- February 13, 2009, 9:34 AM ET
The Eternal Debate: Do Homesellers Need Agents?
By WSJ Staff
James R. Hagerty reports:
Did the National Association of Realtors skewer itself with its own research?
Yes, says ForSaleByOwner.com, a Web site that helps people sell homes without using agents (most of whom, in the U.S., belong to the Realtors trade group). In a press release, ForSaleByOwner.com points to recent NAR research looking at the results of home sales involving agents and those using the for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, model, based on a survey of sellers conducted last August. In agent-assisted sales, the median price obtained by sellers was 96% of their asking price. On FSBO sales in which the seller didn’t know the buyer, the median price obtained was slightly higher at 97% of the asking price. (FSBO sales between friends and family are excluded because the personal relationships might skew the price.)
The median time it took to sell the FSBO homes was six weeks, compared with nine weeks for the agent-driven sales.
“Sellers are financially better off by selling their homes themselves” and saving commissions that often total 5% to 6% of the home price, says a spokesman for ForSaleByOwners.com.
The Realtors, of course, put a different spin on these data. They say the statistics merely show that the FSBO sellers tend to price their homes too low, resulting in shorter waits for a buyer and less haggling.
And so the eternal FSBO-vs.-agent debate rumbles on.