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Working With For Sale By Owner Real Estate

Emma Tomsich4 minute-read
PUBLISHED: May 22, 2020 | UPDATED: August 16, 2021


With the increased availability of the internet and innovations among real estate technology, there are more for sale by owner listings now than ever before. So if you’re a real estate agent working with a buyer, you might have a client interested in a property that is for sale by owner. To learn more about these properties and sellers, here are some tips for working with for sale by owner real estate from the start of the home buying process to the final closing.

What is For Sale By Owner Real Estate And How Does It Work?

Let’s begin by covering the basics. For sale by owner (FSBO) real estate is when a property is sold by the owner without the help of a listing agent.

Many homeowners choose to sell their homes by themselves for two main reasons. The first and most common reason is to save money. FSBO sellers believe they can save thousands of dollars in commission if they choose to sell their own home without the help of a seller's agent. Another common reason people sell their own home is to have more control over the selling process.

Regardless of the motivation, there is certainly a desire for homeowners to sell their own homes. There is also a desire for people to buy homes that are for sale by owner.

Home buyers interested in for sale by owner real estate may appreciate having direct communication with the seller, receiving detailed information about the listing, and feeling more involved with the homebuying process.

How To Work With For Sale By Owner Real Estate

Homebuyers typically decide to work with a buyer’s agent, even if they already have their real estate options narrowed down. When looking at a house that is for sale by owner, buyer’s agents can help negotiate the price and stay on top of paperwork. It can also be helpful for a buyer’s agent to guide the buyer through the other steps of the FSBO homebuying process.

How To Talk With For Sale By Owner Sellers

Whether you realize it or not, a real estate transaction with a for sale by owner seller can be very different from a traditional real estate transaction. Rather than having a third party represent the property on behalf of them, FSBO sellers sell their property by themselves. This can allow for more direct communication between the buyer and seller, and ensure that detailed information about the house and its history is communicated at all times. At the same time, a for sale by owner seller might not have any previous experience with selling a home. They might also have an emotional attachment to the home, which would not be as strong as if an agent was selling the house on their behalf. Regardless of the situation, it’s important to remain professional at all times and try not to put yourself above the FSBO seller. Here are some more tips for talking with the FSBO seller throughout the home buying process.

How To Negotiate With For Sale By Owner Sellers

Negotiating an offer is one of the most important steps in a real estate transaction. Before making an offer on a for sale by owner home, make sure to do necessary research. Take a look at the prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood, and weigh the asking price with what you saw during the home’s showing. As an agent, chances are you have more experience with negotiating prices than the seller does. But that doesn’t mean you can automatically get a lower price just because the home is for sale by owner.

When you decide on an offer for your client, write it down and present it to the for sale by owner seller. Make sure to explain why you chose this number and include documentation to back up the price.

If the seller accepts your offer, great! But if not, that’s where your negotiation skills come into play. 

When it comes to negotiating, it’s important to remember that your goal is to get the best possible deal for your client. With that being said, make sure that you’re being realistic, but also asking for something in return for your client when you give a concession. Hopefully after a few rounds of negotiations, you and the seller will reach a final price. But if the seller still isn’t budging, you might have to implement some new strategies.

How to Work With Your Client If The Seller Isn’t Budging

Typically if a seller is not budging on the final price, it’s probably because they feel a strong emotional connection to the property and don’t want to part from it, or they believe it’s worth a lot more than it is. When working with a for sale by owner seller, these are common issues that you should be prepared to work with.

If the seller your client is buying from won’t lower the price, try to find out what it is they want. Make sure to be prepared for a bidding war, or maybe you could even offer to waive contingencies. Try to give them something in return, and work with them to relieve their emotional stresses. Be sure to tell them that your client will take care of the house, and you can even offer a rent-back, meaning the seller can pay the buyer rent to remain in the house for a set amount of time.

How To Help The Seller Understand The Closing Process

After agreeing on a price, the buyer and seller can finally start the last step in the FSBO home buying process, which is the closing. Because a seller might not have previous experience with home buying or the closing process, you might have to help them along the way. You can explain what the closing process entails, and walk them through the various steps. For example, make sure they know that the appraisal process is not an attack on their home, but rather a fair market value of what the home is worth.

If the seller is open to the idea, it might be smart for them to hire a real estate attorney to help with legal terminology and keep matters straightened out. Some terms that a for sale by owner seller might not be familiar with are escrow, title, and other legal words. An attorney would be able to help a seller better understand these terms, but if they refuse to work with an attorney, you might need to provide some additional explaining before signing the final paperwork.

For more information on the FSBO home buying process or to learn about working with FSBO sellers, check out these real estate resources.

Emma Tomsich

Emma Tomsich is a student at Marquette University studying Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for writing, and hopes to one day own her own business. In her free time, Emma likes to travel, shop, run and drink coffee.