I went out for a run yesterday and decided to take a trail I haven’t used since early summer. It had undergone some construction in the last 5 months, and I was excited to see the changes!  As I passed through and connected to an adjoining neighborhood, I was surprised to see not one, but TWO homes that have been listed for months. Both of these houses were put up on the market before all the orange cones came out…back in June! I wondered how they could possibly still be for sale? From the street, they look like great homes and are in a wonderful neighborhood–a neighborhood whose homes don’t typically last longer than 60 days on the market. How could these listings have gone from Sale to Stale by sitting for nearly half a year already? Neither of these homes had been represented by licensed real estate professionals. Both homes, whose families are just as stuck as the properties, were effectually listed For Sale By Owner. Here are 5 reasons you might be considering “FSBO,” and why it might not be your best option.

  1. I can save thousands by not paying commissions to an agent that I don’t need!

The idea of saving around 3-6% of the sale price of your home at the end of the day can mean several thousand more in your pocket. Who couldn’t find a use for that? The dream situation here is that you list your own property, it’s found instantly by an unrepresented buyer that takes one look at your neutral Benjamin Moore paint colors and writes a full price offer, cutting a check at closing within the month. Unfortunately, that type of transaction is more rare than winning the Megabucks. On a unicorn. Twice. Most buyers will be working with a licensed professional, and if your property isn’t listed properly on the MLS, or doesn’t provide the buyer’s agent with some sort of incentive (read: commission), the odds of it even getting found or shown to their buyers are slim to none. I’ve even had buyers suggest they were considering looking for “FSBO” properties because they thought those sellers must be hard up for any offer. “Desperate” may be how you’re perceived if your house sits on the market for months after listing.

  1. I know exactly what I need to put into this house to make it marketable!

One of the biggest problems homeowners face when deciding to list is not being able to view their property with an objective eye. How much is your home really worth in it’s current condition? Which upgrades will have the biggest potential for return? Should you put in a new roof or paint job, or update countertops or appliances? Does the flooring really need to be replaced, or would a good cleaning and polishing do? Working with a realtor will keep you from making some very costly and time consuming mistakes that may actually end up pricing your home out of the neighborhood, and out of a sale. Besides guiding a homeowner through those challenges, a realtor will also help make the home most enticing for potential buyers. I mean really, who couldn’t see the value of the beautiful Banyan tree taking over the backyard, or in the Tuscan mural painted onto the living room wall by Aunt Bertha? Most people, believe me.

  1. Listing my house can’t be that hard; I have the internet!

There truly is an art to properly setting up the initial listing for your home, and in marketing it aggressively until it’s found a new owner. The old adage of having only one chance to make a first impression was probably coined by a real estate agent! The attention you get for your property because of online presence, great photos, a fitting and flattering description, and accurate pricing should get you immediate viewings. If this important first step isn’t handled correctly by a trained real estate professional, you could be looking at the slow descent into the slush pile of stale, stagnant listings needing major updates or price drops for new interest.

  1. The buyer will probably have a realtor, so they can handle the paperwork!

Real Estate sales are legal transactions, and if not handled properly, can end up in costly lawsuits. Just recently a Florida couple was found guilty of felony charges for not disclosing material facts about their home on a Seller’s Disclosure statement, and now face serious jail time and fines. This may be an extreme example, but easily demonstrates how a trained and licensed professional will be able to give you peace of mind. It’s our duty to help you correctly and completely navigate this process! It’s also important to consider that a buyer’s agent will have their own client’s best interests in mind, not yours, which could end up costing you the thousands you think you’re saving.

  1. Showing and selling this house will be a piece of cake!

Selling a home is a stressful and emotional endeavor for most people.  Now consider selling it on your own, when you work for a living, have a family and obligations to juggle, AND have to pack to move! Working with a professional takes the responsibility of listing, selling, and showing your home out of your hands. You won’t have to worry about the best way to negotiate offers, address inspections or appraisals, deal with financing hold ups on the buyer’s side, or any of the other last minute issues that can make or break a sale. Save yourself the stress! There’s only so much that hair dye can do to cover those grays.

Occasionally sellers consider a “sale by owner” because they have found themselves in a difficult financial position. Their circumstances may force them to sell at a less than opportune time and they’re trying to recoup some equity losses, or the market value of their home just doesn’t support paying a commission–this article isn’t necessarily written with those situations in mind. With a conventional sale however, it’s very important to understand that contrary to popular belief, the majority of sellers aren’t getting a “deal” by selling on their own. Typically, most “FSBO” homes are not sold and ultimately get listed with a licensed realtor, but only after months of frustration, additional expenses (like having to come up with 2 mortgage and utility payments because the home won’t sell!), and plenty of valuable time wasted.

Still not convinced hiring a professional is your smartest option? Just last year, the CEO of Buyowner.com, an online business designed to help individuals sell their own homes, hired a licensed realtor to sell his St. Petersburg home. His reason? The home was valued at over $3 million dollars, and he explained that his own company was intended for lower priced listings.  His lack of faith and support of his own company’s services speaks volumes to me. What are your thoughts? Will your home be one of the “lower priced” options on the market, or are you looking for the fastest, most beneficial, and most secure deal possible? When your biggest investment is on the line, it’s in your best interest to hire a licensed professional to lead the way.