We recently listed and sold a house that had previously been a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). The owner had been marketing it on Zillow for about 9 months when we met with him about listing it with us. Fortunately he had not been in a hurry to sell the house, but his circumstances had changed and he was ready to get it sold. We implemented a comprehensive marketing plan which included staging, professional photography and aerial photos, as well as the broad exposure of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). We also did a market analysis which showed we needed to adjust the list price by about 3%. Eighteen days later we were under contract. Things don’t always work out this nicely, but this was a good example of why FSBO often doesn’t work.

If you’re thinking about FSBO, here are some things to consider. We don’t disagree that sometimes it can work out well for the seller, but there are definitely some things you should know before you take that step:

Most buyers are working with a Realtor

This means you are going to be contacted by Realtors who would like to show your house. And, guess what? They’re going to ask you to pay a buyer’s agent commission, which is typically half. If you say no, more than likely your house won’t be shown. Most FSBOs do end up paying the commission for the buyer’s side. So now you’re only saving half of the Realtor commission you expected to save. Plus, you’re now in a situation where your buyer has a Realtor with lots of real estate and negotiating expertise, and you are unrepresented.

You can’t get the broad exposure like you get from the MLS

Nearly 90% of homes sold are listed in the MLS. When we talk with owners who have tried FSBO, they often say they don’t get many showings. This is predominately because of the limited exposure.

Do you know how to stage and market a house?

It’s not rocket science, but it does require expertise. We know how to make a house look great online so people will want to come see it. We also know the features to emphasize for buyers. This difference between amateur and professional photography is profound (see above).

Negotiating an offer is often difficult

Buyer’s are going to ask for a lot. Having a real estate professional working with you is extremely helpful when navigating the negotiations. We can help you understand your options and alternatives. We’ve been through the process many, many times and know the right questions to ask.

And now for inspections

Ask any Realtor about the inspection process and they will tell you it’s the most difficult part of the sales transaction to navigate. In addition to a general inspection, home buyers these days typically do a radon test, sewer line scope and termite inspection, and depending on where you live, a septic and well inspection. You probably feel that you’ve done a good job with home maintenance. Home inspectors are tough. They will scour your house from top to bottom and find many flaws with your house. Chances are your buyer is going to ask for repairs. Part of our expertise is knowing who to call to get bids for repairs. We work with roofers, electricians, plumbers and carpenters on a regular basis. We can help you navigate this second round of negotiations with your buyer.

We are experts at transaction management

There are a hundred little details that go into a smooth, successful real estate transaction. We know the process and know how to keep things on track. We stay on top of all the moving pieces so that our clients don’t have to worry about it. Prior to getting an offer we manage showings, feedback, communication with other agents, and monitor the market. We provide market and price updates on a regular basis. When an offer arrives, we manage negotiations and provide our clients with as much information as possible to make informed decisions. Between contract acceptance and closing, we help work through the buyer’s inspection repair requests, make sure the buyer’s loan is on track, and provide all the needed paperwork to the title company. We are constantly looking out for red flags that could delay or derail the sale of your home.


We don’t tell people they shouldn’t sell their home on their own, but we think it’s important for them to know what’s involved. When you hire a Realtor to sell your home, you’re purchasing their expertise and experience. You want it to be someone you trust and will work well with. Give us a call if you’re thinking of listing your home. We can develop a customized marketing strategy to help you get your house listed and sold quickly.


About the author

Karen Schoenthal

Karen Schoenthal

Real Estate Broker

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