Property Grunt

Friday, March 31, 2006

FSBOS: This is how you do it

This will be my third entry regarding fsbos. The first was FSBOs unleashed and the second was What's it worth.

I stumbled upon this fsbo on Curbed and it is by far the best FSBO site I have seen in awhile. The site addresses every detail in the fsbo process and is absolutely perfect from the photographs to the user interface. I contacted the owners who were quite gracious and agreed to my answer my questions. Below is my invterview them.

1. What made you decide to do a fsbo?

We felt that buyers for our EV place would be similar to us, tech
savvy internet users and would start searching for apartments online
before calling a broker. We also work from home (and only part time)
so we have the time to invest in showing/marketing our apartment.
For all the legal stuff we have to use our attorney anyway so brokers
don't add any value there.

2. Would you use a broker if the commission was right?

If they brought value to the deal, i.e. found a buyer that would pay
more than we could get on our own (more than cover their commission)
we would consider it, but they have to WORK for their fee.

3. How long did it take for you to prepare the website? Did you get
any professional advice?

About 4 hours. I did it myself using Apple iWeb/iLife software. I
already owned the domain name from when I sublet our apartment a few
years ago. I have zero design talent, but using Apple's templates I
made the site look ok....lot's of people have written positive
comments about the site, zero criticisms received.

4. There is a section of your site listing other fsbos. Do you know
any of these owners personally? How are they faring?

I didn't know any of them before we launched our site. I've been in
email contact with a few of them. 2 or 3 of them have already gone
to contract.

5. How do you handle showings and open houses? Do you do it yourself or do you have someone else do it?

My wife and I do it. We know the apartment and building better than
any broker could. We may be too honest and tell the buyer more than
a broker would, but we feel potential buyers respect our "all our
cards on the table" approach.

6. For anyone who is doing a fsbo, what advice would you give them?

Be realistic with your asking price. Spend a few weekends looking at
Open Houses in your area first, try and determine what has sold and
for how much.

Keep your home clean and presentable. Get rid of clutter. (hard to
keep up for every weekend). Expect quite a few "tire kickers" just
checking out your place. Be prepared to give up a few Sundays, have
a good web site, tell everyone you know you are selling (especially
your neighbors), people will forward your web link to friends and
colleagues looking to buy.

Put an add on CL (free right now) and NYtimes (expensive but still
seems to be where most people look). There's a buyer for every place
in NYC, they just have to find you! Be prepared to get phonecalls/
email from every broker in the city. 90% come across as idiots.
Some are professional and worth noting their information in case you
need them in the future.

7. What difficulties did you have putting your fsbo together?

The worst has been the weather. We pay for ads to have an open
house, then mother nature gives us a crappy day. Not many people
show up. That has been the biggest hassle (and brokers calling but
we screen most calls with caller ID).

8. There is an unofficial statistic that is thrown around by
brokers that 80% of fsbos fail and owners hire a broker. How do you
feel about that statistic?

It could be true, people with career jobs don't want to invest the
time.... Doing a FSBO is like anything, the more effort you put into
it the more success you'll have. If you have the time, try it. You
can always hire a broker if things don't work out.

9. Do you feel doing a fsbo justifies the cost?

If we sell close to our asking price, absolutely.
We expect to save $30-$50k in commissions. That buys us a new car or
a hell of vacation for a few weekends work.

My favorite aspect of this website are the pictures. They are absolutely pristine and they are done in the most professional manner. In fact when I first saw the site I thought they brought in a professional photographer since all of the photos were well staged and properly lit.

There is a standard rule among brokers that photographs should be treated as teasers and should only have limited shots of the apartment. Some brokers only put up one good photo of the apartment using it as a lead generation tool. The objective is to entice buyers to contact the broker or to come to the open house. Even if the buyer rejects the listing then the broker has a chance to make an impression and create a connection with the buyer.

However in the case of this FSBO, the owners could probably care less about lead generations and want people who are genuinely interested in buying the apartment so they ar emore than happy to show everything. Besides, being honest and straigthforward with their apartment will work in their favor.