FSBO 101: Are You a Good Candidate for Selling Your Own Home?
The "for sale by owner" approach is a great option for some, but not for everyone. Are you a qualified candidate for the FSBO route?
Selling your house without an agent may seem like a great way to save money. But before you market the property solo, consider if you have the time, knowledge and skills to do so.(Getty Images)
Historically, most homeowners have chosen to work with a real estate agent to get their home listed and sold – but in the digital era, there are countless resources available to those who wish to fly solo. The "for sale by owner" approach, or FSBO, has never been more accessible.
The primary benefits of selling a home without an agent are probably quite clear. You don’t have to pay commissions, which means you keep all of the profit. You have more control over how to sell the place. You can do things on your own terms and on your own time.
However, that doesn’t mean FSBO is the best option for everyone. Some people are more qualified to handle it than others.
Before you decide to go the FSBO route, there are three key questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have a flexible schedule?
- Can you identify and handle potential home renovations?
- Are you willing to learn?
Your answers to these questions will determine whether you’re ready to tackle the home selling process on your own, or whether you should consider seeking out a professional agent for help.
Do You Have Some Spare Time? A Flexible Schedule?
The first factor to think about is the amount of time it takes you to handle an FSBO transaction. When you’re selling a house without a real estate agent, it means everything is on your shoulders. Specifically:
- You need to price the house accurately.
- You need to take photos, create a listing and market it aggressively.
- You need to be available to do open houses and showings.
- You need to handle offers and negotiations.
All of this can be time-consuming. What’s more, it requires flexibility. If you really want to get the place sold, it’s important to accept any requests for showings, even if they’re last-minute or during the middle of the day.
Also note that handling offers and counteroffers typically comes with some time sensitivity. If somebody puts in a bid, it’s important to get back to them within a day or so, not wait a week.
The FSBO route is best for those who have flexibility to handle these diverse requirements. If you have a jam-packed schedule without a lot of wiggle room, this may not be the option for you.
Are You Handy?
One of the primary roles that an agent plays is appraising your home, spotting issues that need to be updated and repaired and advising you on what steps to take to ensure the house is listing-ready.
The question is, are you a handy enough person that you can assess your home, identify some problem areas and either make the needed fixes or ensure that a contractor makes them and does a thorough job?
This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it can certainly make your FSBO experience go a little more smoothly.
Are You Willing to Learn?
Selling a home without the help of an agent may require you to learn some new skills. For example, do you know how to properly price a listing? Failure to do so can compromise your entire sale. Are you comfortable asking prospective buyers for preapproval letters from their mortgage company? And once you receive them, do you know what you’re looking at? Making sure you’re prepared to address these details is essential to handling the home selling process on your own.
On a related note, you may also need to brush up on some legalities or consider hiring an attorney to help you with the negotiations and paperwork. Even if you’ve sold a home before, the laws and regulations around home sales may change from year to year, so you will either need to refamiliarize yourself with your state’s laws or hire an agent to take care of this part.
There’s a lot to take in and absorb, and plenty of resources available – but it’s important to do the reading and make sure you’re knowledgeable about all aspects of the home sale.