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For Sale By Owner vs. REALTOR®. Is There an Alternative Choice?

still for sale sign


Know your options before you decide

Selling your home is a big decision, one that requires a commitment of time, resources, and energy over a period of months. More than ever before, homeowners have a bevy of information available at their fingertips, leading many to consider the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) approach. Those who don’t sell themselves typically turn to a real estate agent, and that’s a great choice for many people who don’t mind paying the high price of a typical commission. But is there a third option that bridges the gap between the relatively low cost of selling yourself, and the high price of full-service brokerages?
There is: the Flat-Fee, Full-Service REALTORS® at Buffalo Bayou Realty. Flat-fee, full-service realty is the perfect blend of low cost listings and full customer support through the selling process.

So, how do you know whether For Sale By Owner, a typical full-fee brokerage, or a Flat-Fee REALTOR® is right for you?

There are 5 factors to consider in making your choice:

  1. Cost in terms of money
  2. Cost in terms of time
  3. Knowledge of contract laws
  4. Negotiation skills
  5. Urgency

1. Cost in terms of money

It costs money to sell a home, even before it’s put on the market in front of potential buyers. There’s the cost of updates/upgrades/renovations, as well as staging. There’s the potential cost of storage units to reduce clutter to make the home more appealing to buyers. Marketing materials, advertising costs, repair costs, closing costs, title insurance, and more are required to sell home. Some of those costs are absorbed by a REALTOR® when a home is put on the MLS through them. However, they’re all absorbed by a seller who chooses to sell a home themselves. If cash on hand is tight, flat fee agents provide a cheaper alternative. Our listing fee is just $5,000 for homes in our markets between $300,000 – $900,000.

2. Cost in terms of time

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time needed to sell a home, no matter which route you choose between For Sale By Owner, full-fee agent, or Flat-Fee REALTORS® like Buffalo Bayou Realty. Before a home is put on the market, significant time should be spent clearing clutter, staging the home (inside and outside), performing needed repairs, updating the home, and getting it in shape to appeal to as many buyers as possible. During the listing process, pictures need to be taken, advertisements made, emails sent, flyers made, and finally a yard sign purchased and installed. That’s just the beginning.
While the home is on the market, buyers expect to be able to reach someone immediately when they’re interested in a home that’s for sale. Flexibility to answer those calls and screen the potential buyer is required, and a home in demand could receive many inquiries a day. Buyers typically ask for showings during evening and weekends, so leisure time can’t be a priority while selling a home For Sale By Owner – a seller has to be available for showings at a moment’s notice, and should expect to spend 10-20 hours a week managing the process themselves.
Once an offer is made and accepted, the work isn’t over. There are inspections to schedule and appraisals, additional repair work to be completed, not to mention packing to move and finding a new place to live! It’s critical that the amount of time needed to sell a home isn’t underestimated – it’s long process that takes months from the moment you decide to sell until you walk away from the closing table. At Buffalo Bayou Realty, we offer our seller clients all of the services of a typical brokerage at a fraction of the cost, saving you time and money.

3. Knowledge of contract laws

The Fair Housing Act lays out rules that every person must follow when advertising a home for sale to the general public, whether it’s For Sale By Owner or not. Every person. Knowing the law and following it is critical, as well as understanding contract terms and execution, from offer through closing. In cases where a contract between a seller and a buyer falls apart, knowing your rights as well as your responsibilities is a heavy burden that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Buffalo Bayou Realty’s agents have extensive education, keep up with their training, and are legally bound to operate under the Texas Real Estate Commission guidelines as well as the Fair Housing Laws. They are committed to staying up to date on contract laws and other legal guidance in order to be the experts their clients need and deserve. Buffalo Bayou Realty fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act, and we take pride in our expertise in all aspects of the residential real estate process.

4. Negotiation skills

It’s easy to believe that the best way to negotiate a higher sales price is to pick a high number and stick to it. However, negotiation works best when both sides compromise. This is easier said than done, and many times emotions run high in real estate transactions. A cool head and reasonable expectations of what a buyer will pay for a home are two of the most important negotiating tools a seller can have.
In a true negotiation, emotions have to be put aside and both parties must work toward a “win-win” solution. At Buffalo Bayou Realty, we negotiate every day, not only with buyers and sellers, but with title companies, lenders, repair contractors, other agents, marketing and advertising resources – you name it. Experienced, professional agents like us at Buffalo Bayou Realty know that the best way to keep a deal moving forward is to remain calm and always work toward a solution.

5. Urgency

Sometimes selling a home isn’t a choice – it’s a necessity. Whether being transferred for work, experiencing hardship from medical issues, dealing with the death of a spouse, filing bankruptcy, or perhaps a going through a divorce – these circumstances are difficult to navigate already. Having to sell a home when life is complicated is likely the last thing you want to have to deal with. In cases like these where the need to sell is anything but a choice, it helps to know that there is a full-service company that can save you money when every dollar counts, and help you manage what could be a stressful process during a difficult time.

Make the right choice for you, and the rest will follow

The decision to sell your home is just the first step in a time consuming, stressful journey. Choosing the path you’ll take to sell requires careful consideration of all of these factors, and each person’s situation is unique. Urgency may be the #1 factor to consider for some, while others are more concerned with their knowledge of contract laws, and another person may not have the time, energy, or other resources needed to sell For Sale By Owner. However you make your decision is up to you – just make sure that you consider each aspect of the process to make the right decision. If you decide to list with a Flat-Fee, Full-Service brokerage, we hope you’ll list with us!

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