(Almost) do it yourself real estate

Shawn Brown launched his Vancouver company, Mr. B-Listed, five weeks ago.

Although the purpose of the company is to assist those attempting For Sale By Owner (FSBO) real estate throughout all of B.C., he has noticed that the majority of interest so far has come from one region.

"It seems that the bulk of the inquiries have been coming from the Okanagan," said Brown.

Brown, who was born and raised in Kelowna, said he is not certain why this type of "assisted sale" real estate has interested so many from the Okanagan region.

However, he speculated that home owners are trying to save money in a market that has brought house prices down by as much as 20 per cent of the last three years.

"Certain property sellers are a little more sensitive to the fees coming out of their end sale price because in the last three years they've lost 10 or 15 per cent of what their home was assessed at a few years ago."

Brown's company offers a flat-fee concept that helps independent sellers get on the Multiple Listing Service.

"The MLS is responsible for bringing buyers and sellers together in about 85 to 90 per cent of transactions—so it's obviously a very powerful vehicle.

"But only licensed realtors can list properties on the MLS, so that's always been the main drawback of FSBO."

Although companies like Flat Fee Realty and 2% Realty offer similar services, Brown feels that the market is largely "untapped."

"There's not a lot of competition. . .a lot of the services are poorly developed, they're not branded very well and their process for walking sellers through is pretty unrefined.

"It's challenging to find one that's pretty seamless and well thought out."

Brown has also noticed that it's not just lower income earners that are utilizing his service.

"It tends to be middle income earners who are financially sensitive—they're very aware of where their money is going."

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