Why are you willing to spend $30,000 on one day, but you won't hire a realtor?

By Rob O’Connor

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

Something occurred to me today as I was reading about common objections of for sale by owners (FSBO’s).  One of the most common answers you get when asked about why they have chosen to sell on their own is “I can make more by listing it on Zillow for free and sell it myself”.  As realtors we know that this thought process is flawed and they are simply misinformed about what is involved in what we do.  It is a common misconception that we are some in-between person, like an ebay reseller, that simply takes pictures of their property and posts it online for them, then takes a cut of the proceeds.

Most of the fsbo’s I have encountered are married, work full time jobs or own a business, want to buy another house(usually to either up or downsize), and (oddly enough) they used a realtor to find and buy the home they are currently attempting to sell on their own(and they will use one again).

So let’s break it down logically.  Assuming our fsbo’s are married, work full time, and want to buy another house, this means they have likely spent a significant  amount of money on a wedding in the past. The average American wedding costs $30,000, according to The Knot, a popular wedding planning website.  That’s $30k for one day!  Yeah, I get it, it’s the most important day of your life and you need it to be perfect(even thou half will end in divorce, but that’s another story).  Anyway, Mr. & Mrs. Seller paid for it and it was perfect.  So what exactly did they pay for and why?

  • Church/Officiant Fee: $500 (they are devote members of their local congregation)
  • Reception Site Rental: $2,500 (needed a place to fit friends and family)
  • Food: $50/plate x 150 = $7,500 (this is actually a conservative estimate and is often much more)
  • Photographer: $2,000 (obviously they want beautiful photos to document this special moment)
  • DJ or Band: $1,500 (need entertainment)
  • Flowers: $750 (gotta set the stage)
  • Cake: $500 (another classic tradition)
  • Rings: $5,000 (because an actual ball and chain is to heavy and cumbersome,lol jk, actually it’s an indication that your status has changed, plus it’s tradition)
  • Dress/Tux: $2500 (unless it’s at a nudist resort, you will want to look good, besides most brides have had a dress picked out since age 12 in their mind)
  • Open Bar: $5,000 (because you have to get everyone dancing somehow)

This is obviously not an all inclusive list, there are other costs too, like bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, accomodations for some guests, the honeymoon, etc..

So, getting back to why this is relevant to them now trying to sell their home on their own.  Although selling a home isn’t as, shall I say “sexy”, as a once in a lifetime(maybe) wedding, it is still a very important financial and emotional event.  If not done correctly, it could cost a seller thousands of dollars, emotional stress, and regrets.  In fact, it may even bring on unnecessary litigation(I have heard that as much as 50% of fsbo sales end this way) that could have been avoided with appropriate RE agent representation.  It does not make sense that you are not willing to pay a realtor just a fraction of what you paid for a wedding to make sure the sale of your home goes just as perfectly.

We can do everything ourselves

Sure you could, you could also have baked your own wedding cake, but you didn’t.  You could have had the ceremony by a justice of the peace with a reception in your backyard, ordered 50 pizzas, asked attendees to take pics with their cellphones for your album, and set your music playlist to broadcast over some bluetooth speakers, but you didn’t.  You might have also saved a ton of money by inviting all of your guests through email or social media and told them it was BYOB, but you didn’t.  Why?  Because you knew that it would be more work and it would not be nearly as perfect as you had always imagined.

Selling your home as a for sale by owner is much like what I have described above.  You have to prepare the home for sale and do it without prejudice, in other words, chances are your home is not perfectly suited to present to the masses, but you are biased in your opinion of marketability. 

You are going to take pics with a cellphone(rolling eyes).   Listen, let’s be real here, yes your phones camera is pretty great at taking selfies, but it is not even close to being great at taking photos of your home, especially in low light situations, nor do you realistically have the ‘eye’ of a good photographer.  This would be like baking your own wedding cake, and considering the fact that nearly 80% of buyers begin their search online, it is imperative to put your best foot forward with professionally photographed photos.  This mistake alone could cost a fsbo thousands of dollars.

We can hire our own photographer

Of course you could, but where are you going to post those pictures?  Chances are you are only posting those photos to one website, Zillow.  Yes, Zillow does get a lot of traffic online, but it doesn’t get all the traffic online.  The only way to get maximum exposure to potential buyers AND buyers’ agents is to get your listing on the MLS.  When an agent submits your property on the MLS, it not only goes automatically to Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homes.com, etc., but it also goes to thousands of other websites through idx feeds.  This means it will be presentable on every buyers’ agents’ website portal that has the idx feed, which is pretty much every real estate agent out there.   

Buyers’ agents’ don’t search on Zillow for their clients.  Serious buyers are pretty much always working with an agent, and where do you think those agents are searching?  The MLS, that’s where.  Ultimately, you don’t get to choose where the perfect buyer searches for your home, so you have to put it everywhere

We will still get some interest and it only takes one

Maybe!  More than likely though, the only calls you are going to get are going to be from realtors asking if you are willing to pay a commission if they bring you a buyer.  Let’s just say you do get a legit call from an actual buyer that saw your listing on Zillow and you actually answered it because you didn’t happen to be at work or otherwise busy and, even though you don’t recognize the number, you still answered praying it wasn’t just another realtor.  Now what?  How do you prescreen this so-called interested buyer?  Are they legit?  Have they been preapproved for a loan?  Is it safe to invite them into my home?  Are you even going to be available to show them the home when they want to see it?  If not, do you tell them that you aren’t going to be there because you will be at work, which would now be telling a stranger when your home is susceptible to burglary?

Protecting a clients interest goes way beyond ensuring they get the highest and best offer for their property.  A good agent will protect their clients interest from the minute they sign the listing agreement to even after the sale.  

Don't cut corners, don't bake your own wedding cake

Just like with your special day, you don’t want to cut corners by not hiring a realtor to sell your home.  Statistics prove that realtors will sell your property faster and for more money, possibly for more than enough to cover the actual costs of hiring one.