Where to Find Houses for Sale by Owner

happy home buyer couple find the ideal for sale by owner mls listing on a real estate website

Not all sellers go through a real estate agent to sell their home. Some choose to sell on their own, which is known as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) house. If you’re worried about missing out on the best FSBO houses, keep in mind that most of these will be found on local FSBO websites for your state.  Many FSBO home sellers also list on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for a flat fee and can then also be seen on real estate websites, just like most homes for sale. Savvy FSBO home sellers know that having a FSBO Listing and an MLS listing will get their home maximum exposure to potential buyers, and they make sure to get their home out there for you to see.

On rare occasions, some FSBO homes are not visible online, but these often are not available to the public anyway, so these FSBO homes may not need to be found on the MLS. These are usually homes that already have a buyer in mind, such as those sold to family or friends.

Listing a FSBO home on the MLS means the seller is working with a licensed real estate broker with rights to list on that area’s MLS. That broker makes the home available on the local MLS and it can now be accessed by buyers and buyers’ real estate agents from anywhere in the world.

Why Buy from an FSBO Seller?

When you buy a home from an FSBO seller, you’ll get certain advantages compared to buying a non-FSBO home, including the following:

  • Competitive pricing: FSBO homes tend to be priced more competitively when sellers do not have to pay a commission to an agent.
  • Less time-consuming: For FSBO home sellers listed on local FSBO websites, you can get in touch with the seller directly to ask questions about an FSBO home instead of having to go through an agent and wait for answers.
  • Smoother process: When you buy a FSBO home with help from a flat fee realtor, the process is even simpler. Usually for a flat fee, the realtor handles all of the paperwork for home buyer and seller and guides both parties through the process.

What to Know When Buying an FSBO Home

If this is your first time buying an FSBO home, there are some considerations to keep in mind. When you’re ready to start looking at FSBO home listings online, consider the following tips:

  • Get a pre-qualified letter. Having a pre-qualified letter for the loan amount you qualify for means you’ll know what you can afford, so you don’t spend time looking at homes that are out of your price range.  And, a pre-qualified letter makes your offer more attractive to the seller since they don’t need to worry whether you can afford the property.
  • You may not need a real estate agent. When you sign a contract with a real estate agent, you might end up being locked into working with that agent. Your FSBO seller will have to pay your agent a 3% commission, making your offer less attractive than one with no commission payable. You might also be limited in terms of the types of homes you can look at, and this might not include FSBO homes. Flat fee help for the closing process is available at lower cost than a traditional agent.
  • Save money at close. If you do use a real estate broker to help you purchase a home, an FSBO broker may work for a smaller fee or a flat fee. FSBO Virginia offers a buyer rebate program in which you can get back as much as 1.5% of your purchase price at closing.  Buyer rebates are on regular MLS listed homes and some FSBO listed homes (if the seller is willing to pay an agent a 3% commission).
  • Schedule a home inspection as soon as you have a ratified contract. A home inspection makes you aware of any issues with the home. You can decide whether or not you want to go through with the purchase, and this information can help you decide which issues you want the seller to fix before you close.
  • In some states, sellers are required to fill out a property disclosure document. This disclosure provides you with information on the condition of the home. You should look over this disclosure before you make an offer on an FSBO home. Not all states provide this.
  • Get a written contract. Contracts and offers should never be verbal. Having written contracts provides you with detailed information on the offer. When you work with an FSBO broker, written contracts are part of the buying process. Your broker can ensure that your written contract contains all of the information you need.
  • Set a deadline when you make an offer. Although FSBO sales might seem less formal, it’s important to give the seller a deadline on your offer. With a deadline, such as 24 hours, you don’t have to worry about having the seller wait around for additional offers and you can move on quickly if you need to.
  • Request a walk-through prior to closing. This walk-through is an important part of making sure that repairs were done and that there aren’t any other issues that you weren’t aware of before.

Where to Find FSBO Houses Online

Where should you look for FSBO homes online? You can find these homes on the major listing services, such as Zillow and Trulia. These services provide an FSBO option on the dropdown menu, which you can use to filter and browse through these homes. Filter them by price or zip code just as you would for other listings.

You can find FSBO homes listed on FSBO broker websites as well. While you search for FSBO homes on these websites, you’ll also have access to helpful information and assistance with buying one of these homes. If you come across a property you’re interested in, you can contact the broker for more information on your next steps.  

And, if you buy an FSBO home, you can do it without paying a real estate fee. This means you can negotiate a better price with the seller because you can save them the 3% buyer fee. If you’re looking for FSBO homes to buy in the Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC areas, please contact FSBO Virginia today. At FSBO Virginia, for an affordable flat fee, you’ll have access to help from professional real estate agents without the big sales commission. When you find a home you want to buy, our FSBO broker can help write up your offer, handle your paperwork and close the deal.

Author: Debbie Kent

Debbie Crevier-Kent began her career as a licensed Real Estate agent. Seeing the need for lower real estate selling costs, she created easy to use FSBO service packages, starting GoToFSBO.com in 1994. Ms. Crevier-Kent is a member FlatFeeGroup.com, Homesbyowner.com and FSBOpublishers.org and a member or NAR, NVAR, REIN, MRIS, WAAR and CVR.

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