How to sell a house by owner

How to sell a house by owner

A senior couple standing in front of their house with a for sale sign in the background.
What is for sale by owner?

Do you need a guide and helping hand who will walk you through your house sale, or do you see yourself taking a more hands-on approach?
For sale by owner or FSBO is the path homeowners take when they don't want to hire help to do all the behind-the-scenes work that comes with a traditional house sale.

FSBO sellers choose the price for their house; they list the house for sale, control the listing, decide how to market it, give potential buyers tours, and handle negotiations personally.

Stick with us, and we'll explain how to sell a house by owner.

Steps to selling FSBO

Set a price: You need to decide on an asking price. This may seem like an easy step, but it takes some work.

One thing real estate agents have in their favor is access to data on home values and experience comparing houses to figure out roughly how much one is worth on the present-day market.

You'll have to do this yourself. You can start by looking at how much homes similar to yours sold for in your area.

Now, look at the list of nearby houses you've compiled, review how much buyers paid for them, and think about what features they have in common with your house.

Were they in great shape, or did they need a lot of repairs?

Something else you should consider is timing. When did the comparable houses sell? Has the market changed since then?

How much are sellers asking for the houses that haven't sold? Are any houses for sale with prices that stick out like sore thumbs? How long have those houses been on the market?

You can also get an appraisal. Appraisals are a fast way to get a professional's opinion on your house, but remember that just because an appraiser gives you a number doesn't mean that's what you will get.

According to, an appraisal could cost between $375 to $450.

Take photos: You need to take lots of pictures. The first thing potential buyers want today are pictures of your house.

Do a deep clean, stage the house—buy some plants, fluff the couch pillows, and put books on your shelves. Repair things that are obviously broken and add lighting where needed.

Make it shine.

Hiring a professional real estate photographer is best to get the highest quality pictures possible.

Promote the house: Now you have all these high-quality photos, it's time to announce your listing to the world.

Post your house online!

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are prime opportunities for free advertising. You can also post your house on real estate marketplace websites for free.

Of course, the time-honored method of posting a for-sale sign outside your house can't hurt.

You can also pay to promote your house in other ways, like taking out personal ads, if you don't mind spending the extra money.

Wait for offers: Next comes the harder part.

You've listed your house and publicized the listing. Now, you have to wait to see if anyone is interested in buying it and if people are interested, you have to field their inquiries professionally.

You're likely going to get phone calls, emails, and maybe text messages asking about the house, whether you'd consider lowering the price and if people can come to look at it in person.

This is a trickier step because you don't want to be rude or inaccessible to potential buyers, but you're also going to have to give up your time to show people the house, listen to their feedback, and stay in touch to see if they'll make an offer.

You can't take it personally if a prospective buyer criticizes your house. This will probably happen. They're trying to decide whether they want your house to be one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

Vet your buyers: Before letting strangers enter your house, you should check them out.

Make sure you take down their names and contact information and if they hired a real estate agent, get their information too. Having a record of everyone who visits your house can be useful.

Also, you should confirm that they have the means to buy the property.

When you get an offer, ask the buyer to submit a letter from a lender confirming that they've been pre-approved to take out a mortgage.

The letter should come from a legitimate lender and say how much money the buyer has been approved to borrow. This way, you're less likely to be on the receiving end of an unpleasant surprise at closing.

If they're going to pay cash, you can still ask for proof that they have the money and most likely won't back out of the deal.

Negotiate: This is one of the steps people may prefer to hire a real estate agent to handle. Negotiating may feel uncomfortable, but it's essential to a house sale.

If you find a buyer, they might make a lower offer than you like.

You'll have to decide whether you want to accept their offer or suggest a different price. Conditions like repairs and closing costs could also become part of the negotiation.

You'll have to decide what you're willing to accept and what conditions you absolutely won't agree to. But, again, it's best not to let emotions take over in this leg of the process.

Paperwork: This is probably the least enjoyable part of a house sale.

Houses come with a lot of paperwork, and you'll need to make sure the contract, home inspection report (if the buyer had an inspection completed), appraisal report (if you had one), deed, tax documents, closing statement, and other paperwork are in order.

There are also a number of documents you'll have to juggle before you even list the house while it's on the market.

Hire a real estate attorney: If you want to ensure the paperwork, laws, and regulations aren't getting the better of you, it might be advisable to hire a real estate attorney.

An attorney can ensure you're on the right track and offer advice to put you in a better legal position.

Benefits of selling FSBO

Real estate agents know how to sell a house, but they can be expensive to hire. Selling a house by owner means you don't have to pay a real estate agent to help you find a buyer and close a deal.

You also don't have to consult anyone on the asking price you should set when listing your house.

You'll get to meet with buyers personally when you want to, and you can decide how you want to promote your house.

And, of course, you have total control over the sale. You won't have to ask anyone's opinion or work around anyone else's schedule.

Drawbacks of selling FSBO

More control inevitably also means more work. You'll be the only person responsible for keeping track of the paperwork, deciding what price to ask for, fielding interested buyers, and negotiating for the best offer.

There's a lot of room here to make mistakes, especially if you're not familiar with the ins and outs of real estate.

But, even if you're confident you won't mess up, you will be dedicating time and money to making your sale a success.

And even if you don't hire a real estate agent or an attorney, your buyer might, and it's common for the seller to pay the commission for a buyer's real estate agent.

We can make FSBO easier.

Selling FSBO is a great choice for someone who prefers more control over their house sale and doesn't want to pay for a real estate agent.

But there's a lot of potential for stressful inconveniences. We can make the entire process even better. HomeVestors® buys houses "as is" from sellers who want a fast and convenient sale.

Sell your house to us; we can close fast, pay you cash, and even pay typical closing costs. We don't charge fees or commissions. And you only have to show your house to one person when you work with us.

You won't have to do nearly as much paperwork or any initial work to prepare a house for sale. We can buy your house just as it is.

Call 866-200-6475 today to speak with a property specialist from a local independently owned and operated HomeVestors franchise and learn how to sell your house by owner easily in Atlanta.

FSBO are not the only kinds of houses we buy. Learn more about selling your house to HomeVestors in Atlanta, Georgia.