Home Selling Tips & Tools
Sellers Tools Summary - Our Home Selling Services
We have below a general discussion about Marketing Your Real Estate, an examination of how the realtors market real estate, a discussion of a relatively new Hybrid MLS - FSBO Marketing plan, and a discussion about just where and how FSBOAdvertising can be of assistance to you in your marketing efforts. We also have Articles by Real Estate Professionals discussing an assortment of home selling issues. Selling your own home is a serious effort that requires developing your own marketing plan, getting prepared to sell your home, then executing your plan. These Information Resources can go a long way toward getting you started off in the right direction, at least they can highlight some of the critical home selling issues you will need to consider and resolve for yourself. There is also an Interesting Collection of "How To" Books on subjects ranging from Which Home Improvements "Pay Off Best" to the various Legal Issues involved in selling real estate at The Online Store.
Visit our Directory of Real Estate Service Providers to find the "FSBO Friendly" providers of the various services you may need in the process of marketing your home and then closing your transaction with the buyer.
Home Selling - For Sale By Owner Marketing Strategies
The first decision a home seller must make is whether, as a consumer, the seller considers the services of a realtor worth the 6% price. Once each seller individually makes that decision, if you do not want to pay the 6% commission you must consider the alternative marketing possibilities and develop Your Own Home Selling Marketing Plan so you can succeed at selling your own home like MILLIONS of other home sellers have done already. Some home owners who try to sell their own real estate fail, and although the FSBO failure rate is a LOT LESS than you hear Realtors talk about it is still significant (when discussing the failure rates of FSBO sellers, the Realtors also usually fail to mention that about 1 out of 4 or 5 MLS listings ALSO fail to generate a buyer and are either terminated or expire). There is a unique explanation for the specifics of each failure, but there are also a few common reasons for these FSBO failures. Examining the most common reasons for FSBO failures, the Realtors methods of home selling, and a new Hybrid FSBO - MLS marketing approach is a useful starting place for home owners to begin evaluating what type of marketing plan they want to formulate to sell their real estate.
The Single Most Common Reason for Failure of owners attempts to sell their own home is their sheer lack of commitment to the FSBO strategy. In effect they "Give Up" on their efforts prematurely before their strategy has had time to work. Many owners go into the effort thinking "I'll put up a sign and run a few newspaper ads and maybe even hold an open house and if I don't sell it myself "right away" I'll call the realtor up and pay the 6%". Only a few home sellers find that just right buyer and make a good deal "right away", with or without a realtor. Maybe in a hot market and an unusually desirable neighborhood sellers find a buyer quickly, but the average property "LISTED" in the Realtors MLS is "on the market" for about 120 Days. Realtors have a tendency to quote statistics for the average days on the market for property which has "SOLD" lately rather than the average days on the market for "ALL PROPERTY LISTED", and there is normally a considerably significant difference in those two numbers since a good number of the Realtors MLS Listings have the listing agreements expire after 120 to 180 days without being sold at all. The average owner attempting to sell property FSBO which gives up and hires a realtor, usually does so after only about 30 to 60 days. These "average numbers" will of course vary and possibly they will vary widely in some instances from the actual normal marketing times for different neighborhoods since some areas move faster and others slower, but the averages generally establish the point I am making that many FSBO sellers simply give up prematurely. I wonder how many people reading this paragraph have already done some advertising of their home and have had more realtors soliciting them as a result of their home for sale ads than interested potential buyers? Realtors know that many FSBO sellers lack a serious commitment to their own marketing effort, or they would not waste their time soliciting MLS listings from owners advertising their home FSBO. Selling a house takes a good plan, a commitment to that plan, and the patience to let the plan work, to successfully sell your own house you need all three elements. Selling a house usually does not happen "right away". If you go into the effort expecting to call a realtor if you do not sell your home right away, why not just call the realtor today and save yourself some wasted time, money, and aggravation? Let me ask you, how many home sellers tell their realtors, if you do not sell my home right away then I'll go sell it myself? Not many is the answer, and that is one reason why the realtors method consistently works pretty good is because when the seller embarks on it the seller is normally committed to the marketing effort whether it takes 30 or 180 days. If you are not committed to selling a home yourself, you probably should not try. Put simply, if you are not committed to the effort, regardless of the quality of that effort, it is really of no consequence whether your plan is good or poor, the general likelihood of success (excluding the "luck" factor) is relatively low.
The second most common explanation for failure is a poor plan. Even the most committed FSBO seller will not achieve optimum results from a poor plan. There are a handful of common mistakes. Foremost is starting your home selling efforts before you have formulated a complete marketing plan and educated or prepared yourself enough to carry out the plan. Too many home sellers call Ms. Classified before they do anything else. Before you run an ad or put up a sign, you must do the research and educate yourself as necessary for you to understand the issues you need to evaluate and then competently resolve them for yourself. They are not overwhelming, but they must be focused on and dealt with in advance of inviting a buyer to come see your home. For example, what type of repairs or redecorating are best done before presenting your home for sale and what type are best left to be done after you find a buyer. This decision will affect your asking price for the home in addition to requiring contracting and scheduling the work, which all takes time and planning before you start inviting potential buyers to come see your real estate. Are you going to prepare the contract yourself or are you going to have an attorney prepare it for you? Either way, you need to have a copy of one ready for the buyer to sign on the dotted line at a moments notice. A good realtor is never found without a contract form and several ink pens (just in case one runs out of ink after the middle initial). Do you have a title or escrow company already selected to take delivery of the contract and the buyers earnest money check to as soon as you find a buyer to sign one? Too many FSBO sellers are simply not prepared to sell their home and more than a few seriously interested buyers have just gone on down the road while an unprepared FSBO seller was flipping through the yellow pages looking for a lawyer or a title company when they should have been handing a signed contract and check to the escrow agent. What is a competitive price for a home? Are you informed enough or can you do some research to obtain enough information to competently make this decision or do you need the assistance of a professional appraiser? A lot of FSBO sellers will call a realtor to "talk" about listing their property with a view toward getting a "free appraisal" and end up determining a price for a house based on what that realtor told them. This could be a serious mistake. To start with a realtor is not an Appraiser and may not be competent to estimate the value of a home. Also, the realtors opinion, competent or not, may not be fully objective. Hypothetically speaking of course, lets say there are 3 different realtors "talking" to prospective customers about listing their property and the value of a house. Lets say that one realtor will tell the prospective customer a "High" price in hopes of impressing the customer with this realtors marketing skills so as to get the sellers listing or because that realtor had not done enough research. Lets say that the second realtor is competent enough and has done enough research and is somehow immune to the forces motivating realtor's one and three and tells the prospective customer a "Right On" price. Lets say a third realtor tells the prospective customer a "Low" price because this realtor has read the realtors monthly testimonials about how you can never be a "Million" dollar real estate agent unless you learn the "art" of convincing your listing customers to sell low so that you can sell a lot of property real fast. They say a realtor can "waste" enough time trying to get an extra several thousand dollars in price for one property that the realtor could have spent that time to sell two or three other properties "priced low" and thereby earned a lot more commission. I am not suggesting, of course, that any realtor would ever actually considers such factors. What I am suggesting is that if you, the owner, are not informed enough about what home values really are, how do you know the price someone told you is fair or not? If you price your property too high, it could take forever to sell it. If you price the home too low, you loose money. You can get Home Sale Prices for Homes Previously Sold in your area to assist you with determining a fair price for your home Free at many local property tax appraisal district web sites and many appraisers will sell you a competent and objective "paper appraisal" for as little $150. Do your research, educate yourself fully, get whatever professional assistance you need in advance, and then start developing your marketing plan. There is a collection of interesting Books on the subjects of How to "Dress Up" your house to Sell Faster and which types of Home Improvements "Payoff" best at The Online Store.
The basic elements of a sound house selling plan are evident in the methods the realtors use. Consider the realtors plan. Start with yard signs that do not have the owners phone # on it. Why you ask, so that potential buyers can be given complete information as to the details of the property and the financial terms and thus be "qualified" as to that buyers real interest in a specific property before time is spent taking the buyer into the home and providing additional information pertaining to that property. This also saves the owner the frustration of having to talk to a lot of buyers who are NOT interested in their specific property. If the seller is not aggravated, the seller will probably be more patient. This all suites the realtors just fine. The seller patiently waits for their home to be sold and meanwhile back at the real estate office, since the realtor has many other MLS properties to sell any potential buyer, they are not wasting their time talking to these potential buyers that really have no interest in your particular property. If a realtor had to pay you a commission for each potential buyer the realtor sold other property to that called that realtor to start with because of the real estate signs in your front yards, you might decide to price your home Real High and leave it for sale permanently. A real estate sign in your yard with the realtor's phone number on it is a meal ticket for the realtor. Next the realtors put the property In Front Of All The Buyers All The Time. The pool of potential buyers is an ever-changing mass. It exist all the time and yet it's composition is never the same. Each day some potential buyers make purchases and drop out of the pool while other new potential buyers crack open the classifieds or yellow pages or drive down the street looking for signs for the first time. The realtors keep all property in front of all buyers all the time with their Realtors Co-Op known as MLS. The MLS Data base is there for all realtors to work on when someone calls them after seeing the realtors phone # on a yard signs in your front yard or an any ad that realtor had run. The consistency of keeping the property in front of the buyers all the time and the breadth of its presentation to the buyers such that most buyers have every day access to it are the essential elements of this Realtors Co-Op. A FSBO seller does not usually advertise Every Day (consistency) and when they do advertise they usually do not advertise in all or most of the different local media (breadth). Also, the individual FSBO seller does not benefit from the buyer who wants an 1800 square feet home who sees the FSBO seller's For Sale Sign and calls about that sellers 2600 square foot house. The way for a FSBO seller to make a conceptually solid marketing plan is to focus on the same general principals as the Realtors Co-Op plan utilizes. This is where using our Seller Advertising Co-Op comes to play.
This brings us to the final fatal flaw in many home owners attempts to market their own home, the structure of the advertising system and the lack of availability of viable alternatives. Quite simply, in the past there has been no realistically viable, conceptually valid, and consistently effective advertising alternative to the Realtors Co-Op. Your average seller can not afford to advertise in all the different local media every day for 90 to 150 days to market their property and in fact could not even advertise in all of these media even if they could afford it (for example yellow pages ads are purchased a year at a time 4 to 6 months in advance and you can only put a for sale sign in your own yard, not in other peoples yards all over town). Don't misunderstand, MILLIONS of FSBO sellers have had just the right buyer come along at just the right time to notice their property in the particular media it happened to be advertised in at that time and right away before the seller got too tired of the marketing process. Also, the yard sign itself is probably the single biggest seller of property. The point is that in the past there has not been an efficient advertising alternative which is a conceptually viable alternative in terms of predicting that the structure of the alternative itself rather than the random occurrence of "luck" will have a significant effect on determining the likelihood of a successful result. This was the PAST, today FSBOAdvertising is offering an advertising alternative which, when combined with the seller's Yard Signs and what we call the "Traditional FSBO Sellers" limited local media advertising plan, is at least conceptually similar to the Realtors Co-Op plan.
How does participating in FSBOAdvertising's Sellers advertising Co-Op compare to the Realtors plan? We focus on the same basic principles. To start with, we recommend a Professional Looking Real Estate Sign in your front yard that does NOT have your phone # on it. Attach a tube or mailbox type container to the sign containing "information sheets" with detailed property and transaction information along with your phone # on the sheet so potential buyers can call for an appointment or to ask questions only AFTER the prospective buyer has already read the detailed information and has thus been "qualified" as to that buyers interest in your property. Also, instead of a realtors phone number on the yard sign, you can put SeeHomePhoto.com so that if that particular buyer is interested in your property the buyer can go to the web site and see your color pictures of the interior of your home or the back yard and become even more "qualified" as to that buyers interest in your specific property. If it turns out that buyer is not interested in the specifics of your property, then maybe that buyer will find another advertiser in the FSBOAdvertising Sellers Co-Op who has some property that suits that buyer just right. Every FSBO seller with our web site address on their yard sign is in effect helping to market every other advertisers property. This is truly a Sellers For Sale By Owner Co-Op. Also, our SEEHOMEPHOTO.com website name itself tells the buyers you have photos for them to see online instead of JUST TAKING UP A LINE OF SPACE IN YOUR AD simply to give the buyer directions of where to find the ad. You can also save the cost of that line and just tell people who call you to go see your ad online and call you back if they want an appointment. Are the "collective" efficiencies of our advertising Co-Op starting to become apparent? Why shouldn't home sellers benefit from the advertisements placed in their own front yards? Also, reducing the FSBO seller's direct communication with potential buyers until the potential buyer has been "qualified" as to their real interest in a specific property will take a lot of the hassle factor out of selling your own home. All our advertisers are expressly permitted and encouraged to Support the Sellers Co-Op by putting our web site address on your Yard sign regardless of where you purchase your sign. In fact, we will be happy to email you a copy of the artwork for the our custom sign if you would like to have one just like it prepared for you by the company of your choice. We sell our signs at or below our cost anyway, so we do not make any profit from selling signs, our objective is simply to assist the Sellers Co-Op in increasing it's overall reach by way of MANY sellers promoting it by using our signs.
Never underestimate the marketing value of your yard sign. The real estate sign itself is probably the single biggest seller of property, the only question is "whose property" does the yard sign sell. Combined with your FSBOAdvertising advertisement, your yard sign and all our other advertiser's yard signs are a potent element of your advertising plan.
The next element of our advertising plan is for the Sellers Co-Op to "collectively" maintain Every Day advertising. On any given day, if a potential buyer is doing an investigation into property available for sale, there is a fair chance that buyer will come across some of either Our Affiliates advertising or the Local Advertising of some participant in this Sellers Co-Op, or find us on the internet through our widespread internet advertising, visit our web site or call us, and will ultimately, if the buyer is interested in your type of property and in your area, see your FSBOAdvertising ad. Our Affiliates own local media advertising is not intended to be a "replacement" for what we call the "Traditional FSBO Sellers" limited customary local media advertising plan. Our Affiliates own Local advertising is intended to be an addition to the Sellers Co-Op's collective advertising efforts and each individual sellers Traditional customarily limited local media advertising so as to make each sellers overall advertising plan More Consistent, with More breadth, and overall More effective. Consider that on an average weekend in just one major metropolitan newspaper there may be an estimated $1,000,000.00 of realtors advertising. Just think about that sum of money for a few days of newsprint. Real Estate sellers and buyers are themselves jointly paying for all that advertising ALREADY and instead of SELLING THEIR HOMES that advertising is simply building the Real Estate Agencies businesses bigger. Why not spend some advertising money to sell your home and save some of your equity instead of just hand it over to a Real Estate Agency so they can promote their business with it? To have a well balanced marketing plan, sellers will need to spend some money on advertising locally in addition to your internet ad. Prices vary in different markets, but say in an average market a seller can run a 4 line newsprint ad 90 consecutive days for around $500 to $600. Do that and include your internet ad Listing Number so buyers can go see it at their convenience every day for 90 days or until you sell. The more the members of the Sellers Co-Op advertise, the Better They All Will Do. Our Affiliates own local advertising combined with the "collective" advertising efforts of all participants in this Sellers Co-Op will certainly efficiently add value to each individual sellers advertising plans. This will in turn substantially improve each sellers overall likelihood of finding a buyer for their property and finding that buyer in a quicker period of time than they would have without our advertising service. Additionally, thousands of buyers just find our various sites searching on the Internet each day. Our Sites are Collectively BY FAR the MOST POPULAR on the Internet. All of this combines to make your internet ad at FSBOAdvertising the single most efficient and valuable component of your overall marketing plan. Aside from it's sheer advertising value, if you use your internet ad as a marketing tool it will in fact save you more time than you pay for it (even if you value your time at less than the minimum wage) since you can save MANY HOURS of your time repeating information OVER AND OVER to people who call you from your 3 line newspaper ad. Just tell them to go look at your FSBO ad then call back if they want to make an appointment.
Home Selling - MLS Listing Alternatives
A Realtor marketing plan or a FSBO marketing plan are normally viewed as mutually exclusive alternatives. With the Realtors traditional "Exclusive Right To Sell" type listing agreement, they are ordinarily mutually exclusive since the home owner traditionally gives up their right to market the property when they do that listing agreement with the realtor. However, before you settle on the marketing plan of your choice, you should evaluate and consider a third recently available alternative. This alternative is sometimes called a Realtor Flat Fee MLS Listing Service. We call it a Hybrid FSBO - Realtor marketing plan. The property owner literally pursues both methods of marketing through the Realtors MLS and FSBO simultaneously. This can be accomplished several ways, in each case the MLS listing agreement will specifically reserve the right to sell the home yourself and avoid Selling or Buyers agent commissions. One method, by way of example, is to have a Realtor list your property for sale in the Realtor MLS by a method known as "Exclusive Agency", with a limitation on the "Scope" of the agency such that the Listing Realtor's obligations and services are basically limited to Listing the property in the MLS. This type of listing agreement can provide that the owner will have the continuing right to market the property themselves and avoid further commissions altogether if the owner finds a buyer from their own marketing efforts. This Listing service can be provided for a fixed dollar flat fee, instead of a listing commission to the Listing Agent, paid in advance at the time the listing is made. All these terms are Negotiable, provided you can find a Realtor "willing" to negotiate. Under this "fixed fee type" of "Exclusive Agency" listing contract there would be no additional "commission" ever paid to the Listing Realtor, neither in the event of a sale by another "Buyers Agent Realtor" nor a FSBO sale by the property owner. Under these circumstances, all other Realtors can then try to sell your home to their potential buyers and earn their normal (often 3%) commission (if you elect to offer that to them) as a "Buyers Agent". Sellers can offer these Buyer Agent Realtors whatever percent commission they desire, but owners should consider that offering less than the traditional 3% could affect these Buyers Agent Realtors "degree" of interest in showing your property to their customers. So in this EXAMPLE, instead of 6% commission, you would pay the fixed dollar listing fee and the 3% Buyers Agent commission if and only if you sell a home to a buyer who was brought to your property by a Buyers Agent Realtor. Anyone using this method should seriously consider requiring each "Buyers Agent" Realtor to accompany each of their potential buyers who come to view the property and keep a WRITTEN LOG of the names of each Realtor and their prospective buyer and the date they viewed the property along with the Realtors initials on that log. This could be very useful in the event of any dispute with or between Realtors about which, if any, brought the ultimate buyer to see your property and is entitled to earn the 3% commission. You should also keep a log of everyone's name and date that came to see your property from your FSBO efforts as well. It is not uncommon for prospective buyers to contact several Realtors in the process of searching for property as well as looking into property advertised FSBO. If the Realtor does not accompany the prospective buyer or if you do not keep records, you may not know for sure who, if anyone, is entitled to be paid the Buyers Agent commission. If you sell your property yourself from your own advertising efforts or your Yard Signs, you do not have to pay the 3% Buyers Agent commission. In effect you are paying a "Flat Listing Fee" instead of the normal Listing Realtors 3% commission, offering Buyers Agents whatever Commission you desire, and you have the option of selling your property FSBO without paying that Buyers Agent commission. The trade off is that since you only pay a modest fixed listing fee, the listing realtor will likely limit the "scope" of the agency such that in effect you will get no transaction assistance or advice from the listing Realtor except possibly a Comparative Market Analysis report. The listing Realtor is merely granted authorization to list your property with the MLS so it will be available for all other Realtors who are working with potential buyers to try to sell and earn the "Buyers Agent" commission you offer them. The upside is you can continue to market your property FSBO at the same time and if you find a buyer before the Buyers Agent Realtors do, you pay no commission to them. By doing this MLS listing agreement with a realtor, the MLS will permit the Realtor to give you a CMA Report. This Comparable Market Analysis, or property valuation report, reviews the actual prior sale prices of recent "comparable" MLS sales in your area along with the details of those comparable MLS sales so YOU can determine Yourself just how "comparable" these sales really are. These CMA reports are intended to "Assist" in determining an asking price. They do not contain the prior sales price information for all property transactions (since the MLS does not have FSBO sales price information) and can Never just be taken at face value, they are however a valuable source of some of the information you need to competently decide how to price your property.
Considering that this Realtor Flat Fee MLS alternative allows for both the increased exposure to potential buyers who may be working only with a realtor (at a cost to the seller of 3% commission rather than 6%) and the continuing opportunity for the owner to sell the property FSBO and still avoid Realtor commissions entirely if the owner finds a buyer first, this is indeed an alternative which property owners should research, become knowledgeable about and consider Before you settle on Your Marketing Plan. In the above described scenario, owners should understand that there is only "Limited" Agency with the Listing Realtor and NO Agency with the "Buyers Agent" Realtors. This means that the"Buyers Agent" Realtors do NOT Work For The Seller as many people commonly think that all Realtors do. These "Buyer Agent" Realtors do not have the same customary responsibilities towards the property owner that a "Listing-Agent" or a "Sub-Agent " Selling Realtor would normally have. Dealing with these "Buyer Agent" Realtors is more like dealing with a potential buyer who might respond to your FSBO marketing efforts. Any owner interested in this approach should fully research and understand these differences in the Realtors duties and responsibilities and consider getting an attorney to review your sales contracts with any of these Buyer Agents before you sign them (having an attorney lined up to review your sales contract, or better yet to prepare one for you in advance, is a good idea anyway for all non-real estate professionals). A form called "Information About Brokerage Services" is published by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and is available to download or view at ftp://ftp.trec.state.tx.us/contracts/OP-K.pdf and this form has some information about these "Buyers Agent" Realtors. These rules about Agency and their consequences will vary considerably from state to state, the Texas TREC form is one general example of the nature of these rules. Be sure to determine how these issues affect your rights and obligations in your specific state.
One problem with this Flat Fee MLS marketing method is finding a LOCAL Flat Fee Realtor that will do it. Dealing directly with a Local Realtor who lives, works, and has a wealth of personal knowledge about marketing homes in your specific area has a number of obvious benefits for home sellers. A lot of realtors "Talk" about discount listing services these days primarily as a way to get customers into their offices to sell them their Full Priced Services, many others idea of "Discount Commissions" is to reduce their normal 6% to 4.5% or 5%, while Most Realtors will not consider this type of an arrangement at all, since it runs contrary to their traditional practices. We offer these Realtor Flat Fee MLS Listing Package Deals in coordination with FSBO Friendly Local Realtors all around the country in order to combine the benefits of this new marketing method with the normal FSBO marketing strategy. The result is a Powerful Marketing Plan which offers sellers a Lot of Flexibility at a fraction of the cost of most Discount Realtor Listing services.
Our users should understand that we do not recommend any particular Marketing Plan, either The Realtor plan, The FSBO Plan, or the Hybrid FSBO - Realtor plan. Each individual seller will have different needs, limitations, or preferences. Our purpose is simply to assist users in identifying the various home selling alternatives, evaluating those alternatives for yourself, and obtaining additional information about those home selling alternatives for your own individual consideration to determine which Plan best suites your preferences and objectives. If Your Marketing Plan then requires any Advertising, FSBOAdvertising is here to provide you an efficient and valuable addition to your house selling Advertising program which is designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of WHICHEVER Marketing Plan You Choose. In reality, all real estate is For Sale By Owner. Some owners choose the Realtor Marketing plan, some choose the FSBO Marketing plan, and lately quite a few are choosing the Flat Fee MLS Listing Hybrid Marketing plan.
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