Suraimcfly, Home Buyer in Ventura, CA

Any advice for doing a for sale by owner in Palo Alto? It's a completely remodeled 3 bedroom 2 bath.

Asked by Suraimcfly, Ventura, CA Thu Jul 2, 2009

The house will get a lot of attention just because our neighborhood, College Terrace, sells quickly. The concern is the price.... we need every bit of it cuz we're buying another place. Any advice in doing a for sale by owner?

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Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Tue Jul 14, 2009
These are all very good answers. I've been a full time licensed realtor and in the past 11 years have also been a buyer and seller several times. Twice I've hired and paid a realtor to list and sell my homes and I'll explain to you my reasons.

1) They do not have the emotions attached. And believe me the tables do turn when it's your home. They were objective and straight forward, honest, professional and experienced.
2) The contract is designed to protect the client. Anything not done correctly and timely can cost so much more than the commission paid. This second set of eyes is priceless.
3) I know that when a home is listed by owner or discount company the buyer factors that "savings" into their offer, thinking "after all why should you the seller benefit"? The buyer wants the benefit of the gain.
4) I wanted to filter the negotiations and transfer that aspect to my agent (again taking away the emotional element, such as liking the buyer and giving away concession when not necessary)
5) There are several required disclosures, Federal, State, and Local and I wanted to make sure they were all included and completed, again with the second set of eyes.
6) Strangers will be coming into the home. I wanted to insure there was a way to track those visits and the buyers were qualified before letting them into my home.
7) FSBO properties carry a certain stigma, agents and buyers often read into them... that the seller may not be reasonable...cooperative...understand what is required of may be over priced...who will have to do the work, etc...
8) I was able to sleep at night knowing that someone else was doing what was necessary to market, show, sell, coordinate, and take care of all the facets of the transaction. The commission in my mind was a cost to market and sell.

Finally, there was a great article a while back in the San Jose Mercury News Real Estate Section by Ron Rossi, attorney. I quote “The best real estate attorney in the world can't do as good a job for you as a skillful, experienced agent who's looking out for your best interests."
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Dominique Van…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Tue Jul 14, 2009
Get an umbrella policy on your insurance (you never know) and get an attorney involved.
Otherwise get educated and crunch the numbers.

Good luck.
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Sam Shueh, , San Jose, CA
Sun Jul 12, 2009
most fsbo turned into a MLS listing...
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Michael Benn…, Agent, Lake Elsinore, CA
Thu Jul 9, 2009
Get a REALTOR you have 60 -90 days to sell! price it right and get it sold!

FSBO's always pay a comminsion one is free (The buyer pays the commision and you get the most exsposure) and one cost you more then any REALTOR.

I can find you the best one in your area let me know. Get the best one in your area .
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Barbara Q., , Bergen County, NJ
Thu Jul 9, 2009

Keep in mind the fact that people who are looking at FSBOs expect to save the Realtor's fee...
and You are trying to save the fee/ You can't BOTH save the fee...
You may be able to split best.
So when you consider the value of your time and the cost of advertising...
How much will you actually be saving?

If you are really serious about going FSBO...Before making your decision, Rockinblu has compiled tons of fabulous info that you need to sit down and read.…

One of the sections he covers talks about the benefits of offering Seller Concessions/Incentives rather than offering Standard Price Reductions,
That's where we come in.
Good luck with the Sale of your home!
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Erica Glessi…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Jul 8, 2009
Statistics point to agents bringing a better price than fsbos, but just a few % over which amounts to a wash. Now, a wash means that you statistically won't save money. So, where are you comfortable? What if the buyer's agent is excellent and negotiates a lot more concessions than you thought you would face?

You have this pretty offer in hand. You want to close escrow. You can taste it! Then, the buyer has inspections and discovers 62 things they want done. How well can you manage these things? Another scenario, the lender falls through for the buyer. The buyer's agent has another full-time job and can't deal with it. It looks like your nice offer is heading for the garbage. A good listing agent will bring in two or three loan experts who can close the deal and offer these resources to the buyers and save the deal.

You want at least one excellent agent on your team, whether it is the buyer's agent (catch as catch can) or your own agent. There are so many things to navigate in a sale. It's not just the offer. It is the successful close of escrow.

When I sold my own land (and I am an agent, and I was a top 5% agent one year not so far back) I hired the best agent possible and paid full commission to both sides. My land was the only piece sold in an 8-month window. I didn't skimp and I believe that my full cash offer was the best I could have gotten in the market climate of 2008.

Here is what I say for hiring an agent:
-choose someone with whom you feel that "click" or trust or good vibration
-choose a listing agent who is somewhat humble or flexible, it is not like it used to be and listing agents who are arrogant will bump up against buyers in this market
-choose a listing agent with a record of managing sales well
-UNDERCUT price and over-prepare home (I keep saying that, but that is the market we are in)

Some sellers post FSBO first on craigslist and see what happens. If you do choose to go FSBO I recommend you bring in an attorney to represent your interests.

Good luck,

Erica Nelson
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Marcy Moyer, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Fri Jul 3, 2009
I guess I should make something clearer. I am not saying that there are not some things that you can do yourself, but there are aspects of the transaction where you can get yourself into a lot of trouble if not done correctly, and aspects that you can not do as well as a professional. The contract is obvious, but there are other things as well. The wording of your fliers and ads (internet or print) can come back to haunt you if you use discriminatory language. For example, did you know it is ok to say master bedroom and family room, but not ok to say family home or family neighborhood as not all buyers are families. Also, you cannot say walk to downtown as not everyone can walk. If you do not have the proper wording on square footage claims you can get sued for false advertising. If you say Gunn High School in your ad and Gunn is full you can get sued. You have to say buyer to verify for the schools. The list goes on and on. So what I am saying is that if you want to save money you can hire an agent who will charge you for the services provided, including getting you the essential MLS exposure, but don't be foolish and try to do the things that you do not know how to do.
I think that it is great that there is so much information on the web about the market and values of homes, but there is not a lot about how to sell your home and do things correctly so that you not only get the best price and terms but also protect yourself as much as possible.
I hope that is clearer.
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Nina Daruwal…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Fri Jul 3, 2009

Very well said by Jonp! There are sooo many aspects to a sale, if you feel 150% confidant about taking it on and doing a good job for yourself, go for it! But dont loose a lot in the attempt to save a little!
All the Best,
Nina Daruwalla
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Jonp, , Palo Alto, CA
Fri Jul 3, 2009
Saraimcfly -

Here's what I think. Many high quality, full service brokers in the area are willing to take 5% commission, of which 2.5% or 3% goes to the buyers agent (which you want to pay anyway). So the max you can save is 2.5% or 2%. Let's say your house in College Terrace is worth $1.5M. So your potential savings is $30K or $37.5K. Not small change, but not life-changing either.

If I were in your shoes (and I seriously thought about doing FSBO once upon a time), I would think hard about 2 aspects of what a full-service broker can add: (1) can you price your home properly, and (2) can you ensure that as many people as possible will see your house. If "no" to either of these, then you can easily "lose" more than the $30K or $37.5K you saved.

In my case, I figured I knew enough about the different Palo Alto micro-markets and the current buy-sell climate to price my home correctly, since I followed local real estate very closely for years. But I wasn't sure that I had the personal resources to widely broadcast the availability of my home (newspaper ads, MLS, brochures, postcards, e-mail campaigns, office announcements, etc.).

However, you may be different. If you can price it well, and if you can "market" your home widely, then you might be able to pull off a successful FSBO sale. After all, many people have pulled it off, and the $30K or $37.5K savings is tempting!

Marcy makes a good point about using someone just for the contract elements. I would suggest also thinking about your own capabilities in that area. If you're a lawyer or otherwise very diligent and thorough, then that is obviously moot.

Whatever you decide, you are entirely right about College Terrace. Houses there do seem to sell very quickly compared to other parts of Palo Alto, especially completely remodeled ones.
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Nina Daruwal…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Thu Jul 2, 2009
Dear Suraimcfly,

FSBO (For Sale By Owner) properties do not fetch their rightful price as before a property is put on the market, there nees to be an evaluation of the property, with so many aspects being taken into account......
Just because a location is good does not mean the property will sell itself in this market! Currently there is a FSBO property here in Cupertino in my neighborhood, thats been on the market for quite a while........
How much Internet MArketing are you going to be able to do?? I put properties on 12-14 different websites.......82% of the Buyers look on the Internet to start with before stepping out to search for a home....
Besides this, there are so many disclosures, legal aspects that need to be met during the Sale of a property. In not hiring a Realtor to work WITH you, with your Best Interest at Heart, you may be doing yourself a disfavor! With the right Marketing Strategies and immense exposure for the property as widely as possible, you can avail the best possible price for your home in this Market!
Inspite of paying Realtor commissions, you will make more money following a time tested process, with peace of mind that all aspects of the Sale have been completed in order, than selling a home yourself and perhaps leavings things undone unknowingly......and them coming to bite you in the future........its like you wouldnt want to sew your own clothes or make your own shoes or put together a TV........let each profession use their knowledge, expertise, and in my case, like some others perhaps, a caring attitude about whats best, and to do the best by my clients! You can negotiate with your Realtor too.......
I am sure you are good in your profession, we are good in what we do, and in THIS market, you should really use the services of a professional! That is my sincere advise to you. I work mostly "By Referral".
Check out my website and you can call my past clients for a referral. I know the Palo Alto Market well, and will help you sell your home with exceptional care in all aspects. Do get in touch with me if you so wish.
All the Best, be well and safe, regards,
Nina Daruwalla
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Marcy Moyer, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Thu Jul 2, 2009
You might want to consider a flat fee arrangement where you decide ahead of time what services you need from an agent and pay for those services and do the rest yourself. Having an agent help you with the disclosures and negotiations can help keep you out of a world of trouble, and getting your home on MLS is essentail for the exposure.
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Eric & Janel…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Thu Jul 2, 2009
I always recommend interviewing 3 agents and the bottom line after all the interviews is which team has the proven results. The most important issue to you is who is going to put the most money in your pocket, who is going to give you the best net return. Now if you believe you can do it yourself, I want to forewarn you of all the complications, liabilities and other issues that are highly probable. Our team pick up the pieces of many FSBO's. They usually have been mismarketed, misrepresented, and do not have the experience to know who to go in contract with and who not to. The real problem lies in that in the highly dynamic Palo Alto market you can never recreate the first two weeks on the market, any mistakes can be very costly in the long run. Please keep this in mind before you make any quick decisions.

If you would like a no obligation appointment feel free to call or email us anytime.

Warmest regards,

Eric & Janelle

Top 1% Intero Real Estate
Silicon Valley Specialists
Office: 650.947.4645
JANELLE: 408.373.1660
ERIC: 408.506.3942
Fax: 408.516.5820
"Guaranteed Results through Teamwork"
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Saundra Allm…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Thu Jul 2, 2009
Hi Suraimcfly: I worked in Peninsula and East Bay prior to coming to Humboldt County. My sphere of influence is very large and I am communicating regularly with my associates of Pensinsula and East Bay. Palo Alto is an area I am very familiar with and I have broker/agent friends that I value very much and know they will do a wonderful and good job in protecting your interests as your buyers agent to your for sale by owner. Agent/broker representation is very important. We understand the lanquage of the contracts and what should be included in those contracts to protect you. We understand the importance of your your property research and inspections reports and how to interpret the results guiding you through this process. We understand that time is of the eccense throughout your entire purchase, escrow to close of escrow. Protecting you with your most valuable investment purchase is what we do to earn your referrals and repeat business. May I referr one of my valued friends to you? I will be participating in the process by being the referring agent to a receiving agent to earn your business. When you close the escrow successfully resulting is the receiving agents paid commissin I will earn a referral fee from a portion of their commission. The peace of mind for you is woth my valued referral with my established and respected relationships with professinals I have worked with side by side in our business in your area. The agent I will referr to you will be one of integrity, experience, and knowledge to represent all your needs. Many for sale by owners will broker co operate. this means they are willing to pay the buyers agents commission for bringing an acceptable offer to the table for their consideration and interest to sell. While many for sale by owners attempt to do so to save money and not pay a commission, they eventually do either list with an professional licensed real estate agent to market and sell their property, or they will open escrow with an acceptable offer from al licensed professional who has the buyer that has brought the for sale by owner the best offer to meet his needs and will allow the representation. It is a risk to buy a home with out proper professional representation from a reputable qualified licensed real estate agent/broker. So many things could go wrong during escrow, and after the sale has already closed. Give your self protection, and peace of mind by allowing me to referr someone to you who will protect your most valuable investment purchase. Your reward will be your successful results. Please contact me directly. Meanwhile, please allow me to share my current sellers properties here in Humbolt County, California. You may know of someone in your sphere of influence to referr to me to help my sellers success in selling their beautiful properties! ; ; ;

Thank you again.
Saundra Allman
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