Looking Out From the Garage: FSBO Math


As promised, I wanted to delve a little deeper into this subject.

The first thing we need to get out of the way is the "Myth of 6%". Since the VAST majority of sellers that are going unrepresented (FSBOs) offer to pay 3% to a buyer's agent, we can cut that number down to 3% (the remainder).

Let's start with an average house, perhaps something around $250k. That 3% is $7500. The next thing we need to do is go after the listing fees that one might pay with a limited service broker or other broker through one of the popular FSBO companies. The MLS fees for metro Atlanta are generally $499.95 and then .25% ($625 for our example). So, let's knock $1125 off of the "profit" for a savings of $6375. Add a virtual tour, and a little advertising (if you want it to sell, you need advertise), and you will probably need to spend between $1300 and $1500. That drops our savings to $5000 (I like round numbers). You should be able to fit a home stager in there for that, too.

Are you familiar with Fair Housing Laws, and the trouble you can get into with the wrong words in any of your ads? If not, you might need to consult with someone. And, then there are all of those pesky papers, like Seller's Disclosures and the like. You'd better budget a couple hundred dollars for consultations on rules, regs and laws about getting everything listed properly. And don't forget to get appraised. You might still have $4500 left from the budget. You might have a little less.

Now comes the fun part. You have to show the house, have open houses, and follow up with prospective buyers, or their agents. For the NE Atlanta market we are currently seeing about 100 days on market for homes that are priced close to the right range. Don't plan on any vacations for the next three to six months. If you leave town, you won't be available to show your home. And, you will need to be able to make yourself available any time a prospect is able to view your home.

So, you made it through all of that...

And, here comes an offer. You need to decide what to do. It isn't a seller's market any more, so you will likely not see a full price offer unless you priced way too low. So, you need to prepare the counter and begin the negotiations. Many companies offer this service for around $3000 (those savings are looking pretty slim). Those companies general offer the support from offer through closing, so we won't cover the hounding to make sure the buyer's mortgage is coming along, and that everything else is lining up for a proper close.

Almost finally, remember that sellers know that FSBOs are unrepresented. They "know" that you are saving 3%, so they price offers accordingly. Never mind that you have chewed up all but a few hundred dollars of the savings trying to get to this point. Buyers that target FSBO homes are looking for a bargain. So, the commission is something that both parties are trying to factor to their side.

And remember that much of the money that you put out in order to save a few hundred (or maybe a few thousand if you have a more expensive home) is spent regardless of whether your house sells. But, if your agent is working off of commission, if your house doesn't sell, you haven't spent that money. You might be out a little for paint or other suggested improvements, but you aren't out thousands of dollars for advertising and listing fees and consultations.

OK, last thing. What is your time worth? As an avid "Do-It-Yourselfer", I can identify with those that want to save money by doing things themselves. But, as I get busier, and my time becomes more valuable, I have started giving up some of those tasks, and spending "Me Time" on things that I enjoy. I still work on the Jeep, but the mini-van goes to the shop. I cut the grass, but tree pruning is hired out. I have an accountant to deal with the taxes of running a business. That let's me spend time with my family, and out in the garage playing with a welder... you know, the important stuff.

Find YOUR Dream HomeWhat's YOUR Home Worth?How's the Market?

Unless otherwise noted, all content of this blog is the property of Lane Bailey, ©2012 Lane Bailey. 

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Comment balloon 5 commentsLane Bailey • June 20 2007 03:50PM


Great post!  I am a firm believer in doing what you do best and leaving the rest to someone else.  Funny you mention in the end that you've hired out landscaping projects.  Recently I was listening to a Dan Kennedy cd in my car and he told of how important it is to delegate.  If you enjoy doing the lawn then it's a hobby and should be treated as such.  If not the it's a waste of your time.  Period.  It's hard to get into that frame of mind for some, but once you go there, it's awesome and financially rewarding!

Posted by Michelle Spalding (Transaction Management Consultants) over 10 years ago
Great arguments for why NOT to use a FSBO site.  Let me ask you what your response would be to a home stager who was considering listing their own home with a FSBO site instead of one of the many realtors they are associated with?
Posted by Shirley Huth (First Stage Transformations) about 10 years ago

Shirley,  it depends on my relationship with the home stager.  One thing I would think that the home stager would keep in mind is their credibility.  Of course, there is a tricky balance.  A home stagers primary market is real estate agents.  On one hand, skipping by all of their REA contacts and not listing might reduce business, since those agents might feel slighted... that was the first thing that occurred to me.  But, as I was thinking about it, what about the agents that aren't used?  Might they feel more slighted if one of their competitors got the listing?  

I still think that the possibly loss of income would outweigh the possible savings (without factoring in time spent, price received, time on market, etc).  The bottom line is that I would use most of the same arguments.  The stager will face most of the same issues that any other unrepresented seller would face. 

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) about 10 years ago
Good point but aren't realtors faced with this all the time eg when friends/family have other friends/family that are realtors?  Just trying to play devil's advocate here and get my business partner to see that as home stagers we need to support the realtors!
Posted by Shirley Huth about 10 years ago
I agree.  I guess in that case i might say to your business partner that the REALTORS(R) might decide to get a book, do some internet research and then stage the homes they are selling themselves.   They might save some money for their clients. 
Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) about 10 years ago