How to Sell a House by Owner

March 1, 2022 | Jordan Silvola-Finch
How to Sell a House by Owner

Selling your home yourself can be a pretty appealing prospect. After all, who wouldn’t like to save a bit of money by not paying a realtor? But when you sell your house for sale by the owner, there is a lot you need to consider to ensure you get the best price for your home. Ready to learn how to sell a house by owner?

When a house is listed for sale by owner (FSBO), it requires time and patience, and a lot of research. Typically more Millennials lean towards this property selling strategy than other generations due to the many benefits. Not just saving money on realtor fees but having complete control over how your home is listed and advertised and what type of offers you want to consider and eventually accept.

How Do You Sell a Home without a Real Estate Agent?

There are plenty of websites that will allow you to list your home FSBO. While a realtor’s connections can be desirable, that doesn’t mean there aren’t buyers willing to purchase from someone who wants to list their home without one.

You need to go through checking you are in a position to sell, and you can have the time to dedicate to showing your home to potential buyers. This includes answering calls as quickly as possible, replying to all inquiries, making sure your home is ready for visitors to inspect it, you have staged your home in a way that will encourage people to see its full potential, and you are prepared to move on once the sale is complete.

As the seller, you need to take on the work otherwise performed by a realtor and be confident you know what you are doing. As you will not likely encounter any legal issues or paperwork until further down the line, you might find you hit a few problems once you get to this stage.

For this reason, many buyers and realtors are hesitant to work with people listing as FSBO as they are usually inexperienced. The process could be held by sellers not knowing the correct paperwork, timings, schedules, or requirements to complete the sale efficiently.

Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home without a Real Estate Agent

Is going at it alone and listing your for sale by owner for you? Let’s look at a few pros and cons.


You’ll find a few benefits to selling your home without an agent. These might include: 

  • Save on commission: When you follow the for sale by owner route, you won’t have any realtor fees to pay, meaning you can maximize profits from the sale of your house.
  • More Control: You will also be in greater control of how you sell your house, the imagery used to market your home, viewings you arrange, and everything without relying on a third party to do it for you. You have the final say from your listing prices, showings, and the offers you accept.
  • A Quicker Sale: While many factors affect how quickly a home sells, according to NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly three-quarters of FSBO listings had the houses sold within two weeks. 


On the other hand, selling your home alone can be quite difficult. Obstacles you might encounter include:

  • You Need Time: Selling your home FSBO can be a long process. It can take time to get everything ready, and the process of listing your home, arranging marketing, and getting buyers through the door can be time-consuming. Then you need to be able to take calls, arrange viewings, prepare your home and consider offers.
  • Lower Asking Price: Figures from the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers show that FSBO homes typically sell for a lower fee than those sold by an agent. Their knowledge and experience can help gain a better price than going it alone.
  • You Might Make Mistakes: Sadly, there are many mistakes you could make when choosing the for sale by owner route. From listing your house too high, to not thoroughly checking contracts and small print to not being able to market correctly or even accepting an offer that isn’t right.
  • You May Still Need To Pay A Listing Agent: If the buyer is using an agent, it is standard practice for the seller to pay the listing agent fees. So while you might be avoiding this cost yourself, it is worth knowing upfront that you could still end up having to pay this fee.

What Paperwork is Required When Selling a Home?

Home sales are complex legal transactions. Regardless of how you sell your home, there is still paperwork involved that you will need to organize to sell your house legally. 

Knowing what you need beforehand and what to have ready will help you be more organized and instill confidence in buyers and agents alike. As mentioned above, FSBO listings can sell quickly, meaning the more organized you are before the process starts, the smoother it will be for everyone involved.

Be aware the paperwork required for an FSBO transaction will vary from state to state, and you will need to check with your state precisely what you need.

  • Original sale contract
  • Mortgage statement (payoff amount)
  • Homeowners insurance records
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) documents
  • Home repair and maintenance records
  • Receipts for capital improvements
  • Manuals and warranties
  • Past utility bills
  • Comparative market analysis
  • Listing agreement
  • Proposed marketing plan
  • Seller’s net sheet
  • Preliminary title report or
  • Mandatory disclosures
  • Pre-listing inspection report
  • Purchase offer and counteroffer forms
  • Purchase and sale agreement
  • Contingency removal form (CA-specific)
  • Home inspection report
  • Home appraisal report
  • Property tax statement
  • Settlement statement
  • Deed
  • Affidavit of Title
  • 1099-S tax form

A tip is to have all of these documents ready before you list your home so you can check you have everything you need. For this, it is always recommended you get professional assistance to ensure you have covered all of your bases and to help you to understand the legal jargon associated with these types of contracts. 

A real estate agent, broker, or real estate lawyer can advise you on everything you need so you can be sure you haven’t missed anything.

How Do You Set a Realistic Price for Your Home?

Setting the right price for your home is a significant part of the sale. And if you aren’t in the real estate market, it can be hard to know what to list your home for when going alone. However, some resources are available to help you get the right price.

First, you might want to consider getting an appraisal. An appraisal will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it is the best way to get an accurate price for your home based on its current condition and the local market. Undervaluing your home is just as bad and something you want to avoid as setting too high a price. A house listed at too high an asking price can remain in the market for a long time and deter buyers from even viewing it. Don’t forget; they will have done their research, too, meaning they know the average price to expect to pay for specific properties and what they are willing to pay more for.

Alternatively, you can look at current listings for similar properties in your area and see what they are selling to land at a price. This method isn’t always accurate and fails to consider a number of factors such as the quality of the home, internal fittings and work undertaken by the current owners, and market fluctuations or not taking into consideration recently sold homes.

How Do You Get Your Home Ready for Market?

Getting your home ready for market involves a lot of work, time, and effort on your part. Once you have listed the house, you need to be prepared to accept viewings instantly, so before you put your home up for sale by owner, you need to be confident you have dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed all the ‘t’s, so to speak. 

Declutter, Clean, Stage

First, you want to start with giving your home a good declutter. Buyers like to be able to envision their own belongings in the space when viewing potential new homes. This means streamlining what you have on offer and reducing how much ‘stuff’ you have in your home on view. Whether you want to get rid of items or box them up and put them into storage is up to you, but this is a priority, preferably before you have your photographs taken.

Next, give your home a deep clean. It can be an idea to hire a one-off professional cleaning service to perform this, but make sure you pay attention to all the small details to make sure your home looks as clean as possible at all times. Especially as you never know when someone might need to arrange a viewing.

Spruce Up the Exterior

You also need to check your home’s curb appeal, and this requires you to step outside and see your home how others do. People will make up their minds about you and your home within a few seconds, so you need to make those first seconds count. Address any issues such as peeling exterior paint, clutters outside, broken fixtures and fittings, weeds and overgrown lawns and shrubbery, as well as the cleanliness of the outside of your home too. It all matters.

Make Sure All is in Good Order

Finally, take care of any odd jobs you have been putting off. Change that bulb, fix the squeaking door or floorboards, freshen up the paintwork, etc. Then you can look at taking the best pictures of your home when it all looks new and fresh and start advertising for open house events and printing flyers.

How Do You Promote Your Home When Selling Without an Agent?

You need to be as active as possible when it comes to selling your home for sale by owner, as all the responsibility falls on you.

Promoting your home as FSBO means, you need to plan open house events for potential buyers to come and view your property. To catch the eye of buyers, you need to know exactly where to list your home.

Zillow and Trulia allow sellers to list their FSBO homes free of charge, so it is worth starting there. You can also list your home on, FSBO, and HomeFinder, although this may come with a fee. You can also list your homes on Craigslist or local neighborhood forums.

Printing flyers, placing local ads in newspapers, and using home signage to advertise your home can be practical marketing tools for selling your house, but these all come with a cost. This is the cost and expertise you pay for when hiring a realtor.

Use social media to garner interest in your home sale. Use your personal profiles or set up ones dedicated to selling your home. Use this space to share pictures and details that potential buyers want to know and find out from a realtor. You might want to consider hiring a professional photographer to get the best shots of your home to make it look more attractive online. Search for local selling sites and use hashtags to generate more interest and be as active as possible to reach more people quickly.

When listing your home, you want to create an engaging listing. Please include all the essential details of your home and any attractive features and qualities it has.

  • The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage of your home.
  • Features include hardwood flooring, marble countertops, recently refurbished areas such as a new roof or landscaping.
  • Local amenities in the neighborhood include proximity to schools, local transport links, and highways connections.
  • Ask friends, neighbors, and colleagues to help oy to spread the word about your listing too.

How Do You Vet Potential Buyers?

When people start arriving to view your home, you don’t want to take just anyone’s word that they are genuinely interested. Realtors will know who is genuine and prove that people can continue with the sale. Going it alone via FSBO means you need to do this.

At first, you will want to see forms of ID to prove their identity, such as passports or drivers’ licenses when they view your home. Not only does this allow you to identify everyone at a later time and to prevent any thefts on the property as they will be easily identified at a later date.

Next, for serious buyers, you need to confirm a few details by asking a few questions and requesting to see a mortgage approval letter (not to be confused with a pre-qualification letter) or proof of funds if they are cash buyers. 

  • What down payment do they have?
  • What lender are they using?
  • Are they subject to any borrowing conditions?
  • How much are they allowed to borrow?

The more you can find out about their status and how they intend to purchase your home as early as possible, the better decisions you can make.

Do I Need an Attorney When Selling My Home?

Legally, you do not need an attorney to sell your home in all states, but it would be prudent to engage the services of one before needing them.

If you are following the for sale by owner option in any of the following states, you will be required to use a real estate attorney;

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island 
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Real estate contracts can be notoriously lengthy, and the last thing you want to do is sign something you don’t fully understand, especially disclosure statements. Get yourself a real estate attorney who can give you pretty much the same advice a realtor can and avoid making any costly mistakes you can’t reverse.

An attorney can cost you a few thousand dollars, and while you might be choosing this option to save money and get a better price for your home, having legal representation can save you a lot of worries and mess further down the line.

Consider Working with a Broker

When it comes to selling your home, going at it alone can come with major hassle and expense. Instead, why don’t you leave the legwork to an experienced real estate broker?

Part of figuring out how to sell a house by owner is determining what you can and can’t do. Leaving it to an expert broker can ensure all parts of the transaction are handled with ease, from start to finish.

Are you interested in buying or selling a home? Reach out now for a home guide or sign up now to find additional information.

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