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The Fizzbows: Inaugural Report from the FSBO Front

On Friday, we met The Fizzbows, the plucky Brooklynites who are taking the For Sale By Owner route, advertising their $599,000 2BR (w/sleep loft!) with a fancy website. It's time for their first report from the front, in which we learn the genesis of their decision to go it alone without a seller's broker. A sample:

Pocketing the 6% commission would, of course, be really nice. We know the real estate market has been softening somewhat, and we worried that without a broker we might not get the traffic we needed to get the sale. But we also knew we could probably do a better job marketing the apartment. And we figured that if we ended up crashing and burning—with no interested buyers—we could always list with a broker later (we’re in no particular rush to sell). So we decided to go it alone sans broker.
The entire inaugural report, straight from the Fizzbow mouth, after the jump.
My wife, Sara, and I have loved living in our Brooklyn two-bedroom apartment. But as our two kids have grown (and as we’ve thought about having a third), we realized it was time to get into something a little more spacious. Given what it takes to buy a nice three-bedroom in New York City—and given that our last names aren’t Rockefeller, Gates, or Winfrey—we’ve decided to go suburban (we’re sell-outs, I know).

Once we decided to sell our apartment, our next decision was whether or not to use a broker. I don’t have anything against brokers (my mom is actually one out West), but we debated whether or not we needed one.

Pocketing the 6% commission would, of course, be really nice. We know the real estate market has been softening somewhat, and we worried that without a broker we might not get the traffic we needed to get the sale. But we also knew we could probably do a better job marketing the apartment. And we figured that if we ended up crashing and burning—with no interested buyers—we could always list with a broker later (we’re in no particular rush to sell). So we decided to go it alone sans broker.

I work in advertising, so we began this project like we would any other: we identified our objectives and put together a simple marketing plan (web, advertising, viral, pr, etc.)

Once we had identified the key selling points for our place, we began building the web site. I spent some time taking photos of our building / apartment, etc. and then leveraged some existing Flash code from a past project I had done. We feel like our neighborhood and building have a lot to offer---and we feel like this came through in the site. Here’s the link.

Our first marketing push was to send the site to about 200 of our NYC friends and co-workers asking them to forward the URL to anyone they knew might be in the market for a two-bedroom apartment. We sent this email right after Thanksgiving; and to my surprise, quite a few people wrote back telling us they had forwarded it along to people they knew were in the market. A couple of people expressed interest in the place themselves.

Our next step was to post on Craigslist. Two Fridays ago, I provided a simple description of our place with a referral to the web site for more info. We love Craigslist (we use it quite a bit) but it would be nice if it had a ‘for sale by owner’ sub-section because there are a gazillion listings put there by brokers (and they figure out how to post the same units several different ways, which I thought was annoying). Despite the clutter, about 150 people clicked through to our site between Friday and Monday—with a few people mentioning they will come to our open house.

Our next steps are to advertise in the New York Times prior to the open house. We’re also going to post some flyers in the surrounding neighborhoods (not sure how effective that will be).

Next: from the front lines of an open house.
· Meet the Fizzbows! [Curbed]