For Sale By Owner? Some Success Strategies

    For Sale By Owner? Some Success Strategies

    Mar 11, 2019

    It would be wrong to suggest that “For Sale By Owner” properties cannot be sold and sold at a fair market price. They certainly can be! But there are also national statistics that bear out the fact that MOST will TAKE LONGER and SELL FOR LESS than if listed through a credible broker and a hard working agent. In many, if not most cases, the higher sale price supersedes the commission and so, in effect, often offers the home owner more walk-away money with much less stress and time wasted.

    So for those of you trying to sell your home without an agent, here are some tips to help you succeed.

    1) Don’t be afraid to reach out to and engage Realtors. Realtors are not your enemies; rather, they could actually be your most valuable partner if you let them. In most cases, the LISTING agent is not the one to bring the final buyer! So, be open and inviting to agents. They have the “lions share” of perspective buyers and so you want them to want to show your home to their clients.

    2) Most agents simply do not like working with FSBO properties because many owners are reluctant to cooperate or pay them.  So, on your listing, be open to making a statement regarding a willingness to pay a Buyer Agent (3%) for his or her hard work. If they knew up from that it could be  a worth-while venture without an awkward or confrontational discussion, they would be more willing to bring a client. You still are saving at least 3% because you will not be paying a listing broker.

    3) Consider asking an intimate friend or neighbor who knows you and your house well to hold your Open House instead of hosting it yourself. You WANT good feedback from people who tour your house. Most prospective buyers are uncomfortable expressing negative opinions in front of the owners, so, after the Open House, the home owners generally have no idea what those who have toured REALLY thought or necessarily know perhaps the one or two issues keeping perspective buyers from becoming the actual buyer.

    4) Hire a professional photographer to do high resolution or 3-D photos. Trust me, your cell phone camera will not present your home in the most positive way. The photos on your listing page become the first experience potential buyers have with your house.  Dark, unprofessional photos often cause buyers NOT to want to take a look. This is equally true for properties offered by a broker or the owner.

    5) Declutter! Get rid of EVERYTHING that detracts from the potential of your home. Even if you don’t want to throw-away, I highly recommend renting a storage pod and getting that off your property as well. Give your house a chance to show-off its beauty and attributes. Nothing blocks the potential beauty than clutter.

    6) Take down family pictures and children’s artwork. You want buyers to leave after seeing your home talking about the features of the house and NOT remembering the cute pictures of the grandkids hanging on the wall!  For years, I would describe our own home as one decorated I early kindergarten! They may produce great memories but they are terribly negative selling assets!

    7) If your furniture is old and ugly (sorry, couldn’t come up with a better word) seek the help of a professional stager. There would probably NOT be enough in the budget to go this route if you have a low-end home. But even if not, stage your home for sale! Think about how the Property Brothers or Chip & Joanna Gains present their houses. Make yours like one of theirs.  Especially if you are planning to replace furniture when you move, do it now or at least rent newer furniture. Get rid of that old, comfortable chair that Marty Crane on the sitcom FRAZIER loved!   

    8) More than 90% of today’s home buyers use social media to at least get started. Market to where the buyers are. If you are relying on a sign in front of your house and an ad in the local papers to help you succeed, you will be in for a LONG haul.

    9) Get familiar with the forms you will need and learn how to read and understand them. A most important one will be the Standard Agreement of Sales. Most likely, you will either be presented with one in the form of an offer or will have to initiate one if your buyer is not represented by an agent. Here in Pennsylvania, you will need to complete a Seller’s Disclosure when you decide to list, an Oil Gas & Mineral Disclosure if you live in many parts of the state that are drilling or have already drilled, Lead Based Paint Disclosure if your home was built prior to 1979, Home Owners Association rules, bylaws and other documents that they require if you live in that type of community. Most of these you can find online by visiting the state sites or just give me a call (724-705-5154) and I will e-mail you what you cannot find.

    10) Finally, if you are going to sell you own home, then become knowledgeable about the competitive market you are in. Know what else is on the market, in what price range your home SHOULD be set and NOT what you need to get out of it, who the agents are active in your area and work in your relative price range.  We agents have tools to do Comparative Market Analysis to get to a reasonable price range when we list properties. What tools did you use of will you use to price yours?  Know also that, ultimately, it is the BUYER who sets the value of your home and NOT you or even the agents.  Simply put, YOU will become a temporary sales person for a one of a kind property. You are competing with professional agents who see their roles as being in full-time work. So educate yourself so that you can compete in their arena, can become the best temporary sales person you can be, knowing up front that you do NOT have all the resources at your disposal that they do.

    I personally think that there should be a better, more open relationship between professional Realtors and those trying to sell their homes by themselves. For me, I think of “For Sale By Owner” sellers as just other listing agents and treat them with the same respect and consideration.  I prefer to preview a FSBO home just as I would one listed on MultiList, because I not only need to know the market but more importantly  I have a responsibility to my buyer clients to help find them their next home. It’s hard to do that if I am not open to seeing everything that is on the market and to working with every agent – including the FSBO sellers.


    Thom Trunzo is a full-time Realtor with Coldwell Banker working in Southwest Pennsylvania. He is on the Board of Directors for the Washington–Greene Association of Realtors, and a member of the Pennsylvania State Ethics and Standards Committee.  You can read more about him personally and professionally and can also read his reviews at