For-sale-by-owners are rare nowadays. In fact, the number of FSBOs dropped to record lows over the past year.

Unrepresented sellers make up just 11 percent of the market, down from 13 percent in 2009, according to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

With today's more complex transactions--such as with short sales and foreclosures and frequent changes in mortgage lending--more sellers are finding comfort in the help of real estate professionals to guide them through the process.

FSBOs once were lured to try to sell themselves because they thought they could save on commission fees, but now sellers are realizing that if they don't use an agent, it'll likely cost them more in the long run, experts say.

Selling by owner does not guarantee the seller will put 5 [percent] to 6 percent more in his or her pocket in trade for doing all the work and taking on potentially costly liabilities, Margaret Woda, associate broker with Long & Foster in Crofton, Md., told The Washington Times. On the contrary, prospective FSBO buyers have their eyes on that 5 percent to 6 percent as well. It's more likely the buyer will win this negotiation in a buyer's market with a huge price reduction--probably even larger than the saved commission.

Some FSBO sellers also often make the mistake of listing their home at a higher price than the market warrants. But even if they do find a buyer for that price, unless it's a cash purchase, the home has to be appraised and many deals can then fall apart.

Source: Fewer Sellers Going Do-it-Yourself Route, The Washington Times (Feb. 11, 2011)