NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- With the housing market languishing, some experts are urging sellers to try going it alone, saving the 5%-6% a real estate agent would charge to orchestrate a sale. But how do you know if the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) route is right for you?
Well, you’ll need a thick skin and a better-than-average knowledge of home values and mortgage options, but most importantly, you’ll need plenty of time.
For starters, you’ll need time to show the property. Most buyers shop on weekends, so you’ll need to keep Saturdays and Sundays free. But some buyers also look on weekdays, so you should plan to be around then, too. Buyers are impulsive when deciding which homes to look at, so you will need to be available on short notice or risk losing a sale.
As an FSBO property, you should also be prepared for it to take longer to land a buyer, perhaps many months longer. That’s because many buyers don’t want to look at a home without an agent, and agents don’t want to show homes that don’t offer commissions. By selling on your own, you reduce your market to a small subset of buyers, reducing the prospects for a quick sale. (You can overcome this problem by offering a 2% to 3% commission if a buyer’s agent produces a sale.)
So the ideal go-it-alone seller is someone like a retiree who has plenty of time during the week and no drop-dead deadline for closing a deal. If you need to sell to relocate for a new job, or to get resettled by the start of school, the FSBO route may be too risky.