The For-Sale-by-Owner: arch-nemesis and natural enemy of the real estate agent. With the money & effort the real estate industry has invested in squashing the FSBO, we could just have bought them all by now. That’s one way of erasing the ugliness of the handwritten FOR SALE sign—just buy it!
But it’s not exactly human nature to buy the things we fear, is it? It’s much more natural to kill them. No, I don’t see the National Association of Realtors buying up a bunch of FSBOs any time soon. Foreclosures? Maybe… But for the moment, FSBO is still Private Enemy #1.
And now that the real estate market is starting to fill back up with blood after a half-decade nod, we’re seeing a few of these vomitty signs spring up again. During the grab, when Californians were buying any listing that dropped off the table for 15% more than the list price without ever even seeing the house, regl’ar sellers’ wily FSBO friends used to laugh at em for using Realtor. And they were right a lot– a stupid idiot person can fail in any market; but an absolutely average person can usually succeed in a favorable one.
Still, as a professional, I (should) hold cards in a neutral market. I (should) have at least my share the cigarettes even in a prison market. So how can I stand to watch my neighbor try and sell his refrigerator on his own without paying me a commission?
Driving home tonight after showing Terry a newly-listed property in outer-Columbia, I punched it up the bottom of my hill, right where I always do on a wide, straight section of the street with tons of visibility and no houses with kids. I was up to 45mph about a half-block from my door when I saw it. All the way out at the front of the Parker’s driveway, on the curb to the right but just barely, an almond up/down refrigerator freezer with a store-bought sign scotch taped askew on the front.
FOR SALE BY OWNER in orange letters over a black background. And in a white space below, the home phone number of my 10-year neighbors.
My heart dropped into my stomach, and then out my pantleg like it always does when a neighbor or friend tries to sell their refrigerator without using me.
Sometimes they’ll call before-hand and say they’re casually curious about their fridge’s place in this spinny market, or maybe they’re divorcing and are in-dispute about its value. How much is the appliance worth? I’ve had more than one client ask if their refrigerator would be worth more if someone famous had ever died in it. And of course, last month, lots of apocalypse-related icebox inquiries.
Occasionally someone will be forthright—“I’m thinking of selling my refrigerator because I just can’t afford it anymore. I owe more on it than what it’s worth, and depending on how much it’s depreciated, I may not be able to pay a commission to get out from under it.”
Of course I feel crummy about it. Refrigerators are big investments, and we grow accustomed to them. It’s hard to go back to the tin racks & shit-breather plastic icetrays after you’ve had crushed on-demand and 3-zone temp control for years. But still– I gotta feed my family, too.
If you’re curious about the value of your refrigerator in this transitional market, just give me a call and I’ll be right over…