Forbes: List with the Guy Driving the BMW

J Philip Faranda July 3, 2011

FSBOForbes.com has published one of those silly For Sale By Owner glorifying articles we sometimes see and the advice in it is so poor it borders on comedy. I’ve blogged before on the trainwrecks I saw when I ran a flat fee MLS for sale by owner assistance business, and I feel quite qualified to answer. 

They start with Exhibit A, Barbara Marquardt, who estimates that she’s saved $30,000 in commissions over 20 years selling her homes herself without a broker. I firmly believe that this is the truth. Ms. Marquardt has indeed avoided paying $30,000 in commission. When I ran my FSBO firm we had dozens of people not pay hundreds of thousands in commissions as well. 

Note that I said “not pay.” I didn’t say “save.” Because regardless of Ms Marquardt’s case, which has no evidence but her own assertions, the transactions I saw varied from passing gas in an elevator on a first date to full-blown train wrecks. Selling a $500,000 house for $465,000 with a drama-filled 4 month contract period isn’t saving money. And that was on the kinder side of typical transactions we saw. 

The next jewel of advice came from the article author, conceding that some properties, such as an upscale, 7-figure home should have a broker. The criteria for hiring an agent? They needed to drive “a Lexus, Cadillac, BMW or Mercedes.”

Wow. Not have experience, references and a proven track record. Just be able to avoid the repo man. Great advice. 

There were other golden nuggets, such as reducing brokers to middle men, which, as I commented, belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the industry that is so terrible it really didn’t edify the Forbes platform. 

The only piece of advice worth taking was the sage thought that sellers have to view the transaction objectively, like a business transaction. 

That’s the trick isn’t it? If there is a challenge even the best broker faces, it isn’t unlocking doors. It is unlocking the mind of a biased seller who may be sophisticated at computer programming, testifying before a grand jury or removing a cancerous tumor but only sells a house once in 20 years and is out of their depth, much as they might hate to concede it. 

Hardcore FSBOs are all too often more committed to a suicide pact of avoiding a commission rather than seeing the big picture. They’ll avoid help which could net them tens of thousands more with the same obstinacy that my 7 year old daughter dispays when she wants to braid her hair all on her own. They don’t care if they look like a dyslexic Princess Leia after she lost a fight with a hair dryer. It’s their party, and they can trash it all they want.

Carry on. 

 

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