For sale by owner sign in front of home

For Sale by Owner (FSBO): How To Sell Your House by Yourself

TLDR

What You Need To Know

  • For sale by owner (FSBO) is for the seller who wants more control and more profit by selling their home without the help of a real estate agent
  • If you choose FSBO, you’ll need to do a lot of extra work, study up on the real estate industry and exercise patience and flexibility throughout the selling process
  • Even if it’s an FSBO sale, you should hire a real estate photographer and real estate attorney, and you’ll still have to pay a commission if your buyer has an agent

Contents

So, you’ve decided to go FSBO (for sale by owner). There are lots of reasons selling your home on your own might make sense. Maybe you want more control over the sale of your home. Or maybe you’re just looking to pocket more profit from the sale by avoiding the cost of paying a listing agent’s commission fees.

These are all solid reasons to take the FSBO route. But depending on the housing market and your level of real estate know-how, taking on the challenges and responsibility of selling a home could be risky.

The FSBO option requires a lot of work, patience, flexibility and some basic knowledge of the home selling process.

For Sale by Owner: Tips To Sell Your Home on Your Own

For sale by owner (FSBO) is for the seller who wants more control and more profit by selling their home without the help of a real estate agent. But those advantages come at a cost. If you choose to sell your home on your own, we’ve got some tips that can help you through a sometimes complicated process.

Price Competitively and Be Willing To Negotiate

Whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, it’s important to price competitively. Do your research before you decide on your listing price.

  • Perform a comparable market analysis. Look at what comparable homes (think: homes that are similar in size and features to yours) in the area are selling for before finalizing your asking price.
  • Factor in any repairs or updates you’ve made in your home. These upgrades could raise your home’s value.
  • Be open to negotiating your sale price with home buyers. Pro tip: You don’t have to take the first offer you get, especially if you have multiple offers or the offers are below market value.
  • It’s natural to be sentimental about your home. Ask a trusted friend or family member who has bought or sold a home to look over offers with you. It may help take the passion out of the process, and you might benefit from a gut check!

Make Sure Your Home Listing Stands Out

Pictures of your home and your listing description have one job: to sell your home.

They need to be scroll stoppers that draw aspiring home buyers’ attention to each unique feature of your home and, hopefully, end with them seeing themselves living there.

  • Professional photography: One of the best investments you can make for an FSBO sale is to pay for professional photography. Real estate photographers typically have experience with home staging, lighting and capturing homes in a way that highlights their unique qualities.
  • Listing description: It’s your chance to point out unique features in the photos and pair them with descriptive adjectives and flair. Keep your listing honest, punchy and to the point – preferably under 250 words.

Advertise Your Listing Online and in Person

How do you sell a home? Advertise, advertise, advertise! We have a few tips you can use to advertise your home sale:

  • Work with an entry-only (flat-fee) listing agent to get your listing posted on your local multiple listing service (MLS).
  • Make sure your house gets listed on real estate websites, like Zillow, Trulia, FSBO.com and even Craigslist.
  • If you have decently sized social media followings and are comfortable posting your home on your accounts, you may get some traction by advertising your home sale on your pages.
  • Believe it or not, word of mouth (aka buzz) can go a long way when you’re trying to sell your home. Spread the word to anyone who will listen.
  • While it might seem silly in the age of the internet – trust us – if you have a yard, a “For Sale By Owner” lawn sign can attract a lot of potential buyers.

Show Your Home Like a Pro

So, a prospective buyer wants to see your home? Well, congratulations! All your hard work has led to this visit. But there’s still more to do.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for showing your house:

  • Make sure you declutter and clean (yes, that includes your closets) before a showing. Remember, a well-staged home is a great way to help buyers envision how they might make it their own.
  • Highlight your home’s best features during tours with potential buyers. And be sure to sprinkle in any information about recent updates or repairs.
  • Quiz potential buyers on their needs and adjust your pitch in real time to fit their situation. If the buyer has children, point out the rooms you think could work as a kid’s bedroom or show them the prime spot in the backyard for a treehouse.
  • We know you love your pets, but when you’re showing your home, your property must become a no-pet zone. You should also minimize any evidence of your pets. Make sure to clean thoroughly, ridding your home of pet hair (or feathers), and pack up any crates, dog beds and toys.
  • Treat prospective buyers like guests. Make it your business to make a great first impression.
  • Consider setting up a virtual home tour for buyers who can’t visit in person.

Be Flexible To Avoid Alienating Buyers

You can never tell who your buyer will be, so it’s important to avoid alienating buyers and to be open to offers from anyone willing to make one.

  • Be professional and respectful at all times
  • Politely answer any questions
  • Try and be flexible when scheduling showings and open houses
  • Be patient and understand that your home and furnishings may not appeal to everyone
  • Be willing to work with buyers’ agents or real estate brokers

Check for Preapproval

If your buyer is taking out a mortgage to purchase your home, ask to see their preapproval letter (though a prequalification letter might be enough for you).

Sellers typically take a preapproval letter as a strong sign that a buyer is serious about buying. The buyer opted to have a lender review their credit and finances, and a lender has agreed to lend them a certain amount of money if they can meet all the lender’s requirements.

Hire a Real Estate Attorney and a Title Company

Selling a home involves a lot of paperwork and legal documents. You’ll want to come to closing day prepared.

Title companies exist to help facilitate real estate transactions. The title company draws up the title and can set up an escrow account. They can also help set expectations, remind you of your obligations and guide you through the real estate process.

A real estate attorney will prepare and review any sale-related documents. Your real estate attorney can help draft the purchase agreement and answer any questions you have along the way.

Consider an iBuyer

iBuyers or “instant buyers” are real estate companies (in select cities) that let you sell your home in a simple, hassle-free way. These companies work quickly and can get you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours. All you have to do is share some photos and basic information about your home.

iBuyers don’t typically have standard closing costs, but they have service fees that make up a small percentage of the sale price, usually around 5%. You don’t need to clean, repair or stage for iBuyers. They will factor any repairs into their offer. While you may make less if you sell to an iBuyer, it can be a way to sell your home faster.

Decide if FSBO Is Right for You

If you choose FSBO, you’ll need to do a lot of extra work, study up on the real estate industry and exercise patience and flexibility throughout the selling process. Choosing to sell your home yourself is a hands-on process that can help you save money but will require you to roll up your sleeves and do some heavy lifting.

Let’s weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a FSBO sale so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Benefits

  • Most homeowners choose FSBO because it allows them to avoid paying real estate agent commissions.
  • With a FSBO sale, you have more control over the selling process, from pricing and staging to showings and offers.
  • There will be no real estate agent pressuring you to do things their way. You get to make all the big decisions.

Drawbacks

  • Saving money on real estate agent commissions can come at a cost. You’ll lose access to a real estate agent’s resources, insights and expertise. And if you’re new to selling a home, a FSBO transaction will likely be a stressful undertaking.
  • Everything will be on you. And by everything we mean fielding phone calls and emails from interested buyers, scheduling and leading home tours and negotiating any offers (among other things).
  • If you hire a real estate photographer and real estate attorney (which we highly recommend you do), you’ll have to pay them. Sure, you might be saving on half the commission fees that typically would have gone to your agent, but you probably won’t be able to avoid all the usual expenses associated with selling your home.

Channel Your Inner Real Estate Agent

Do you know when it’s socially acceptable to humblebrag about your home: when you’re selling it – especially when you’re selling it. Play up the gorgeous marble countertop in your kitchen. Make sure everyone knows about the spectacular views from your bedroom windows. But your work won’t end there.

With great power – and potentially greater profits – comes even greater responsibility. You are in charge of everything, and you have the power to make or break a sale.

ICYMI

In Case You Missed It

  1. Create a blockbuster listing with professional photos and concise copy. Share it with friends on your social media accounts and work with a flat-fee listing agent to post on your local MLS

  2. Have fun showing off your home. To help your home stand out, add little touches like offering refreshments or adjusting your pitch for each buyer

  3. Be flexible with everything from your time to your pricing during the home selling process

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