An unbiased Marshfield real-estate attorney advises clients against For Sale By Owners. 

The dearth of inventory and still historically low interest rates continue to propel a strong sellers’ market. 

Warning: Especially in this market, it remains a dangerous time for homeowners who believe they can sell their homes themselves.  For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sellers are correct that Days On Market remains quite short.  Ironically, however, sellers need real-estate agents now more than ever to help execute critical tasks that help maximize sale price by:  

  • Pricing their homes optimally to attract multiple-bid situations, often above asking prices.
  • Evaluating and negotiating multiple offers – more difficult than it seems. (Even offers similar in price can vary greatly in terms, ability to obtain financing, the wording of the home inspection clause, and time to close.)
  • Protecting sellers from disgruntled, if not enraged buyers who feel they were “cheated” out of your home. Good agents know how to navigate these frenzied waters and protect sellers from dealing directly with unhappy buyers, who believe the system in place to collect and assess offers was not clear or was not followed.
  • Working with the lender’s home appraiser to help justify that the home is worth what it is selling for, if few or no recent comps exist in this ever-rising market. (In certain cases, an agent might suggest that a seller consider a slightly lower cash offer in situations where the lender’s appraisal might be difficult to justify. Or agents might suggest language in the offer to protect their clients and investigate whether the buyer has the cash and willingness to make up the difference between the asking price and the appraiser’s price.)
  • Gaining the broadest possible exposure to your property. 
  • Judiciously and safely managing hordes of buyers running through and across sellers’ homes in times of Covid.

Don’t take my word. Tim van der Veen, a prominent real-estate attorney in Marshfield, strongly cautions against FSBOs, even though he makes more money handling a transaction if a seller is unrepresented by an agent. “My advice to these clients is always the same: “I’ve seen this movie before, and you won’t like the ending.

See Tim’s post, “For Sale By Owner: Fact or Fiction”, where he covers three areas “among many, that should give any FSBO seller pause”:

1. Overpricing

2. Saving 5% of the broker fee

3. It’s more work than you think (much more).