First and foremost, homeowners who opt to pursue an FSBO sale (industry professionals actually state the acronym like the word “fiz-bo”) put themselves at risk for a lawsuit if they violate Florida’s real estate laws or fail to disclose certain facts about the home or the property (even if they were unaware of those facts at the time).
Visit our 7-Point Checklist to learn more about selling your home as quickly and profitably as possible. You’ll see that hiring the best real estate for the job is the top priority and is almost always preferred to selling a home on your own.
FSBO Means Risking Thousands of Dollars
Today, however, we’re not talking about legal risks. We’re warning prospective FSBO sellers about the thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars they risk leaving on the table at the close of escrow.
The Number One reason for forgoing the use of a real estate agent is that sellers don’t want to pay commission to the buying or selling agent. The irony, however, is that the commission paid to real estate agents is often notably less than the money lost or left on the table by failing to use an experienced agent in the first place.
1. Buyers’ agents are less likely to show your home
Unless your home happens to be a 100% perfect match for a buyer, agents put FSBO homes at the bottom of the prospectives list. Many agents only show FSBO homes to their clients if the home is notably cheap or a buyer needs a home now, and there is a shortage of homes on the market. We are experienced, educated, and licensed professionals and we prefer to work with one another to support a minimal-stress and streamlined buying/selling experience for our clients.
When the seller isn’t an actively licensed real estate agent, we spend far too much time doing the seller’s work – in addition to our own work – to ensure the home sale is legitimate and aligned with current real estate law.
2. Paying for a lawsuit
Even if you followed Florida real estate law to the letter, any potential lawsuit brought against you by the new buyers is yours to handle. You’ll pay for a lawyer and associated courtroom fees, not to mention the time and energy required to get your evidence together and to honor court dates. The very experience of being sued and defending yourself will make you regret the minimal “profit” you saved by avoiding a real estate commission payment.
3. You’re beholden to the buyer indefinitely
While we’re not focusing on the litigation risks for this post, it is worth mentioning that a buyer who purchases an FSBO has a direct, indefinite connection to the seller.
As a result, you may be fielding phone calls, emails, and potentially angry letters if there were things you failed to disclose, or the new buyers feel you are responsible for a necessary repair or systems replacement they didn’t know about beforehand. To avoid lawsuits or harassment, FSBOs can wind up paying out-of-pocket expenses that weren’t their responsibility.
When you use an agent, everything moves through the agent/broker and title company. These are the entities responsible for any legitimate issues that arise after the close of escrow.
3. You may underprice your home
Two reasons agents often avoid FSBO homes is that sellers are too emotionally attached to the home to engage in logically sound negotiations. Their emotional attachment to their home makes FSBO sellers blind to certain deficiencies or potential issues. Sellers may also risk leaving money on the table because they don’t ask enough for their homes.
For example, empty nesters may not realize how proximity to desirable schools can increase the value of their homes. Or, homeowners who aren’t hip to their community’s future development plans aren’t aware of how out-of-town professionals will pay more for a home that is walkable distance from a proposed town center development.
Underpricing the home and then accepting a low offer means the difference of thousands of dollars you would have made with the advocacy of an experienced real estate agent.
4. It is a full-time job
Selling a home is a full-time job, and you’ll be spending a tremendous amount of time and energy marketing, advertising, answering calls, and making appointments to show the home. As real estate agents, we are available to our clients virtually 24/7, and the majority of our time spent showing homes to clients takes place after work and on weekends. We also know how to weed out unqualified buyers.
Unless you’re retired or unemployed, the time and energy spent selling your home without an agent add up in terms of days taken off work and the toll it can take on relationships and family life in the home. It’s far better to let agents do all of the work for you so you and your family can plan for the upcoming move and the next chapter in your life.
5. Inexpert negotiations
Inexpert negotiations can cost you in big ways. If your love of your home or lack of real estate knowledge puts you in a defensive or stubborn state of mind, you may not honor the best offer you’ll receive. Similarly, without knowing the average local cost to fix or repair specific issues, you may offer far too much in the way of repair credits, putting money back on the buyer’s table.
6. Missing out on the highest-paying buyer
Most buyers prefer to see a house without anyone in it other than their real estate agent. The worst-case scenario is showing a house with an owner at home because it makes the buyer nervous. Instead of feeling relaxed enough to take their time and soak it all in, imagining themselves living there, the uncomfortable energy of a seller’s presence causes prospective buyers to rush their walk-through, and they often leave without remembering much at all.
Another reason you may miss out on the highest-paying buyer goes back to the idea that sellers are rarely good negotiators. Their attention on what they feel are comps in their neighborhood, and the feeling that “houses are selling so quickly these days” can mean underpricing the home and taking the first appealing offer that comes along. Rather than feeling great as the result of the quick sale, inexperienced home sellers may wind up watching their home sell again, flipped after a few minor improvements, for tens or even hundreds of thousands more than they made on the original sale.
Don’t make the mistake of trading a few thousand dollars in commission compensation for tens of thousands of dollars left on the table. An experienced real estate agent is the best way to protect yourself and optimize your net profits when selling your home.
Contact Southern Exclusive Realty to connect with a local, licensed, and experienced real estate agent and brokerage firm that prioritizes our clients’ personal and financial interests.