Selling your home without an agent is entirely possible and, in some ways, easier today than in the past. Going for sale by owner (FSBO) could be a huge cost savings, since the real estate commission is the largest expense of any home sale. But FSBO is not for everyone.

If you go this route, you must be deliberate each step of the way. You’ll have to do your research and learn your market to discover what works and what doesn’t. Are homes staged? Do people price low for multiple offers or price high and wait? Is it a strong buyers’ market, or do sellers rule? Sometimes it can be hard to know, as markets can shift by neighborhood — or even by block.

In real estate today, sometimes you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you make a mistake your first time out, the market may punish you later on. Here are some other FSBO considerations for the next-generation home seller.

Online access to pricing makes going FSBO easier today

One of the biggest hurdles for sellers is pricing their home correctly and knowing the comparable home sales. It’s easier to understand pricing today, given how much information is online — particularly for someone who lives in a home where the recent comparable home sales are cut and dry. An example of this is a newer suburban development where the floor plans, layouts, fixtures and finishes are all similar.

Research your market offline, too

Learning a real estate market doesn’t take a huge amount of effort, but it does take time. Go to open houses and see what is for sale. Start this process early, and do it often.

Monitor a few nearby homes from listing to close. Real estate agents do it day in and day out, which makes them uniquely qualified to understand a market.

Be prepared to detach emotionally

Selling a home has both financial and emotional implications, whether you sell it yourself or through an agent. Knowing that complete strangers will be running through and potentially criticizing your home is enough to make any home seller feel like a wreck.

Imagine dealing with these strangers directly. If you go the FSBO route, you are front and center from start to finish. You can’t let your emotions get the best of you, and you must focus on the investment aspect of your home.

Sometimes sellers who can’t emotionally detach find themselves leaving money on the table, alienating perfectly good buyers, or both. But if you think you can see your home objectively, as a third-party product, then you might be good to go with FSBO.

It can become a part-time job

Remember the last time you sold a car or some furniture on Craigslist? It probably required time and energy to photograph your goods, post the listings, field calls, and show the items before you finally made the sale. With real estate, you can amplify that effort 10-fold.

Going FSBO can be excellent for someone with a flexible schedule or who works from home. But getting the home ready to sell means doing all of the standard sale prep work that you would do as a seller — and then taking it a step further. You need to be ready to show the home at a moment’s notice, do follow-ups, and manage the open houses and scheduling, not to mention negotiate and see the sale through firsthand.

Doubt creeps in at the 11th hour

Selling a home is not only a hugely emotional prospect, but also a gigantic financial transaction. People get scared and uncertain once it comes time to sell the home — and then they make mistakes.

It’s common to see FSBOs for sale at too high a price, or showing in poor condition. Once sellers get more realistic and serious about selling — which means pricing it right and presenting to the market properly — they often bring in a real estate pro.

Thinking of going FSBO? With so much information online today, it could be as easy as snapping some photos, writing some copy and posting online — maybe.

While FSBO does work seamlessly for many, going that route is not for everyone. Carefully weigh your options and consider if you have the time, resources, and emotional wherewithal to make going FSBO a reality. If you don’t think you’ll be able to invest those resources, reconsider bringing in a real estate agent.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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