The number of "For Sale by Owner" signs has decreased in the region, some real estate professionals say, as fewer homeowners choose to go it alone in selling their houses.

"They are finally catching on that they are not hitting the market like they would through an agent," said George Phy, owner of Century 21 Glen Cove Morris in Mays Landing. "I honestly think it was more of a fad. It is not as prevalent today as it was five years ago. Everyone thought they would save so much money."

What ended up happening was either home sellers lost a lot of time, or they ended up walking into an agency, he said.

"They couldn't sell because of the complexity of the market," said Debra Lafferty, an agent at Atlantic Realty Management in Egg Harbor Township.

Lafferty agreed that a few years ago, for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, signs were more numerous, but she's seeing far fewer lately.

"The value of working with a Realtor was realized," she said.

Tim McLaughlin, an agent at Monihan Realty in Ocean City, said, "Lots of things are involved in marketing homes. It's not just throwing a sign out there and putting an ad in the paper."

"Everyone reads the real estate ad and they all think they are Realtors. We full-time agents know exactly what the markets are doing," Phy said.

Tom DaGrossa, 60, put up a sign to sell his home about three months ago. The house on Wabash Avenue in Linwood has been his family home since 1955, he said.

He is in no rush to sell it, which is why he hasn't reached out to a listing agent yet.

Because the house has no mortgage and he plans to retire in a few years, he has time while the market picks back up, he said.

DaGrossa is relying only on the sign, he said, and hasn't used any online listing sites. He receives calls at least once a month.

Some industry professionals said the economy played a part in the popularity of sales by owners, but the savings they thought they were getting may have been knocked off by the seller to make the sale.

The same commission percentage that the seller is expecting to save, the buyer is thinking he can knock off the price, because he knows there is no agent to be compensated, McLaughlin said.

Fred Johnston, of Washington Township, owns a condo in Wildwood. He said it has been listed with an online agent.

Johnston said he has been trying to sell the condo for a few years, but the market is really bad right now.

By listing and marketing his property online, if he sells the condo on his own, through social media or free listing sites, he owes nothing more than the up-front fee, he said. If an agent sells it, the agent gets the regular 3 percent commission.

Jerome DiPentino, broker at Premier Properties in Longport, said that for the downbeach area, a unique market prevents many owners from pursuing sales by themselves.

"It's a secondary market," he said, dominated by vacation homes. That means many owners are not living in the home full time to meet with people or work on marketing the property.

An interesting trend he has seen lately, however, is more land value sales in the area - mostly through agents, DiPentino said. For some homes that have been damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the owners are collecting insurance money and selling the property for land value.

"It's not worth it to repair the home and list it," he said.

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