Home Selling in New York>Question Details

Prewar Condo,  in 10027

FSBO: Getting the word out.

Asked by Prewar Condo, 10027 Tue Jun 8, 2010

Any tips on making buyers aware of a FSBO? It seems that most buyers find a realtor they like and follow them around... I am willing to pay a buyers agent, but 6% is too much of a hit.
What's the best way to get the buyers in?

Help the community by answering this question:


To all the well-meaning agents around the country answering this question, NYC does NOT have an MLS. And to the responder who believes we do because of the existence of REBNY, sorry but no. REBNY (Real Estate Board of NY) is not part of NAR (National Association of Realtors), and sorry to say we are way behind the curve here. The REBNY listing system, called ROLEX, is not an MLS. It does not have the transparancy of an MLS nor the same rules. OLR (Online Residential) and RealPlus are the two biggest windows into ROLEX, but there are others, so no, not an MLS.
More importantly, to answer your questions Paula, FSBOs who work with buyer's agents typically do not pay the 6%, they pay buyer side only, which is typically 3% (price-fixing is illegal, these are merely observations). But when you pay for buyer side only, you are not able to get the word out through the many forms of marketing a full-service brokerage can, nor can you devote the time to all the tasks necessary, or be available all day every day as an agent dedicated to the sale of your place would be. The more comprehensive the marketing, the more traffic you get; the more traffic you get the higher the purchase price you are likely to get. There are a host of other reasons why FSBOs tend to get significantly less in the end than properties listed with an agent. In fact 84% eventually do list with an agent after failing on their own.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 2, 2010
Internet and open houses. You can't put enough value on letting people come in and "kick the tires", and the internet is where it's at.

I understand not wanting to pay the complete fee, but a good Realtor will seem cheap even at 6% when you're at the closing table.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 29, 2010
There is no MLS in Manhattan.
Brokers pocket listings.
NY is an attorney state, agents do not deal with contracts.

If I was selling a "cookie cutter" I would need an agent. In my case: landmark, condo and protected view are words that are rarely all heard together.

When I was a RE agent I found the selling of apartments the easy part: get the exclusive, show it a few times, agree on a price and wait for closing. (I did have 1 cookie cutter in the Nevada that took a few months to unload, that's a tough building: 1 Br, 580 sq ft with dues close to $1000/mo - yikes!)

Where I really earned my keep was in dealing with the buyers! (One of my co-workers kept all of his buyers information in one of 3 folders marked "liers", "cheats", and "time wasters".)

Wish me luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
For that, RIB, "we" sentence you to three hours in a dark room while listening to Enya!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 20, 2010
I should have specified that I'm selling in Manhattan. Most of the responses do no apply to this market (such as people driving around neighborhoods!).
Also NY is an attorney state, so agents do not handle the contracts.
I used to be an agent in Manhattan, I know of what I speak.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 20, 2010
Remember that if you are paying out a commission to a buyers agent as a FSBO you are only paying 1/2 the commission that you would if you listed it with an agent and paid both sides.

The key to any listing, FSBO or agency listing, is exposure. Any website that you can get on will be your best bet.

Rockinblu may think his blog is boring, but it will provide you some good advise for FSBO selling. Good luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Paula, pricing is key in this market. Make sure that your asking price is comparable to recent sales of similar apartments--not recent asking prices. Buyers are well informed and if your apartment is priced too high, you'll only help to sell other apartments on the market.

Tell everyone you know that you are selling, including your Facebook and Twitter friends, and ask them to spread the word. When you post your apartment for sale on all the major real estate Websites, consider indicating that you are willing to work with buyer's brokers. Some may offer to advertise your apartment for free in an effort to draw buyers to your property. It won't replace the maximum exposure you'd gain from having an agent on your team but it will certainly get more eyes to view your property.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
I used byowner.com, zillow.com and Craigslist. I also paid a nominal fee to have my home put on my local MLS so it included buyer's agent commission. I printed professional looking color flyers which did include buyer's agent commission. I did not get anything from a couple of newspaper ads I ran. Waste of money.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Paula - that's one of the biggest drawbacks of going FSBO... exposing your listing to the most and the right people. Rockinblu's blog is a good place to start, and has excellent common-sense advice.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
You should indicate the buyer's commission in your ad and feature it prominently. Some web based services actually indicate the buyer's agent commission in their feed to other real estate search sites, so agents see their potential commission in their databases as well as in the ad. You may want to host your FSBO on one of those services. Typical commission is 2.5-3% on the buy side.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Keep in mind that commission is always negotiable between you and your agent--there are no set standards. For maximum exposure consider an agent--otherwise, local print media, NY Times, For Sale by Owner Sites, Craig's List, flat fee realty companies, word of mouth, etc. In today's market pricing and marketing are paramount--do use caution when allowing strangers into your home and do work with an attorney who specializes in real estate for all related advice and paperwork.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
I am constantly amazed with how different the market is in NY. Even there though, I have to agree that internet is the best way to go. You might investigate more FSBO sites. I personally hate Craigslist, because of the quality of the responses but it may work in your market. I find print media to be passe, ineffective and costly. Since you are "saving" by not paying a full commission, you might be able to afford to go that route and see if it works.

I noticed on HGTV, "Selling New York", the agents will host lavish parties for potential buyers, investors and I believe they invited some other agents. I am not sure how the other agents worked out commissions without MLS, but I am sure that could be negotiated. Why not invite folks to an "open house" party? Maybe you could use those that don't qualify to purchase as future tenants.

One of the biggest skill sets that a good listing agent posssesses is a network and a database. We know who & where the buyers are located, when and why they want to buy. We use the opportunities of open houses, floor duty, advertisements (internet and print), social networking, and just our general lifestyle to build our list of clients. It takes a great deal of time, but its a great way to get qualified buyers "in". It is the one piece of the puzzle that unless you kept you data base from when you used to be an agent you will be missing and may find in the current market could be the necessary piece to get your property sold quickly and for the most money.

Good luck with your endeavor. Please keep us posted on how this works out for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 29, 2010
Buyers work with brokers and brokers show brokers' listings. 2% of homes sold on the market are sold via FSBOs. Can you afford a 2% chance of selling your home?

If you are offering to pay a buyer's agent, you may as well hire a selling agent to represent you. Why? It will save you time, money and frustration in the long run. Paying only a buyer's agent is a disservice to your own cause. Your are throwing away thousands of dollars to a buyer's agent to negotiate against you.

The buyer nor his/her agent will never tell you their bottom price nor disclose the entire truth. You need a representatvie as your buffer or you will appear vulnerable. In the end, it is the buyer broker and selling broker with their expertise induce both parties to come to an agreement where they can both benefit.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 29, 2010
Buyers work with brokers and brokers work will only show brokers' listings. 2% of the inventory that is sold is via FSBOs. Can you afford a 2% chance of selling your home?

Since you offering to pay a commission, you might as well hire a selling agent. This is will save you time, money and frustation in the long run. Offering to pay only a buyers agent is not to your best advantage. You are paying a buyer's agent thousands of dollars to negotiate against you. You need a broker to represent you so that you can sell at the best price and not appear vulnerable.

Do you think a buyer and his/her agent will tell directly upfront what their bottom line is? Buyers will never disclose the entire truth directly to the seller nor will the their agent. In the end, it is the selling and buying agent that help the buyer and seller come to an agreement that will benefit both parties.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 29, 2010
Have you tried listing on StreetEasy.com? It is a popular search site for Manhattan properties that also accepts non-broker assisted listings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 28, 2010
You might want to rethink the extra 3% by the time you pay the buyer side 3% and pay your own marketing expenses, having no experience it may wind up costing you more in advertising and time wasted doing it yourself.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 28, 2010
Hope you were able to sell your place since June 2010!

Below is a link to your blog promoting your condo. You apparently are willing to pay 3% buyer side, I guess you have a problem with paying 2-3% for the listing side. Don't you think any buyer is going to want to split that 2-3% "savings" on the listing side so you really are saving 1-2% without a Realtor? That 1-2% comes out in finding the buyer that likes your home the most and is willing to pay the most for it. That 1-2% is negotiation skill too!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 28, 2010
99% of buyers work with an agent, its the biggest decision of their lives and want guidance. 99% of realtors don't show fsbo or flat fee listings because runs the risk of being cut out of commission and not worth legal fees. If serious about selling hire a realtor and negotiate a commission
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 26, 2010
I would try a flat fee mls listing. You only pay the buyers agent the amout you choose. I would offer 2 percent.
Web Reference: http://www.mlsisland.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 26, 2010

While we don't have an official MLS in Manhattan (yet), all brokers now have access via VOW's (Virtual Office Websites) that include every listing in the city. [Not a shameless plug, but you can see what I mean by going to my website and clicking on "Search for All New York City Listings" in the Buyer's section] Most of the brokers in Manhattan belong to REBNY, and we are required to enter listings into the system within 48 hours (mine are entered the same day that i take a listing). The individual brokerage systems pick up this feed, and all 6000 +/- agents have visibility. All REBNY members are required to co-broke their listings. Hence, no "pocket listings" like in the old days.

The world has changed, and it is taking an average of 180-210 days to sell an apartment in Manhattan (depending on which report you read). Gone are the days when we would have four offers in our folder by the time the first open house was over. It's taking a lot more time and money to market an apartment; even the Pre-war "non-cookie cutter" apartments.

To attract buyers you can try open houses, putting your listing on the syndicated services (Trulia, StreetEasy, NYTimes.com, Zillow, OpenHouse, etc), posting on Craig's list, mailing a letter to everyone in your building, advertising in the Sunday NY Times, and other methods mentioned in several answers here. If there's a doorman, make sure that he knows the apartment is for sale, and has your contact information so buyers can contact you directly. Make sure that you have good photos on the syndicated sites.

You can also let your real estate attorney and lenders know that you want to sell. They have contact all the time with people who are in the market.

I occassionally post FSBO apartments on my website and in my newsletter to help the owner attract a buyer.

Lou Snitkin
Bellmarc Realty
Web Reference: http://www.LouSnitkin.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 30, 2010

You might consider working with a wholesaler.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 29, 2010
As a former Agent, I would think that you know how to get the word out (it starts with "The New York...". Perhaps you don't want to spend the money for promotion? If you know of what you speak, you already have your answer.

By the way, there is indeed a Manhatan MLS. It is in it's infancy and REBNY is the highly visible and preferred organization but it is there.

Good luck with your sale.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 29, 2010
Other than the typical manner...such as Zillow.com, byowner.com, hotpads.com, craigslist and the nytimes.com (and the list goes on...)
Of course I am not sure of the type of property you have, but perhaps you should have an open house- if you live in a high rise building, print flyers and post it in your building...even hand out the flyers at the nearest subway station...you might be surprised by the response...
Also...if you like, I would be happy to recommend a Manhattan realtor that would accept a 4% commission
Web Reference: http://michaeldvorkin.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Many buyers are working with a Realtor because they feel comfortable because someone is guiding them in the biggest transaction of their lives. That being said not many Realtors are showing these clients FSBO because they utilize the MLS, office exclusives etc. If you don't feel like paying 6% and depending on the list price of your home, perhaps you can negotiate a lower commission. 80-90% of FSBO's end up listing with a Realtor and time is money in this down market the sooner you do it the more you will net at closing
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 20, 2010
So, Paula, you used to be an agent, but . . . you found that agents weren't worth their fee?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 20, 2010
Hello, just know that in a down market where buyers and sellers are disagreeing on purchase price you may want to rethink your decision. Today, sellers need to have a third party to do the marketing, physical labor, follow ups, qualifying buyers, negotiating the price and terms, and working with all the people that will get involved in the deal.

Deals are taking real work from the beginning to the end. The banks are on a war path and it takes skilled agents and brokers to keep the deals alive in this market. Banks want close to perfection from buyers and buyers are taking longer to get qualified, contracts are expiring and many buyers are not renewing them because the banks are taking them through the ringer.

I suggest you have an agent work along with you at least when you find the buyer yourself and then the agent will give you a discount on their fee. This is not a market for FSBO's when the banking industry was closing deals in the blink of an eye, selling real estate in this market takes skill and the patience of an angel.
Web Reference: http://www.RhondaHolt.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 15, 2010
This is the eternal question - what does a listing agent do to earn their money?

Brokerages often provide institutional advertising and marketing support - web portals, print advertising, and agents with expansive Roladexes of prospective clients.

I truly don't know how you compete with that, frankly. Put it on Craigslist and hope for the best?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 13, 2010
The best way to get the attention of buyers is to reach those that serve them - real estate agents. The best way for you to maximize the exposure of your property is to list it for sale with an agent. It you don't want to do that, then you have to accept that the exposure will be limited by that decision. Next best thing, engage the services of a limited service entity so that your property is listed in the local MLS which is where agents look for properties. Make it clear that you are cooperating with buyers agents. My suggestion is that you pay at least the market rate to the buyer's agent (likely half of a customary full commission) if you want to get any traction. The fact is this, when agents involve themselves in FSBO transactions, they tend to do more - not less work - than they would if there was a listing agent on the other side supporting the deal.

Exposure is an important part of what agents provide - I suggest you give yourself a defined period to sell FSBO, and if you don't succeed, then hire a good agent. Generally speaking, the passage of time is not the friend of a seller when it comes to final sale price.

Good luck,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 13, 2010
In response to rockinblu,

In my experience, FSBOs may have done OK a few years back when Buyers outnumbered Sellers and any habitable property was selling quickly. This market is entirely different. Add to that, that Buyer's agents are aware that, when dealing with a FSBO, their work doubles, because there is no agent on the other side to help make sure that all the details are done. Would you risk your Buyer's welfare on that? Probably not. So, my answer stands - unless you are skilled at ALL the things a good agent does to sell a home, then you should hire one. You'll probably NET more money and sell it faster.

Web Reference: http://TellEllen.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 13, 2010
The 6% could be a big hit, but the idea is to do any work professionally & realtors are licensed to just to deal in real estate. Better let these guys do thrie job & according to stats 82% of FSBO's are sold via real estate professionals.
Do internet marketing as that's the way to go in the WEB 2.0 times.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 13, 2010
If you are in your local MLS system then the agents should be aware of your home. If you are offering a good commission fee, and your home is priced correctly, then you should get showings. Make sure that you have excellent pictures of your home online. Not just three or four, get as many as you can, and make sure your home looks like a model. Take your time and clear all the clutter, close the toilet seats, move the dirty dishes, each picture needs to call out to the internet buyer "Come see me."

After you take the pictures go thru them and make sure your paint colors don't look garish. Internet buyers click thru pictures fast and make decisions then and there if they want to come see your home. You can loose your buyers before they ever get in their car.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Hi, Paula,

I have just a few points for you to consider. If you were a Buyer relocating to another city, would you use your scant house-hunting time driving around looking for a FSBO, or would you find a great agent to show you virtually ALL of the available homes, especially since you know that the agent won't cost you a dime more?

If you were a first-time home buyer, wouldn't you want an experienced agent to explain the process and help you with the details?

You are trying to save a few percent on the sale. So is the typical Buyer who shops FSBOs. How's that going to work? FSBO Buyers are often the same as Flea-Market Buyers. They're looking for bargains, so they don't shop "retail". They want that same saving, so you're probably not going to get it anyway.

Even those FSBO Sellers who were successful a few years ago might find the present market environment a bit more challenging, when Buyers are few and Sellers (often at deep discounts) are plentiful. How well do you like negotiating with appraisers to try to justify your full value in a neighborhood with recently foreclosed properties? We REALTORS® have to do that every day.

We understand that, to those who don't do what we do, it looks easy. They don't see the background work with the lender, the escrow company, the hundreds of details that can kill a deal. Some FSBOs are actually successful, either through skill or luck (take either). Most give up frustrated and wind up selling their homes for less than they could have gotten if the home had been priced right a marketed right in the beginning.

Unless you have lots of time for trial and costly error, why not call a star agent who has a great track record and solid references, tell them what you need, and let them get you the most NET proceeds you can get out of your home in this market. You'll be a lot better off.

Good luck,

Doc Stephens, REALTOR®
Keller Williams Realty
San Antonio, TX 78230
Web Reference: http://TellEllen.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
you're doing all the right things... now, what you need, is the patience of a saint.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
http://www.forsalebyowner.com is the biggest site. It is claimed to have about 90% of net fsbo's on it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
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