20 Things You Should Know When Selling Your Home FSBO (For Sale By Owner)



Real estate agents would discourage you from selling your house as a FSBO.  Why?  Let’s face it, as homeowners, we are inexperienced when it comes to rules and regulations of selling a house.  However, there is no need for you to have to hire someone and be kept out of the loop in order to sell your home.

I sold my own house, and there are a few things I learned that I wanted to pass onto anyone else considering going this route.  First, why is it that you want to sell your own home?  Is it because you’re trying to get more money for the house?  If so, buyers today are savvy, and they may attempt to knock the potential commission that you were hoping to make for yourself off your home.  Is it that you had a bad experience with a real estate agent?  I’ve been there, and this is why I put my own house on the market.  Not all real estate agents are bad, but there are just some (as in any occupation or job) that rubbed me the wrong way to a point where I didn’t want to make a mistake committing to the wrong person.

Here’s a list of things to keep in mind while selling your own home:

1.  Be realistic with your price.  Just because you think your house is worth a certain number doesn’t mean it is worth it.  Be willing to do price comparisons with homes that have sold in the area (not necessarily ones that are LISTED, but comparables of homes that have SOLD recently in your area).

2.  Pay a flat fee to have your home listed on the MLS.  If you don’t get it on the MLS, chances are people won’t see it.  It’s like paying for advertising.  A six month listing might cost approximately $500.00.  It’s well worth it to invest in selling your home.

3.  Purchase a lock box and put it on your home.  I used one made by Master Lock.  This way, if a real estate agent brings someone to your house, you won’t be there….which brings me to my next point.

4.  Don’t be at the house when a real estate agent is showing.  People look at you as a reflection of themselves.  If they see something in you that they don’t like, they might not want to buy your home.  You may say the wrong thing to turn them off.  Point is that even though you are selling your house as a FSBO, the majority of the people who come to see it will use a real estate agent.  In our case, we only showed our house ONCE.  Every other showing was done by a real estate agent which brings me to my next point:

5.  Offer a great commission to the real estate agent that sells your house.  When you have your house listed in the MLS, you have the opportunity to offer a commission to a real estate agent showing your home.  We offered a 3% commission.  Be fair.  After all, someone else is selling your house for you and, when the time comes, they are going to have to put up with you being the person in charge of the sale.  When you offer a great commission, real estate agents go out of their way and show your house more than one time…especially if you have it priced in a manner that makes it very appealing.  Also, keep in mind that because you are selling your home as a FSBO, you can actually lower the price since you aren’t paying a 5% or 6% commission.

6.  ALWAYS BE KIND.  No matter what a real estate agent says to you, remember they are representing the buyer, but also remember, YOU are the one paying them the commission.  You can be kind, but be firm with what you want at the same time.  If you’re a super nice person in life, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself, but when your house is on the market and you start to get offers, you HAVE to stand up for what you want.  If you’re not happy with a purchase deal, compromise until you get what you want.  I’ll cover this in another article.

7.  Don’t talk too much when a real estate agent contacts you.  When real estate agents contact you, some are wary that they are speaking with the homeowner.  Others won’t care so much.  Either way, treat it like a professional transaction.

8.  Ask for feedback after a showing.  Don’t be offended with what you hear.  No house is perfect.  Usually, when someone is interested in your home, they will find things wrong with it to try to get a better deal.  Keep this in mind.  When there are things you cannot change, shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, that’s something I can’t change.”  We had a home with a steep driveway that was in existence for decades.  The driveway was always something that someone brought up.  My reply, “It’s funny how you get use to things.  I had teenage daughters that drove up and down that driveway, and it’s something that didn’t bother us because it gave us privacy.”    There’s a positive to some, so called, negative aspects of your house.  Sometimes, people don’t realize why something like a steep driveway might be great.

9.  Don’t speak negatively of your home or neighbors.  Some real estate agents will ask, “Is there anything I should know about the house?”  This usually means they want to know if something, somewhere, is wrong.  We had electrical work taking place due to a telephone pole going down, and I explained what was happening and when the work would be completed…and that it would be completed by the time the person closed on the home.  Make sure you don’t speak of your home, neighbors, etc. in a negative manner.  Just because you don’t like the person living next door doesn’t mean someone else won’t be the neighbor’s best friend.

10.  Make sure there are CO’s on the house.  Wood stoves, pellet stoves, or anything else that you know didn’t have a CO – get one.  You’re going to need everything to be legit and in place.  If something is wrong, fix it.  The saying, “It takes money to make money,” comes into play here.

11. Always have the house ready to show.  If you have moved out, you should leave some furniture in some rooms for staging purposes.  I never believed in staging until I staged and suddenly had offers afterward.  We left a sofa and coffee table, chair, and end tables in a living room with a rug.  We put a small bed with an end table and dresser in one bedroom.  The kitchen was set up with a small round table, two chairs, and it was staged to look like a country home.  There are so many people who can’t picture things being in a room unless it’s set up a certain way.

12.  BE PATIENT!!!  Treat every showing as the one that could be IT.  I heard one real estate agent become so enthusiastic that I thought I had a sale.  It was one that was unassuming that surprised me.

13.  Don’t be offended when you get low ball offers.  I think certain television shows have done some damage when it comes to selling homes in the real world.  First time home buyers are watching first time home buying shows where people want everything for nothing.  There is a dream world created for home buying where they feel the art of negotiation means to offend the seller.  Don’t take it personally when someone offers you $30,000 below a legit asking price.  They are trying to get you to meet them somewhere in the middle.  If you don’t want to meet in the middle, don’t be a jerk about it, just say, “I’m sorry.  We have other showings taking place, and I don’t want to entertain an offer this low.  If you really want the home, please bring up the price.”

14.  Reevaluate your home if it isn’t selling.  If your house doesn’t have many showings, you probably need to lower your price. Don’t lower it $500.00.  Significantly lower it to a price that is more reasonable.  If you are getting a lot of showings and no offers, drop it more if you can.  We dropped the price $15,000 and then got a bidding war bidding it to the price we wanted.

15.  Real estate agents will try to get a feel for you when they contact you.  They want to know what the situation is regarding the home.  If the house has been on the market for awhile and they sense some kind of desperation, it will indicate that you’ll sell for a lower price.  If you’re going through a divorce, it will indicate a lower price.  Don’t indicate desperation.  You’re moving onto another chapter in your life and selling your house – plain and simple.  Don’t give them a reason to think their clients can drop that price on you.

16.  If your MLS listing expires, renew it.  Every real estate agent under the sun will call you and some will be so bold as to say, “Oh, so you didn’t sell your house as a FSBO.  Now, do you realize you need to hire an agent?”  You’ll be told you priced your house too high (because they are told that must be the reason a house didn’t sell).  They will tell you that no one wanted to show your house because it was a FSBO (not true – we had SEVERAL agents show it, and one lucky agent got a 3% commission).  They will tell you that you’re not going to succeed.  Renew your MLS listing.  Don’t even entertain phone calls like this.  Don’t argue with the person on the other end.  Just say, “Oh, we just renewed our listing.  Thank you for your concerns.”  Politely get off the phone.  It’s easy to be angered by certain aggressive people, but don’t let it bother you.  It’s just business.

17.  The first offer is NOT always the best offer.   The saying that the first offer is always the best offer just isn’t true.  We had a low ball offer given to us.  When we asked for a prequalification to accompany the offer, none was given, and the person went away.  There were over three offers before we got what we wanted.  If you’re not in a mad rush to have the house sold, you might actually get a better offer.  Know your limits with how long you can tolerate having your home on the market and be willing to wait for the right person to come along.

18.  Just because it’s a buyers market doesn’t mean you don’t have rights.  You are selling your home.  When someone falls in love with it, they are hoping you will agree to their terms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do everything they want in order for the house to be sold.  Again, this is going back to the “something for nothing” mentality that people seem to have, and you do not have to give your home away if you are being fair all the way around.

19.  Some months are better than others.  We had the world’s worst winter this past year with few showings over the winter months.  When April and May came around, showings shot up like mad.  This is when we received a lot of offers.

20.  Always get a prequalification.  If someone contacts you and no agent is involved, request a prequalification prior to showing the house.  If the person is legit, the person will email or fax it to you.  For the most part, no one contacted us personally.  Real estate agents showed the home.

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2 thoughts on “20 Things You Should Know When Selling Your Home FSBO (For Sale By Owner)

  1. As a REALTOR® in Southeastern CT , and a lifelong friend of yours- I wanted to reach out and say no offense taken at all- this is a well written article- and there are all types of home owners and home sellers out there so FSBO is an option for some, as you said. The advice you give is spot on and fair. A well priced home, that is made available to Buyers Agents in the area at a fair rate is going to be shown and it will sell. however, as with any sales process it can become time consuming and burdensome so if you get into doing a FSBO and decide it just is not working for you or that the level of work or time commitment has become too great you can always call on a trusted local REALTOR® to work on your behalf. Once you decide to list your home, FSBO or with a REALTOR® , the reality is it is all business…treat it that way and you will do fine whichever path is the comfortable one for you to follow. Great article!!

    1. Donna

      Not to mention that there’s a certain amount of stress involved in all house sales, and a real estate agent can be a good guide if you feel you can’t take on selling your own home. I wanted to add that in because we often discussed how the stress load might have been lighter with the right real estate agent.

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