Well...I come from pretty extensive recent experience here...we were with a reputable Realtor from July 10 through Dec 10 & live in a very desirable area. They had us priced too high & did absolutely nothing for us other than put it on the MLS & a lockbox on the front door. When we had a few instances of careless Realtors come through & leave doors open, let our cats out or lock our cats in rooms that were not previously closed, we asked our Realtor if she could come by during showings if we were going to be gone for more than an hour or so & she laughed & said she didn't have time for that. We never had an offer while with the Realtor.
We went to FSBO in Jan 11 & dropped the price dramatically. We got tons of activity, were able to be present during showings & highlight the pros of our home as well as ensure careless Realtors didn't do stupid things. BUT the 4 offers we got Under Contract (4 offers in 6 months) while FSBO did not end up going through & we are still For Sale. Our FSBO flat fee listing will expire on Tuesday (this gave us 6 months to full access to all major listing services for $500) & we have decided to go with a Realtor who has been really persistent & was willing to come up with an out of the box commission set up for us. We are leaving the home, it will be empty & will probably end up being a short sale. I also can't take anymore of the heartache we have been through & am on the verge of a breakdown over trying to sell this home so it was time to bring someone in who is insisting she can get the job done. We'll see.
I will say this to anyone talking about selling their home in this market...unless you need to because of job loss (our situation), you have been in the home for long enough to not be upside down or you have really incredible luck & intestinal fortitude, I would hang tight for 5-10 years. We have been through buyers whose mortgages fell through at the last minute due to the most strict lending policies the country has ever seen, to buyers who think that because it's a buyers market, they can exploit & rape people of their homes.
As far as Realtors go...I believe the majority are absolutely useless until it comes time to actually try & close the deal. There are a few gems out there who really earn their 5-6%, but not many. I also think that in this market & economy, it's ridiculous that Realtors think they are above "pay cuts" & should still earn the same % they earned 4 years ago when we bought at the height.
If you are really going to put your house out there, I would find out the Comps for your neighborhood, price yourselves attractively below those Comps & give it a try on your own so you don't have to pay outrageous commission to someone not putting forth much effort. If after a few months, you aren't having luck or have deals fall through, find a great agent & give it another few months. But if you head into winter with no bites or hints to a sale, don't leave it on the market. Once buyers know you have sat awhile, they come after your home like sharks.
I should also add that we are in a situation where we bought at the height & our Realtor screwed us. The Inspector was in her pocket, "missed" huge issues that we were left holding the bag on AND she convinced us we didn't need to spend the $ on our own Attorney. First time home buyers-we didn't know any better. We were pregnant unexpectedly & she totally exploited our situation. She had her title attorney handle everything. Now we have a Real Estate Attorney who has been worth her weight in GOLD. If I knew then what I know now...our lives would be completely different.