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What Does "For Sale by Owner" mean?

“For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) refers to the process of selling one’s own house or property without the aid of a real estate agent or broker. Such sales are not prohibited by law and can often save a property owner time and money that would have been spent with a real estate agent. 

On the other hand, an owner who wishes to sell their property on their own may have to devote additional resources to learn the local laws regarding the purchase and sale of residences. Thus, it is important that a home owner consider carefully the benefits and disadvantages of the For Sale by Owner process. FSBO is usually pronounced “fizzbo”.  

What Are the Pros and Cons of For Sale by Owner?

There are many advantages of selling your own home, such as: 

  • Control of the entire process: You will not have anyone dictating which decisions to make regarding important matters such as setting the price, doing advertising/marketing, selecting buyers, and setting the sales terms and conditions
  • Savings in costs: It is often cheaper in the long run as you will not have to devote profits to commissions for real estate brokers
  • Savings in time: You won’t be required to spend your time meeting with real estate companies
  • More freedom: You are able to remove your  home from the market without violating any terms of a listing agreement

On the other hand, the For Sale by Owner process also has its disadvantages, such as:

  • No advice: You won’t have an experienced real estate agent to provide you with help or advice for matters like pricing, advertising, and home inspections
  • Possibly less exposure: Most real estate companies work with listings that expose the property to buyers.  Your property may get less exposure since you won’t be able to work through a listing
  • More work for you: You will have do everything yourself, including showcasing the home, handling financial transactions, and arranging for the closing sale
  • Legal assistance: It may become necessary to work with a lawyer to help you draft, review, or edit any sales contracts between you and a buyer

Depending on your individual situation, these factors may work for or against you.  You would have to carefully assess your budget and time constraints when considering FSBO. Also, you may wish to do some background research on the real estate laws in your area.

Do I Need a Lawyer for “For Sale by Owner” Issues?

When selling your home, the For Sale by Owner process can offer some advantages, though there are some setbacks associated with it. Having an attorney can become essential with FSBO sales, as you may need legal advice regarding your property. Also, if a dispute arises with a buyer, a lawyer can help represent your interests in a lawsuit.   

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 01-05-2017 04:09 PM PST

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