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FSBO Story Becomes a Broker's Tool

November 05, 1995

I can't remember when I've enjoyed an article as much as "FSBO Can Spell Success" (Oct. 29). When I finally stopped laughing, I cut the article out to add to my listing presentation folders, as I've never seen a better argument in favor of a seller hiring a real estate professional.

The article starts out by informing that only 5% to 15% of sellers will successfully sell their own homes and reveals that the vast majority of those homes will be in areas experiencing strong seller's markets--exactly the opposite of the strong buyer's market here in Southern California.

Now let's look at the real out-of-pocket costs that are mentioned: advertising (definitely not cheap), signs (both for the yard and for open houses, also not cheap), photos and flyers, a "how-to" book, cost of checking credit, cost of all forms. There's also a cost for having an attorney check your paperwork.

Then there is the cost of the seller's time. It's going to take more than just a few hours for a non-professional to contact the necessary government offices to get the required information and forms together, to write and place advertising, to make flyers, to hold open houses, to explain to prospects how they should go about getting qualified and then to check on that qualification, to see that escrow instructions are properly drawn, to follow up on the escrow and to fill out the disclosure forms.

Also, there is the emotional cost: How good are you at negotiating, a very specific skill that salespeople constantly study and practice? How will you feel when listening to the buyer discuss his plans to tear out the features you value most? How safe do you feel letting strangers into your house?

Also keep in mind that professional agents will tend to steer their buyers away from your house and/or to bad-mouth it since they have no way of keeping an interested buyer from going around them directly to you to purchase.

And agents will hesitate to take a listing from a seller who lied and cheated by soliciting comps from them without any intention of listing. (It's good to explain up front that you will probably try selling by yourself for a while and will list eventually if you aren't successful).

The final irony comes from the fact that the buyer figures the only reason you aren't using a broker is so that you can offer the property to him at a cheaper price for a faster sale, and a smart buyer (and believe me, they are plenty smart these days) will insist on a final price 6% below what you would have gotten through an agent, and you will wind up with the same sales price less all the expenses you paid and will have done all the work and put up with all the aggravation.

BARBARA ASPENSON, Aspenson Haft Homes Realty, Los Angeles

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