Six Percent Out The Door

NYT: Across the country, the National Association of Realtors and the 6 percent commission that most of its members charge to sell a house are under assault by government officials, consumer advocates, lawyers and ambitious entrepreneurs. But the most effective challenge so far emanates from a spare Madison, Wisc. bedroom in the home of Christie Miller.
Ms. Miller, 38, a former social worker who favors fuzzy slippers, and her cousin, Mary Clare Murphy, 51, operate what real estate professionals believe to be the largest for-sale-by-owner Web site in the country.
They have turned Madison, a city of 208,000 known for its liberal politics, into one of the most active for-sale-by-owner markets in the country. And their success suggests that, in challenging the Realtor association’s dominance of home sales, they may have hit on a winning formula that has eluded many other upstarts. Their site, (pronounced FIZZ-boh) holds a nearly 20 percent share of the Dane County market for residential real estate listings.
The site, which charges just $150 to list a home and throws in a teal blue yard sign, draws more Internet traffic than the traditional multiple listing service controlled by real estate agents.
FsboMadison listed about 2,000 homes in 2005 and said that about 72 percent of its listings sell. If those 1,440 houses averaged $200,000 per sale, the real estate commissions under the 6 percent system would have been about $17.3 million. Ms. Miller and Ms. Murphy collected about $300,000.
“They don’t care – they’re not profit-driven,” said François Ortalo-Magné, an associate professor of real estate at the University of Wisconsin.

About David Burn



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