BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – When it comes to real estate here in South Florida and many other areas of the country, it’s a hot sellers’ market and market experts say more people are foregoing the traditional path and taking the process into their own hands.
When Suzanne Tuccelli and her husband started thinking about moving into a smaller home in their Deerfield Beach neighborhood three years ago, they found a house that seemed perfect, but wasn’t for sale so they reached out to the owner in a unique way.
“I wrote a little letter and put it on his door and we didn’t hear a thing,” she said.
Out of the blue, a couple of months ago, the owner of that house gave her a call.
“He said that he had kept our letter for whatever reason and he found it and asked were we still interested. We were overjoyed,” she said.
So were Steve and Arlene Petrosky when, on a whim, they put their Pembroke Pines house up “for sale by owner” online.
“I put the house on Zillow, took pictures with my cellphone and put them on Zillow on Sunday afternoon. By Wednesday night we had a handshake deal and the house was sold the following week,” he said.
Roy Oppenheim, a real estate attorney in Weston, said that currently 11-15% of real estate transactions don’t involve a realtor.
“And it’s a phenomenon that’s going to grow and change just because of where we are,” he said.
Oppenheim said there’s also pressure on traditional real estate commissions.
“You look at other markets around the world and you see that real estate commissions are only in the one or two percent range as opposed to the five, six, or seven percent range we still see here in the United States,” he said.
The lure of saving money is the biggest motivator for “do-it-yourself” deals, but Oppenheim says it’s not always as simple as it seems.
“There’s a tone of work that you’re going to need advice on, and you’re going to do a lot more work also,” he said.
While the Tuccello’s bought their new home without a real estate agent, they did use one to sell their existing home.
Likewise, the Petrosky’s had an agent handle the purchase of their Pompano Beach property.
All felt they got the best end of the deal.
“It’s worked out beautifully and it’s been much easier than we anticipated,” Tuccello said.
“We love it, absolutely love it ... having a great time,” he said.
Data from the National Association of Realtors shows that there are currently more licensed real estate agents than there are homes on the market, which means even fewer opportunities for those in the industry.