need help selling my home without an agent FSBO

16 Replies

I have a neighbor interested in my home. I would like to sell without an agent since I already have a buyer lined up. I was hoping someone here has experience with FSBO and could share what is needed to close the deal. Any links to posts, blogs, websites or anything with details would be appreciated. The property is in California. Thanks!

In my area, closings are handled by title agents so I would tell somebody to start there to understand the closing process. 

To get the closing done, a number of things have to come into place; I will list some in no particular order. And it should not be considered to be an exhaustive list. 

Agreement of Sale (purchase contract)

Buyer financing

Seller Disclosures

Certificate of Occupancy and associated municipal inspections and fees

Buyer inspections

Property tax certifications

Utility certifications

Title insurance 

Deed preparation

Transfer tax documents and payments

Recording of documents and associated fees

Payoff statement for seller mortgages

Some of the FSBO listing sites have some more details and even documents that they offer to help sellers.

Is your buyer paying cash and/or is their funding lined up? Selling FSBO without an agent is easy until you have to deal directly with a buyer's lender. Then you'll appreciate what agents do and that they are worth 6%. I consider myself pretty skilled and efficient with RE paperwork but I don't sell retail to buyers getting home loans without an agent.

The other issue is value. You may be totally underestimating what you could get for the property if you put it on the open market, especially right now. You may net more by using an agent. If your understanding of value is off by only 7%, you'll lose money going FSBO. Just something to think about.

Steve really hit the nail on the head.  But, whoever is doing your closing will handle most of those - i think you need to focus on three key thing:

1. Coming to terms.  How much will you sell for.  When.  etc.  This is by far the most important step...

2. Create a contract with the buyer.  A quick google search turned up this contract, which looks pretty standard for WA, OR, and NC

3. Finding a title company or closing attorney to do the closing.  One big example is Fidelity National Title.  With only a few exceptions, they should be able to walk you through the rest of your list and todos.

Best of luck

Thanks for the help Steve! If anyone else has checklists or other re-sources, I would appreciate the help.

The buyer is pre-qualified and I am at the top of my comps in the area at about 350  per square foot. I will probably save  about 14k in commission. Several agents that I spoke to wanted to list it for less. Definitely something I should think about, Marie. I guess I will get the purchase agreement signed and then contact a tile company.  Thanks for the link Jeremiah. Thank you all for taking the time! 

Hey Guys, Thought I would update you. I sold the house FSBO and saved almost 15k in commissions and got the price for the top of my comps in the area. I used a TC (transaction coordinator) for a flat fee of $499 to handle all of the the paper work. I'm going to try this on all my future sales.

I saw your headline, started reading the posts and my suggestion was going to be to hire a transaction coordinator. I use them on my deals and it is a huge time saver. Glad it worked out for you.

Aron, "A transaction WHAT? Is that some kind of California Talk?   :D Please inlighten the rest of us-HUH?

@F Foster A TC or transaction coordinator is someone who assists the agent and broker in the processing of the real estate file. Gathering all information, paperwork, and following up of the contractual items. Putting together the final Broker file of the real estate transaction. 

Most RE agents use these to save their own time while drumming up new business. They basically make sure that the timeline for closing is followed and all paperwork is complete by closing. Some will list your property on the mls and draw up a purchase contract. 

I worked for a title company in AZ many years ago. I typed this up to help a friend who wanted to sell FSBO. Some of this may/may not be applicable in your state.

Step 1: Determine Market Value of your house.

Look at Zip Realty,

Trulia and others for comparison. Zillow works in some neighborhoods too.

Consider using incentives to lure in buyers such as paying for closing costs or giving allowances for certain items usually decorative such as flooring/paint.

Step 2: Determine whether you want to list with a flat fee listing service. Post your signs.

Step 3: Once you have found a buyer, you will need to negotiate the following:


Closing date

Who pays what fees

The following items are typically the sellers responsibility:

Termite Inspection ( you need to schedule) This is usually paid at closing and costs about $75-100

Buyers Title Insurance 

Escrow Fee 

The HOA usually charges a transfer fee this is negotiable between buyer/seller it varies anywhere from $75-150 (AZ).

These are the only major costs there are a few other “junk” fees that the title company charges such as express mail fees $50 and Recon Fees $75

Step 4: Buyer/Seller meet with the title company of Buyers choice.

I would pick one close by. Buyer deposits earnest money $1000-2500 usually whatever you are comfortable with. Buyer should already have met with mortgage company of their choice.

Some items you will need to provide the title company with:

Loan Payoff Information

This includes the name and telephone number of your lender, acct number and they will also need SS#’s to obtain payoff information from the lender.

Homeowners Association information this includes the name and telephone number of your HOA management company.

Contact information.

Step 5: Inspections

Once escrow is opened the Seller orders a termite inspection and the buyer has the right to request a home inspection to be paid at their expense. These inspections need to take place within 10 days of opening escrow unless Buyer/Seller agree to extend these dates.

Once the inspections are done the title/mortgage companies run with it from here.

Step 6: Closing

You will need to keep in touch with the buyers to make sure things are progressing with the lender and that you are on track for your scheduled closing date. The title company will contact you a few days before your closing date to schedule a date for you to sign papers. On the day of closing you will grant the buyers occupancy once the title company has contacted you to let you know that the transaction has been recorded. They should have your proceeds check ready that day unless it is late in the afternoon when it records it may be the following morning. It is very important that you do not give the buyers occupancy of the house until the title company has confirmed that the transaction has been recorded.  

I think selling a home without an agent can work nicely. You can sell your home without the commission, fees and brokerage. Just take care of taking the cash and other handovers on time. Get your papers and other required documents ready. If anyone wants to sell their property for fast cash then they can also do this with the help of some home buying and selling companies. These companies are different from real estate agents.

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Congrats!  If you've found a buyer already then you're all set - just hire a transaction attorney to help you paper and close the deal :-)  In case the buyer falls through - Hauseit has some good articles on how to sell fsbo:

I think it differs state by state.  In CA the purchase forms are pretty standard so I'm fairly certain the brokers actually do the legal paperwork.  In NYC here it's completely different.  It might be legally required even to use an attorney.  The paperwork is much more customized and you really do need a good attorney to help you negotiate the contract.  

It sounds like you already found a buyer which is the most value that a broker will add in NYC - it's their main job here. If you're trying to save money in that arena try an agent managed FSBO approach. Much better than flying solo with a pure FSBO...

@Caroline Suh In NYC it's standard to have a real estate lawyer handle all the paperwork. For the low fee they charge (relative to the brokers who take 6% in NYC) and the protection and peace of mind they give you, hiring a lawyer is a no brainer!

@J Randall Thanks for the link. Those guys have lots of good information on their site about selling FSBO in the big apple (i.e. NYC). Especially from an investor standpoint, reducing/eliminating broker fees is essential in order to keep those IRRs palatable!

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