I have been paying attention to the online debate between realtors and the for sale by owner fraternity and must admit that I am surprised and disappointed by the invective and half truths that seem to be the fuel that keeps this debate running on and on with little or no productive discussion in sight. I am not going to debate the issues or provide a solution, if there is one! I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions and you, gentle reader, are free to agree or disagree as you see fit!
Let’s start with the realtor side of the discussion. The main theme of the message from many realtors is that you cannot possibly sell your home yourself, that your realtor will get you more money and that you are going to get sued. Some realtors even question the intelligence of the seller, I don’t see that working too well for them! The truth of the matter is that while many owners attempting to sell their own home are unprepared and unskilled many are also perfectly competent to do so. Do sellers who use a realtor generally achieve a higher sale price? The statistics would seem to indicate that they do in most cases but not always. Is a seller selling their own home more at risk than a seller using a realtor? Yes, they probably are due to the fact that there is no buffer between them and the buyer absorbing some of the legal liabilities. If all parties are diligent this should not be an issue.
Now for the FSBO side of the discussion. The main platforms of the for sale by owner argument seem to be that you will save $16,000-$18,000, you realtor doesn’t do anything and that you are not paying any commission. Will you really save $16,000-$18,000? Probably not, but you will save some money depending upon your ability to price your home correctly and negotiate a beneficial deal for yourself. A realtor is providing you with a service and as such there is some cost involved. How much you value that service is dependent upon your personal circumstances. What about the assertion that your realtor does not do anything for you? Your realtor is an expert on the process of selling your home and your source of market information and your interpreter as to what this information means to you. Realtors are skilled professionals, you may not want to use one but you should not belittle or discount their work. If I use a FSBO company I am not paying any commission, right? Whether you call it a commission, a fee or a charge you are paying out a sum of money. It is a debate about semantics. It is up to you who will earn your business and the value that you will receive for the money spent.
In closing, it is my opinion that there seems to be an antagonistic relationship between organized real estate and the FSBO sellers and service providers. I can see no reason why it needs to be this way. There is room in the market place for many business models and opportunities to share and do business with each other. We want to find homes for our buyer clients and we all want homes that are on the market to be sold. So next time a realtor meets a fsbo or vice versa perhaps we can have a pleasant conversation and help each other.
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