Should You Sell Your Home For Sale By Owner FSBO

Dated: 11/07/2017

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Should You Sell Your Home For Sale By Owner FSBO?

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Many sellers decide to sell their homes For Sale By Owner (FSBO) in order to save money and realize a larger profit, which makes perfect sense. Why pay for it if you can do it yourself, right? But it’s not quite as easy as people think. You can learn how to list your home on Zillow, for example, but there’s a lot more to it than throwing a bunch of photos up on the internet.

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

Many FSBO sellers rely on the yard sign, Zillow, FSBO, and open houses to market their home. But the vast majority of buyers start their home search online, so if your home can’t be found easily, it can’t sell. Less than 5% of FSBO sellers use video marketing, direct mail (which is still surprisingly effective), or any sort of social media campaign.

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It’s no wonder that the average seller will net 25% more if they sell with a Realtor®. That’s extra money in your pocket when the closing attorney hands Image titleyou a check at closing. If you can sell for $20,000 more and it cost you $12,000 to pay a professional, then it was FREE, right?  

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

FSBO sellers often have very little experience:

  • Figuring out a good asking price

  • Understanding the paperwork that’s legally required

  • Knowing what they need to disclose

  • Negotiating hard without losing the buyer

  • Knowing how and where to market the property to attract qualified buyers

  • Knowing the safety measures to follow during showings

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Here’s a perfect example that selling for sale by owner isn’t always easy: Colby Sambrotto is the founder of ForSaleByOwner.com, one of the most popular FSBO websites out there. You list your property on their site for a fee as a way to market your home. Mr. Sambrotto tried for six months to sell his NYC apartment for $2 million dollars. I’m assuming it was listed on his own website. The home sat on the market for about six months without selling. He gave up and listed it with an experienced agent for a typical commission, who increased the listing price of Sambrotto’s apartment to $2.15 million, and they received multiple offers.

I could watch 100 Youtube videos on how to cut my own hair, and I could probably give myself a trim that wasn’t too terribly awful, but in the end, it would probably be much easier and I’d get a far better haircut by a professional hairstylist.

It wasn’t luck or good timing. This was an agent who knows his market, knows how to find a pool of qualified buyers, and how to facilitate the sale to make the deal go through. Correct pricing, aggressive marketing strategies, and probably a good amount of staging allowed Mr. Sambrotto’s home to be sold for much more than his original asking price.

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A big part of a Realtor’s job is to help you determine a list price that will earn you the most amount of money but still have it sell in a reasonable amount of time. Knowing the market and the neighborhood, understanding what has sold and what failed to sell, as well as the absorption rate, is our area of expertise. Information is power and Realtors® have access to the most accurate numbers through the MLS and tax records.

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Let’s talk safety for a minute. When a Realtor® puts a property on the market we use electronic lockboxes that give us a report of every person that opened the lockbox, what company they’re with, and what time they were there. I always recommend that my sellers put away all valuables before showings, lock up, and leave the house. If a FSBO seller wants to allow showings, you pretty much have to be present. What happens if you allow a “buyer” to walk through your house who’s just looking to see what you have that’s worth stealing?  Or worse… but let’s not dwell on that.


Now let’s assume that you put your home on the market as a FSBO and got a good offer. Once you’re in a contract there are a million land mines to navigate.

  • What if the buyer does a home inspection and comes to you with a laundry list of repairs they are demanding that you make?  Or if they want you to reduce the sales price instead?  

  • What if it appraises for less than your agreed upon price and now their lender won’t give them a loan unless you drop your price?  

  • What if there are title issues?  

  • What if you fail to disclose a material defect and the buyer sues you six months after they buy the house?  

  • What if they can’t get a loan at the 11th hour and want their deposit back?


*These are things a professional Realtor® deals with on a daily basis and we can take care of the vast majority of them, as well as talk you down from the ledge every now and then!

So in conclusion, selling FSBO is absolutely doable and many people can and do sell their homes on their own very successfully.  But if you need help, there’s no shame in hiring a pro.

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Disclosure: May receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

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Jeremy Jacob

After collegiate and professional basketball careers, Jeremy knew he wanted to move on to the next chapter of his life; a chapter that involved his passion of meeting and connecting with new people th....

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