The Task Ahead: Selling as FSBO or with an Agent

With a lack of supply of houses, today's market definitely favors the sellers a bit. Thought of selling your house yourself? Read this.
POSTED ON:
October 19, 2020
UPDATED ON:
November 9, 2020
Category:
Buying/Selling

Based on Google Trends, FSBO (for sale by owner, pronounced as “fizz-bo”) hit peak interest around mid-2007. This can be partly because of the Great Recession—and homeowners were looking for ways to save money by avoiding closing costs.

Screenshot from Google Trends, given "FSBO" and "selling a house" as variables for comparison.

Fast forward to today (October 2020), interest in FSBO is low and stale. This is a surprise considering the housing market “is so hot that the supply of homes for sale is running low.” It’s natural to think that homeowners want the advantage of selling on their own to maximize profits… right?

Screenshot of the 2019 NAR report referenced in this post.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases an annual report about the real estate industry… and they had a few interesting bullet points about this. [Here’s a link to download a free “highlights” version of the report] Last year, only 8%of home sales were FSBO - near the lowest share recorded since 1981. When it came to sales prices...

“FSBO homes sold at a median of $200,000 last year, [which was] significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $280,000.”

Regardless of the difference, the argument between selling a home with or without an agent will continue. Let’s discuss some of the key factors between the two.

Why should you consider selling your home as FSBO?

When homeowners are ready to sell their home, one route is to do it independently. FSBO is the acronym/term commonly used with for sale properties without the help of listing/real estate agents. The advantages of selling independently fall into two broad points - control and money.

FSBO gives owners full control

Being independent gives the seller autonomy over the entire selling process - including where to advertise the home, when to schedule tours/open houses, and how to handle all the paperwork that comes with it. This is great for those who are (and can be) devoted to doing the real estate market research and work to maximize the property’s value. With the internet, there’s so much resource out there to help.

 

The NAR report mentioned in the beginning of this post also shared some positive points about FSBO sellers in 2019:

  • FSBO homes sold faster than those through listing agents, 58% of FSBO homes sold in less than 2 weeks and often to someone the seller knows
  • 77% of successful FSBO sellers who knew the buyer were very satisfied with the process of selling their home

FSBO can save owners from agent commissions

Not only can you direct their property’s listing price, you can also avoid paying some closing costs, which include the average 5% commission that the seller AND buyer agent splits during a real estate transaction. This is assuming the potential buyers also don't use an agent, of course. The total savings can be in the thousands which can help finance your next home.

 

You can also avoid agent commissions by looking at iBuyers - like Zillow and Opendoor. They offer a direct buy, meaning the company buys the property directly from you instead of going through the entire selling process with an independent buyer. Their goal is to fix properties and resell them for profit, which decreases your independent control in selling the house a bit.

Read more about this here: What you get with iBuyers

Why should you consider listing your home with an agent?

Agents know how difficult it is to sell a home. They either know from education prior to getting their real estate license or from the years of field experience being an active agent. When you decide to sell, here are several reasons to list/market your home with an agent:

  • Agents have a fiduciary responsibility to the clients they represent
  • Vastly more powerful, specialized, real estate resources
  • The years of focused knowledge, experience, and trust within the industry

An agent’s fiduciary responsibility to you

After you sign with an agent, the agent becomes your representative in all your real-estate related exchanges and is required to have your best interest in mind. Legal Match lists a real estate agent’s fiduciary duties as follows:

  • The duty to fully disclose all material facts to the client
  • The duty to fully disclose all purchase offers to the seller
  • The duty to handle the client’s information and affairs with loyalty and confidentiality
  • The duty to refrain from representing an opposing party in the same transaction without both knowledge and consent of both parties

If you feel - at any point - that your agent isn’t taking your real estate goals into consideration, you can always absolve from him/her and find another.

Licensed agents have unique perks and specialized resources

Simply put, licensed real estate agents have an incredible amount of specialized resources that an independent owner won’t have access to. All agents are required to be part of local realtor associations who provide accounts to powerful tools - like the multi-listing service (MLS).

 

Screenshot from one of our webinar re: first-time seller information.

MLS is the database technology that realtors use to share information about properties they’re selling. Most (if not all) of the listings in MLS are posted by licensed real estate agents and are distributed to other related websites; in fact, iBuyers get some of their listings from the MLS. It’s highly unlikely that an independent seller can reach a similar number of potential buyers.

 

Some agents also have a local network they can tap when needed - for example, if you need your home inspected, appraised, or repaired by licensed professionals. They are very important as they help effectively assess the cumulative state and value of a property.

Read more about this here: What you get with iBuyers

Years of knowledge, experience, and trust within the industry

Just as an example, About Redlands Realty has been in the industry for over 18 years. Our experience turned to knowledge on how to deal with different situations in the marketplace. This becomes incredibly valuable especially when it comes to:

  • Conducting a comparative/complete market analysis (CMA) and finding the right price
  • Preparing an action plan to obtain the most qualified buyers (leading to possible multiple offers!)
  • Negotiating final price and incentives with a buyer and their agent
  • Making sure the transition is smooth throughout the entire process

In the same NAR report mentioned earlier, let’s look at the numbers for sellers who had agent representation. In 2019, the report stated:

"The typical seller has recommended their agent once since selling their home; 66% of sellers recommended their agent at least 3 times since selling their home"

So which is better - FSBO or going through a listing agent?

Call us biased (we’re okay with that, we love what we do!)...

 

But we believe that listing your property through an agent is the best way to go. Both have pros and cons, but the benefits of a listing agent outweighs the possible savings you’d get as an independent seller - especially if you take time into consideration.

 

If you do decide away from a listing agent, here are some of the most common reasons why FSBO sellers fail (according to Realtor.com):   

  • Failure to prepare the property beyond or before the tour/open house opportunities (like neglecting repairs)
  • Pricing your property wrong (remember: FSBO homes sold at $200,000 last year, compared to the median of agent-assisted homes at $280,000)
  • Miscalculating the amount needed to do the appropriate aesthetic adjustments
  • Lack of sales/follow-up experience with inquiries
  • THE PAPERWORK (Oh, don’t get us started…)

We wish everyone the best, whether you go independent or list with an agent. If you have any questions about this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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