FSBO vs. Agent Listing?  Which One is Right for YOU?

Selling your home?  For Sale By Owner or working with a licensed agent can be a difficult choice to make.  I have done it both ways during my long real estate career as owner, investor, and agent.  There are certain criteria that can make your decision much easier.  Consider the following:

1.  Your reason for selling:  Is it a "must sell" situation, such as moving for employment, downsizing, or need more room for your growing family?  Or would you "like to sell" if you get the price you're looking for or possibly only if you find the perfect house to move up to?   If you are testing the market but may not be ready to move, a listing where you may be forced to sell or pay a commission if the agent brings you a full-price offer may not be in your best interest.

2.  Location:  Are you in an ideal location with neighbors telling you they have friends who want to move nearby so let them know if you're selling?  Or is it more challenging and will likely require more marketing and exposure?

3.Pricing:  Are you comfortable examining current market activity and pricing your home, then monitor including showing activity, new market activity and feedback in case adjustments are needed?  Are you comfortable with purchase agreements and negotiating on your own?  Or will you need assistance if a buyer's  agent brings an offer?

4.  Financing:  Do you have access to a good lender who can provide financing options and pre-approve interested buyers if needed?  Do you understand the different financing options available in your price range and what each may potentially ask for or require from the seller?  Are you comfortable confirming a pre-approval letter or proof of funds statement when needed?

4.  Access:  Is your schedule flexible enough where you can personally make the home available to potential buyers?  If not, do you have help scheduling showings when buyers wish to view the property?  Are you able to let buyers comment on things they may not like without reacting negatively in their presence?  Are you comfortable letting them look around, or will you hover and potentially make them uncomfortable?  Buyers may feel more comfortable in presence of an agent than the current owner.

5.  Marketing:  Are you able to provide good photos, video, flyers, and public remarks that will create a favorable online presence for your property?  Are you able to follow up on marketing by answering calls and e-mails promptly and efficiently, and make the buyer comfortable when asking questions about the property while also ensuring they are qualified to come view the home?

6.  Commissions:  As a FSBO, you can offer 2-3% to a buyer's agent, negotiate, or decide not to work with agents at all.  While I agree that 6-7% commission is too high, there are other options.  Some agents work for less than 6% (I offer full-service, fair-price listings in my area - contact me for details).  There are also fee-for-service and MLS-access-only companies to consider.   MLS access companies may still require buyer's agents to coordinate directly with you, may not post on the correct MLS for your area, may charge an upfront fee and still require you pay buyer's agent 2-3% when sold.  Fee-for-service companies let you choose services, but they may be as expensive as some full-service options, may also charge up front, and still require the 2-3% to buyer's agent when sold.  An agent working on commission usually only gets paid if they actually sell your home.

7.  Disclosures, contracts, and timing:  Understanding where to obtain and when to provide required disclosure forms is key as there are problems if proper disclosures are not made timely.  Having a good attorney in advance to help you with disclosures, purchase agreements, and contingencies is key for selling success with a FSBO if you do not already understand the process well. Licensed real estate agents provide these disclosure forms, purchase agreements, addendums, etc., and offer guidance throughout the selling process.

Ultimately, deciding For Sale By Owner vs Listing Agent is up to you.  I hope the considerations I have discussed here allow you to make a more informed decision.  If you are in the Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, Virginia, area, I am always happy to assist, so feel free to contact me with any further questions you have.

Lynn McGeein, Wainwright Real Estate, A Virginia Real Estate Broker, 4098 Foxwood Dr., Virginia Beach, VA 23462