What You Need to Know Before You Sell For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

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Deciding to sell your home For Sale by Owner (FSBO) is not a decision that should be taken lightly. While selling your home may seem like a walk in the park, I think the best way to describe it is to paraphrase the words of one former secretary of defense: …there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns…it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Before you post the FSBO sign out in the yard, take the time to learn about what it really takes to sell your home FSBO. Learning as much as you can about FSBO will help you shed light on the known unknowns and help you learn about unknown unknowns. This knowledge will help you decide whether or not selling FSBO is the best path for selling your home, selling it quickly and selling it for top dollar.

Known Known : What’s your motivation for selling your house For Sale by Owner?

Ask yourself what your motivation is for selling For Sale by Owner. Is it to save the commission? Or is it because you really want to do it on your own? If you really want to do it on your own, then Bravo!  Take advantage of the articles and resources for For Sale by Owner sellers on this website.

If the main reason you want to sell FSBO is to avoid paying a commission then consider the following before you make the decision to definitively go FSBO.

Known Unknown : Does it make ‘cents’ to sell your home For Sale by Owner?

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Take the time to figure out if selling FSBO makes the most ‘cents”.

Your decision to sell FSBO should not be haphazard, it should be informed. It is a known unknown that with a little bit of time and effort can be a known known.

Sit down with a Realtor® or a few different ones and objectively look at the numbers to see if by working with Realtor® you can at least net the amount of money you want to walk away with. Thoroughly explore FSBO and using a Realtor® to make sure the option you choose makes financial ‘cents’ for you.

You may still be asking yourself, why use a Realtor if I can do this on my own? There are many reasons. A Realtor® is a licensed professional that should  bring value to the sales process. A Realtor® has experience selling homes and will know how to navigate through the known unknowns, and unknown unknowns of selling a home.  A Realtor® represents your needs and protects your interests.

The buyer has a Realtor® looking out for their best interest. Shouldn’t you also have somebody looking out for your best interest, especially if it makes financial “cents”? Take the time to do your homework so that you make an informed decision.

You wouldn’t want a known unknown that could have easily been a known known to cost you big bucks would you?

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Known Knowns : Other For Sale by Owner Costs to consider

There are many costs involved in the sale of a home, commission is only one of them. If you are selling For Sale by Owner you don’t have to worry about the commission but, you may end up spending money some of the items listed below.

  • professional cleaning
  • photography
  • storage in order to de-personalize and de-clutter your home and make it ready for showtime
  • staging
  • appraisal
  • yard signs
  • printing
  • things you will buy to host an open house
  • website
  • flat fee MLS
  • video production
  • legal fees

You will also spend a lot of time marketing your home.  Your time is money too, so don’t forget to pay yourself!

Known Known : Marketing Your Home

Marketing your home is a full time job. In order to find the right buyer for your home you must expose it to the largest pool of qualified buyers possible. You must be tireless and consistent in your efforts. Your marketing strategies also have to be diversified.

Today 85-90% of people begin a home search on the internet so your internet presence must be strong. Some ways you can make your home seen on the internet are to post it on:

  • free online classifieds
  • social media
  • real estate websites like Realtor.com
  • create a website to show case your home

Other ways to get exposure for your home is to call friends and family and let them know the house is up for sale. Ask if they know anyone that might be interested. Print flyers and pass them around your neighborhood, hold open houses, and of course put up yard signs.

The key to getting the most amount of interest in your home is to market it everywhere, all the time. If you market ceaselessly your efforts will pay off. People will start calling to see your home. You will have to answer a lot of phone calls and  accommodate varying schedule requests.

Known Known : Showing your Home

You have to be prepared all the time for showtime. You also have be prepared to accommodate buyers’ schedules. For this phase of selling FSBO be prepared to change your life temporarily.  You have to be available to show your home as much as possible to get it sold.

“We haven’t had a free Sunday in four months…” Read more about Kathy and Rob’s  FSBO experience at FSBO Diaries

Known Unknown : Who are the buyers?

This is perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of For Sale by Owner. Because the most common sense of all, which is not to let strangers into your house, is suddenly not so common any more. Anybody can call or knock on your door posing a buyer and gain access to your home.  At least if they have a Realtor they have been vetted. But if they are self-represented buyers, you really have no idea who you are opening your house up to.

This is a known unknown, which poses very clearly and commonly known risks.

Evaluating Offers

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It is important to evaluate offers and determine which one is most likely to close.

If you have done everything right you should start receiving offers on your home. It is important to familiarize yourself with the sales contract. You want to make sure any offers you receive have no surprises.

More importantly you want to make sure it is an offer that will close. When evaluating an offer it is not just about the dollar amount. There are other factors to consider to insure that the offer you choose is the highest and the best. Is it cash or financing? Is the down payment large or small? Does the buyer have enough cash to close? Choose the offer that is the likeliest to close.

These are known unknowns that with some research can become known knowns.

Learn how to evaluate offers by reading :  In Real Estate All Offers Are Not Made the Same

Negotiating Offers

Chances are your home has sentimental value attached to it. That sentimental value has no monetary value when you put your home up for sale. You must be very objective about the value of it.  This part of the process is riddled with known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Therefore, be ready to steel yourself against the buyers that want to snatch up your home for the lowest price possible.

Some examples of the known unknowns are :  How will I react when an offer comes in that is 30% or 40 or even 50% lower than my asking price? Will I take it personally? What if a buyer decides to pull out? How will I feel? What will I do if a buyer makes excessive demands after the inspection? If the appraisal comes in lower than the agreed upon sale price, what do I do?

Negotiating the Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

These are just a few of the known unknowns that can pop up during the sale of a home. Can you handle them? What about when unknown unknowns show up in the middle of a negotiation or during the sale? Can you handle them?

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Read: What to Expect When You List Your Home FSBO

Paperwork Galore!

The sale of a house involves a lot of paperwork. Are you familiar with sales contracts, commission agreements, seller’s disclosures, riders, addenda and the like? Chances are if you don’t sell real estate for a living you are not. Because the paperwork is complex little mistakes can cost you big money. It is important to have a professional by your side to help you understand it and navigate through the known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Have the paperwork done right, hire a reputable attorney.

More Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns…

This article discusses some of the known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns of selling a home.  Truly there are too many to include in this article and there is a very big chance you will run into known unknowns, and unknown unknowns during the sales process. So my last bit of advice is, if you find yourself in a jam, ask for help.

Asking for help doesn’t make you any less capable of selling FSBO, in fact, it makes you more capable. You can ask for help by posting a question on my For Sale By Owner FSBO – South Florida Facebook group or by posting a question at the bottom of this article or by contacting me directly by phone at 954-993-4246 or by email at desiree@desireeavila.com.

Once you begin your FSBO adventure, share your story with others so they can learn from your experience. Click here to submit your story to the FSBO Survival Guide. 

Whatever route you choose, best of luck on the sale of your home and may you make the most amount of money possible!
-Désirée Ávila

Désirée Ávila was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. Désirée is now a licensed Florida Realtor and committed to a high-level of professionalism and to helping others with their real estate endeavors through education.

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