For Sale By Owner (FSBO) – This Guy Saved $25,000 In Realtor Fees

Home and insurance salesperson Antonio J. del Rincon figured out how to successfully sell his home For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and save thousands of dollars. This is his story of how he did it:

Our for sale by owner (FSBO) home just SOLD. A while back, I posted this home for sale by owner on Facebook and received quite a few public and private requests to share my experience after the process concluded. So here it is.

First off, let me be clear that this post is NOT a knock on real estate agents or the value they add when promoting a home. My story is also NOT professional advice on how to go about selling your home on your own.

My story is simply a recount of this unique experience based on the specific circumstances of my home, the market and my personal experience in marketing and as a sales professional. (I own a successful independent property & casualty insurance agency and financial planning firm).

I am thankful that we were able to receive a firm offer on this home just 35 days after we began promoting it on our own. And it closed and funded exactly 56 days after we listed. (By the way, we had a 2nd home for sale that I never got around to listing. I showed it to a prospect from one of this home’s open houses, and they put an offer for full price that same day).

So we sold two homes FSBO in just a few weeks.

Why choose FSBO over a real estate agent

Before going the FSBO route, we had attempted to sell through an agent. They were unable to get a single offer in over 105 days. To be fair, we listed at a higher price initially, but they did not adjust to the lower price for weeks after we asked them to.

By comparison, we worked much harder to promote the home because we were our only customer. Here are a couple of differences:

  • Black & white sales sheet vs. our full-color laser printed flyer
  • One open house in three months vs. us holding four open houses in a span of 5 weeks

Our home was taken off the MLS after we had delisted with the agent. Apparently, that is a trigger that other agents keep tabs on. So, in just three days after delisting, I received calls from over 70 local agents. Each agent had a great story to tell as to why they were different than the rest and why they were the “right” agent to help us sell our home.

In each instance, I explained that we were committed to the FSBO route but offered to show the home at their convenience if they represented interested buyers. By and large, the majority of agents became immediately disinterested and some even offered comments like:

This is a terrible time of the year to sell, especially without representation.

One even said

I wouldn’t be surprised if agents boycott your home and don’t even tell their clients that it’s available.

Wow! I was shocked!

How I successfully reached prospective buyers

It became evidently clear that my #1 job was going to have to be to reach interested buyers directly. Here’s what I did:

Professional sign

I spent $125 on a professional real estate sign purchased from a sign shop. Don’t use a cheap sign. It’s worth the money.

Paid 3% commission to the buyer’s agent

I knew I would save 3% on the sell-side. I committed to rewarding the buyers’ agent with full commission. Paying the buyer’s agent saved me over $13,000 in commissions in this home.

Professional pictures and sales sheet

We paid a professional photographer $200 to take pictures of the home. I laid out a sales sheet in Word and paid $1.30/each at FedEx Office to have full-color laser copies available to prospects.

It’s expensive. We went through 80 in a 6-week span, but the pictures were worth it.

Cheap black & white copies just don’t do a home justice and, in my opinion, cheapen the perceived value of the home.

MLS listing

I quickly learned that to get the exposure you will need with buyers’ agents and the general public, you need to list in MLS. Apparently, there are several MLS sites, and the one to be in North Texas is NTREIS, which is where we listed.

The company I used is Brokerless. I purchased their higher-end option, which cost me a mere one-time $188. The high-end option would have allowed me to stay on the listing for up to one year. Included in their fee is:

Plus, they send you all the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) forms that you will need as a FSBO seller. I changed the price once and uploaded more pictures another time. In both instances, they made the changes within an hour. I was very satisfied with their service.

Also, because they have to use a Texas licensed real estate agent to list, it gives prospective buyers the appearance that you do have representation.

Again, you have to behave professionally is you are going to go the FSBO route or you will look cheap and will likely not be successful.

Open houses

We were very aggressive in showing the home through open houses. I conducted four open houses in just five weeks. And I put over 20 yard signs throughout the neighborhood each time.

It typically took me 40 minutes to put up the signs and another 40 minutes to take them down.

Open houses lasted 3 hours, from 1–4 PM. It was a huge investment of time – 4 1/2 hours each Sunday – but well worth it.

I saved over $25,000 in sales commissions in the sale of two homes.

Be available

I showed the home to over 20 prospective buyers in a span of 5 weeks. Each time they called, I adjusted my schedule to meet their needs and showed the home.

Because I own my own business and because I have a great support staff there, I was able to do meet buyers quickly. Not being able to do so might be an issue. Being available only on weekends would probably be ok.

Pricing your home for FSBO

It’s very important to know the market.

Before listing the home, I obtained comparable actual sales numbers from similar homes in the neighborhood. I was fortunate to have a friend in the business. With full-disclosure that I would go the FSBO route, I asked for these figures, and she was happy to provide them.

I think that any agent that is worth their weight in salt would be happy to provide them as long as you are up-front and honest of your intent.

We sold both homes for exactly what we asked for and for comparable prices of other homes. The homes were not listed 3% under market as we knew we would save the 3% commission on the sell-side. We asked for full price, were fair to the buyers in our negotiations and they were win-win transactions on both sides.

Final thoughts

I hope this helps some of you who decide to try this on your own. It’s a lot of work, but in our case, well worth it. I think that we sold both homes for the fair market price and in a timeframe that was very acceptable, and even lesser than the alternative route we had already tried.

I also think that we were very fortunate. And, perhaps, my unique experience as a business owner and proficient marketer/salesperson being a licensed insurance agent, investments registered representative and once licensed as a mortgage loan originator, also helped greatly.

A truly committed professional real estate agent working for your benefit to promote and market your home can add tremendous value to the process.

However, I was disappointed in the vast majority of agents who contacted me as they only seemed to be interested in listing the home to make an “easy” 3%. That said, I do have a handful of agents that, in my opinion, were selfless, provided great advice at no cost and whom I would have seriously considered using as a listing agent, had I not been so fortunate on my own.

Happy Selling!

Antonio J. del Rincon
Home & auto insurance for North Texas

Disclaimer: This article is not an endorsement of the products, services or methods provided by its author.

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