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For Sale by Owner (FSBO): Selling Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent

Last updated 03/20/2024 by

SuperMoney Team

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Summary:
For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is a method of selling a property without the assistance of a real estate agent, allowing sellers to avoid the commission fee of 5-6% charged by agents. However, the seller assumes the responsibility and risk of completing the sale. The buyer’s agent commission, typically 2-3%, remains the seller’s responsibility. FSBO listings may not be included in the multiple listing service used by agents to find homes for their clients, and real estate agents may refuse to show FSBO listings if the seller does not pay their commission. While FSBO may save on commission fees, it can be risky and stressful for those unfamiliar with the process.
“For Sale By Owner” or FSBO is a term that simply means that you are selling your property without the help of a real estate agent or broker. This option can be appealing to some sellers who want to save money by avoiding the real estate agent’s commission. The typical commission is around 5% to 6% of the sale price, divided between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. By going FSBO, you could potentially save thousands of dollars in commission fees.
FSBO sales come with costs such as the commission of the buyer’s agent, typically 2% to 3% of the offer price.

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Process of a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) transaction

When opting for a “for sale by owner” (FSBO) approach, the seller is responsible for taking on tasks typically handled by real estate agents. These tasks may include:
  • Researching neighborhood property values to determine the asking price based on similar homes (called comps).
  • Staging the home and making necessary repairs.
  • Managing marketing efforts, including online listings, brochures, flyers, and MLS listings.
  • Scheduling and hosting showings and appointments.
  • Negotiating the price and terms of sale with potential buyers.
  • Preparing legal documents such as the sales contract, disclosure forms, and deed.
  • Gathering necessary documents such as property survey, permits, utility bills, and property tax bills.
  • Closing the sale at a title company or attorney’s office depending on the state.

How buyers’ agents are paid in an FSBO listing?

In FSBO transactions, the seller pays the commission of the buyer’s agent, typically 2% to 3% of the sale price.
Without a real estate agent, the home won’t be listed in the multiple listing services used by agents to find homes for their clients.

In an FSBO, who is responsible for creating the contract?

In FSBO deals, contracts can be produced using fillable PDFs or “For Sale by Owner” packages from businesses like ForSaleByOwner.com. Alternatively, the buyer and seller may opt to engage a local real estate attorney to prepare and review contracts, typically for a fixed fee ranging from $800 to $1,200 per transaction. However, in many FSBO transactions, it is the buyers’ agent who ends up drafting most of the contracts.

FSBO sellers costs

Selling a property doesn’t have to come with a hefty fee for a real estate agency. One option is to list the property on an FSBO website like ForSaleByOwner.com. However, for even greater exposure, the seller can take advantage of the large audience on Realtor.com and other content aggregators. With a bit of marketing know-how, the seller can get their listing in front of potential buyers without breaking the bank on agency fees.
Realtors are less likely to show FSBO listings if the seller refuses to pay their commission. ForSaleByOwner.com advises sellers to include “X% commission paid to buyers’ agents” on their listings to incentivize agents to show their listings to clients.

FSBO listing benefits

Selling a home without a real estate agent can save the seller money on commissions, but they still need to pay the buyer’s agent commission and cover other costs, such as legal fees and marketing expenses. However, for those on a tight budget, some realtors offer a flat-fee service for MLS listing, with other services available for an additional fee. It’s important for the seller to consider all costs and options before deciding to go the FSBO route.
FSBO listing risks
Selling a home without an agent can seem like a great way to save money, but it also comes with a lot of risks. When going FSBO, the seller takes on all the responsibilities of the transaction. For someone unfamiliar with the process, this can be daunting and costly. Setting the wrong asking price can drive buyers away, and pricing too low can result in lost profits. It’s crucial to get it right from the start. Hiring an experienced real estate agent can provide valuable guidance and prevent costly mistakes.
FSBO sales can have legal risks if the sale documents are not properly drawn up, or if the home has undisclosed issues. While avoiding commissions can be financially wise for experienced sellers, those with little knowledge of real estate transactions may find the situation stressful and benefit from working with a qualified agent.

What is the payment structure for real estate agents?

In a real estate transaction, both the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent receive a percentage commission based on the sale price, which is paid by the seller from the proceeds of the sale at closing. On average, these commissions add up to 5-6% of the sale price.

What is the cost of an MLS listing?

To list your home on an MLS without a full-service broker, you can opt for MLS listing services that can cost $100 to $500 depending on the level of service. Some realtors provide a flat fee for MLS listings with add-ons available. You can quickly obtain MLS listing services online. An MLS listing is crucial to attracting potential buyers and their agents to your home, especially if you do not have a buyer lined up.

Real-Life Examples

In this section, we will explore some real-life examples and case studies that demonstrate the benefits, challenges, and outcomes of the FSBO approach, making the information more relatable to potential sellers.

Example 1: A Successful FSBO Sale

John and Jane, a married couple in their 40s, decided to sell their 3-bedroom house in the suburbs. With a background in marketing, they felt confident in their ability to advertise and showcase their property. They researched comparable properties in their neighborhood, priced their home accordingly, and listed it on several FSBO websites. Additionally, they offered a 2.5% commission to the buyer’s agent to encourage showings. After hosting several open houses and receiving multiple offers, they successfully sold their home for $350,000, saving approximately $10,500 in agent commissions.

Example 2: An FSBO Sale with Legal Complications

Tom, a first-time home seller, decided to sell his condo without an agent’s assistance. He listed his property on various FSBO websites and successfully found a buyer within a month. However, during the closing process, a title issue emerged that required legal intervention. Tom had not adequately prepared the necessary documents, leading to delays and additional legal fees. Although he saved on agent commissions, the unexpected legal expenses and stress made the FSBO process less appealing.

Example 3: An Unsuccessful FSBO Attempt

Emily and Mike, eager to sell their 4-bedroom home and move to a new city, decided to try the FSBO route. They took on the responsibility of pricing, marketing, and hosting open houses. However, they struggled to attract potential buyers and eventually became overwhelmed with the process. After three months with no offers, they decided to hire a real estate agent, who helped them reevaluate their asking price, improve their marketing strategy, and eventually sell their home at a satisfactory price.
These real-life examples illustrate that FSBO can be a viable option for some sellers, particularly those with marketing experience, knowledge of the local market, and confidence in handling legal paperwork. However, others may find the process challenging and time-consuming, with potential legal complications that could offset the potential savings from avoiding agent commissions. It is crucial for sellers to carefully consider their abilities and resources before deciding to embark on the FSBO route.

Potential risks of FSBO

Real estate agents representing buyers may refuse to show FSBO listings due to bad experiences with sellers who refuse to pay commissions or act unreasonably. Therefore, if you are considering an FSBO sale, you should be confident that you have the necessary expertise to handle the process. This includes setting a reasonable asking price, effective marketing, presenting the property at its best, and completing the required paperwork.
While FSBO sales hold the potential for significant commission savings, sellers also give up the benefits of professional services provided by agents. Agents have the expertise to price, market, and showcase a property and can handle the burdensome paperwork. Additionally, there are still commissions and costs involved with an FSBO sale, such as the commission paid to the buyer’s agent and the fees for MLS listing. Therefore, it’s essential to weigh the potential savings against the labor of marketing and selling and honestly assess your abilities to perform these tasks.

Key takeaways

  • FSBO sales allow sellers to avoid paying a 5-6% commission to real estate agents.
  • In FSBO transactions, sellers take on the responsibility and risk of completing the sale.
  • FSBO sales account for only about 7% of all home sales.

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