Is a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) for you?

You’ve probably seen the little sign. It’s right beside the road, in front of that adorable house, in that neighborhood that you love. You know the one. It proclaims proudly “For Sale By Owner,” and tempts you every time you drive by.

Before you make the leap on a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) property, think twice.  Here’s why:

No Realtor

With an owner-sold property, it’s important to understand that you are sacrificing all of the services provided by a real estate agent and their brokerage. This is an especially important item to consider if purchasing a home in an area that you’re no familiar with. Without the experienced guidance of a Realtor, you will face many more obstacles and pitfalls on your path to home ownership.


When you work with a licensed real estate agent, they take care of the many complexities involved with purchasing a home. These can include advising you on the offer, closing date and contingencies, assisting with financing terms, obtaining appraisal and inspection reports from trusted sources, and more. With an FSBO property, you are depending on your own knowledge and the honesty of the homeowner.

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Remember that homeowners are not bound by the same Code of Ethics that Realtors are. Each state is different, but in general, homeowners may do or say whatever is necessary to get their house sold. In addition, real estate agents work with other licensed professionals, like home inspectors and appraisers, to help ensure that you are making a sound investment.


Although the homeowner is required to make a disclosure statement about the condition of the home and any repairs that were made, items may be left out. A real estate agent will not only have access to the appropriate databases to make sure everything is properly documented, they also have the knowledge to pull records verifying that there are no outstanding liens, assessments of back taxes owed.

There can be many fees and possible unforeseen expenses associated with purchasing a home. Here are just a few worth considering:

  • Delinquent taxes
  • Unpaid HOA fees
  • Bonds of assessments
  • Transfer taxes
  • Notary fees
  • Document preparation fees
  • Pest inspection fee
  • Loan fees for FHA or VA loans
  • Owner’s title insurance policy

Bottom Line

There are some wonderful FSBO properties out there. If you find one you love, know that you don’t have to go into the situation alone. If you’re already working with a Realtor, be sure to include them. They are there to look out for your best interests, and the assistance of an experienced real estate agent can be invaluable when considering a for sale by owner property.


Photo by Editor B