Even though prices have risen as much as 12 percent this year, more than any year since the end of the boom in 2007, sellers are not trying to sell their homes without the help of a real estate professional. Historically, for-sale-by-owner transactions accounted for between 15 to 20 percent of the market.
In 2008, as the last boom ended, “for sale by owner” transactions reached 13 percent of all sales as sellers sought to avoid the expense of paying a commission to a brokerage. As prices and sales plummeted, so did FSBOs, falling to 9 percent in 2010. The figure tends to go up when the market is hot because it’s easier for sellers to go it alone, and that number declines during a down market because there’s a glut of unsold properties. However, FSBOs haven’t budged from that level in 2013 despite the strongest prices, tightest inventories and healthiest demand if five years. One-third of those FSBO sellers probably would not have needed a professional to market their homes since they knew the buyer prior to the home purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Also, many of today’s FSBOS didn’t do much to market their homes. One-third of FSBO sellers took no action to market their home, and 60 percent did not offer any incentives to attract buyers. But homeowners who sell their property on their own may not always be able to tap the pool of buyers that an agent can in the open market, which could reduce the range of offers. And the process of selling a home can be painstaking and confusing, potentially more trouble than it’s worth. FSBO homes in 2013 sold for over 16% less than agent-assisted home sales.