NEW YORK – Despite the recent slump in the housing market, many Americans are still paying a walloping 6% commission to real estate brokers.
At first blush, 6% may not sound like much, but consider: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average price of a home is $313,000, which means the average seller has to pony up nearly $19,000 in broker fees. This is a hefty penalty for selling your own home, one that more and more Americans are unwilling to pay.
Many homeowners are now opting to market their property directly to the consumer using online services such as Yahoo Real Estate and Craig's List. There's good reason for going to the Web: One recent survey, conducted by the National Association of Realtors, found that 80% used the Internet when searching for a new home.
Selling your home online is simpler than you might think, says Colby Sambrotto, chief operating officer of For Sale By Owner.Com, a leading online home marketplace. Here are the three key steps you need to take:
Find out what your home is worth. If you're working without an agent, the first and most important step is to get an accurate home appraisal, says Sambrotto. To find a licensed home appraiser in your area, visit Appraisal Institute.org, an association of professional appraisers. There is also a group of free services on the Web, such as Zillow.com, that allow you to estimate the value of your home by comparing it with neighboring properties.
Market your property. The goal when marketing your home, says Sambrotto, is to "drive as many buyers as possible to your ad," so make sure you choose a site with a lot of traffic, and augment your listing with high-quality color photos and a compelling description. You might even try a "virtual tour" if you're willing to pay a little extra.
Transfer the title. Once your home is sold, you need to call in the professionals. East of the Mississippi, title transfers are generally handled by real estate attorneys, whereas in the West, the job typically falls to title companies. Regardless of who handles yours, you shouldn't pay more than about $500, says Sambrotto.
So, how much do you stand to gain by leaving out the realty broker? According to Sambrotto, selling your home online is likely to net you between $12,000 and $15,000.
Copyright (c) 2007 MarketWatch, Inc.