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Home Selling

The Pros and Cons of Selling a Home For Sale By Owner

Written by
Devin Dvorak
April 15, 2019

FSBO…you’ve probably heard (or seen) this term before.

In the real estate world, FSBO (pronounced fiz-boe) means For Sale By Owner, the process by which a homeowner sells directly to a buyer. No agent is involved, which spares both parties from steep commission fees (if you're already on the FSBO route–head over to our free e-guide for some step-by-step guidance).

Sounds like a win-win, right? Not necessarily. Despite the initial cost savings (from eliminating commission fees), this DIY approach can end up being more costly overall, particularly for inexperienced sellers. As a result, it’s a consistently unpopular option.

So, before you proceed with the FSBO route, consider these pros and cons of selling for sale by owner.

Pro: Lower Commission Fees

One of the most common (and appealing) reasons for selling FSBO is the potential for cost savings. When selling a home with an agent, you can typically expect to pay 5-6% in commissions–3% to your listing agent and 3% to the buyer’s agent. But, when you sell for sale by owner, you’ll only be responsible for the buyer’s agent commission. This can significantly reduce what you owe in commissions come closing.

Con: No Pricing Strategy

Pricing is never easy, but pricing your home without an agent is a totally different story–which is why it’s hardly a surprise that pricing consistently tops the list of FSBO challenges. Because public access to market data is limited, homeowners have no clear way of knowing which homes are (or aren’t) selling. And because closing prices are not required to be publicly disclosed, there’s no precise way to compare one home value to another.

Although you could use an Automatic Valuation Model (AVM), every AVM relies on unique criteria and data–which leads to a wide variety of estimates–so you may not know which one to trust. For these reasons, it’s wise to hire a licensed, local real estate agent who can strategically price your home based on neighborhood expertise and real-time data.

Pro Tip: If you aren’t set on hiring an agent right off the bat, try our AI-powered home estimate tool for a more accurate home estimate valuation (which are always quality checked by a Jovio agent). Pretty awesome, right?

‍Pro: More Control Over the Sale

When you’re selling for sale by owner, the buck stops at you (which at times can be both a blessing and a curse). It means you’ll have final say on your home’s listing price, what improvements you make, who you show it to, and ultimately, who you sell it to. If you like the idea of maintaining control, selling FSBO may be the right choice for you.

But, it also means you’re responsible for handling every part of the transaction, whether you’re prepared (or qualified) to or not. At Jovio, our agents approach their relationship with their clients as a partnership. They actively seek your input as they guide you along the road to closing. Not only does that mean you get to have a say in your transaction, but you can rest easy at night knowing you have a trusted partner on your side to help you out.

Con: A Biased Opinion

Agent or not, it is absolutely essential to make sure your home is listing-ready. First impressions are everything, and you want potential buyers to see your home at its best. You might love your interior decor, but someone else might not. An unbiased agent can provide countless suggestions and quick improvements to make your home as marketable as possible.

At Jovio, our agents are well-versed in the art of home staging and understand which investments pay off and which will likely go to waste. Our home estimate app offers a free sample of this expertise, as one of our agents will provide general recommendations based on the photos you submit.

Pro: Insider Knowledge

You know your home better than anyone else. You know first-hand what it’s like to be a resident in your neighborhood and a part of the community you live in. And you can share this insider knowledge with prospective buyers who are eager to know what it would be like to live in your home.

We know that nobody knows their home better than the homeowner themselves, which is why when you partner with a Jovio agent, we encourage you to share all that you love about your home. We want you to help us convey to buyers just how great it really is. All those details will be incorporated into the marketing copy and efforts to help get your home sold.

Con: Inaccessibility to Marketing Channels

Your target audience contains buyers who are not only looking to buy a home in your neighborhood but are also willing and able to purchase one. It’s simple:

illustration that shows your target audience consists of people who are interested in moving to your neighborhood and who are ready and able to purchase a home

What’s not as simple is actually reaching these individuals. Sure, you can post on Facebook or throw up a for sale sign, but research shows this isn’t actually how buyers are finding new homes.

illustration of graphs showing that buyers find homes primarily through the internet and real estate agents and FSBO listings are typically not marketed the right way

One benefit of working with an agent is listing your home on the MLS, which helps you reach buyers who are also working with an agent. Of course, this is a great start, but you’re only reaching 34% of prospective buyers. Even still, it takes a lot more than a yard sign and an MLS listing to find the right buyers at the right time. Sellers need robust, targeted marketing strategies to maximize exposure and maintain competitive pricing (something we know a thing or two about).

Pro: Full Dedication to Selling Your Home

When you’re the sole individual responsible for selling your home, you can stay 100% focused on getting it sold. Most real estate agents will be working with multiple clients and juggling their needs at the same time–especially during the busy season. As a FSBO seller, you don’t need to worry about your home sale getting the time and attention it deserves.

‍Con: Lack of Real Estate Knowledge

Legal terms, acronyms and other types of jargon can be very overwhelming, especially for inexperienced sellers. Things can get shaky if you aren’t totally confident with every detail you sign off on, and we don’t recommend risking it.

Agents offer expertise and guidance on things like pricing and marketing strategy, market knowledge, legal standards, and much more. They also have experience negotiating with not only buyer’s agents and buyers, but inspectors, appraisers, and sometimes lenders.

If you go it alone, you can only rely on what you know and the resources you have access to. While there are plenty of free resources out there, no two transactions are ever the same and knowing the right course of action to take can prove to be difficult (and stressful).

‍But Mostly, Selling FSBO is a Major Time Commitment

Selling a home is a HUGE time commitment. From repairs and improvements to inspections and approvals, the to-do lists can feel endless, and selling your home completely on your own can feel like a full-time job.

Don’t have time? You’re not alone. That’s where we come in! Our agents not only helps you save time but also helps you tackle each of the challenges listed above.

Sell on your terms with a trusted partner by your side. Why wait? Click here to get started now. And if you've decided to embark on the FSBO journey, we still have your back. Check out our e-guide on how to FSBO in Austin, TX.

About the Author
Devin Dvorak

Devin grew up surrounded by real estate. Now his mission is to re-architect the industry to benefit homeowners. After studying Economics at Pepperdine and receiving a Fulbright Research Grant to study microcredits in Argentina, Devin grew to become the CFO at a national mortgage bank. When he’s not immersed in starting a real estate revolution, Devin can be found grilling a mean Argentine Asado.

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