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For sale by owner
By Alana Listoe- Independent Record - 07/07/08
Jeremy Perlinski, co-owner of PPM Development, spent Sunday afternoon hosting an open house at a home he built in Grass Land Subdivision. Perlinski is one of many locals deciding to sell without using a real estate agent, and said it's taking longer than it may have had he opted to use a Realtor.
Eric and Shar Landl of Helena are selling their third house without a real estate agent.

This time the couple is moving from a house they love just outside of town, off Custer Avenue, to be close to the biking trails.

Although confident about the decision to sell their home without an agent, Eric said it’s not all that easy.

“It can get complicated,” he said, adding that he’s learned a few lessons from the first two sales. One of those lessons is marketing — the couple is advertising in places they haven’t in the past and hosting open houses.

Exposure can be a problem for some who choose to sell their own homes. Jeremy Perlinski with PPM Development is finding that out the hard way.

Perlinski spent Sunday afternoon hosting an open house in Grass Land Subdivision, off the Frontage Road, built by the company he co-owns.
 
“We’ve used (agents) in the past for personal sales, but our margin just isn’t enough to swing the Realtor fee,” he said.

Because he’s the builder, Perlinksi said, he can answer detailed questions about the home better than an agent could; however, he admitted, an agent would likely sell it more quickly.

The 1908-square-foot spec house, listed for $279,000, has been on the market since late February, but Perlinski says he’s not in a huge hurry.

That’s a good thing, because many houses are taking time to sell in the Helena market.

According to Scott McHugh, an agent with REMAX of Helena, the only local houses selling quickly are homes under or around the average selling price of $200,000.

McHugh said he understands that sellers are looking to avoid a Realtor commission fee; however, studies done by the National Association of Realtors show that homes sell for more if there is an agent involved.

The biggest reason for using an agent, McHugh said, is exposure.

“The only thing you’ll get (if selling yourself) is a yard sign and an ad in the paper,” he said — unlike a real estate agency whose homes get listed on the multiple-listing service, where more than 200 area agents are looking for their clients.

There are currently 114 active listings on the multiple-listing site, and the exposure is worth every cent, McHugh said.

But that’s not the conclusion Tova Jones of East Helena has come to. Jones’ house has been listed with a Realtor for a year, and she recently decided to sell on her own.

It’s not that Jones disliked her agent, she said, but in today’s market it’s all about value.

Her six-bedroom home is listed for $230,000, $45,000 below the appraised value, she said.

Although Jones admitted she anticipates selling the home to be challenging because she doesn’t have the negotiation skills of a professional real estate agent, she is confident the final outcome will be good.

“Sometimes that Realtor fee is the difference of whether it will sell or not,” she said.

Self-motivated sellers

Selling a house in hard economic times can be a scary situation, but that hasn’t stopped many area homeowners from facing the challenge without assistance from a real estate broker. Following are some tips and things to remember for self-sellers from the For Sale by Owner Web site, www.fsbo.net:

- The value of the property — getting the right price takes some research

- Timing is key n December is the worst month

- Presentation — clean, attractive, and spacious — scrub it down, top to bottom.

- Hire a real estate lawyer — not only for drawing up contracts but they can act as an escrow agent to home down payments

- Market n open houses, classifieds, and internet

- Home inspections — having a seal of approval puts buyers at ease

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Photo of Dawn Therriault & John Schaffer Real Estate
Dawn Therriault & John Schaffer
CENTURY 21 Heritage Realty
700 West Custer Avenue
Helena MT 59602
Cell: 406-439-8616
Cell: 406-431-2317
Fax: 406-442-0137