For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and Low Agent Concessions

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I want to sell my home for sale by owner. Is 1.5% a good amount to co-broke? Or will agents avoid me?

In most of the country, this is a buyer's market right now. You need to compete more strongly for that buyer's business than anyone else in order to win the sale.

When I'm working with a buyer, the contract says that my brokerage gets a certain percentage of the sales price. So it doesn't matter too much to me what your co-broke (aka CBB, paid to a buyer's agent by the listing agent or seller) is to me. If you don't pay it, my buyers will. Furthermore, my contract is non-exclusive, so I have incentive to get them into whatever property is going to make them happiest, as soon as possible. If I won't (or can't) do it, somebody else will, and that's how it should be, so if your property really is the best property for that client, the low co-broke won't stop me. As I said, I get my minimum percentage from any property I help the client with. Better the minimum off yours than nothing when somebody else turns them onto yours. So you're not going to be eliminated by good agents on that scale alone. However:

Even to agents in situations comparable to mine, a low CBB like that is very indicative of an owner who is overly greedy, has over-priced the property, and won't negotiate it down to anything reasonable. I've seen this at least dozens of times, probably hundreds. No exceptions to this rule yet. Better I just don't waste my time or worse, that of my clients.

This is on top of the constant issues of dealing with a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), 99% plus of whom want me to act as their agent. or at least do the work of their agent and assume that liability, as well as the buyers'. Well, I don't do dual agency anyway, and I certainly don't do it unpaid, and because there's nobody with E&O insurance on the other side of the equation, I can do all of my due diligence and then some, but because the seller lies, I still end up sued by an unhappy buyer because I'm the only one involved they can get money from. FSBOs have literally 100 times the disclosure problems agent represented properties do. Trying to persuade owners who think they did everything they need to by putting a sign in the yard to fulfill the rest of their legal obligations is a painful process, and getting them to negotiate in good faith is chancy. I've had - and heard from other agents - more "chiseler" episodes from trying to buy a FSBO property. The probability of dealing with the "chiseler" goes up by at least a factor of 10 for all FSBO properties. And if you think I don't cover this with my clients, you're wrong. It's part of my job to let them know the risks of what they might be getting into, before they're in the middle of them. A good percentage of all clients comes straight out and tells me that they don't want to consider FSBOs once I've explained the facts.

Yes, a lot of this is "guilt by association" type judgments. Nonetheless, it's how you are asking people to view you. People who hang out with outlaw biker gangs are presumed to be outlaw bikers. Doesn't matter if you wear a suit and tie and a $400 haircut and have a nice genteel manner. You're an outlaw biker gang member, and until and unless people get to know you as an individual, that's the perception you're going to have to live with. (Lest my meaning be mistaken, I'm pulling a hypothetical example. I don't think I've ever actually met or seen an outlaw biker gang. There was a large biker club seated next to us at a restaurant not too long ago. Their clothes and haircut were a little out of the ordinary, but they were mostly like other folks. Had a great conversation about our respective kids with one couple). I'd like to have the time to individually know all of the properties available well enough to discard guilt by association, but there aren't enough hours in the day.

Finally, if my buyer's cash is a little tight in the first place, the fact that they're going to have to come up with that money out of their pocket can be a deal-killer right there. Buyer cash to close is the number one obstacle to a successful transaction. It's a "lose your license" offense for agents to attempt to negotiate a higher CBB at point of offer in my state. Agents do it anyway, but I have zero sympathy for them when they get caught. But having to come up with that extra amount of cash can drive my buyers below a breakpoint on the loan, and possibly even torpedo the loan altogether, which means it's significantly harder to convince myself your property is the best one for the client.

One more thing: For agents who get exclusive buyer's agency agreements, as opposed to the non-exclusive ones I work with, your property is not a contender. Period, end of sentence. You're making them work too hard, plus they want the highest CBB they can get, and they get paid no matter who helps the buyers buy, and they have enough control to make it very difficult for a buyer to go to a place with a low CBB. Not to mention that their usual CBB is higher and this means yet more difference between what you're paying and what their contract calls for, meaning that even if their client should somehow find your property, and love it, the cash to close issue is going to make it very difficult for them to do business with you.

So you make the call:

Buyer's market, you have to make your property look more attractive than anyone else's to even attract attention. Price, condition, location - you've got to have something that stands out above the market to attract an offer in the first place, and everything else has to be competitive as well.

Add the fact that a low CBB tells experienced buyer's agents that you're someone to stay away from

Add all of the FSBO issues, and there's a lot of them. They're not minor from the agent's perspective, and they're even worse from an informed buyer's.

Then top it off with hitting the buyer's cash to close, potentially killing a viable deal, and both the buyer and their agent want to know why they should bother with your property, as opposed to the one across the street, with a CBB that pays the buyer's agent what they've got coming without the buyer having to come up with cash, with an agent on the other side who at least might know your market and price it correctly, and is unlikely to try to deceive my client by not disclosing known issues, and is going to get all of the work done in a timely fashion without me having to work them over, because they want to get paid too, and they don't want this transaction coming back to bite them any more than I do.

Which of these two properties do you think buyers and their agents are going to find more attractive? Even if they're equivalent properties priced the same?

People aren't looking for reasons to buy your property. They're looking for reasons not to buy your property. If you want to sell your property, get a good agent to list it for you, list at a price that reflects the current market, and offer an average CBB for your area. If you don't want to sell your property, why are you putting yourself through the hassle and expense of putting it on the market?

Caveat Emptor

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 23, 2014 7:00 AM.

Adding People to Title for Multiple Residence Property was the previous entry in this blog.

Loan Rates for Low Income Families is the next entry in this blog.

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