Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Agent-Free Sellers Cut into Home Listings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Agent-Free Sellers Cut into Home Listings

Article excerpt

Byline: Earl Daniels, Times-Union business writer

By not using a real estate agent to assist in the sale of their Mandarin house, David and Kim Smith were able to avoid paying an agent a 6 or 7 percent commission.

After 28 days, the Smiths have a buyer for the house that was priced at $158,000.

They experienced the seller's hassles, but for them, it was worth it. As for the next time they sell a house: "I don't know," said Kim Smith. "We will live in the next house for a long, long time."

The Jacksonville housing market has been characterized as a buyer's market, and some real estate experts say more homeowners are planting their own "for sale" signs in their front yards instead of letting a real estate agent do it.

The sluggish sales of existing homes over the past four months may be due to fewer homes available to agents. Homes sold by Realtors -- not all real estate agents are Realtors -- are tabulated by the Florida Association of Realtors and released on a monthly basis. The numbers do not reflect the number of homes being sold by people like the Smiths.

Last month, existing-home sales for the First Coast area -- Duval, St. Johns, Clay and Nassau counties --decreased by 3 percent from 956 to 927 compared with sales in March 2000, according to statistics released this week by the state Realtors association. Statewide, existing-home sales increased by 11 percent.

Some agents say homeowners who sell their own houses are not hurting their businesses, but they agree that there are fewer listings to go around.

"We have seen, for a while, a limited number of existing homes for sale," said Cathy Whatley, owner of Buck & Buck Inc., a Jacksonville real estate company. "We have buyers wanting to buy and we are just having difficulty finding homes for them to buy. It just poses a different set of challenges for me as a real estate broker."

First Coast area sales in December experienced an 11 percent decrease compared with December 1999. …

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