This Is Why I Sell By Owner

LoveInTheHouseOctober 24, 2011

Since my buyer has been unable to close on time, I've been unable to close on time on the house I'm under contract to buy and the seller is threatening to take another offer. Don't know whether it's true or not whether he has another offer but he's pressuring me and it's giving me more stress. He even demanded that I give him $1500. non-refundable, not to be applied to the purchase price, to "hold" the house for a month! I think I've been too nice throughout the deal and he thought he could railroad me. But it backfired and he got my Irish up instead.

So I decided to check around and see what else is out there, if anything new came up, etc. I found a couple of possibilities. I called one of them. There was no picture even though the house was on the market for over a year. The only reason I know what it looks like is because I did an overhead and zoomed down. The 800# turned out to be W's national phone bank. I quickly realized the slick-sounding representative had never even heard of the town where the house I was inquiring about was located. He took my name and # and then transferred me to the listing office. I spoke to Sally and she put me on hold and then got Dick on the phone. Dick didn't know anything more about the property than I already knew from even though this was the listing office. I told him "I'm looking at the exact same thing you are looking at right now. Have you been in the house? If not, can I speak to the agent who actually listed it?" I got transferred to Bill who assured me he would get in touch with Albert who was the listing agent. I asked, "Will I get a phone call today?" (It was morning.) He said yes and if he couldn't get Albert, he'd call me back himself. No calls all day long. Finally, at a quarter to five, I called them back again and this time I spoke to Bernie who also didn't know anything more about the house than I already knew from He connected me to Albert's voice mail.

I know there are great agents out there. But there are so many bad ones and bad offices! What are they thinking?! What would the seller think if he knew?! Holy cow, I would take a FIT if someone was treating my quarter of a million dollar listing like this! No offense to you good agents but this is exactly why I sell them myself.

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LITH - I hope you are going to tell that seller no. Chances are the other offer isn't cash, and it will be longer before he goes to settlement. I understand he's upset because settlement is pushed back but...

With cash you cash always find another house to buy. Whenever I miss out on a house that is what I wanted, I always tell myself another one will come up later (and it does).

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 6:08AM
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You are probably looking at a FSBO that is paying a flat fee for MLS listing and "representation". That seller is getting exactly what they are paying for.
The process is just as frustrating for Realtors who are buyers representatives because we end up doing all the work to get to contract and then to closing. Fortunately, those of us in the business can see one of the MLS fields hidden to the public that discloses this type of broker relationship. Lack of a picture, or very poor pictures, and instructions to contact the owner for showings are big red flags, usually accompanied by listing price well over market value.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 7:13AM
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I've occasionally encountered that situation and often a less awful version of it. Usually the poor sap who's handling the phone at the realtor's office that day offers to go view the home for me. By googling the address, I can sometimes find old photos and more detailed info, including the original listing price, hanging around on obscure sites.

I get very impatient when they insist on reciting the house attributes that I have just scrounged around on the internet to get for myself.

I'm glad to be done with this process for a while.

Next time I do it, technology will be even more widespread and I'll be looking in a metro area, so I'll probably be wishing for less info. I'll be longing for the days when you could take advantage of stale old listing on a diamond in the rough.

Kind of like my dream of touring China before it's all McDonalds-ized. Too late.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 4:06PM
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Instead you have to deal with owners with no idea of the actual market value of their property.

What THEY paid and their improvement costs, somehow determine the market value.

Or the heirs that are trying to squeeze every penny out of their inheritance, and think it should be at the same price as the updated properties around them ("The house across the street just sold for $X).

Despite their house having a 60 year old kitchen, and the galvanized steel plumbing it was built with (let alone 60 amp electrical service and a roof that was due for replacement about 5 years ago).

At least some of them have decent landscaping, though often in need of significant renovation.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 5:59PM
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LITH~` Does this mean that everything is off with your house selling and buying the other one? Hope not~ I know you want so much to "go back home".

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 5:59PM
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"You are probably looking at a FSBO that is paying a flat fee for MLS listing and "representation". That seller is getting exactly what they are paying for. The process is just as frustrating for Realtors who are buyers representatives because we end up doing all the work to get to contract and then to closing."

But, that flat-fee seller is also paying YOU if you happen to be the agent who shows the house and sells it. We're offering a three percent buyer's agent commission on our flat fee-listed house right now. You're telling me doing "all the work" isn't worth the approximate $11,000 you would earn in what could be (but you wouldn't know since you avoid those listings) an easy process for you?

After having sold two previous homes by owner and working smoothly with the buyers' agents, it ticks me off to be considered a "red flag". These are assumptions by Realtors that really need to stop if they want to adapt to the changing industry and changing sellers.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 6:15PM
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I do not post often on here but read a lot of the posts. Always the same thing when people post about FSBO, realtors get on the defensive! Times are changing. One can do a lot more online than years ago! I bought a 2011 CRV last Nov all through emails!! Sure its not a big a purchase as a house, but I was bale to do a lot of research that I could use to my advantage. One has multiple resources at their disposal and many are using them. Am I big fan of realtors, yes and no, they have their purpose, I will leave it at that. Best of luck with the sale of ur home.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 7:26PM
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The only reason I may at times get defensive towards the agents that use the MLS for flat fee listings is because the MLS is supposed to be a cooperation (co - op) between agents and not between agents and home owners. I do not believe that you have seen me belittle a homeowner for doing a flat fee listing. I do belittle "agents" that treat their duties of their profession as database entry personnel.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:11PM
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Whoa! Slow down! I'm just trying to point out a possible reason that the so-called "listing agent" was so ignorant about a listing. It could also be, as assumed by the OP, a really clueless brokerage.
Many smart sellers, and I will assume you are one of them, can DIY all the Realtor stuff, such as take great pictures, declutter and stage, write an impressive listing, market, be available to show, and negotiate a contract. It's not rocket science.
Other sellers are not quite as savvy, and a "red flag" merely indicates (to me) that I'll have my work cut out for me if my buyers want that house. Been there, done that, the most difficult one earned me $3300, before taxes. Guess what? That one was with a flat-fee broker who was supposedly doing this listing as "full service".
I never said that I avoid FSBOs. I actually actively seek non-MLS FSBOs for my buyers because the supply can often be very low in my niche. If the seller cooperates, I'll work with my buyer. If they won't, I'll let my buyer know about the FSBO so they can work it on their own if they want. Non-MLS FSBOs are difficult to find online because there are just so many websites offering them - the best way for me is just driving around the neighborhoods and looking for signs. My area's craigslist is a disaster in the real estate area, so nobody I've known has used it for anything but rentals. (Most of my buyers are relocating here so rely heavily on web home searching.)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:25PM
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I know, I hate when they start bashing FSBO's--oh, that must be a flat fee listing. Nope. It was the big company that starts with a W. There's good and bad with both. Good agents, bad agents, people who are good at selling by-owner and those who are bad at it. I was just venting. I have my house listed with a flat fee agency by the way. We have 25 beautiful pictures on there and tons of info. I get my inquiries immediately. I know because I tested it by having friends inquire.

Anyway, the listing agent called me back this afternoon and I'd like to report I liked him very much and he was full of information.

C9pilot, I'm loyal to my buyer's agent even though I didn't sign anything. Whatever house I buy, she will be the selling agent. When I bought my current house, I happened to find it myself and it was a FSBO. After I closed, I sent the agent who had shown me a dozen houses $500 as a thank you gift. I value my agent because I know the work you guys do. But sometimes I'm going to complain about the bad ones!

Barb, I did tell the seller no.

Phoggie, I don't know what's going to happen! My buyer's bank is not telling us anything! And the seller of the house we're trying to buy is pressuring us to schedule a new closing date. Why can't this bank just answer us one way or another?! Maybe I should post an update on this.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:42PM
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"I'll have my work cut out for me if my buyers want that house."

Can you please explain this? I am sorry, but I don't understand. What extra work do you have to do when the seller is a FSBO?

We sold a house FSBO and I don't see that the buyer's agent did anything out of the ordinary. All of our communication was by fax, email & phone since we were 5 hours away.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 6:41AM
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Ugh. Start over.
This is not a reflection on FSBO sellers. Read the OP and my replies.
As NCRealEstateGuy says, MLS is a cooperation between Realtors. A transaction is easier completed if both parties in the transaction cooperate to get it done.
A "red flag" tells me ( and every agent or buyer will have different "flags" based on their experiences) that I may have to pick up more of the workload in the transaction. When a seller (whether FSBO or weak listing agent) doesn't have a picture for a house that has been on the market for a year (read OP), that tells me something about the person I'm going to be dealing with.
It you don't understand that, let's go with an example. Say you get to contract, and by contract (Florida) the disclosure is due within 3 days. Good agent/seller: disclosure was already attached to the listing, or has it ready when you submit contract and earnest check, or conveys to me that they are aware of the deadline and ensures it will be faxed by then.
Weak agent/seller: I make phone calls and leave messages, send emails, and get a fax right at the deadline of an old disclosure that was signed by the seller three years ago when they had the house on the market but didn't sell. More phone calls and messages and emails to get an update a week later, with zero changes from the 3yr-old one, but at least a more valid signature. (Really, not a single maintenance action on this aging house in the past three years? Sure. But my buyers are getting an inspection, so that's okay. I just need to ensure the paperwork is lined up.) Not a great example, but it's definitely more work when each of dozens of nit-noid papers and inspections and deadlines have to be complied with and I feel like I'm just tractor-pulling the whole deal along with a seller/agent that is dragging behind. Maybe it's because I'm a nit-picker and insist on attention to detail. But it's my license on the line and I want it right.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 8:15AM
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Did you ever figure out what's going on with that agency? Why it was so difficult to track down the listing agent? And why there are no pictures?

BTW - I hate it when I can't just call/email/text the listing agent and have to go through a call center or national 800#. It's not just buyers getting the run-around. Buyer's agents get it, too, sometimes. Not very much around here though, except distressed homes. Maybe that's why I choose not to do those and refer those to experts. (Did I just open up a new can of worms?)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 8:46AM
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"My buyer's bank is not telling us anything! "

Why should they?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 10:11AM
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Because it's in the contract Brickeyee that they are required to keep me informed and also because they missed the closing date.

C9pilot, when I finally got the listing agent, I thought he was great and so I chalked it up to a bad agency although I didn't think his reason for no pictures was a good one--the house is a shambles. I think he should have at least put a picture up of the outside of the house. And if it was me, I'd include some inside pictures too because it is what it is. I'm not going to go all the way out there to see it without a picture or a very thorough description. So just put it up. But I liked the guy. He spent a lot of time on the phone telling me about it.

I know, those call centers are terrible! All it did was make me mad. No wonder why it takes my agent so much time to get me info when I inquire about a property. I want to know NOW. We have this Internet, information at our fingertips and companies like this are defeating the whole purpose.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 11:09AM
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The lender should be answering all of thr BUYER's questions, but they have no responsibility to you at all. It is your buyer that should be hounding the bank if there are questions left unanswered. The fact that he is not telling you these answers, tells me that he is either not asking the bank or he is not telling you all he does know.
On another note, one big advantage of using a RE agent is because all of these third party vendors, lenders, builders, inspectors, surveyors, attorneys,etc., see the buyer and seller as one time business. The same vendors see us realtors as REPEAT business. Who do you think is going to get things moving more efficiently?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Most of the time agents don't return my calls or e-mails either and I'm an agent.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 2:54PM
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"Because it's in the contract Brickeyee that they are required to keep me informed and also because they missed the closing date. "

You have an odd understanding of what "keeping you informed" means.

It should not be anything more than "loan application received" and MAYBE "in process," and even that is pushing it.

Any other details are NOT yours to know,or the banks to supply.

Missing a closing date is ultimately the buyers problem.

The seller does NOT have a legal relationship with the buyers bank for this transaction.

Stop poking into things that are NOT your concern.

If you have questions, ask your agent (or attorney if that is all you are using) and THEY should then contact the sellers agent.

A seller dealing directly with a borrowers lender is just asking for privileged information to be compromised and overall confusion.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 3:44PM
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That is one good reason NC.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 4:00PM
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