Buying a Home that is “For Sale By Owner”

A home is likely the biggest purchase of your life so what happens if you find the perfect property but it is “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO)? To avoid surprises, headaches, and extra costs, it is always advisable to work with Buyer’s Agent; just because the seller has opted to go it alone does not mean that you have to! A Buyer’s Agent will represent your best interests through the process and will ensure that you know what you are buying without any surprises. Here are some important things to consider before making an offer on a FSBO home.

Who Pays the Commission?

When you buy a home that is listed by a Realtor, as the buyer you do not pay your Buyer’s Agent’s commission (this is covered by the seller) but this may not be the case when buying a FSBO property. Often enough, FSBO sellers will agree to pay your Realtor’s commission but if they don’t, this will be up to you. The good news is that this will be agreed upon before you make an offer so there are no surprises. Also keep in mind that if you choose to buy the home without a Realtor, this will add extra work for you real estate lawyer (verifying contracts, offers etc.) and this may make your legal bill significantly higher. If you choose to work with a Buyer’s Agent and do have to pay the commission, at least that price is set.

Disclosure

You need to keep in mind that a FSBO seller is not bound by the same rules as a Realtor. They do not need to notify you of other offers, they may disclose the details of other client’s offers to other interested parties, and most importantly, they may not disclose all known facts about the home. These can all pose major challenges through the buying process but a Realtor can help you navigate these challenges and spot “red flags”. You don’t want to be surprised after moving in and a Buyer’s Agent can help you ensure that you make the right inquiries about the property.

Negotiating

You want someone on your side that knows the art of negotiation! There is a good chance that you have never negotiated the purchase or sale of a home yourself in the past while a Realtor does it all the time. Your Buyer’s Agent will be able to advise you on the process and ensure that all the proper forms are completed through the offer process.

Should you consider a FSBO?

It is certainly easier to purchase a home which is listed with a Realtor but if the home that you have been looking for is a FSBO, it should not be overlooked simply for this reason; just find a Realtor to help you with the purchase to make sure it goes smoothly and that there are no surprises.