FSBO Follies: 8 Reasons NOT to Sell Your Own House

Why selling without a real estate agent could lead to disaster

 

Sure, Reno’s housing market is hot, and prices are rising. Homes priced correctly sell pretty darn fast. Some sellers wonder why they should pay a Realtor to “help” with the transaction. They think they can do it all themselves — and save the commission.
Ha! What most people don’t know about selling real estate can cost them money — or land them in court.
Do-it-yourself home sellers are called FSBOs: For Sale By Owner.  Below are just a few of the pitfalls hovering over such sellers. Selling a home on your own may risk time, money, and most importantly, a final sale that leaves you in the clear. Some of the ideas and tips below come from a recent article in Inman News, a specialty real estate publication.

Factors to consider: Time, Hassle and Money

1. Let’s start with the big motivator: Money 

How much would you save? Quite possibly nothing. Overall, data show that FSBO homes sell for less — sometimes a lot less.

  • Lower sales price: Research data from 2016-2017 shows that FSBO listings sell for about 5.5 percent less than comparable properties, according to Collateral Analytics.  So FSBO sellers lose money right off the top — Especially if they end up paying a buyer’s agent a commission of 2-3 percent. (Any buyer without their own agent faces a whole other set of problems!)
  • Knowledge: What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you financially, and it can come back to bite you in a lawsuit. A real estate agent’s knowledge is priceless. Realtors know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that sellers and their home are fully prepared before hitting the market, navigate the complicated escrow process and close the sale with the fewest possible hassles.
  •  Time Everyone’s time is valuable, but as a seller, do you truly have time to schedule showings or to personally show your home in a safe manner at any given moment? Do you want strangers knocking on your door when they see the sign in the yard? What is your plan for days you work, or go on vacation?
  • Negotiating: Do you feel confident to negotiate with a buyer or a buyer’s realtor? Are you capable of answering questions about home conditions without getting defensive?
  • Disclosures: Realtors have a legal duty to be honest with all parties in a transaction. A FSBO seller must be honest about the property as well, even when it means disclosing uncomfortable facts about the property. If a buyer questions an issue or has a concern, can do you have access to inspectors, repair people or other experts? If not, you may lose the sale.  Can you say lost opportunity?

2. Preparation and Presentation = Money 

Image is everything when it comes to real estate.  Good Realtors explain how to prepare your home to show it’s best, and ranges from re-arranging furniture to fixing long-neglected items that turn buyers off — from chipped paint to leaky faucets.Realtors offer dispassionate advice that may translate into a higher sales price.

Hint: Buyers notice everything. A dirty oven can scuttle a potential offer. 

Photos: Realtors pay for professional photography Fsbo graphicout of their commission.  As a FSBO seller this cost — anywhere from $150 to  $500 (or more) falls on you and cuts into your “savings”.  Will you invest in photography? Or will you take cell phone photos, because in Reno, homes sell no matter what?

 

  • Fact: Studies show that homes advertised with dark, out of focus photos, or photos of messy homes tend to garner fewer visits, take longer to sell and lower offers.
  • Fact: More than 90 percent of people look at a property online before visiting it. This is a money issue. For me, it is part of my branding whether I am representing a condo or a castle.

 3. Marketing

Do you have a the facts, a plan and a marketing budget? Do you know the buyer demographics for your property? The neighborhood? A competent Realtor does, and can show you the difference between what you “want” and what the market will pay. Numbers (generally) don’t lie.

Reno home prices are rising. At the same time, buyers are not stupid. Nor are lenders and appraisers. Sellers confuse sentimental value and “news” with what buyers will actually pay and the data appraisers use to support a loan.

4. Pricing

An overpriced home will sit, or sell for thousands less than a properly priced home. Do you know the buyer demographics for your neighborhood? Your type of home? A good Realtor will.  Some websites such as Zillow allow FSBO sellers to post information. Will that be enough? It won’t be in the Reno Sparks Multiple Listing Service — cutting out thousands of potential buyers.  What other marketing will you do (and pay for)?

Chase International Real Estate has extraordinary worldwide connections and marketing networks to share information about your property. Some other brokerages also offer expanded marketing. Some just input data into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), then sit back an wait. What if your property needs a wider audience? Homes listed for sale at Chase International receive local, regional, national and international exposure.

5. Negotiation experience

When an offer comes in, how will you evaluate it? What parts of the purchase agreement impact your bottom line? How would you evaluate multiple offers? By price alone? A Realtor digs deeper into the terms and conditions. How do they strike a delicate balance between protecting their interests as a seller and working with the buyer toward the goal of putting an agreement together?Here’s where what sellers don’t know can hurt them the most.

6. Inspection and repair know-how 

Inspections and repairs can be the most difficult parts of a real estate transaction, even for Realtors. Do you know which inspections are needed/advised? Inspections often reveal items or systems that need repair. There’s a protocol for divvying up who pays for what. This can cut into your “savings.”  Lenders may require certain repairs as a condition of funding a loan. Certain types of loans prohibit a buyer from paying for some repairs. Are you, as a seller prepared to deal with this? Do you know licensed repair people who will come to your house immediately  — at a fair/reasonable cost? Fixing it yourself or hiring an unlicensed worker can land you in court years down the road if the repair fails.

7. Transaction management

Once you accept an offer, how do you shepherd it through the escrow process? Who makes sure all the provisions of the contract are met? Who makes sure the deed is clear, that the sale transfers properly? How do you verify the buyer’s financing? How do you follow up to make sure the financing actually happens? Have you disclosed everything required by law? If you “forget” to say there was a leak years ago, or a tree fell, or any of thousands of other defects, a buyer could sue you years down the road.

homeselling proccess8. Clunky Closings 

Finalizing the sale — the escrow and closing process — is generally handled by a third party in Reno. Last minute issues often arise — the lender needs an addendum, the buyers or sellers have to waive a condition of the contract, one party or another makes a concession that must be documented. If the paperwork isn’t right, the sale (and your money) is delayed.

Are the “savings” worth it?

Only you can decide. Consider: The funds you “save” on commission by listing your house as a “For Sale by Owner” could quickly disappear. The perceived savings can evaporate through uninformed decisions and costly mistakes that — in the long run — end up costing sellers more money than if they had used a Realtor to protect their interests and help them justify their home’s value in the first place.

 

Holly O’Driscoll is a full-time professional Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada.


A Buick? Really? What a Surprise …

Buick Lacrosse for blog

Alamo at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans was out of the mid-sized car we reserved, so the company bumped us up. The only cars available were “premium” models. They gave us a 2016 Buick LaCrosse.

I groaned to myself. My grandparents drove Buicks. They had two or three Buick Le Sabers that I remember. Each was nice – much nicer than my parents’ station wagons that hauled six kids around. Buicks of the 1970s and 1980s were not sleek or cool. My grandparents’ Buicks were always nice, even luxurious, with wide bench seats perfect for a kid under 10 to stretch out on to sleep during those seemingly endless drives from Maine to Mount Vernon, New York.

The 2016 Buick Le Crosse we just returned was different. Felt more like a Lexus inside: Heated leather seats, push-button start, back up camera, sun roof, hands free phone connection. It handled like a Lexus too: easy, tight radius turns, smooth ride, extremely quiet. Buick interior

The one Alamo assigned to us was pretty darn new – only 230 miles. We put more than 600 on over four days.  It accelerates nicely – 50 to 80 in a matter of seconds when passing a pokey car on a two-lane road in Mississippi. It brakes great too – as evidenced by the fact that I did NOT hit the nut case driver who pulled out in front of me in Alabama.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The low head clearance. I raised the seat up so I could over the dash, which put my head just a couple of inches from the roof. I got used to it, but it was a little tight. My 6-2 son lowered his seat.
  • The windows are small. The back-up camera helped, but since I don’t have one on my car at home, it took some getting used to.

Good points:

  • The car felt solid.
  • It cruised smoothly and quietly along the highway. Much quieter than my 2004 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited!
  • Trunk space was decent, though the wheel wells cut into this pace.

Biggest surprises:

  • It was fun to drive.
  • It had a great turn radius! We were shocked … the old Buicks were boats.
  • In the parking lot I had a hard time finding it … because it looked so much sleeker than “a Buick” … I actually said the line from the TV commercial: That’s a Buick? It doesn’t look like a Buick. (and yes we all laughed!!)

Bottom line: Would I buy one? Probably not. I live in snow country. My next car will have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Would I rent one again on purpose: Yes!  Would I encourage others to test drive/consider buying one: yes.  The price is around $40,000.

Have you driven a  car you love?  Would you buy a Buick?


7 Reasons Video Improves Your Website 

 

Video Advantages

1. Quickly Deliver Your Message

Most of us tend to digest information we see and hear faster than information what we read — on the internet, that means VIDEO!  People tend to just scan intense blocks of type. Using bullets, bold subheadings and phrases all catch a reader’s attention — but video does more.

Adding a welcome video to your homepage allows you to get your message across quickly — and you set the tone and control the message. Video lets people feel they know you – and people prefer to do business with people they know.

2. Interact with Visitors

Video improves your Google search rankings. It offers another “entry point” to your message – and gets visitors to spend more time on your website. It allows potential clients to see – and hear — your value proposition. It’s an opportunity to voice a direct call to action.

Video engages your audience — which increases response rates. People get to know you, your product or service before they call.  Connecting with customers involves emotions. They’ve already visited your website. Seeing and hearing you connects them with your product, helps them understand your service.

3. Drive Traffic, Raise your Website Profile

New content drives search engines. Adding video to your site – and to your (free) custom YouTube channel – ups your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with Google. Using one or two key words in the video title and copy adds another SEO benefit, as does promoting it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Your video can be on multiple locations, without creating issues of duplicate content.

4. Get Personal

Introduce yourself and your unique value proposition directly with a video – Smile.

5. Expand Your Reach

Integrating video into your social media marketing strategy expand your opportunity to be discovered — to convert casual browsers into customers. Take an expansive approach by sharing your video through your own social media networks and allowing visitor to share it as well. Millennials love video — and adding a YouTube channel for your company also boosts your Google profile.

6. Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition

Video helps you and your company to stand out. Depending on your industry, it can give you a leg up on competitors – or keep you from being left behind. Video has been around for years, yet many companies resist integrating it — or do it very badly. Professional video is worth the investment — the quality of lighting, sound and editing all make it worth the investment. Using video on your website definitely gives your company an edge!

7. See the Numbers!

Most companies live by numbers. Executives want to see the metrics. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for websites with video is one more tool to help increase unique visits, contact requests, and, ultimately, sales. Video on a website allows you to deliver your message anytime — it’s available 24/7. It also works as a sales tool — you and your sales team — can include this personal message in emails and presentations to clients.

Have you integrated video into your strategy? Did it make a difference? If you haven’t — let’s talk!

Holly O’Driscoll is a PR/Media Strategist with Communications Strategies in Reno, NV. You can reach her at 775-762-7576. 


NBC’s Redesign — The Ruin of a Trusted Online News Site

Does anyone else out there hate the redesigned NBC News website? It looks like a Pinterest page … all big photos, no information. I am a self-proclaimed news junkie, veteran journalist interested in national and world news — as well as what happens in my city and state.  The new format repels me — the NBC News site used to be one of my top spots for a quick headline check.  Now I avoid it — even CNN’s website is better.

My first journalism job was a summer internship with WGBH-TV in Boston. Back then, the station had a live 10 o’clock news program — I ran the teleprompter and worked in the control room. I only went out on a few stories … but it was fun and I learned so much! I found WGBH a great experience for a complete novice. The news staff was generous with their time and information. I graduated from college thinking I wanted to become a TV news producer — not necessarily the on-air person, but the editor making all the decisions behind the scenes.

Circumstances landed me in Washington, D.C. — a mecca of political news. My first newspaper was USA Today. It was a brand-new (and much-ridiculed) concept at the time. I worked on big stories, learned about the power of big money and of cut-throat politics  — both inside the company as well as on Capitol Hill!

Top execs and politicians play hardball — very few manage to succeed without making serious ethical compromises. It’s reality. Those in the line of fire must constantly out-maneuver the competition to get ahead, or even just to keep their jobs. Those who don’t end up on the curb. I contend life outside the bubble — in a “real” community — has much to recommend it. Politics, ambition and money play a role in every city …  but usually on a more manageable scale.

I still keep up on the old rat race — the Washington Post, Politico, The Daily Beast, Slate, ABC, CBS, CNN — but rarely NBC anymore. I miss the old “news” format. I’m not the target audience, obviously. I wonder who is? My guess: People who care about photos, not facts, not perspective, not NEWS.

I wonder what the user statistics will reveal. I used to check it at least twice a day — sometimes lots more. Now, maybe once a week — and I haven’t clicked on a single story.

I read one comment that said it was as if Pinterest swallowed Windows 8 then vomited — I agree!

What do you think?  Are you a fan? Tell me what appeals to you about the new format.

Hate it? What should they do instead?


Share the Wealth of Customer Endorsements

When customers tell your story – by sharing how what you do helped their business – everyone wins.

  • The customer wins – You’ve validated their importance to your business by asking them to share their experience and success
  • You win –  The genuine voice of the customer boosts your credibility in your space far more than any advertising or marketing message can.
  • Prospects win – They hear or read first-hand stories about how your product or service helped someone else.

Here’s a link to a video I produced  for a special event. In it, senior executives talk about the value of attending the event – and the value of working with this particular company.

Each of these customers gained a personal win by participating, one they can share within their own circles. (One executive from an earlier project told me how he became a hero to his kids when they saw him in the video we put together).

Getting Participants

Offering to identify the speakers by title and industry – not name and company – makes such projects easier. I pre-arranged to meet with these people at the event, and provided the questions to them in advance.

My goal: To make them, and the company look good!

Many large companies have non-disclosure agreements in place, so on-camera endorsements may require legal releases. With end consumers or simpler business-to-business relationships, the legal release may not come into play.

Connect to Social Media 

Once you capture a customer success story, the next step is to post it on your website and encouraging salespeople to share it with prospects.Sharing the customer’s voice via social media is essential — and a step often overlooked.

YouTube, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, Case Studies (written and video) all offer ways to get the word out about the value customers get from working with your company.

This helps draw others to your brand. Nothing beats the genuine voice of a satisfied customer.  The bonus: Posting on social media outlets generally is free.

Have you done a video for a cause or company? What tips can you share to boost success? I’d love to hear about it! 


VizKinect’s eye-tracking system changes advertizing game

Incorporated on Sept. 17, 2011, VizKinect’s cutting-edge biometric eye-tracking system is set to

Ellen

VizKinect founder Norm Smith (right) and COO Ron Nichols flank the development team of Mbinya Ndonye, Bailey Hein and Ellin Nesbitt at their offices at C4Cube in Reno.

revolutionize the way advertisements, movies and other media get our attention.

The VizKinect system takes eye-tracking, which has been around for 30 years in various forms, and simultaneously expands and simplify the entire process. The value to advertisers is immense, said Norm Smith, VizKinect chairman and president.

VizKinect will test focus groups of up to 20 people at once, analyze the results quickly to produce nearly instantaneous feedback.

“This will be a game changer (in several industries),” Smith said.

Advertisers and product-placement specialists will be able to tell if consumers see their message before spending millions on actually airing the ad on television or paying for a product to be in a movie.

Up until now, eye-tracking was done one person at a time in a lab with elaborate equipment. Almost every research institution has a version, but it becomes obsolete, is expensive to buy and to train people to use, plus eye color and skin pigmentation can throw off the results, explained Ron Nichols, VizKinect chief operating officer.

Not so with the VizKinect system.

VizKinect uses no invasive equipment. Test subjects either wear special glasses, or have a special scanner follow their eye movements. They just sit and watch the screen. The system records (tracks) where individuals look at a video screen. Do they look at what an advertiser or movie director wants? The data will tell.

Smith, a successful serial entrepreneur, said $354,000 has been invested in developing and refining the VizKinect system so far. It has two patents pending and numerous trademarks on the unique programs and equipment. The company is seeking $3 million from investors to expand.

“Part of the beauty of VizKinect is that it will adapt and change over time and we can use (any type of) tracking technology,” said Nichols. The uniqueness is in the system, the code and the analysis process, which the team, including Ellen Nesbitt, Bailey Hein and Mbinya Ndonye, has spent months refining and streamlining to work out the kinks.

Focus groups can be run in VizKinect’s offices in Reno or at a client’s location – with results delivered in time to reshoot for more effectiveness. Basic focus group and analysis work starts at $5,000. For an agency spending millions on producing and placing an ad, it is money well spent, Smith said.

Data can be broken down by age, gender, race and other metrics, Nesbitt said.

VizKinect is being developed at the C4Cube offices inReno.  C4Cube is a non-profit business incubator started in 2006 to help entrepreneurs start companies and to bring jobs to this area, said Ky Good, managing director of “The Cube.”

It’s working. Several types of companies have offices within C4Cube, including Eye-Com, another business working with biometrics in a very different way from VizKinect.

“Reno is a great place to start a business,” Smith said.

VizKinect is ramping up its staff. This summer it will have 10 employees and interns on board, by the end of 2013, Smith expects to have at least 72 working for the company. Most will be inReno, though the company expects to go global.


Reno Rebuild invests in downtown

Founded in April by childhood friends who are now local business owners, Reno Rebuild Project captures a portion of every dollar spent at certain local restaurants and puts it into a fund that will eventually help others open a business.

RenoRebuild Guys – photo by Reno Gazette-Journal

Michael Connolly, Chris Kahl and Zachary Cage run the Legends Grill, Sierra Tap House and the soon-to-open Brewer’s Cabinet started Reno Rebuild. The group pledged 5 cents of every sale at these establishments to the fund.

They made their fist deposit into the account on May 1.

“We have a current cash balance collected of $5,485.55! It is definitely a great start with our goal being $20k for 2013, so we are on a great pace,” said Michael Connolly.

After a year of deposits, the fund will be used to award one loan to non-franchised, small, local businesses.  The Community Foundation of Western Nevada, which is helping make the Reno Rebuild Project a non-profit organization, will administer the fund and help establish eligibility guidelines. One guideline already set: Each application must include a detailed business plan.

As the fund grows, the trio hopes to award more than one low-interest loan per year.

Reno Rebuild grew out of the trio’s struggle to get funding to start their own venture. Banks and other traditional sources simply wouldn’t lend, so they tapped into family and friends for financing. Realizing that not everyone has family and friends who can provide such support, they developed Reno Rebuild to extend a hand to other entrepreneurs.

“Someone just needs to give them the opportunity to meet their goal if they want to open their own business,” Kahl said. “It’s a cool opportunity for them.”

Other businesses have already expressed interest in participating in the program.

“We also structured it to where other business owners and individuals in general can put money in,” Connolly said.

Find out more at www.renorebuild.com