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Ask the Broker: Has going FSBO lost its fizz?

This came in over the transom. I’m not answering the whole question. To say the truth, I feel as if I’m being shopped with every conceivable infraction in the HUD handbook. So, you, too, please do also exercise restraint on the subject of commissions. For all of me, the FSBO question is more interesting, anyway.

From my interlocutor:

We are selling our home in a very upscale part of Atlanta. We want to do it “by owner” using one of several services advertised on line. Who pays the buyer’s agent and what percentage? We’ve been told its negotiable but too little and no one will show it. The home will sell in the $400,000 range if that makes a difference.

I start here: I want to know more about “one of several services advertised on line.”

I don’t know the real estate market in Atlanta, but this strikes me as being a very poor time to sell without the MLS. If the “services advertised” are limited service MLS listings — which is as far as anyone should go, in my opinion, down the “by owner” road — then those listing agents can address the commission questions.

The seller will definitely be paying the buyer’s agent, of course: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product — an idea that never seems to occur to home buyers.

But I think it would be a huge marketing disadvantage to forego the MLS. In the age of the internet, an MLS listing is more valuable than ever before. (I think this has come up lately in the Dipshit Broker News, but I stopped following that crap years ago.)

But even more than that, I think the right full-service listing agent can more than repay his marginal cost. The house is unlikely to attract a lot of attention if it is not listed in the MLS system, but, even then, if it is not marketed to its fullest advantage, it will sell more slowly and for less money than it could have.

My take is that most listing agents aren’t worth a damn, but the right agent will bring home more money than he costs with a lot less aggravation, a double profit. For Sale By Owner as a business model has made less and less sense to me in this seemingly endless downturn. By now, paying a buyer’s agent but not a marketing agent just seems like a colossal error to me.

That argument is probably an easy sell in this crowd, but I’m interested in hearing about if I’ve gone wrong.

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