As an Owner, ... I sold our home in Orange County (southern) California during the 1989 recession. In February 1989, homes like mine were selling in 3 days for $300,000 and up. I listed our home on the market in April, with an agent, for $285,000 and it was already too late. The market had turned and my price was too high. I started selling in August "For Sale By Owner" at $250,000, received an offer within 2 weeks and closed in October.
21 years later I am a Real Estate Broker with over 15 years as a licensed agent and Broker.
I can tell you the following:
It is the sign that sells. Real estate agents use their company sign to 1st bring in clients and 2nd to notify the roaming public that the property is available. In our litigious (sue happy) society if you do not disclose and do not do everything just right you could be in legal trouble. If a Broker (with E&O insurance) wants 3% to sell your home, he/she should be willing to give some before sale direction and do the post offer paperwork for 1% of the selling price. If you are going to sell by owner see if there is a licensed firm (Broker) who will do the paperwork for a reduced fee. That being said ...
When I was the seller and selling by owner I put a sign in the front yard. ... (smile) ... I figured out what my absolute bottom price was, to net me what i had to have, and put that as line 1 on my sign. Line 2 said 3% available to buyers agents. Subsequent lines were home features just like the real estate ads. The last line was my phone number.
AND did I mention that I painted all this on a 4' x 8' sheet of exterior plywood, propped up on the front lawn? Everything could be read from 30 feet away. The plywood was painted bright white, the price was in RED numbers 6" tall and the descriptions were in black letters 3" tall and my phone number was in blue, 5" tall.
The neighbors were irate and complained that I was making their home values decline ... I told them to put out the word and help me sell because that was the only way the sign was coming down. I sold to an individual that was driving the neighborhood looking at homes. (I split the buyers agent fee, 3% (line 2) with him.) If people are driving your neighborhood looking for homes then your own sign will do better for you than a real estate agents sign. If you are in a remote area you need the local multiple listing service (MLS) to get the word out to all the buyers and agents. Most times the MLS is owned by the agents and not available to the FSBO individual. Remember to advertise in your local weekly coupon rag, eBay and Craigs List. Put notices anywhere they let you advertise for free (supermarket, home centers, etc)
BTW, if you do use a selling agent get it in writing as to how much and where they will advertise YOUR property. Sign up for the shortest listing time (30 to 60 days) AND give no listing contract extensions. Do not go for the high listing price and then be asked to drop your price later after no action. The agent just wanted your listing hoping another agent will sell it. Your property will most likely sit on the market, over priced, and becomes shop worn. Other properties will be sold by agents after they show their buyers your over priced property. Price high and negotiate down? Sorry, you will not even see the offer. Price fair and hold firm works better in a declining and/or weak market.
You know how much money you need out of your place ... in a declining market you must price AHEAD of the decline. If you try for every last penny you might just wind up leaving it all on the table. You must spruce up the place and make it shine.
Good luck, it can be done.
CA Lic# 01201399