FSBO Real Estate: Pros, Cons, and a Comprehensive Guide

FSBO Real Estate: Pros, Cons, and a Comprehensive Guide

Published by Kartik Subramaniam

Reading Time : 5 minutes

For sale by owner

In the ever-evolving world of real estate, the concept of For Sale By Owner (FSBO) has gained considerable attention from sellers trying to save on the commission. FSBO is a method of selling a property without the involvement of a real estate agent or broker. The seller assumes all responsibilities, from setting the right price to handling the paperwork and closing the sale. On the surface, it might seem appealing, mainly due to the potential for saving on fat commission fees that typically go to a real estate agent.

Every now and then, I will get a call in our office from someone who is interested in selling a property on their own without hiring an agent so I figured I should probably write an article about this. It's easy to get lured by the prospect of saving money. Still, it's equally critical to understand the challenges and potential drawbacks of this do-it-yourself approach to selling a property. My intention is not to discourage those considering FSBO but to provide a comprehensive understanding of what it entails, enabling sellers to make an informed decision.

Pricing Challenges

One of the significant challenges faced by those selling their home through the FSBO method is correctly pricing the property. This task usually falls within the expertise of a real estate professional who has obtained a real estate license through training, education and passing a real estate license examination.

Without this professional experience, accurately assessing the value of your home can become a complex process. Sellers need to consider various factors such as the location, size, and condition of the property, recent sales of comparable homes in the area, current market trends, and even the time of year. A real estate license gives professionals the know-how to consider and correctly weigh all these aspects.

Online websites like Zillow can be handy for getting a basic idea about how much homes are worth in your area. But it's better to depend on more than just them to determine your home's value. Zillow uses a Zestimate tool which tries to estimate your home's value using public information and other factors, but the Zestimate can't consider things like how good your home looks, any improvements you've made, or what's unique about your home. On the flip side, a licensed real estate professional knows all the ins and outs of selling homes. They'll come to your home, look it over carefully, consider what makes it unique, and consider what similar homes have recently sold for.

So, while Zillow can give you a rough guess of your home's value, a real estate professional can give you a much better, customized estimate. They should help you set a price that's just right for your home, which can be important when trying to sell.


If the home is underpriced, it could lead to a faster sale, but you risk losing out on potential profit. On the other hand, overpricing the property can deter potential buyers, leading to the property languishing on the market for an extended period. Both scenarios are far from ideal and could result in financial losses or unnecessary stress for the seller.

Accurately pricing a home for sale is a complex process that can significantly impact the sale's success. With the experience and training that comes with obtaining a real estate license, this task can be easier for FSBO sellers.

Time Considerations

The FSBO approach also demands a substantial time commitment from sellers. Not only must the seller price the property properly, but they must also handle all aspects involved in marketing the home. This includes scheduling and conducting viewings, answering inquiries, and actively communicating with potential buyers. Typically managed by a real estate agent, these responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming for the uninitiated.

Legalities and Negotiation

Last but definitely not least, FSBO sellers must handle all the paperwork and legal aspects of a property sale. This requires a deep understanding of real estate laws, contracts, and negotiation skills. The risk of making a mistake or oversight can be high; correcting these can take considerable time and effort.

Deciding to sell your house yourself also can limit the number of people who even know about your house being for sale. The main reason for this is that FSBO listings generally don't appear on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS). The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is an important tool that can only be accessed by those who have passed the real estate test and are members of an Association of Realtors. Also, negotiating a deal can be hard without the help of an experienced real estate agent. If you're an owner representing yourself in the sale, staying objective during negotiations can take a lot of work. Real estate agents have honed their negotiation skills over many deals, which is a big plus they bring to the table.

Embarking on the FSBO route involves tackling negotiations without the advantage of professional experience. This aspect can be daunting, particularly if the buyer is represented by a seasoned real estate agent. These professionals have the skills and expertise acquired from handling numerous transactions, giving them an upper hand in the negotiation process.

In addition to this, there are emotional factors that often come into play during negotiations. Sellers may have a sentimental attachment to their homes, which can cloud judgment and lead to unrealistic expectations. This emotional investment can also make it challenging to respond objectively to criticism about the property or to negotiate effectively on price and terms.

Another often-overlooked aspect of selling a property FSBO are the legal complexities involved. This process requires understanding local and national real estate laws, regulations, and required disclosures. Without this expertise, sellers can find themselves in non-compliance, leading to penalties or delayed transactions.

The risk of legal disputes is significantly heightened in FSBO sales. Mistakes or omissions in the paperwork, or unintentional non-disclosure of specific property details, could lead to lawsuits after the transaction is completed. These issues can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful to resolve.

FSBO sellers also face potential financial losses due to these legal pitfalls. Costs associated with lawsuits, penalties for non-compliance, or needing to hire a legal professional for assistance can quickly add up.

Consider Getting Your Real Estate License

Another option is getting your real estate license if you're adamant about saving money on real estate commissions. This provides you with the necessary expertise to navigate your home sale and offers an understanding of the market, negotiation skills, and a grasp of the legal aspects of real estate transactions - at least at a high level. You’ll still need to put your license with a broker in order to do an act that requires a license but it’s at least a start.

Whether you sell FSBO, hire a real estate professional, or obtain your real estate license and represent yourself, it's crucial to understand what each path entails. We encourage all potential sellers to seek professional advice to ensure they make an informed decision that best suits their needs and circumstances.

While the FSBO route may initially seem more cost-effective, it requires a significant investment of time and energy that should not be underestimated.

As always, if you are considering getting your real estate license, even to sell just your own home, visit www.adhischools.com or call us at 888-768-5285.



Kartik Subramaniam

Founder, Adhi Schools

Kartik Subramaniam is the Founder and CEO of ADHI Real Estate Schools, a leader in real estate education throughout California. Holding a degree from Cal Poly University, Subramaniam brings a wealth of experience in real estate sales, property management, and investment transactions. He is the author of nine books on real estate and countless real estate articles. With a track record of successfully completing hundreds of real estate transactions, he has equipped countless professionals to thrive in the industry.

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