For Sale by Owners – Don’t Underestimate the Real Estate Agent’s Expertise

For Sale by Owners are looking to do one thing – Save money on commissions to Real Estate Agents that they feel do not earn the often huge sums of money paid to them for selling their property.

With the coming of age of many Private Sale property websites that now attract a mass of eager buyers, listing your property as For  Sale by Owners has never looked so enticing.

But there are a number of issues that are rarely considered before taking this route which vendors should be aware of and real estate agents should make a point of explaining to the public if they want to maintain their marketplace.

The biggest hurdle anyone considering listing a property as For Sale By Owners or FSBO, has to overcome is the marketing of the property, how do you advertise it to a wide enough audience so buyers actually know it is for sale? A hand-painted For Sale sign outside the property will rarely do the job so you have to turn to either traditional print or online media.

Traditional print media, your local property supplement, local classifieds are good but very limited in their reach, they are only going to target a very localised area of a few square kilometres. Not only that, but they are not cheap and have a very short life span – usually less than 7 days before the paper is in the bin. The colour supplements are excellent for showcasing your property but you have to weigh up the cost of a single insertion and as a private advertiser, the cost is usually considerably higher than if a real estate agent was booking the same size spot for your property as they attract bulk rates for their advertising.

Online media gives you a far greater reach – potentially worldwide, for a far longer time period – usually until the property is sold. However, traditionally the large real estate portal websites have had the search engines sewn up for property related searches, and unless you are a licensed real estate agent you can’t advertise anyway. So a For Sale by Owner listing generally isn’t even possible.

However, there are now a growing number of For Sale by Owner dedicated website directories online, where for a fee, you can list your own property and many of these have now attracted a large following. Also, savvy buyers are learning to search for ‘FSBO’, ‘private property sale’ or ‘no agent sale’ in the belief that the properties on these sites will be cheaper because their is no estate agent involved.

Another up and coming tool for real estate agents and for sale by owners alike is the single property website, where agents or property owners can very simply and cost effectively set up a website for their property that has a far greater showcasing ability than either a printed ad or short 1 page listing on a property portal of any kind.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ and the importance of quality photography when listing a property cannot be underestimated. It is that first impression, that wow factor that entices a buyer to look further. Most agents either are or use highly proficient people for this job and then also an art department to touch up the pictures to look their best. As a private vendor, if your photography and computer skills aren’t up to this, it can be expensive to get a professional in to do a good portfolio for you.

Human nature, as always in sales, shows it’s true colours, particularly when it is something personal, like our home, we are selling. Generally we have invested time, money and a good deal of love in getting our home just right for us, but when it comes time to sell up, can you distance yourself from it? A large part of a real estate agents job is to show your ‘home’ to prospective buyers and as they do so, they will hear all sorts of remarks, criticisms and plans for the future of your home being discussed. ‘That paint is disgusting’ -  ‘the kitchen will have to be ripped out’ – ‘why would anyone put those tiles in the bathroom’ to point out just a few.

Now an agent can listen dispassionately and then point out all the good points apart from these ‘downsides’ to your ‘home’ – Could YOU?    Very unlikely. More likely you’ll feel personally insulted, hurt and start to dislike your prospective buyers and not want to sell them your lovely ‘home’ anyway.

There are numerous other reasons why For Sale by Owners should think very carefully before choosing this route, hidden tasks that a real estate agent does for you and takes for granted and reasons why they feel their commissions are justified. Before you do anything, weigh up your options, speak to real estate agents and find out exactly what you will be getting if you give them your business and negotiate – nothing is fixed in stone. If at the end of this process you still think a For Sale by Owner listing is still the best idea, then go for it.


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