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What is FSBO and How Does It Work?



What would you do if you have an extra $100,000 or so laying around? Go for an extended holiday when travel restrictions are lifted? Invest in your child’s education maybe? Well that is roughly the amount of money that you have to pay a property agent to sell your HDB flat. And that is the amount of money you save if you go FSBO when you want to sell your home.


But first, let's define what FSBO is. It stands for For Sale By Owner. For as long as one can remember, homeowners thought the only way to sell their properties was to go through a real estate or property agent. However, with the advancement in technology and easy access to reliable and accurate information and data, many homeowners can now sell their properties without the services of the property agent.

Many homeowners around the world are increasingly going the way of FSBO when selling their homes. In the past, homeowners depended on property agents for their experience, data and expertise to sell their homes. Which of course means that you have to pay them a commission of usually between 2 to 3%. That commission percentage is a lot of money, considering the prices of Singapore’s properties where an HDB flat in a favourable location can go for more than a million dollars.


According to a Straits Times report, the number of HDB transactions done without the services of an agent in the year 2010, was about 11% of all transactions. In 2020, that number has increased to 28%. So it seems that a lot of homeowners are selling their homes without the services of a property agent and saving a lot of money.


So, is it really possible to sell your home without the services of an agent? The answer is yes, if you have the time and resources to fully focus on the sale process. However, going FSBO requires you, the seller, to fully assume all the responsibilities that a listing agent would normally carry out in the sale process.


With transactions data readily available from HDB and listings portals, and the super efficient HDB self-service resale portal, anyone can go FSBO.


In this article, we will take a look at how to go about doing so if you decide to go FSBO.


Market Research


Firstly, in anything you want to do yourself, you need to do market research. You need to know the procedure, forms to fill up, documents to submit, etc. You will also need to know what is the estimated value of your property so that you can set a realistic selling price. We all know that all sellers want to sell high and all buyers want to buy low, that’s human nature. So it is important to price your property accurately to make sure you receive enquiries and that in turn will speed up the sale process.


To have an idea of how to set the selling price your property, you can refer to the latest transacted prices in your neighbourhood according to the property type, such as number of bedrooms and size, from data from the HDB website. It is imperative that you do an apple to apple comparison to get the true value of your home. This information is readily available from the HDB's website.


You may find relevant information such as actual sale price, transacted date, lease commencement date, remaining lease and even the level of the transacted flat through the HBD website. This information will allow you to know what the price range that your unit is likely to fetch. Of course, if your unit is recently renovated or in excellent condition, you can increase the selling price by about 5 to 10 percent.


For private property transactions, you can find them from the URA's website. There, you can find past transactions by individual developments, again, with all the relevant information available.


Make Improvements to Your Home


Once you have decide on a selling price, the next step is to make improvements to your home. Selling your house with leaking taps, broken furniture and spoilt lightings is not going to work. Potential buyers viewing your home would want to visualise themselves living there. So, ensure that everything is in good working order. Items not in working condition would most likely put off potential buyers or attract a much lower offer. If your home is in need of repairs, potential buyers would definitely want to lower the price as they have to cater for the renovation costs.


Before any viewing, ensure that your home is clean, neat and tidy. Remove clutter so that the place look spacious and livable. Keep the bathrooms and toilet clean and free of odour. In the kitchen area, hide all cooking essentials so that the kitchen looks bright and organised. Keep the kitchen oil-free and free from cooking odours so as not to turn-off the potential buyers. Remember that it is important to leave a strong impression as they are buying their dream home.


Create a Virtual Tour


In this virtual era, you should consider doing a virtual tour of your property to allow potential buyers to view the property first without having to visit. Most virtual tours are 360 degree virtual walk-through of the property and allows potential buyers to view the whole unit without leaving the comfort of their sofa.



You can also email the virtual tour to your contacts and potential buyers, and remember to include it in the online advertisements. The virtual tours will complement any photo you have taken and it will definitely make your property attractive and livable to potential buyers.


Marketing


Currently, there are many channels and many property portals that you can market your property for sale. Most of them allow searches by property type, district or location, budget and features. So when listing your property, be sure to include as much information as you can. Other than the essential, you can add in any special features of your home or any unique selling point that will attract potential buyers.


Most people start their home search by browsing the internet and that means they will be checking out the photos you post. Make sure to have multiple photos attached to your listing and showcase the strong points. If you have an island kitchen, post a photo of the island kitchen.


Stay Contactable


Once you have all the above done, remember to have your mobile phone switch on at all times to answer to any enquiries. Be prepared to arrange and conduct viewings especially on weekends as that is when most people are not at work and able to go for viewings. When a potential buyer makes an offer, be prepared to negotiate, as most buyers will definitely want to bring the price down.


Benefits of FSBO


Ultimately FSBO is likely to save you a ton of money in commissions but it is important to remember that you have to assume all the responsibilities of a real estate agent, from marketing, to conducting viewings, negotiating and the paperwork when completing the transaction.


Another benefit of FSBO is that you are in complete control of the whole process, from pricing, to listing, to viewing, negotiating and closing. Going FSBO means you are fully focused on selling your home fast and getting the best deal.


This may be an advantage as oppose to using property agents where most of them will have multiple properties to sell, and many clients to service. So they may not be be able to fully focus on your property.


Seek Legal Advice


For most of us, a property transaction is likely to be the most expensive item in our lifetime. Therefore it is important to seek legal advice to ensure that our interests are protected.


The lawyer can also help you with the purchase agreement and other necessary paperwork. At the end of the day, all real estate transactions must be done through the buyer's and seller’s lawyers. The lawyers are therefore key to ensure that everything is done properly.


Special Considerations


It is important to remember that if you are not familiar with the buying and selling process, it is best to research and seek advice before going that route. For example if you price your property unrealistically, you are not likely to receive any enquiries and you will take a long time to find a buyer. On the other hand, if you price it too low, you are probably losing out on more money than the commission payable to an agent.


Also, if the legal documents are not drawn up properly, there maybe serious repercussions. So, at the end of the day, if you are familiar with how the real estate industry work in Singapore, going FSBO can be a very wise financial decision. However, if you have little knowledge of real estate transactions or you simply do not have the time to fully focus on selling your home, you may find the whole process too complicated and too stressful, then, it may be better to appoint a property agent and paying him the commission.



Platform to List Your Property


MOGUL.sg has recently launched their own FSBO service, where homeowners can list their properties for sale. Users are given the option to list their properties by themselves, avail of a Flat Fee Package, or engage their Property Concierge to handle all the work involved in the resale process. To learn more about this service, click here.

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