Across the country, the National Association of Realtors and the 6 percent commission that most of its members charge to sell a house are under assault by government officials, consumer advocates, lawyers and ambitious entrepreneurs. But the most effective challenge so far emanates from a spare bedroom in the modest home here of Christie Miller.
Ms. Miller, 38, a former social worker who favors fuzzy slippers, and her cousin, Mary Clare Murphy, 51, operate what real estate professionals believe to be the largest for-sale-by-owner Web site in the country.
They have turned Madison, a city of 208,000 known for its liberal politics, into one of the most active for-sale-by-owner markets in the country. And their success suggests that, in challenging the Realtor association’s dominance of home sales, they may have hit on a winning formula that has eluded many other upstarts. Their site, FsboMadison.com (pronounced FIZZ-boh) holds a nearly 20 percent share of the Dane County market for residential real estate listings.