Selling my own home (FSBO, For Sale By Owner) vs. hiring a Realtor®

A Special Report prepared by Nicole Shaye, Realtor®


 FSBO Sign

So, you’re selling your home.  Can you do it yourself?  Should you?  The answer depends on you, and your goals. 

Let's say you've decided to take a leap of faith and sell your own home.  You stick a sign in your yard and really “put it out there” by telling your friends, family, and social media network that you’re looking to sell.  Maybe you pay a fee and list the home on-line.  If you get a “bite,” you may save the costs of hiring a Realtor® — or not.  Savvy buyers won’t  considering purchasing a home without a Buyer’s AgentThat agent will expect compensation from the seller, even if the seller is a FSBO.  Of course, as the seller you can say “no agents” and only sell to unrepresented private parties — but in today’s world, that’s a pretty small slice of the pie.  Even if you find that needle-in-a-haystack (the ideal, qualified, unrepresented buyer), do you have the time, energy, and expertise needed to close the deal without stepping on common landmines that can cost you money and even land you in court?  Do you really want to take those risks?  If so, then maybe you don’t want an agent — but read on. 

According to a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors®, the top 3 reasons sellers attempt to sell their own homes are:

 Why Sellers Attempt FSBO Graph 


Let’s say you’ve decided to sell your own property, and are open to an agent-represented client, but can’t afford the full fees with both a buyers and seller’s agent.  You’ll come out ahead, right?  Not necessarily.  A 2017 Collateral Analytics study strong indicates that successful FSBOs sell for substantially less than comparable agent-represented properties (note:  this figure only includes “successful” FSBOs and not the many who start out that way and later hire a Realtor®).  In fact, the final sales price of a FSBO is so much lower than comparable properties, that the average seller would actually be better off paying full commission rates.  The summary concludes,

(FSBO sellers) are avoiding commissions at any price, even one that exceeds the commission rate.” 

“Now, let’s say you’re a little more savvy and hire a flat fee or “limited participation” Real Estate company on the internet.  Basically for $500-or-so, they will list your property on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), which will go directly to all Real Estate professionals and also syndicate into Zillow, putting you in front of all the agents in your area as well as the public.  You win, paying only buyer’s agents and cutting out cost of the seller’s agent, right?  Not exactly.  First, read the fine print.  Many services that are “cheap” or even free may have hidden costs.  Even the more honest ones that promise a lot for a little don’t typically pass the smell test.  Something-for-nothing just isn't reality.  By going it alone, you’ve lost the value of a Realtor®, a professional who does nothing but buy and sell property.  You may have bought and sold several properties, but you probably haven’t sold 10, or 50, or 100.  An attorney who represents herself has a fool for a client, and that may also be true in selling a home.  Even your dentist sees another dentist when getting significant dental work.  Perhaps that’s why the founder of, after spending 6 months trying to sell his own condo, ended up hiring a Realtor®.”

 By going it alone, you've lost the value of a REALTOR®, a professional who does nothing but buy and sell property.

Your Realtor® (that’s me) will help you right-price your property (seriously, you’re going to trust Zillow or another website to do that for you?), react to changing market conditions to remain competitive, prepare your home for sale both inside and out, coordinate profession photography and/or videography, market your property in ways a private party simply cannot, help you in negotiations, advise you on technical matters (Realtors® provide both their formal training and extensive experience), help you avoid key mistakes even really smart-but-untrained people often make, and more.  Bonus:  A seller’s agent helps ensure you meet current state and federal disclosure regulations, which are the number one reason sellers get hauled into court by buyers.  I’m guessing you do NOT want the headache of a lawsuit!  And then there’s the aforementioned fact that FSBO sellers actually sell their homes for less in-pocket value vs. if they’d have listed with a Realtor® in the first place — but that’s only important if you want to get top dollar.

Are you reconsidering your decision to sell your own home?  Would you hire a professional if it made good financial sense, and limited your liability while improving your chances for success?  Call me, and let’s talk.



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