10 Reasons Why For Sale By Owner Fails

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Mar 1, 2022

Selling for sale by owner or “FSBO” has become a popular choice for those wishing to save on listing agent fees. While sellers may be able to benefit from less selling expenses, there are a few downsides to selling FSBO.

If you are considering taking the risk and selling your own home, here are 10 reasons why for sale by owner fails. Avoiding these common mistakes will hopefully lead you to home selling success.

Reasons FSBO Fails

1.) Incorrectly price their home

Pricing homes correctly is something experienced real estate have trouble doing sometimes. Understanding the housing market and how to price homes accordingly takes experience. This is experience that many FSBO sellers lack. It is very common to find FSBO sellers overpricing their homes and hindering their chances of selling.

There are many factors to consider when pricing such as comparable sold properties, comparative active properties, current inventory and much more. If you do plan to sell FSBO, seek out a knowledgeable appraiser to look at your home. They will be able to verify the price you are considering listing at, as well as help you determine what your home is currently worth. You can also use online home valuation tools to get a rough idea of the value.

2.) Failure to prepare property for sale

As you can probably imagine, preparing a home for sale plays a crucial role in its selling success whether you are selling FSBO or not. This is an area many FSBO sellers fall short in. It’s easy to want to get your home listed, but don’t rush into it.

Consider any improvements or maintenance projects you need to make. This could include decluttering the home, cleaning the floors, completing neglected repairs, replacing outdated fixtures/features, freshly painting rooms, or improving curb appeal. As a seller, you want to show off your home in its best light. Therefore, take time to prepare your home so that buyers can see it in its full potential. You’ll be amazed at how much quicker you can sell.

3.) Not screening for legit buyers

Learning how to screen buyers is a skill that takes realtors time to learn. When looking for potential buyers, it’s important to have a list of questions or information to ask for to make sure you are not wasting your time with unqualified buyers. Unfortunately, many FSBO buyers don’t know what questions to ask or how to ensure a buyer is qualified. In addition, many sellers overlook the potential home selling mistakes that can arise during this process.

One suggestion for FSBO sellers is to have a good connection with a local mortgage consultant who will be able to help you determine if a client has been pre-approved or pre-qualified (there is a difference). Also, if the buyers have not been approved, you already have a helpful resource for them to complete the process.

4.) Lack of marketing experience

Real estate marketing has changed and many FSBO sellers are struggling to keep up. Putting your home in front of buyers is crucial if you are looking to sell. However, many sellers don’t know where to start when it comes to marketing their home. While placing an ad for your home on a listing site like Zillow is a huge start, there is more that needs to be done to optimize your success.

While many listing sites accept FSBO listings, there are just as many that do not. This limits exposure and requires sellers to find new ways to market their home. This is one area where having a realtor is beneficial. Realtors have the marketing tools at hand to provide the exposure that FSBO cannot. This includes marketing plans, MLS listings, and personal industry connections.

5.) Not always available for inquiries

FSBO sellers don’t often realize how much work realtors put into what they do. A substantial chunk of this work involves being readily available to handle inquiries from buyers. Because most FSBO sellers have full-time jobs and other obligations besides selling their home, it can be difficult to find the time or availability to do this.

In real estate, it is important to be timely with your responses. If you are not quick to respond to a buyer inquiry, they will move on to the next potential property. The last thing you want is to miss out on a  lead because you couldn’t answer your phone or respond to an email quickly enough. Staying on top of home inquiries and showing requests is key to finding the right buyer.

6.) Putting pressure on potential buyers

Selling your home FSBO is challenging and can bring about a lot of pressure. However, it is important not to project that pressure onto potential buyers when they are looking at your home. Real estate agents do a good job at allowing their buyers to make decisions for themselves without any personal biases.

However, this is hard when selling FSBO. When you are selling your own home, it’s easy to want to try and sell potential buyers on your home. Unfortunately, the seller’s own biases towards your home might put unintentional pressure on the buyer. Instead, try to give buyers space to view your home without feeling like they are going to hurt your feelings if it isn’t the right fit for them.

7.)  Shortcomings in negotiating deal

Nearly all home sales involve negotiation on some level. Real estate agents are trained on how to read contracts and understand what the buyers/sellers are getting into. These contracts are filled with various timelines, contingencies, clauses, and more that the average person may not be able to understand at first glance.

In other words, contracts are much more than just the price the buyer is offering.There are also other factors in the contract that may need to be negotiated. If you don’t know what to negotiate, or how to negotiate in general, you may find yourself agreeing to things you shouldn’t be agreeing on. Don’t let yourself get taken advantage of.

8.) Uncertainty on how to handle inspections

As a seller, you should expect buyers to request an inspection of your home. Some home’s aren’t always as they appear. Buyers want to know what they are getting into before buying. While this concept seems simple enough, many FSBO sellers are not sure how to handle this part of the transaction.

More than likely, there is going to be a problem that is discovered during an inspection. How you handle this news says alot about you as a seller. First things first, there is no need to get upset by a negative inspection. Instead, make the mandatory inspection fixes or try to negotiate a solution with the buyer. Your willingness to work with the buyer will be appreciated.

9.) Unwilling to pay the buyers agent

Just because you are selling FSBO doesn’t mean you are cleared from paying the buyer’s agent commission. The majority of home buyers work with buyer’s agents to help them find a home. If you are unwilling to pay the buyer’s agent fee, you will be severely cutting your chances of selling your home successfully.

Selling FSBO is challenging as is. If you have potential buyers that are providing you with great offers, don’t count them out because they are working with a buyer’s agent. You are already saving money on not paying for a listing agent, so paying the buyer’s agent commission shouldn’t be an issue. You might pay more than you want, but you will ultimately sell your home which is the main goal.

10.) Don’t understand closing timeline

The selling process doesn’t end once a purchase offer is accepted. Before you can officially close, there is a list of tasks that must be completed. While real estate agents are familiar with the closing timeline, those selling FSBO are likely not going to be as familiar with how this works. Those selling FSBO need to know what to expect from the closing process.


Studies show that only 11% of sellers actually succeed in FSBO. And according to research, FSBOs sell for less than the selling price of other comparable homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $225,000 last year, significantly lower than the median of agent assisted homes at $345,000.

Why are there so many for sale by owner fails? Selling your own home may seem simple enough, but there is a lot more that goes into the process of preparing, listing, marketing, negotiating, and closing on a home that many sellers don’t think about.

If you do decide to go in alone, remember to do these things – prep and stage your home, consider innovative ideas for marketing, screen buyers and support your asking price with solid data.

If going in alone seems too daunting, consider a low-commission brokerage that offer sellers a low 1% listing fee. With SimpleShowing’s listing service, home sellers receive experienced agent support, MLS listings, professional photos,and much more. Our real estate agents will handle the paperwork and negotiation while you enjoy the thousands of dollars you just saved!

Ready to sell your home? Contact us today to learn more about our process.

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