ForSaleByOwner.com founder and former chief operating officer Colby Sambrotto made headlines in August 2011 when he hired a real estate broker to sell his Manhattan condo. Now he’s working to bridge the gap between FSBOs and real estate pros with his most recent online venture, USRealty.com.
The property listing Web site allows sellers to post their homes for sale for a fee, with costs running as high as $399. As a licensed brokerage, the company will then post those listings on multiple listing services in the sellers’ local markets.
As with his prior site, this new business aims to reduce expenses associated with real estate transaction — including commissions. However, Sambrotto said that USRealty.com is not an attempt at disintermediation, unlike ForSaleByOwner.com. He aims to get real estate professionals involved this time around.
“I learned a lot of lessons at ForSaleByOwner.com,” he told REALTOR® Magazine. “People want to buy and sell their homes without having to pay commissions. It was great at reducing transaction costs, but it didn’t sell enough houses to be the game changer I thought it would be.”
How can he persuade practitioners to participate in this site while reducing the amount of commission paid on transactions? By encouraging buyer’s agents to show their customers the listings on the USRealty.com site, he explained. If their buyers purchase a home listed on USRealty.com, they’ll get a standard 3 percent commission, Sambrotto said. Also, the site will refer unsuccessful sellers out to real estate pros in local markets.
Sambrotto said his goal is to provide a good experience for real estate professionals while serving a distinct section of the housing market.
“I want to have warm relations with agents: The fact that this model is what it is validates that,” he explained. “But at the end of the day, a lot of Americans cannot afford to pay those commissions. We’re here to serve a specific niche. There’s always been a segment of the market that’s not traditional. A lot of these people can’t sell their home in the traditional way.”
While he didn’t roll out USRealty.com with distressed home owners as the intended user, he said the site has drawn a great deal of interest from that group. “It wasn’t built with that specific purpose in mind, but that seems to be the consumer that’s most attracted to this,” Sambrotto said.
By Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine