a market can change in a matter of weeks. I know a seller who is selling his home based on what he wants to net — the home has been on the market for over a year, and he has refused one offer that was in the ballpark of the home’s true value. He’s still a homeowner.

2. Shocker: Not Everyone is Going to Adore Your Home
Yeah, it’s your castle, but buyers have their own ideas and lifestyles, preferences, tastes and attitudes. It is highly unlikely a buyer will ever take your home as it is and not change one doorpull. Most buyers will look at your home with an eye as to how they can make it their own. That’s why a Realtor’s advice can help you spend money wisely on the house prep: should you spend thousands on gardening? Paint everything beige? Change the upstairs carpet or offer an allowance?

3. Buyers Will Insult You
Get ready to get insulted. Most buyers try to pick your home apart to improve bargaining leverage. You will likely feel like telling them to take a hike, and go find someone else to torture. Many of their buyer’s complaints and requests for repairs can be legitimate, especially if an inspection turns up repairs and deferred maintenance. Most agents will suggest you get an inspection before you market a home. Still, some requests can be outrageous and you may lose potential buyers. Try not to punch anyone!

4. Buyers Will Want to Come First Thing In The Morning, or At A Moment’s Notice
You cannot control the buyer’s schedule. When your home is on the market, it’s not just your Realtor (or you) but dozens of Realtors and their clients wanting to see the home 24/7. If you sell your home yourself, be prepared to handle this graciously. Security is a huge issue, and one reason why I would never FSBO these days. I’d insist on security at all open houses, for you and your home.

5. Buyers Can Be Rude

My son was telling me about an open house in California where the market is a bit frenzied, he said fist fights almost broke out. Buyers can be obnoxious — track mud on your clean floors (makes my blood boil), spill coffee from their Starbucks cups, plop down in your best antique chair or the worst: bring along a bunch of unruly kids who get fingerprints on everything. Be ready to wonder if some buyers are aliens. Agents can shuttle the monsters to their offices.

Of course, the most important thing is marketing your home with great photos and getting it internet exposure now that 99% of all real estate transactions start on the internet. If your home is not in MLS, and circulating in at least 10 places on the internet, it is getting zero exposure.

No one is buying homes off paper anymore, be it newspapers or flyers in the rain-soaked flyer box.