How to Increase Your “For Sale By Owner” Success

By Eric Tyson, Ray Brown

Selling a house without an agent is doable, but it’s considerably more challenging than it looks. If, after weighing the pros and cons of doing a FSBO, you decide to attempt to sell your house yourself, be sure to read our final words of wisdom.

Educate yourself

The things you don’t know generally are what get you into trouble. Even if you’re certain about selling your house sans agent, interview several good agents. Interviewing agents may reaffirm that you can handle the sale yourself, or the interviewing process may convince you that you’re better off hiring the best agent you contacted. You’ll probably pick up some helpful advice and information you can implement if you do decide to sell yourself. And, if your FSBO isn’t successful, you can always hire the best candidate after you’ve given FSBOing a shot. Either way, interviewing agents is well worth your time.

Ensure that other team members are especially strong

Without a real estate broker or agent on your team, making sure that your other players are the best they can be is all the more critical. Be especially careful to hire an excellent real estate lawyer.

Cooperate with agents

Because the vast majority of buyers work with agents, be sure to mention in your classified ads and listing statement that you “will cooperate with agents.” This statement tells local agents that you’re willing to pay them a commission if they procure the buyer who ultimately purchases your house. While some agents are comfortable selling FSBOs, you should consider that many agents currently working with buyers prefer to sell listed properties where they are guaranteed a commission by the listing broker.

Financially qualify prospective buyers

When someone makes an offer on your house, don’t take your property off the market until you’re sure the buyer is going to be able to swing the deal financially. Few buyers are wealthy enough to pay all cash for your house. Most folks need to qualify for a mortgage.

Ideally, the buyers are preapproved for a loan with a conventional lender. As opposed to merely being prequalified — a quick financial once-over — preapproval means they’ve gone through a rigorous financial examination. If, however, the buyers are just starting to shop for a mortgage, inquire about their occupations, incomes, recurring debt, and the source of their down payment for the purchase. When the buyers apply for a mortgage, get their permission to contact the lender to find out the likelihood of loan approval.

Watch out for buyers who make their offer to purchase your house subject to the sale of their own house first. This tactic, if handled improperly, can tie up your property and scare away other prospective buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy immediately.