The idea behind not using a real estate agent in the purchase and sale of a home is a simple one, to save yourself some money. I get that. Buyers think they will save money on the price of the home, sellers will save at least half the commission amount. (Many do offer a commission to a buyer's agent.)
FSBO AND THE UNREPRESENTED BUYER, THE PERFECT STORM!
Now we are talking! Part of my job as a real estate agent is to know what my seller is selling, and what my buyer is buying. This includes data from the town hall such as property taxes, building department information, health department information and more. I make sure my seller is really ready to sell, and that my buyer is fully informed as to what he/she is actually purchasing.
Recently I heard a true scenario that could have been prevented. Lives are now affected as the sale cannot continue, all sorts of personal plans had been made on both sides of the deal. The seller misrepresented the property tax, this information was given to the buyer who passed it on to the mortgage professional. It was a large enough difference to affect the buyer's ability to afford the home. And because the seller did not provide a document such as a listing sheet, or tax information from the town hall, and the buyer didn't realize he/she should actually go to the town hall and check before regurgitating this misinformation to the mortgage person, the sale is now dead in the water. What a mess.
NO, REALLY, I CAN'T HELP YOU, YOU AREN'T MY CLIENT!
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind selling a FSBO. But what I do mind is that the owner looks to me for help. AND I CAN'T HELP! I can only help my buyer. I also mind when I have to wait for the opportune moment to show a FSBO because the seller has to be there, because they work and have a life and don't trust that I know what I am doing when it comes to selling a home.
PRICING A FSBO.
I know there are statistics out there that say a home listing by a real estate agent sells higher than a home listed as a FSBO. I think it depends on how the owner arrived at their price. Using a zestimate to obtain pricing here in my neck of the woods is a bad idea because we find that the Zestimate doesn't match the final sales price. Even Zillow says it is a STARTING POINT for a price.
What I do see is that FSBO's are often overpriced for the market, sit on the market languishing, the owner gives in and hires an agent who prices it correctly and it sells. If you want to sell, price it correctly and you won't be making as many of those mortgage payments, tax payments, home maintenance and utility payments and you can move on.
Go and visit some open houses in your market area if they compare to yours. Learn the local market, don't rely on Zillow to tell you what your home is worth. And put aside your home owner mentality, look at your home through very critical eyes. Because that is the eye the buyer uses!
MARKETING YOUR HOME.
So, now you have the right price, please do yourself a favor and hire a professional to take the photos. Bad photos equals potential buyers moving on before they even get to your home. Also make sure it is show ready, inside and out.
If you do have seasonal photos, bring the photographer back to take new photos. Snow photos scream to a buyer that you have been listed for a long time!
Make sure when your home is presented online it is in as many places as possible and that is looks inviting to buyers. Get them interested right away because if they don't like what they see, they will click off in 30 seconds or less!
And whatever you do, make it available to show!
- If you intend to go directly to the FSBO owner, you need to know what you are doing. Get all the information you can from the home owner,
- Property disclosures (if they don't provide you with any, you will be getting $500 at closing)
- Lead disclosures if the home was built prior to 1978.
- Ask if there are any association fees, what they are, what they include and if they are current.
- Get yourself to the town hall to find out the real scoop on the property.
- Find out what the property taxes are and if they are paid up.
- Pick up the field card and compare the information on that to the information provided by the home owner.
- For those properties with a well and septic, stop in at the health department to get all that information, making sure it is a septic and not a cess pool, that the size of the septic supports the amount of bedrooms in the home, find out the depth of the well.
- Go to the building department and see if any work done has the proper permits, and please, make sure the house has a certificate of occupancy!
- I also suggest you check that there are no liens against the property.
Now you can make a decision based on correct information and your ability to obtain financing for the home can be ascertained by your mortgage person earlier on. For instance, if the price of the home is acceptable, but the property taxes are so high you won't be able to afford the monthly payments, you need to know this up front! (I often see in condo's the buyers ability to purchase a property is hindered by either taxes or high association fees.)
USE AN AGENT OR NOT?
I don't mind helping a buyer purchase a FSBO, it is my job to protect you, to assist you in purchasing the home for the best price possible and navigate the pitfalls you can encounter.
And I won't turn down the opportunity to show a FSBO owner what their home is worth in this market, to show my marketing program, and help to sell your home for the best price possible in the shortest amount of time.
Give me a call to discuss what I can do for you. 203.460.1775.
Whatever you decide, I hope you avoid that FSBO and unrepresented buyer perfect storm!
Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate
2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors
2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776
© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain