Selling Through Grapevine

Real estate agents are expensive. They typically take 5-7% of the sale price of your home. (The seller pays both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent). A lot of people these days are selling privately, because the process of connecting a buyer and seller has been made much simpler through the Internet, so we thought we’d give this a try for our house sale.200907250738

There’s a local company called Grapevine that many people in the area use. A few houses sold on our street in the spring through Grapevine, and they always have a lot of listings. So we listed with them.

Instead of taking a percentage of the house sale price, they take a fixed price – a few hundred dollars – in exchange for a sign for your lawn, the listing, forms for negotiating with buyers, and some tips about selling your house privately. Everything you need to sell privately.

So we put the sign on the lawn and waited for the phone to ring.

And boy did it ring! At least once or twice a day for the first week. And most of those calls were from real estate agents who wanted us to sell the house through them.

We did get a few potential buyers, and gladly showed them the house, but traffic was slow.

And we started realizing some of the benefits of having a real estate agent showing the house. A big one, for us, is that the people who were seeing our house weren’t giving us any feedback. They came, they saw, they left. They all said nice things and seemed interested, but nobody said “I’m sorry, we wanted something with this” or even “your price is too high”.

Selling real estate, like anything else, is about finding the right buyer. Any house is worth something to every buyer, but to certain buyers, for whom the house exactly matches what they’re looking for and who find the style appealing, it’s worth even more. The goal is to find those people, and that’s about exposure. That’s one thing real estate agents can bring you.

They do this primarily through two means: The MLS (the Multiple Listings Service, a directory of homes for sale) and the fact that most buyers use an agent.

First time home purchasers (the group most likely to buy our place), naturally use a real estate agent. Why wouldn’t they? The buyer doesn’t pay anything to use an agent; the seller pays that cost.

There are some agents that will let you list on the MLS and provide no other services, for a small fee. $195 is the lowest I’ve heard. But while this may get you exposure, you’re still going to be paying 2.5% to the buyers agent when you list on the MLS, and while I’m not speaking from experience here because we didn’t go this route, I expect that most buyers agents wouldn’t encourage their buyers to look at these listings, because agents prefer dealing with agents.

Another bit of experience that I picked up is that Grapevine and the FSBO route works better in a busy market. There are just more buyers looking around and more traffic at certain times of the year, and July is not a busy month. If we had listed with Grapevine in March, we may have had better results.

We’ve already bought the house we’re moving into. If we hadn’t, we might have stuck it out with Grapevine or tried the MLS listing route just to see how it works, but we really need to be out of here by the end of September, so we’re listing with an agent today.

(Maybe our buyers didn’t like our Virtual Tour. Or maybe I’m just not clear on the concept. :)).