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 an article about some common objections of FSBO’s (for sale by owners).  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.  I assure you that this is not the case.

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) are using a realtor to find and buy their next home.

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.  According to The Knot, a popular wedding planning website, the average American wedding costs $30,000.  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, shall I say “sexy”, as a (maybe)once in a lifetime wedding, it is still a very important financial and emotional life 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, as much as 50% of fsbo sales end this way, that could have been avoided with the appropriate representation.  It does not make sense that they are not willing to pay a realtor a fraction of what they paid for a wedding, to make sure the sale of their 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 performed 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 playlist to stream 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 very stressful, difficult and not as perfect as you had always imagined.

Selling your home as a fsbo 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 100% ready to present to the masses, but you are biased in your opinion of marketability. 

They 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 an experienced 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 images.  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 their 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 ideal buyer searches for your home, so you have to put it everywhere possible.

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 listing agents, or a VA(virtual assistant) in the Philippines, asking you if they can list your home.  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 your 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 client’s 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 long 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, likely for more than enough to cover the actual costs of hiring one.  NAR reports that “91% of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home” and “FSBOs accounted for 7% of home sales”, the other 2% gave up.