The Do's and Don'ts of "For Sale by Owner" Homes

The Do's and Don'ts of "For Sale by Owner" Homes

So you found that perfect little home on the corner, complete with a fenced in yard for your dog and a bright sun room to enjoy your morning coffee in. The only question is the sign out front saying, “For Sale by Owner.” For Sale by Owner, or FSBO, homes are exactly what they sound like—homes on the market for sale by the owner, without the help of a real estate agent. A common reason someone sells their home without an agent is the belief they will save money by avoiding a realtor commission. While this might sound like a simple solution, there are definitely risks in buying a FSBO home. That’s why we’re here to take you through the Do’s and Don’ts of FSBO to give you a better idea of what to expect.


Compare prices. Always check comparable homes available on the market that are similar to the home you’re interested in. This will help you determine if the FSBO price is accurately reflecting market values. Remember that without a real estate agent, the seller may not necessarily adhere to market prices, and could be overcharging. If they’re undercharging, that could be an attempt to distract from issues that the home has underneath its beautifully painted exterior. You could also opt for a home appraisal; however, the cost tends to run a bit high at an average of ($300-$500).

Get a CLUE report. A CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report will show you any insurance claims filed in the last 5 years. This can reveal major damages you need to ensure were resolved. This report will also tell you the location and amount paid for the loss, as well as the general cause of the loss, including if it was related to a natural disaster. These reports are relatively cheap at roughly $20, but do require the owner’s permission. If the owner will not give you permission, they may be trying to hide something they don’t want to disclose about the home.

Use a buyer-broker and/or an attorney to represent you. The buyer-broker will represent you in the negotiation—oftentimes a tiring and trying process—and will be working for your benefit, not to the seller’s advantage. An agent or attorney will be extremely helpful with all the legal paperwork that comes with buying a home; unless you are particularly experienced, there will be a lot in the paperwork that you may not understand. You will also want an attorney to deal with the titles during the closing process.


Assume the seller is disclosing everything. When you work with a real estate agent, they have a specific code of ethics and standards that they must adhere to, which includes disclosing anything that might affect your experience with the home. Oh, there’s going to be a new airport built across the street? That’s something you’d want to know. A FSBO seller might not tell you, but a real estate agent would be required to mention it.

Forget to do your research. The homebuying process is long and confusing—don’t forget to research the process before you begin.

Wherever you are in the process, it’s never too late to take Homebuyer Education. Homebuyer Education will explain the entire process, give you important recommendations such as getting a home inspection, and create connections with local lenders, inspectors, and real estate agents you can use. NeighborWorks of Western Vermont also offers one-on-one financial counseling when you attend the class to help you make sure your finances are in order and that you’re ready to secure your dream home!


Take the safer, more reliable road: working with a licensed realtor! Realtors adhere to proper standards and ethics while helping you to understand the homebuying process. They will be with you the entire way, and you can be sure that you are getting help from an experienced negotiator!

At RealtyWorks, we have two in-house realtors, Gene Felder and Kandace Kenny, who are ready and willing to help you close on your perfect home. Simply call (802) 438-2303 to get in touch with us. And if you’re still on the home hunt, visit to check out our listings—we just may have the dream home for you!


Author: Jillian Branchaud, Community Engagement AmeriCorps Member