Trying to decide whether you want to sell your house on your own versus engaging a realtor to help you is sort of like trying to deciding whether you want to sell your car through the newspaper or take it to a dealer. You can do it on your own, if you have the knowledge, energy, and time to devote to the process.
When a homeowner decides to go the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route, it’s usually because he/she doesn’t want to pay commission to a realtor.
The seller pays the commission for all the realtors involved in a home sale. This means that if the seller has a realtor and the buyer has a realtor, the commission gets split between the two of them.
Of course, all of it doesn’t go into the realtor’s pocket. Half of it goes to the realtor’s home office. This means that if both the seller and buyer use real estate agents, each one will only get one-quarter of the commission.
After the agent subtracts out advertising, staging, photography, web services, and other marketing, administrative, and travel expenses, his/her true “salary” comes to a little less than 1%.
But, still, it feels like a lot of money. So it’s not unusual for home owners, especially first-timer sellers who haven’t been through the process before, to do the math and decide to try to sell their houses on their own.
They reason that if things don’t work out, they can always call a realtor later. They shouldn’t. Even if they decide to go FSBO now, they should still interview realtors now. Call it “good planning".
Interviewing at least three realtors is the first step for your planning. You don’t have to sign with any of them, but it will help you plan for getting the results you want.
The reason to interview realtors at the beginning of the process is that the first four weeks your home is on the market are so critical to your success. It needs to be priced, staged, and marketed correctly the minute it’s put on the market because that’s when it gets the most attention from buyers’ agents.