FSBO–It can be you

FSBO–It can be you

By D. Patrick Enderle

FSBO–It can be you

When I first considered selling my home FSBO (For Sale By Owner), several people said I would not get the price I wanted, a Realtor would sell it faster, and that I would waste my time trying to sell it on my own. I became a fizbo (a person who sells FSBO), and my perseverance paid off.

I put my home on the market (FSBO) in May of 2000 and sold it in September of 2000. I saved $6,500 on the conventional 7 percent Realtor commission.

My expenses included a lawyer to help with documents and closing, a Home Warranty Plan and advertising. These expenses were under $1,500, the most expensive being the lawyer’s fee of $900.

I dealt with disappointments by selling FSBO. One open house attracted only one couple; for several of my showings, the potential buyers were no-shows, and I had a signed contract, but the sale fell apart the next day.

The biggest sacrifice in my experience selling FSBO was time. This meant time away from my regular schedule and also my recreational time.

A Realtor has one major advantage over us fizbos; their properties will be listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). This will be seen by potential buyers and Realtors who are looking for homes for their clients. My FSBO was not on the MLS. This is where your FSBO marketing plan will pay dividends. I contacted as many people as I could who might see my signs, ads or flyers.

From my experience, these are the important points I will use for my next FSBO sale:

1) A Home’s Condition

My home’s first impression was my sales pitch. It was clean and well-maintained. My grass was mowed, shrubbery well-maintained, no cracked windows or peeling paint, and my roof was in good shape. No toys, equipment or debris on driveway, sidewalk, or alongside the house or garage. The well-maintained, clean appearance drew potential buyers inside my home. Once inside, they saw clean carpets (shampooed), windows, counters and appliances. Tidy and organized rooms and closets are a must. Fresh paint inside made a good impression.

2) Prime Time Sales Months

Prime sales months (in Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties) for the past two years have been April-October, the two best months being June and August. My next FSBO will be on the market by April 1st, with the best months still ahead.

3) Selling Price

I found my home’s fair market value (FMV) with comparable houses in my area. I went to open houses in my area. I compared the price, size and amenities of other homes against mine to find my FMV. My price was not above my FMV. Potential buyers usually know the market and that you are not paying a Realtor’s commission. Let’s say your neighbor’s comparable home lists at $109,000 and sells at $107,000. Your home is $107,000 and sells at $105,000. Your neighbor pays an average 7 percent Realtor commission of $7,490. They will get $99,510 for their home; you have $105,000. You take over $5,000 more than your neighbor who sold for $2,000 more than you did. My goal was not to get the highest selling price, but to put the most $ in my bank account after the sale.

4) Marketing Plan

I did the advertising. My signs led potential buyers to my front yard. My front yard sign had a flyer box attached. My flyers included pictures, physical and mechanical information, price, address and phone number, and special features my home had. I placed flyers in nearby grocery stores, department stores, any place that had a bulletin board. I sent packages of flyers to my family, friends and co-workers to place for me. These people wanted to help me succeed. I placed Internet and newspaper ads. I ran open houses from 1 to 5 p.m. to accommodate people looking at 2 to 4 p.m. open houses. My flyer box stayed full; my answering machine was always on.

5) Home Warranty Plan

I purchased a $375 Home Warranty Plan for my homebuyers. The plan covers many major appliances (furnace, central air, washer and dryer, etc.) for one full year after purchase. A service call fee of $60 is what the buyers pay if they use the plan. This assured my homebuyers most major repairs were covered.

6) Attorney & Legal Documents

I interviewed several real estate lawyers before I picked one. I asked my lawyer questions about my FSBO deal I didn’t understand. I had my lawyer explain and supply my purchase contracts and disclosure sheets. I worked the contract out on my own and had the lawyer review it before it was final. Your lawyer should be at your closing. Make sure that you have agreed upon a price in writing and get a detailed printout for any charges above your price. A title company will handle documents and legalize. Lawyers are not cheap, so the more you can do, the more money you save. I also used a good FSBO book a friend lent me that was very useful.

7) Showings

My shades were open, and all lights were on during showings. I kept my showings separate except for open houses. I never showed my home at night. People came or called at dinnertime. Some made appointments and never showed, but I was ready for the people who did show. I also had a sign-in sheet (name, address, phone number). I led potential buyers through the front door and gave them a flyer if they didn’t have one. I showed them around, inside and outside, and pointed out details they didn’t notice, such as storm windows, exhaust fans, dimmer switches, etc. I answered their questions and let them go back through the house alone. I asked them what they liked or disliked about my home. I had a good idea how interested they really were after the showing.

I bought my new home using a Realtor, and I know they work for their sales. I also know that this home will go on the market someday—FSBO.

Patrick Enderle is a local freelance photojournalist and lifelong Rockford resident.

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