For-sale-by-owner sales strong, companies say

DIY - sort of - home sales

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These days, not all homeowners are turning to a real estate agent to sell their houses.

“Without question, there are a greater percentage of homes being sold without a real estate agent today” than there used to be, said Chad Boge, co-founder of Fsbohomes.com, based in Cedar Rapids. “Agents will say this is because it’s a seller’s market (low inventory of homes on the market), but there’s something deeper brewing.”

Companies such as Boge’s, which he started with George Gasaway in 2009, are cropping up essentially to guide homeowners through the for-sale-by-owner process.

“For as long as I can remember ‘for sale by owner’ has been synonymous with no service, but that’s not us,” Boge said. “I prefer calling it a non-agent transaction because we provide the same level of service as a traditional agent, yet we just have a more modern-day business model.”

That type of business model, Boge said, can include listing specialists, appraisers, home inspectors, real estate photographers and a real estate lawyer — but without an agent’s commission.

Boge explained that an average real estate broker in this area charges a seven percent commission, which equates to $14,000 on a $200,000 home.

But it’s not just all about saving money — a huge push behind the for sale by owner trend is online home browsing.

“Real estate portals received over half of the 204 million unique visitors to real estate websites in 2014. That’s an undeniable shift in how homes are being found,” said Boge, noting he also syndicates his listings to websites such as Zillow and Trulia.

At IAHomes.com, founding owner J.J. Johannes said, “We see it all as real estate and simply ask our customers how much service and assistance they need. They can do it on their own, give us full control or fall somewhere in the middle.”

He added, though, that “people need to remember that when they are selling by-owner they are the ones showing the home, answering the questions, and negotiating and receiving offers. It is most important to consider that and be comfortable with that.”

Johannes said his company listed 60 new homes to its site in June and another 50 during the month of July. Fsbohomes.com had nearly 100 new listings in July.

“Our sales nearly doubled in quarter two of 2015 over quarter two of 2014,” Boge added.

That growth helps battle misconceptions in the market, Johannes said.

“People believe there is not a high success rate when going the for-sale-by-owner route. We give our clients assistance in pricing by giving them a market analysis, and we have seen a 70 percent success rate in the last 12 months,” Johannes said.

Johannes is a broker and one of five licensed real estate agents in the IAhomes.com office.

“Of the 30 percent of unsuccessful for-sale-by-owner customers, 90 percent of those list with an agent,” he explained. “So we realized that we could keep their business within our company.”

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