Reprinted with permission from Seattle Property Lawyer
Here is another step that is part of a real estate broker’s job. If doing this yourself is simply too daunting, remember there may be real estate brokers or companies who can help at a price you can afford. The internet has changed most industries. Real estate has lagged, but it’s not immune. One reason why FSBO makes so much sense today is because of the big real estate websites that provide an easy marketing platform. And of course, the old fashioned marketing methods – like a lawn sign – still work too. And they all cost a whole lot less than using a broker.
Zillow is a multi-billion dollar, publicly owned business. It makes its money by attracting home sellers and buyers to its site, where they can connect with agents. It is a large and permanent fixture in the real estate industry that will continue to be used by millions of buyers every month. Which means it is a great place to advertise your home for sale. And you can post your listing there for free. Once posted, it will also appear on Trulia, Zillow’s sister site, as well as Yahoo. These are the top three real estate sites on the web and together get nearly 80 million visitors a month.
Consider other internet channels as well. Zillow is clearly the biggest and best, but it is not the only place where you can post the listing. Craigslist is a tried and true alternative. There are many FSBO sites that offer a free listing. The direct benefit from doing so is far from clear (the indirect benefit is discussed below), but if it doesn’t cost anything it does no harm.
Insider’s Tip: The internet today provides enough free exposure to get fair market value for your home. Seriously consider whether you need to spend money – and if so how much – to expose the home to an even wider audience.
Ah, this is where it gets tricky. There are lots of folks out there offering to list your home for a fee. It’s not clear whether they are worth the costs incurred. Your choices:
FSBO Listings: There are some FSBO sites that don’t charge for a listing, while others do. The biggest of the sites that charges a fee is ForSaleByOwner.com, which also offers several tools to help you with the sale. Standing alone, none of these sites are likely worth paying to post your listing there, they just don’t get the traffic. However, there is a little known side benefit to listing with some of the FSBO sites.
Redfin is a national real estate firm. It has a modern business structure and charges less. Redfin attracts clients with its outstanding search engine for the local MLS data. In at least some markets, Redfin shows FSBO homes for sale along with the local MLS listings. In other words, you can get access to an MLS search engine without having to pay 3% to a buyer’s agent. To find out whether and how you can get your listing on Redfin, go to the Redfin site. Enter your town into the search bar. In the Filters, check only the For-sale-by-owner red box. Return to the map, and it will show all of the FSBO listings on Redfin in your area.
Click on one of the listings. Scroll down and look under Source. That will show the FSBO site that syndicated its data to Redfin. Check out that FSBO site. Click on another listing on Redfin, and check out a different FSBO site. Keep poking around until you find one that looks good, and post your listing there. Hopefully it will then show up on Redfin.
Insider’s Tip: Beware ForSaleByOwner.com. They charge $99 for a basic FSBO listing, which they say includes syndication to Redfin. But in the fine print, they guarantee nothing. Which they remind you when you call the customer service department because your listing isn’t on Redfin. Want to escalate the call, to ask for a refund? They will tell you they do not escalate calls.
If you want maximum exposure for your home, you need to list it on the local MLS. But that doesn’t mean you need to hire a listing broker or fork over the full 6%. Instead, you can find a flat fee listing broker who can put your listing on the MLS for a few hundred bucks (many FSBO sites provide this service too). The downside of listing on the MLS, of course, is you must offer a commission to a buyer’s agent. And as everyone knows – and as every real estate broker will tell you – you simply must offer the full 3%. Is that right??? There is absolutely no data on the effectiveness of a lower commission. If you’d like to experiment yourself, do it! You never know, until you try.
Post a Yard Sign
The oldest of all marketing methods, a sign out front can be surprisingly effective. Particularly if you live in a hot neighborhood, a sign may be all you really need. If you want to go Full Scale, get a couple of directional signs (with an arrow) and put them at nearby busy intersections
Don’t Forget Everything Else
There are several other tools that shouldn’t be ignored when marketing a home for sale. Consider a listing in the local paper (although that advice gets weaker by the day). Grab the simple flyer you made in Step 3, and have copies available for interested buyers. Make sure you let the world know via your social media channels – Facebook being the most popular – that the house is for sale.
Insider’s Tip: Facebook has Two Billion users, so exposure there can be helpful. Duh. But you need to leverage it correctly as a platform. Thankfully, ads are cheap! Here is some great advice on using Facebook ads to market your home.
Finally, plan on at least one or two open houses within the first couple of weeks of listing. There is no hard data on the actual effectiveness of an open house. But they surely don’t hurt, and at least you may be able to get some feedback on the listing or other marketing efforts if you ask discreetly enough.
Hey hey hey! Is that the phone ringing? Oh yeah, here come the buyers…
Thinking of selling your home without using a real estate agent? You’ve found a great resource. I am a real estate attorney, as well as a licensed real estate broker, and I’ve helped hundreds of successful home buyers and sellers. Craig provides the following insight for informational purposes only, and without any warranty or guarantee whatsoever. This blog does not create an attorney/client relationship, and Craig is not your attorney unless you have a signed fee agreement with him.
For Sale By Owner provides resources such as guides, contracts, documents, MLS listing, marketing material, and professionals.
FSBO.com provides for-sale by owner resources such as contracts, documents, MLS listing, marketing material, and professionals.
HomeLister provides you with the tools needed to sell your home, with varying degrees of assistance based on the package you choose.
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