Real estate agents have nothing to fear, and can even benefit from reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Own Home,” by Jeff Wuorio and Marcia Layton Turner. Although this new book is filled with lots of profitable secrets for do-it-yourself home sellers who hope to save the sales commission, the authors never put everything together to show home sellers how to successfully sell without a professional sales agent.

The obvious reason behind “For Sale by Owner” (called FSBO or “fizzbo”) home selling is to save the 5, 6, or even 7 percent sales commission. On a typical $300,000 home sale, at 6 percent that’s an $18,000 commission saving if the seller succeeds. However, the authors conveniently overlook the facts that only about 20 percent of home sellers sell without a professional agent and many of those sales are to friends and relatives where an agent isn’t needed.

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The book does an admirable job of going through the home sales marketing procedure, such as getting the home into tip-top condition ready to sell and then using various marketing techniques. There is heavy emphasis on using Internet resources, especially FSBO listing Web sites such as www.forsalebyowner.com.

However, the book conveniently neglects to tell readers that approximately 70 percent of today’s home buyers begin their quest on the Internet at www.Realtor.com, a Web site which includes virtually all homes listed for sale with professional realty agents. Do-it-yourself home sellers cannot list their homes on this major Web site unless they list with a local realty agent.

By comparison, very few home buyers go to the “for sale by owner” Web sites. This is a major disadvantage for do-it-yourself home sellers.

Another marketing topic grossly overlooked by the authors is that they fail to explain how to use newspaper classified ads effectively to market their homes. Although today’s Internet savvy home buyers shop primarily on the Web, statistics show they continue to use newspaper classified ads, especially weekend open house guides, as major information sources. The authors completely neglect explaining how to effectively advertise in newspapers, a major source of home buyers.

But perhaps I am too negative. If you plan to sell your home without the help of a professional realty agent, this book offers valuable tips and great Web sites for obtaining essential information. The book’s redeeming quality is its extensive listings of Web site resources for home sellers.

However, the book never overcomes the key issue of how to get a serious prospect converted into a buyer with a written contract. Authors Wuorio and Turner recommend FSBO home sellers retain a local real estate attorney. However, that’s a poor substitute for a savvy listing agent who has all the necessary contract and disclosure forms readily available when a buyer wants to buy.

Toward the book’s conclusion, the authors admit every “for sale by owner” home seller needs a savvy real estate attorney readily available. They conveniently neglect to explain most “on-call” attorneys charge by the phone call, and they usually aren’t eager to handle all the essential details a realty agent routinely performs to close a sale on schedule.

The authors seem to have no real estate background. They are primarily authors of business books. Instead, an experienced home seller who has sold multiple homes without hiring a professional agent should have written this book (if such a person can be found).

The most shocking comment, which shows the authors’ lack of experience, is, “Believe it or not, some buyers ask the sellers to complete the necessary paperwork, such as disclosure statements, claiming they simply don’t know how to do it or are unable to afford an attorney to do it for them.” In the real world, home sellers must provide their seller disclosure forms revealing home defects, lead-based paint, and other required disclosures. That’s not the home buyer’s job.

Maybe I am too harsh on these authors, who appear to have been contracted to write a book about how to sell a home alone without a professional agent. They gave it a good try, with lots of valuable information worth reading by home sellers and professional real estate agents. However, I could never say this book tells home sellers all they need to know to save the sales commission.

Chapter topics include: “Why Bother?”; “Start Shaping Up”; “Team Up”; “The Price is Right”; “It Pays to Advertise”; “Listing Your Home”; “Hosting an Open House”; “Taking Your Sale Online”; “Fielding Offers”; “Negotiating to Win”; “More Financial Details”; “Protect Yourself”; “The Closing Itself”; “Tax Time”; “The House That Just Won’t Sell”; “The Problem Buyer”; “First Sell, Then Buy”; and “Bailing Out, Opting for an Agent.”

This should have been a great book because the topic has lots of home seller demand. But the book fails to guide readers to sell without a realty agent and save the sales commission. Perhaps the reason is that doing so is extremely difficult and rarely accomplished by home sellers. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates a six.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Own Home,” by Jeff Wuorio and Marcia Layton Turner (Alpha-Penguin Group, New York), $19.95, 286 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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