The 3 Professionals You Need When You FSBO

FSBO (For Sale By Owner) is a great option if you like researching and DIY projects. But there are some aspects of selling your house that are better left to professionals. Here are three people you’ll need when going the FSBO route.

How to Sell a House Without a Realtor

You’ve done your research and you’ve decided to forgo an agent and sell your home yourself (known as a “For Sale By Owner” or FSBO listing). Good for you! With the abundance of tips for selling your home and other information available, it’ll just take some time and good old-fashioned elbow grease to get your home ready for sale. Before you commit to going it completely alone, consider hiring these three professionals.

The Home Inspector

Before you put your FSBO home on the market, you’ll want to hire a home inspector to tour your property. The buyer will hire one prior to close and the last thing you want as an FSBO home seller is to have any unexpected repairs come up at the last minute. If you hired a real estate agent, they would know how much these issues affect the value of your home and could thus protect you from an overzealous buyer’s agent.

But since you’re selling your home yourself, you don’t have that buffer. You need to know what the issues are up front so you can choose whether to fix them in the most economical way possible, or leave them as-is and drop the price accordingly.

The Attorney

Some states require that you hire a real estate attorney regardless of whether you’ve hired an agent, but if you’re selling your home FSBO, an attorney is essential for the following reasons:

1) They will alert you to your legal liabilities. When you hire an agent, their firm carries what’s called Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance that protects you and your agent in the event that you accidentally misrepresent something about the house. But you can’t buy this coverage as an individual so you need an attorney to help guide you through any disclosures your state requires.

Hiring an attorney doesn’t, however, protect you from liabilities the way E&O insurance would. So you need to use the information they give you to make sure you’re giving the buyer the proper disclosures and following the letter of the law.

2) They will draft, review, and amend the purchase agreement. If your buyer has an agent, that agent can draft the purchase agreement, but you want to make sure you have a representative looking over it as well. Your lawyer will raise any concerns or red flags you might not otherwise catch and will explain anything you’re unclear about.

3) An attorney will negotiate any last minute issues that arise in the home inspection or appraisal. Even if you hired a home inspector prior to listing, they will occasionally miss something. In the event that an issue comes up, your attorney can negotiate a resolution.

4) They will help you clear title issues. In the event that an erroneous lien or some other issue shows up on your title report, an attorney will help you resolve it through legal channels.

5) They will attend your closing. With the mountain of paperwork, you will be signing at the closing table, you could prevent a costly mistake by having your attorney review everything one last time.

The Title Officer

When you hire a real estate agent to help you sell your home, they are usually the quarterback of the transaction, ensuring the right people submit and sign the right documents in the right places. In the absence of an agent in an FSBO transaction, the title officer will help you coordinate paperwork. 

Ask your attorney to recommend a title company and officer. Most experienced real estate attorneys will have someone they prefer to work with and since you’re going to be doing most of the “selling” tasks yourself, you want the rest of your team to work well together.

In most locations, it’s customary for the seller to pay for a title insurance policy for the new owner and if this is the case where you live, you will hire a title officer to help you through this process. If you live in an area where it isn’t customary for the seller to pay for a title insurance policy, you will still benefit from having a professional coordinate the closing between you and the buyer.

Selling your home without an agent is absolutely the right choice for some people. But just because you don’t have an agent doesn’t mean you should complete the entire process on your own. There are many legal and procedural traps you could fall into if you don’t have a representative looking out for your interests.