2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: FSBO Sellers

by Houston Agent


NAR's 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that 9 percent of transactions are still conducted by FSBO home sellers; how can agents appeal to them?

By Peter Ricci

The for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) market is one of untapped potential, like an oil reserve that real estate agents haven’t quite reached yet. After all, these are consumers who are looking to sell their homes, but are not seeking the expertise of agents to do so – but how, it’s fair to ask, can agents attract FSBO home sellers? In our final story on NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, we look at what the survey found about the FSBO market, and what it suggests for real estate agents.

Profile of Home Buyers And Sellers & FSBO Home Sellers

We should be clear that FSBO home sellers do make up a relatively small share of the market, and their market share has declined in recent years. In 2012, FSBO home sellers made up 9 percent of all sales, down from 10 percent in the last Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers and 18 percent in 1997.

But still, “only” 9 percent of existing-home sales still accounts for a big chunk of people. By 2012’s end, NAR is expecting existing-home sales to reach 4.79 million, and 9 percent of that represents more than 431,000 transactions.

So what are the characteristics of this demographic? NAR found that:

  • Thirty-three percent of FSBO home sellers knew the buyer prior to the closing.
  • Among the FSBO home sellers who did not know the buyer, though, their reasons varied for why they opted not to choose an agent.
  • Forty-three percent said they did not want to pay a commission; 25 percent sold their property to a relative, friend or neighbor; and for 15 percent, the buyer contacted them directly.
  • Nearly one-third of FSBO home sellers, NAR found, did no marketing for their property, and 60 percent offered no incentives to prospective homebuyers – and a correlation may exist because of those stats. The average sale price of a FSBO property was $174,900, compared to $215,000 for an agent-listed residence.

Gary Bisha, though, the owner/broker of My Castle Realty, thinks that both an agent-centric business model and FSBO home sellers have their advantages.

“Our most popular and consequently most successful portion of our business is the flat fee or Hybrid FSBO/MLS package that we offer,” Bisha said. “These folks save on the commission plus get the same exposure (if not more) that a full service listing would.”

Bisha is also quite active in the marketing and research of these “hybrid” business models. He publishes the For Sale by Owner Magazine in Houston, has blogged for our website on the topic and cites academic research (from Northwestern University, for instance), regarding the business model.

“Bottom line, both platforms have their advantages,” Bisha said. “With our program, we offer a Hybrid FSBO/MLS package which gives the seller the best of both worlds.”

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