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For Sale by Owner Vs National Association Of Realtors
Potential and existing sales by owners should take the ongoing rhetoric from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) with a grain of salt. The NAR has a significant stake in how you choose to sell your property – did you know that there are approximately $60 billion in real estate commissions paid each year (up from $19 billion since 2000)? In a well-planned and funded effort to justify their services and the astronomical commissions they charge, the NAR spends millions of dollars every year to flood the average homeowner with propaganda.
Realtors would have you believe that successfully marketing and selling your own home is completely impossible. Why they propagate this error is painfully obvious, but it’s shocking how convincing they can be and how often homeowners fall prey to their schemes.
Let’s put some of the most common NAR rhetoric to sleep:
FSBOs don’t sell for less
FSBOs are quick to sell
FSBOs do not unwittingly expose themselves to potential thieves, rapists or murderers
FSBOs can effectively market their own property
FSBOs can effectively sell their own property
FSBOs can save thousands of dollars in commissions
Truth be told, the National Association of Realtors does some things very well. First, they collect, compile, and distribute highly accurate real estate-related data that can prove invaluable when creating a For Sale By Owner marketing plan. This data is gleaned from hundreds of thousands of home sales, so it is very accurate. Most, if not all, of the data is readily available on the Internet. This data includes, but is not limited to, average days on market (DOM), average and average selling prices (compiled monthly and seasonally adjusted), unit sales by region, and unit sales by “metropolitan areas “.
The NAR also compiles statistics relating to “Buyer” and “Seller” tendencies, these statistics are generated by surveys of buyers and sellers. Some of the data speaks for itself, for example, over 70% of homebuyers in 2006 used the Internet to find the home they ultimately purchased, before hiring a real estate agent. Second, 18% of homebuyers said the first introduction to the home they bought was a FOR SALE lawn sign. Do the math – that means over 88% of ‘BUYERS’ found the property they ultimately purchased without the help of an estate agent – but 85% used an agent to facilitate the purchase – who says that marketing doesn’t work.
The second thing they do very well is market real estate; this is done through their proprietary data service – the Multiple Listing Service better known as MLS. This real estate listings data, while proprietary, is not just for real estate agents, it is available to virtually anyone with internet access. Realtor.com, the consumer-facing website is a by-product of MLS, this primary marketing tool for real estate agents is also available to virtually everyone. For sale by owners can invest in the fixed fee MLS. The concept is simple – instead of the “listing agent” charging a commission based on the sale of your home, the owner agrees to pay a fixed fee to a registered real estate agent – these fees are usually between $399 and $699 depending on your location. area and level of service. The agent simply agrees to list your property on the MLS. This exposes your property to all real estate agents through the MLS database and to most potential buyers through Realtor.com (remember over 70% of buyers found the property on the internet BEFORE hiring an agent) which enjoys over 7 million monthly visitors that generate over 350 page views. BE CAREFUL – not all flat fee MLSs are created equal – make sure you know what you are buying and that there is some level of support.
One of the biggest issues I’ve always had with real estate agents (apart from their high commission fees) is that they have a different tenure than the typical landlord. The mandate of a real estate agent is to sell “a” house and get paid his commission. The mandate of the owners is to sell their house. How often do you think a potential buyer calls to arrange a viewing for a specific property (your property) and the agent says – “of course we’ll make an appointment – but while we’re looking at this property, let’s look those ‘others’ that I think you might be interested in.” Personally, I don’t blame them, that’s how they make a living – I would do the same, it’s called “hedging your bets”. The inherent problem is that a real estate agent can be successful without the landlord being successful.A good example of this is “Open Houses” in my opinion, they are simply a lead generation platform for the listing agent. “visitors” come to see your house, the agent takes their name and contacts them to sell them any house – they just used your property and your time as a hook.
I always have to defend myself, and I want to be clear, I don’t hate real estate agents. They certainly render a service that some people are incapable of rendering. I do however have a problem with the fees they charge and their relentless attack on FSBOs. I always thought that if someone had to run to the competition to justify themselves, it was a sign of weakness.
The bottom line is you can sell your own home and save thousands of dollars; don’t be swayed by the NAR and its unsubstantiated claims. Don’t believe something just because you’ve seen it on TV – it’s a shameless effort to protect yourself, your association, and a breadwinner under significant pressure to justify their fees. It’s no coincidence that the US Department of Justice is currently investigating the industry for anti-trust violations. Change is coming – and it will shake the very foundations of this association. The internet has changed the way people buy and sell real estate – it’s time for real estate agents to accept this fact and adapt accordingly or go the way of the Dodo bird.
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