by Broderick Perkins
(10/17/2011) - If you want to sell your home on your own, you've got to muster what amounts to a boots-on-the-ground level of experience akin to that practiced by real estate agents who've been in the trenches for years.
As a "FSBO," (for sale by owner) real estate agents are your competition and they wield the mother-of-all marketing tools, the multiple listing service (MLS), a service agents provide only for sellers who list with them.
Local, regional and national MLS systems typically provide the best level of one-stop-shopping for homes for sale because they list, in one location, the majority of existing homes for sale in a given market.
The MLS, now largely an online operation, is where most buyers begin to browse for housing - before they even seek an agent's help, according to the National Association of Realtors' last Home Buyer Seller Survey.
Back in 1996, thanks to a fledgling Internet, the original FSBO MLS, Owners.com, gave some of that MLS marketing clout to FSBOs by offering an online portal for home sellers brave enough to go it alone.
After Owners.com came ForSaleByOwner.com, HomesByOwner.com, SaleByOwnerRealty.com, 10Realty.com, FSBO.com, Postlets.com and others, but the scattered sites, with varied levels of success, lacked the all-inclusive cohesiveness that makes traditional MLS operations powerful marketing tools.
Leveling the playing field
Zillow just changed all that.
The consumer-oriented real estate marketplace and information portal, boasting 3.6 million existing properties for sale, recently announced integrating 50,000 FSBO listings to meet the demands of sellers who have the stomach for going it alone.
FSBO sellers have the stomach because they also have an appetite for savings.
The primary reasons sellers go FSBO is to save money on the commission real estate companies charge. At about 6 percent a pop, that comes out to a hefty $15,000 on a $250,000 home; $30,000 on a $500,000 home.
Enhancing FSBOs' marketing effort makes Zillow's move a godsend for marketing strapped FSBOs, but Zillow isn't just another FSBO site.
Zillow is the Internet's second most visited real estate website, behind Yahoo! Real Estate and from month to month it runs neck and neck with Realtor.com, the National Association of Realtors/Move.com's more real estate professional-oriented site offering the nation's largest national MLS system with 4.2 million homes for sale, according to the latest Experian Hitwise tally.
"If you're serious about home shopping and are simply viewing listings from traditional real estate websites, you're not seeing the whole picture," said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.
Along with offering free FSBO listings for FSBOs who list direct with Zillow through Zillow's Postlets (a site offering individual web page listings), Zillow also offers higher profile fee-based FSBO listings and FSBO listing feeds from several leading fee-based FSBO websites, ForSaleByOwner.com, HomesByOwner.com, and Owners.com.
Zillow integrates FSBO listings along with traditional listings, but home shoppers can narrow their online and mobile device search to only FSBO listings.
Perhaps the only drawback for FSBOs using Zillow's site is it's limited FSBO educational information, which is relegated to a handful of guides all dating back to 2008.
Leveling the MLS marketing field for FSBOs is a good start.
But Zillow needs to build a FSBO advice and information center to help FSBOs compete with real estate agents outside the MLS marketing arena.
Until then, to learn the FSBO trade, FSBOs will still have to visit the same existing FSBO sites that Zillow taps for FSBO listings.Refinance at Today's Low Rates!
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