For Sale By Owner tips

For Sale By Owner Tips
For Sale By Owner Tips

Are you ready to put your home on the market but want to do that work yourself? We are here to share with you a list of some of the tasks that a Realtor typically handles inside of a transaction. If you choose to go the For Sale by Owner route, I will list out some tips and hints at the end of this article to offer guidance so you can sell your house as quickly as possible. Not for the faint of heart, there are some things you can do as a FSBO / For Sale By Owner to limit your stress during the process, and find better success in your journey to sell your own home.

For Sale By Owner tips and tricks to help you maintain your sanity:

Most likely, you have decided to attempt a For Sale by Owner transaction so that you can save money, but without enlisting the services of a Realtor to represent your interests. By saving that commission, you are instead taking on the tasks needed to be accomplished from before the listing, through to the end of the transaction.

For clients who are heroes, often the savings provided by the Heroes Home Advantage program more than makes up for those hopeful savings, in addition to the expertise  and marketing that comes along with the use of a Realtor.

However, when you look through the list of all of the tasks and responsibilities that a Realtor has on their plate, it almost becomes a no-brainer to hire an expert for the job. Your Realtor not only will represent only your interests but also manages every aspect of the deal, including home inspectors, the lender, title company, the other Realtor on the other side of the deal and on and on.

When working with a Realtor, you have the opportunity to experience concierge service, where you feel you are the only client! However, should you choose to go the route of putting the market on your home by yourself, consider the list of tasks conducted by a Realtor during the transaction (tips and tricks to follow at the end of the article!):

BEFORE the home goes on the market:


  1. Comps [i.e. comparable by property type (townhome, detached, single family, condo, etc.], price range, and location).
  2. Solds -- including all sales activity for the last 3-6 months.
  3. DOM -- days on market, to help you understand how quickly other homes in your area sold.
  4. Public record information for ownership and deed type, as well as the lot size and dimensions. This also includes easily accessible information such as legal description, property’s land use, zoning and deed restrictions.
  5. Research into whether you need a lead-based paint disclosure.
  6. Insight as it relates to repair needs for the exterior of the home, as well as repair needs for the interior of the home.
  7. Sourcing an amazing photographer.
  8. For rural properties, researching all public records for sewer and septic systems, including the last time for pumping and inspection, as well as details on recent well inspections, output and depth reports.
  9. Collating at least 12 months of utility information
  10. Sourcing pest control services and managing the future coverage (i.e. wood destroying insect reports)
  11. Providing potential seller net proceeds with various sales prices, scenarios and terms.
  12. Researching all permit statuses, including whether additions have been made without the appropriate permits.
  13. Determining how to provide access to the home (purchase an electronic lockbox, combination lock, key to be given out, etc)
  14. Professional installation of a yard sign, directional signs for open house events, etc. throughout the neighborhood, as well as "riders" that indicate whether the home is "For Sale", ready for an "Open House" or ... "Under Contract".

RIGHT AFTER the home goes on the market:

  1. Qualify ALL phone calls to ensure each person requesting a showing is a qualified buyer
  2. Maintain records of every showing, to ensure you can follow up for feedback after each showing.
  3. Follow up with represented buyers to determined their status
  4. Repost on Craigslist, Zillow / Postlets and other marketing opportunities with updated information, including price drops, etc.

Listing Activities

  1. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
  2. Maintain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and loan account numbers; verify current loan information with lender(s) and verify homeowner association fees and pending or unpaid assessments with homeowner association manager.
  3. Prepare detailed list of property amenities
  4. Prepare detailed list of property’s "conveyances”
  5. Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
  6. Explain benefits of homeowner warranty to potential buyers
  7. Assist sellers with completion and submission of homeowner-warranty application.
  8. Provide ample access to home through lockbox, showing instructions, etc.
  9. Organize staging consultation and be present for same
  10. Arrange for interior and exterior photos to be taken for MLS listing, including assisting with staging and preparing home for photographs.
  11. Arrange for creation of a virtual tour if one will be used in marketing the property.
  12. Complete a new-listing checklist.

MLS-related Activities

  1. Prepare "MLS profile sheet" and enter property data from profile sheet into MLS listing database.
  2. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including proper placement in mapping function.
  3. Take additional photos of the property to upload into MLS and for use in flyers.
  4. Provide seller(s) with a copy of the MLS profile sheet data form.
  5. Add property to company’s active listings list.

Marketing and Showing Activities

  1. Create print, Internet, social media and physical ads with seller(s)’ input and approval.
  2. Provide "special feature” cards for marketing, if applicable.
  3. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites
  4. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
  5. Create QR codes.
  6. Prepare mailing and contact list.
  7. Order "just listed” labels and reports.
  8. Prepare flyers.
  9. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller(s)’ review.
  10. Order an appropriate quantity of marketing brochures or flyers.
  11. E-mail marketing material to brokers and agents with marketing material.
  12. Upload listing to specific property website
  13. Mail out "just listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
  14. Inform Network Referral Program of listing.
  15. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other REALTORS®. Return all calls promptly (weekends included).
  16. Provide showing time comments and feedback to seller(s) and recommend changes according to potential buyer comments.
  17. Review comparable MLS listings and new trends regularly to verify property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions, and availability.
  18. Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks.
  19. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
  20. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
  21. Request feedback from buyers’ brokers after showings.
  22. Review weekly market study reports.
  23. Discuss feedback from showing sales associates with seller(s) to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
  24. Call seller(s) weekly to discuss marketing and pricing.
  25. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database.

Offer and Contract Activities

  1. Verify proper licensure of buyer’s broker and salesperson.
  2. Obtain a signed and dated verification that escrow deposit was delivered to escrow agency.
  3. Receive and review all offer to purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ brokers.
  4. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet” on each offer, for the seller(s) to make comparisons.
  5. Review offers with seller(s) and review merits and weaknesses of each component of each offer.
  6. Contact buyers’ broker to review buyer(s)’ qualifications and discuss offer.
  7. Provide seller(s)’ disclosure to buyer(s)’ broker or buyer upon request (prior to offer if possible).
  8. Confirm buyer(s) is pre-approved by contacting lender.
  9. Obtain a copy of the buyer(s)’ pre-approval letter from lender.
  10. Negotiate all offers and counteroffers on seller(s)’ behalf.
  11. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance, or amendments to buyer(s)’ broker.
  12. When offer to purchase is accepted and signed by seller(s) ("contract”), deliver contract to selling/buyer(s)’ broker or if none, to buyer(s).
  13. Verify contract is signed by all parties.
  14. Provide copies of the contract and all addenda to closing attorney and the title company.
  15. Record and promptly deposit buyer(s)’ earnest money with escrow agent.
  16. Disseminate "under-contract showing restrictions” as seller(s) requests.
  17. Deliver copies of signed contract to seller(s).
  18. Provide copies of contract to lender.
  19. Inform seller(s) how to handle additional offers to purchase submitted between effective date of contract and closing.
  20. Change status in MLS

Loan-process Activities

  1. Contact buyer(s)’ lender weekly to verify processing is on track.
  2. Follow buyer(s)’ loan processing through to the underwriter.
  3. Relay final approval of buyer(s)’ loan application to seller(s).

Home-inspection Activities

  1. Coordinate buyer(s)’ professional home and termite (WDO) inspections with seller(s).
  2.  If property is vacant, arrange for power and water to be turned on.
  3. Review home inspector’s report and WDO report with seller(s) and discuss issues and options, if needed.
  4. Enter home inspection WDO inspection completion into listing file.
  5. Verify seller(s)’ compliance with home inspection report and WDO report repair requirements.
  6. Recommend or assist seller(s) with identifying trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs.
  7. Obtain copies of repair bills showing seller(s) has made required repairs.
  8. Coordinate entry into the property and buyer’s review of completed repairs, if needed.

Appraisal Activities

  1. Make arrangements for appraiser to enter property.
  2. Prepare package for appraiser including comps, improvements and upgrades
  3. Follow-up on appraisal.
  4. Enter appraisal completion into listing file.
  5. Discuss appraisal report with seller(s) and suggest options, if necessary.

Closing-preparation Activities

  1. Distribute signed contracts to all involved parties (buyer, seller(s), title company, lender, seller(s)/buyer(s) broker, closing agent) and provide contact information as needed.
  2. Coordinate closing process with buyer(s)’ broker and lender.
  3. Update closing forms and files.
  4. Confirm location, date, and time where closing will be held and notify all parties.
  5. Confirm with closing agent that all title problems have been resolved.
  6. Confirm that the seller has the proper Power of Attorney or trust documents, as required.
  7. Work with buyer(s)’ broker in scheduling and conducting buyer(s)’ final walk-through prior to closing.
  8. Confirm with closing agent that all tax, HOA, utility, and other applicable pro-rations have been resolved.
  9. Request final closing figures from closing agent.
  10. Review closing figures on HUD statement with seller(s) to verify accuracy of preparation.
  11. Forward verified closing figures to buyer(s)’ broker and confirm buyer(s)’ broker has received and reviewed closing figures.
  12. Confirm buyer(s) and Buyer(s)’ broker has received title insurance commitment.
  13. Provide homeowners warranty for availability at closing.
  14. Recommend courtesy closing agent for absentee seller(s), as needed.
  15. Review closing documents with seller(s) and their counsel.
  16. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent. If closing agent is holding escrow funds make sure it appears on the final HUD.
  17. Coordinate this closing with seller(s)’ next purchase and resolve any timing problems, if applicable.
  18. Confirm seller(s)’ net proceeds check at closing.

After-closing Activities

  1. Provide REALTOR® referral information for seller(s)’ relocation destination, if applicable.
  2. Change MLS status to "sold.” Enter sale date, price, selling broker, and listing broker’s ID numbers, etc.
  3. Close out listing in company files.
  4. Follow up with seller(s).

Note: This very comprehensive list does not include additional actions and services required to be provided by a Realtor during a transaction that involves a foreclosure, short sale, or a property owned by a bank.

NOW ... onto the tips and tricks that I promised!

While the real estate transaction is a LOT to manage and the use of a Realtor can ease stress and in most cases, provide a smooth process, not all agents are amazing! In some cases (dare I say this out loud?), the seller is in BETTER shape to achieve their goals, if they FSBO than if they were to work with an incompetent real estate agent.

Unfortunately, there are agents out there that will try to not show a home that isn't given a full commission. I would encourage anyone planning to do a FSBO to offer full standard compensation to a buyers' agent (in my market, that is between 2.5-3% of the sales price).

Some Realtors offer credits to specific clients (i.e. I participate with Heroes Home Advantage, which gives teachers, military, police, fire, first responders and health care providers 25% of MY commission directly back to them) which can offset the additional expense of hiring a Realtor to represent the Seller.

There are many "flat fee" agents who will provide comps and other information to help the FSBO, which can take away the stress of not having inside access to recently sold properties, etc.

Some of the most common situations to be aware of when selling as a FSBO is during the "due diligence" period. When dealing with inspections and other similar items, the FSBO individual needs to be ready to have many different scenarios brought to them by the buyers, including requested repairs, the remediation of certain problems, and perhaps even dealing with the request for monetary credits to offset things the buyers see as a problem.

FBSO individuals should also always ask for a pre-approval letter from a prospective buyer (BEFORE showing the home!) and double check by calling that lender to ensure the buyer has indeed gone through the pre-approval process!

If you are using a limited service company to place your home on the MLS / MRIS, be sure to inquire about the photos they plan to use to list your home. Often they provide less than stellar images, and most potential buyers will skim RIGHT by your home!

If you would like more FSBO tips and tricks on listing your home as a For Sale By Owner, please feel free to reach out to me! You can call or text at 571-482-7356 or email to

If you are soon to sell your own home as a FSBO, I wish you the best of luck and may the market be ... ever in your favor!