Real Life Situation June 11, 2024

For Sale By Owner




Are you ready to sell your home and want to maximize your profits? Have you considered selling on your own to avoid paying Realtor fees? I mean, what do they really do anyway? You start crunching the numbers and think, “why would I pay someone $20,000, $30,000, $50,000 in commission to sell my house? That’s a lot of money! Surely, I can do it myself. How hard can it be? I’m going to try For Sale By Owner.”


And you’d be right, that IS a lot of money! But what if I told you that paying a Realtor, a really good Realtor, actually was the best way to maximize your profits?


Here is a real-life story of how I did exactly that and by the end of the transaction my client said, “I started out wanting to save Realtor fees. Your help was worth every penny. Thanks for being awesome.”

Bismarck, ND For Sale By Owner


It was spring in North Dakota. The snow was finally melting. The real estate market was starting to heat up. And there was this unique property that was listed ‘For Sale By Owner’ (FSBO). It intrigued me, so I called the owner. For the sake of this post I’ll refer to her as Bailey.


I called Bailey and we had a great conversation. I was upfront right from the start and introduced myself as a licensed Realtor. And, to be fully transparent, I informed her I did NOT currently have a buyer interested in her house. And she was upfront as well. Bailey informed me she had no interest in listing with a Realtor. Open and honest from the start.


I asked questions about the home so I could get a better feel for the property. I wanted to make sure I added it to my mental inventory. You never know when you’ll come across a buyer who was looking for a property like hers. She asked questions about the market. We both received value from the call. I knew about a property that might get overlooked so I could best serve my buyer clients. And she was more informed about the current market. A win-win.


Bailey and I stayed in contact over the next few weeks. I’d share updates on the local housing market. How many homes had come to the market that she was competing with. How many houses had gone pending in her price range. What comparable properties had sold recently and at what price. What the interest rates were doing and how that could impact her as a seller.


She’d pick my brain on various things that she could do to get her place sold on her own. Always reminding me she didn’t want to pay a Realtor. I’d happily answer her questions and help. We’d talk about her pictures, potential staging, and even how she could edit her description to make it more attractive to potential buyers.


She asked what I thought her house should sell for. I gave her my rough estimate, which wasn’t far from what she was at. But I told her the only way I could give her a truly accurate market analysis was to come over and actually view the home myself. So, she invited me over and reiterated she did NOT want to pay a Realtor. I agreed to come over and do a full market analysis for her, no fee, no obligation, and no pressure. I’d simply come over, take notes, crunch the numbers, and give her my honest pricing analysis based on the current market conditions.


When I got to her house I was blown away by the neighborhood. It was in a private area in the middle of town. She welcomed me in and gave me the tour of her home. I provided my thoughts and feedback on little nuances, things she could adjust to make it more welcoming for potential buyers. It was a beautiful home with many sellable features. It truly was a hidden gem in a secluded neighborhood. Almost nobody even knew that it existed!


At the end, I handed her my “For Sale By Owner Backup Plan” which you can find here. I said, “I know you don’t want to list, and I completely respect that. Here is just some additional information about me and the service I provide if you ever change your mind.” She chuckled and said thank you.


It was time for me to go back to the office, pull some comparable properties, and send Bailey all the information in a nice presentation that was easy to understand. All the information she needed to know exactly where her house fit into the current market. No secrets.

Housing Market it Bismarck, ND and Mandan, ND


A few hours later Bailey texted me. I hadn’t even sent her my market analysis yet. She informed me she talked to her husband. They wanted me to list their house ASAP. Turns out, they were having a garage sale THE NEXT DAY and wanted it listed before then. So, I completed the CMA and headed back over that afternoon. We talked about where to price her house in the market to make it the obvious choice for buyers.


Bailey didn’t love my price. The market analysis came in a little lower than she expected. We talked through it and ultimately, she decided to list it higher than the market suggested. We had a plan to drop the price if we didn’t get the traffic she was hoping for. I signed off and we had it listed in time for the garage sale.


I took pictures, got it added to the MLS, shared it with all the agents in my office, started various advertising campaigns, the whole works.


Usually, I hire a professional photographer to take pictures before we hit the active market. The high-quality photos help attract more buyers which in turn helps the house sell for more money. I also use video to advertise my listings. However, given the quick turnaround, we didn’t have time to do those before hitting the market.

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The first weekend didn’t have the traffic we were hoping for. I scheduled the professional photographer and did my video work. We didn’t get to do it right away, but I knew it was important to maximize the exposure. Once we had those ready, I launched additional advertising, re-shared it with agents, invited agents to preview the property even if they didn’t have an immediate buyer, and scheduled a couple open houses for the public.


Additionally, Bailey decided she was ready to reduce the price. Not quite all the way to what the market data suggested. But close. And the combination of upping our marketing game and lowering the price, we got interest. A LOT of interest. Within a couple days of our adjustments and repositioning in the market, we had an offer.


We knew we had an offer coming in. The property suddenly had a buzz surrounding it. And we wanted to capitalize on the increased interest. I contacted every agent who showed the property to let them know we had an offer on the way. If their buyer was interested, it was time to write an offer.


Wait…if I already knew an offer was coming in, why would I bother spending time trying to get another? I did my job. I marketed the property and procured an offer for my seller. WRONG!!


Supply and demand. My job isn’t to get an offer. My job is to help my client achieve their goal. And for Bailey, that was to maximize the money in her pocket once we closed the deal. We had a house that multiple parties wanted. In a neighborhood few people even knew about. Demand was high. Supply was low. Great position for a seller.


We accepted an offer.


Getting an acceptable offer is only one piece of the puzzle for a Realtor serving their seller. The seller doesn’t make any money from accepting an offer. They profit when the deal closes, and the house actually sells. And a lot of hurdles can come up between the accepted offer and the closing table.


It was time to work through the contingencies: provide the insurance history, HOA documents, tax records, specials, property disclosures, inspection, order title work, coordinate loan payoff, the appraisal. After the inspection we need to negotiate repairs. This is a critical step in the process.


It’s important that the parties can work together to come to an agreement on repairs. Buying and selling a home is an emotional process. Part of a Realtor’s job is to keep things in perspective. Let’s make sure a deal doesn’t fall apart because of a GFCI outlet.


We were able to negotiate the repairs so both sides felt good about the condition of the property and the costs of the repairs. It was time to get the repairs done and get to closing. But Bailey had a vacation planned. She didn’t want to reschedule that. But she also wanted her house to sell on time. I helped her coordinate a repair while she was out of town. Bailey was able to enjoy her vacation in peace while I handled things with the sale of her home. I even pulled weeds for the buyers, so Bailey didn’t have to. We kept everything on schedule for closing.

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Closing was rather boring. Exactly what you want as a seller. No last minute surprises. No delays. Just some signatures, a change of possession, and a proceeds check from the sale.


Bailey started by trying to sell on her own. She wanted to save money on Realtor fees. Who wouldn’t? But, at the end of the day, she realized the value a listing agent provides. Her house went from unnoticed to buzzing. She had no interested buyers to multiple. Bailey was able to have peace of mind, enjoy her vacation, and live her everyday life. She knew I had things under control throughout the entire process. And serving her best interest was always my top priority.


“I started out wanting to save Realtor fees. Your help was worth every penny. Thanks for being awesome.”


A lot goes into selling a home. It can get overwhelming. But, for a Realtor, it’s just another day.

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