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2020 NAR Report: Breaking down For Sale by Owner (FSBO) homes

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) The 2020 NAR Report analyzes how For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sales have been affected in 2020, and what that could mean going into 2021.

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Home owners browsing online for FSBO home selling

At the beginning of 2020, the housing market started off strong. While there was a nine-week downturn at the onset of the pandemic, sales resumed and have continued an upward trend through the rest of the year, resulting in higher prices (jumping 14.6%). This increased demand has been primarily driven by lower mortgage rates and employees working from home (which in turn means a reassessment of where people want to live, with many opting away from cities given that their personal choice is now more easily obtainable).

It has not been entirely beneficial at all times, however, with sales declining for the first time in six months, due to lower inventory and the aforementioned rising costs. Still, this suggests that the market has continued to flourish.

The National Association of Realtors began tracking various trends for home real estate in 1981 with a total of 59 questions designed to understand the market over a twelve month period from July to June. In doing so, a snapshot of the current landscape was obtained for that year, and this data has since been collected annually. Further, it has grown to include additional considerations, covering a massive 131 questions in the most recent 2020 report.

Of the numerous subjects covered, for sale by owner sales (i.e., without assistance from a realtor) are directly profiled. This FSBO information is collected here, and several insights can be gleaned with regard to this particular selling method.

As this report shows, there are certain circumstances that – when tracked across the entire survey – show positive outcomes. A quick example is that not having a previous relationship with the buyer yields higher selling prices and a smaller percentage of times where the asking price was reduced. Interestingly, data also shows a seller’s starting median income being higher than situations where there was a previous relationship with the buyer.

Let’s take a deeper look into this specific topic.

For Sale By Owner Sales Show Steady Decrease Since Inception
In 1981, FSBO sales accounted for as much as 15%, but this has declined gradually over time, accounting for only 8% in 2020 (though this is up 1% from the previous year). Additional analysis showed that these sales were evenly split between the buyers and sellers having a previous relationship versus not, with the latter as generally more advantageous toward the seller. Sales mostly came from suburban and urban locations (as opposed to recreational and resort territories).

FSBO and Agent Assisted Sales 2003-2020
FSBO and Agent Assisted Sales, by Location

Demographics Breakdown – Median Income
In comparison to agent-assisted sales, FSBO owners differ on a number of data points that are significant. For example, FSBO sellers had a median age of 57, which is just above agent-assisted sellers at 56. Further, their median income is over ten thousand dollars lower ($96,700 vs $108,300), which falls even further if an agent was used later in the process after an initial attempt at a self-sale ($79,000).

Interestingly, there is a correlation between higher median seller income when it comes to selling their home to someone where no previous relationship existed ($107,800 versus $84,200).

Characteristics of FSBO and Agent Assisted Sellers

Types of Homes Sold
The majority are detached single-family homes at 81%; there is a small dip to 78% (down from 82% in 2019) with regard to FSBO sales. The main differences here are that FSBO shows a lower percentage of townhouse sales (6% versus 3%) but an increase overall in mobile/manufactured homes (3% versus 9%).

We also still see differences when a previous relationship is not present – there’s an increase in townhouses and mobile/manufactured homes and a decrease in detached single-family. Otherwise, both groups are comparable.

Type of Home Sold, FSBO and Agent Assisted Sellers

Home Location
FSBO sales tend to skew slightly higher in rural areas compared to agent-assisted transactions, though there is a significant difference in resort/recreational sales for those who do not have a prior relationship.

Location of Home Sold, FSBO and Agent Assisted Sellers

Selling Price
Overall, FSBO sales result in a lower median price than with agents ($217,900 versus $295,000), but there has been an increase in the price over 2019 (rising up from $200,000). It’s worth noting that agents will take a percentage of the sale as commission (around 1%). In situations where an agent was employed after an initial attempt at a direct sale, the owner would receive 98% of the asking price, but usually had to reduce their listing before a deal could be made.

In short, this does seem to suggest that an agent’s knowledge of the market and skillset can benefit a seller.

Selling Price, FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers

Factors That Determined Selling Price
When settling on an initial listing, FSBOs who knew their buyers tended to focus on comparables in their area 41% of the time. Other methods trailed behind, such as appraisals (32%), profit needed by seller (29%), online evaluation tools (21%), and covering what was owed (15%). Those who did not know their buyer saw an increase when relying on comparables (56%).

How FSBO Seller Determined Asking Price of Home Sold

Length of Time on Market
One of the most important factors in real estate is the amount of time a home will be on the market until it is sold. In this regard, FSBO sales have a slight edge, with an average duration of two weeks (with agents having a median of three weeks). This is increased when the seller knows the buyer, with an average just under a week, rising by 6 points in 2020 to 52%.

As such, homes sold by FSBO tend to move more quickly, and knowing the buyer beforehand accelerates the process.

Time on Market, FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers

Remaining Factors – Urgency, Incentives
Compared to agent-assisted sales, FSBO tended to be less urgent overall, with over half saying they did not need to sell urgently regardless of knowing the buyer (52%) or not (64%). There was also a lower tendency to give incentives to the buyer in these conditions, as all FSBO sales offered nothing 85% of the time.

Seller Urgency, FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers
Incentives offered to attract buyers, FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers

Reason For Selling as FSBO
A majority of owners chose this route due to not wanting to pay a commission or fee, citing this reason as 41% of the time. Selling to a relative, friend, or neighbor was the next most frequent reason, covering 30% of all FSBO sales.

Regardless of why an owner was selling, there was almost always a large disparity between knowing the buyer versus not. This is most pronounced in situations where the buyer contacted the seller directly – 6% of sales versus 22%.

Most Important Reason for Selling Home as FSBO

Method For Selling
Interestingly, a majority of FSBO sales utilized no active methods for marketing their home at 46%, with a large discrepancy between knowing the buyer (68%) versus not (24%). Selling to a friend, relative, or neighbor occurred 22% of the time, while third party aggregators such as Zillow and Redfin were at 24%. Yard signs covered 25%.

When the buyer was not known, the owner relied much more heavily on third parties, social networking sites (such as Facebook), yard signs, and open houses. This would follow given that more work would need to be done to locate a buyer. We can see from the data that third parties are becoming more and more utilized when there is no prior relationship, which would tie into the real estate market becoming more intertwined with digital methods.

Method Used by FSBO Sellers to Market Home

What did FSBO sellers say?
While 8 in 10 successful FSBO sales reported being very satisfied with the process to sell their home. 53% reported that there was nothing truly difficult or arduous when it came to the selling process, which far outshone other reasons such as preparation, completing paperwork, price adjustments, and attracting buyers.

Most Difficult Task for FSBO Sellers

When they knew the buyer, 16% said they would sell their current home when the time arose, while 45% who didn’t know the buyer reported the same. This would suggest that this method is overall successful and attractive, despite that over a third reported not knowing what process they’d take with their current home.

How FSBO Sellers will sell their current home

Conclusion
Both types of sellers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the process they used to sell their homes, with 81% and 83% responding with “very satisfied.” Despite some of the perceived additional challenges and the foregoing of an experienced realtor, it suggests that FSBO works a large part of the time for owners.

FSBO Sellers Satisfaction Process of Selling Homes

With the advent of third parties and social networking, a greater wealth of knowledge accessible via the internet (looking up comparables, recently sold homes, guidance from other home sellers and realtors, etc.), and a rich inventory of resources available, home owners can conceivably move forward with selling their home directly and still enjoy positive results.

Robert Snodgrass has an English degree from Texas A&M University, and wants you to know that yes, that is actually a thing. And now he's doing something with it! Let us all join in on the experiment together. When he's not web developing at Docusign, he runs distances that routinely harm people and is the kind of giant nerd that says "you know, there's a King of the Hill episode that addresses this exact topic".

Real Estate Big Data

Supply crisis hits housing – starts and permits fell in September

(REAL ESTATE) New data from the Commerce Department shows a dip in permits and starts, but if you look closely, multifamily is carrying that weight, so how is single family production going?

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housing starts

Last month, housing starts fell 1.6%, which is only a slight dip, but permits fell 7.7%, and the gap between units completed and those still under construction is the largest on record, according to reporting from the U.S. Commerce Department.

While starts and permits hit a year low and while labor shortages, supply chain issues, and rising prices of raw materials, it should be noted that single-family starts actually remained unchanged, and permits for single family homes only fell 0.9%, so what we’re looking at here is a slowdown in the multifamily sector as sales heat up in single family housing..

Another factor at play here regarding still-tight inventory levels is the federal mortgage forbearance program as a response to the pandemic. As the program wraps up, more inventory will come online.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains: “The current mortgage default rate of at least three months is running high at 3.5% compared to less than 1% before the pandemic. However, foreclosures have been at historic lows so far due to the forbearance support. The default rate will certainly fall as long as the economy continues to generate jobs, but the end of the federal support program inevitably means some homeowners will need to sell. This will be another source of housing inventory.”

Because tight inventory levels have kept the market restricted and sales below what demand is, the residential real estate sector should see hope in this analysis.

But there is no sector safe from the supply chain crisis or prices rising again on raw materials. Reuters reports that many materials like windows and breaker boxes are in short supplies while the cost of building materials have surged, like copper which is up 16%, and lumber prices are jumping back up to record highs set in May.

Homebuilder confidence is up, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), but their most recent survey also indicates that “builders continue to grapple with ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages that are delaying completion times.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported today that mortgage applications for new home purchases are down 16.2% compared to September 2020, and applications are down 4% compared to August. It is notable that the average loan size hit $408,522, the highest on record, and another indicator of increasing construction costs.

Going forward, analysts expect the backlog of starts to continue as labor and supply chain issues persist. And although the news isn’t overtly positive, single family housing on its own is actually performing better than in 2020. There is light at the end of the tunnel for hopeful homebuyers.

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Real Estate Big Data

A ridiculously easy way to combat bad reviews from non-customers

(MARKETING) Some ratings and review sites don’t verify reviewers, so what happens when a nasty comment about you is left on a ratings site?

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reviews Woman seated on ground writing cold email to clients.

Have you ever found a business through Yelp that you wanted to like but just couldn’t make up your mind about because of the contrasting reviews of the place? Like a restaurant with the best service but had cold soup and an unresponsive hostess, or a B&B that was warm and clean but had an owner who did not provide the second B come morning time?

Some of these outlying negative reviews can be telling of the business, and I always make sure to read them in case I set my expectations too high (like I did for the eggs benedict from that diner up north).

However, while most reviews do reflect a genuine experience and are useful to would-be customers, others can be exaggerated or even outright falsified.

One such encounter one of our team members had was when searching for a private firearms trainer. Her online search had taken her to a trainer she liked. However, the comments on Yelp for the trainer were horrible.

Before she ran the other way, she saw comments from the trainer that simply said, “This person is not a verified client of [Company Name].” Apparently, he made a tv news appearance advocating for a specific gun right, and people from all over the globe made negative comments.

The fact that they weren’t his clients made her totally disregard their comments, because those reviews weren’t based on his professional performance. Guess who she hired?

Sites that allow anyone to review an unlimited number of businesses naturally risk exploitation. Such review sites make it possible to communicate quick, personal experiences about any business out there, and that also means an easy dig from a disgruntled customer to the place that hurts a company most.

It is up to the business to stay vigilant about what is being said out there and seek out ratings and review platforms that verify customers.

Since customers rely on sites like Yelp, businesses need to maintain their profile in the same way they would maintain their storefront. Just as they would fix the broken lighting in their lobby, they need to acknowledge any unreliable reviews a cranky customer may write about them. By having a human presence on these sites, businesses can breed a sense of integrity and accountability that others will pick up on.

If those scathing and seemingly random reviews had been acknowledged by the supposed perpetrators, I would have had an easier time overlooking the more exaggerated claims, just like my team member did.

By responding, the business provides context for the incident, but more importantly, it shows that they care.

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Real Estate Big Data

Global market panic over Chinese real estate bubble subsides slightly

(REAL ESTATE) Chinese real estate bubble fears shook markets last week, but Evergrande made a big move today to temper the panic.

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chinese real estate

Last week, stock markets internationally plunged due to fears of a real estate bubble in China as their largest real estate developer, Evergrande struggled to make their interest payments on their outstanding bank loans as well as their bonds.

Analysts pointed to the interconnected nature of markets, reminding people that when the housing market crashed in the U.S. back in 2008, all global markets were impacted.

We asserted that the panic was overblown given that Evergrande has a tremendous amount of physical assets ($340 billion to be more precise), and that a restructure was possible which could put them back on track (rather than crumble – which was what markets seemed to imagine last week).

There has been a lot of speculation that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) would begin pressuring state-owned businesses to prop up the developer.

Today, Evergrande’s stock is actually up as they have raised $1.5 billion in cash to meet their financial obligations.

How did they accomplish this? By selling their 20% stake in Shengjing Bank to the state-owned Shenyang Shengjing Finance Investment Group.

The money will only be applicable to their outstanding interest payments that are past due, and the Chinese government has not made any statement to the effect that they applied pressure or intervened.

The government has been pouring cash into the financial system to assuage fears, adding $15.5 billion to keep liquidity moving.

In a statement this week, the People’s Bank of China said they would “maintain the healthy development of the real estate market and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of housing consumers.” The statement did not specifically reference Evergrande.

It is important that real estate practitioners keep their eye on this story as it has stoked consumers’ fears, especially when people don’t read beyond a headline.

There won’t be a pop quiz on how much cash Evergrande has on hand, but consumers may mention the Chinese real estate bubble elbowing markets here as a factor in their decision making. Understanding the bird’s eye view of what is going on will help Realtors better address the topic while in the field.

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