FSBO: Does the Seller Really Save Money When Selling for Sale By Owner?

Sellers typically think they are saving money when selling their property FSBO.  However, sellers typically average less for their property when not using a real estate agent to list and sell their property.  As reflected in Florida Realtors 2013 Profile of Florida Homebuyers and Sellers released January 22, 2014, “the typical FSBO home sold for $223,000 compared to $241,000 among agent-assisted homes.”  In 2012, according to National Association of Realtors statistics, the typical FSBO home sold for $174,900 compared to $215,000 for an agent-assisted home.

If one was to decide to sell their own property, the first step for a seller would be preparing the home for sale and arriving at a selling price.  Real estate agents have the knowledge and the resources to assist sellers in preparing their home for sale.  Once the seller gets their home ready, then they have to arrive at an asking price.  Without having the assistance of a real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis, sellers would need to hire a licensed residential real estate appraiser to make sure they are not giving their property away, or being unrealistic and pricing their property too high.

As a matter of inconvenience, the seller now has to market the property and show it to prospective buyers. This means the seller needs to take time from their busy schedule to show their property to prospective buyers, which could be incredibly time consuming.  If a real estate agent has an interested buyer and contacts the seller to show the property, the seller must react quickly and coordinate a showing to avoid losing a prospective buyer.  In contrast, if the property is listed with a realtor, the buyer’s realtor is able to show the property right away using a lock box, or communicate with the seller’s realtor for a prearranged showing. The real estate agent utilizes their marketing resources to gain maximum exposure for the property, including listing it among fellow realtors, print and/or online media, and hosting open houses.

Most importantly, when the seller finds a buyer, the parties will then enter into a contract.  The seller should hire an attorney to prepare the contract and represent them at closing. In the event the buyer had the assistance of a realtor and presented the seller with a contract, then the seller should have their attorney review the contract with the seller prior to signing it. In preparing for closing, the seller will have to make arrangements to be available at the property for the buyer’s inspections and lender’s appraisal.

In summary, a seller might want to think twice and evaluate their situation before trying to sell their property without the assistance of a realtor. Having the knowledge and experience of a realtor can lead to a much smoother transaction as they are aware of the common pitfalls associated with selling property and can ultimately lead to a more profitable outcome. Whether a seller is doing a FSBO or using the assistance of a realtor, it is advised that a seller have legal representation when selling their property.  Likewise, buyers should have separate legal representation when purchasing property.

As always, should you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please consult your real estate attorney.


Berlin-Patten, PLLC

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

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