Avoid These 3 "For Sale By Owner" Mistakes


The decision has been made and you’ve decided that a For Sale by Owner is the way to go to sell your home. Read up, get prepared, and make MilitaryByOwner your one-stop shop for all things FSBO, including how to avoid costly mistakes during the selling process.

MilitaryByOwner customer Bob from VA notes

"We sold our home in eight days in a depressed market for more than our asking price to an MBO buyer. We advertised on other FSBO sites and had zero hits from them. Conversely, we had 299 hits on MBO, several families in our home, several scheduled, and ultimately sold our home to a MilitaryByOwner buyer." 

But what if you’re just beginning the process of putting up your home for sale? What can you do to prepare? Consider three major errors FSBO sellers make and avoid these when putting your house up for sale.

Avoid These 3 "For Sale By Owner" Mistakes

1) Ignoring the importance of curb appeal and interior updates

Your home’s curb appeal is the first thing potential buyers will notice. Failing to pay attention to the exterior portion of your property can indicate to the home buyer that you don’t take the time to care for the property--or leave them to wonder if the interior is as neglected. 

Instead, take some time, and a few dollars, to increase your home’s curb appeal:

  1. Manicure the yard. 
  2. Weed out dead plants and replace with new. 
  3. Replace a broken mailbox, gutters, or railings. 
  4. Consider painting. If not the whole house, then the trim, porch, or front door. 

Most buyers are interested in purchasing a move-in ready home. Ask a friend to take an unbiased look at your property and give you suggestions on updates. You might feel embarrassed at their suggestions but chances are, they will see flaws in your home that you simply don’t notice anymore. 

Some typical projects include: 

  • Paint. If your paint is chipped, dirty, or colorful in nature, add  a fresh coat of neutral paint on the walls.  
  • Replace carpeting. Worn and dirty carpet make a bad impression. Since many people are interested in hardwood flooring, consider replacing your old carpet with another alternative.
  • Remove curtains. You want your home to feel bright and feel open. Remove dark and heavy window treatments to open your space. Also consider updating your lighting fixtures and bulbs to something brighter. 
  • Stage your home. Place your furniture around the home in a way that shows potential buyers what the space can be used for. Move unnecessary items to eliminate clutter, making the house look clean and spacious.

More intensive updates that appeal to homebuyers include updating the roof, outdated appliances, and the HVAC unit. 

2) Bad photos and zero online presence.

A picture is worth a thousand words. You want yours to say clean, spacious, bright, and updated. Simply stated: no pictures, no sale. High quality and honest photographs open the possibility of a visit from home buyers. 

Buyers are judging a house before they even read any type of description. If the photos are dark, non-descriptive, or deceiving, the potential buyer pool shrinks significantly. Photos are a powerful tool for translating anything from a desired location on a tree-lined street to a backyard worthy of an HGTV special.

Keep in mind that buyers are searching for homes on the go. Home photos should be able to be viewed correctly on a mobile device. A joint study between The National Association of Realtors and Google determined 89% of people shopped on a mobile device while searching for a home. This is true for virtual tours as well. If the home isn’t visible online, it’s likely to sit on the market while you waste time and energy keeping the house clean for potential buyer visits. 

List your home with companies like MilitaryByOwner, which has a free mobile app to get your listing in front of as many buyers as possible. In addition to the mobile app, MilitaryByOwner offers home sellers a plethora of resources to help your FSBO be successful. 

3) Not hiring a professional.

If you’ve decided to sell your home yourself, then this point may seem counter intuitive. Realize that you may need help for the details of this sales transaction and some states require it. Professionals can help prevent potential lawsuits, costly paperwork errors, and even help to save money on the sale.

Some professionals to consider hiring: 

An appraiser. An accurate current market value of your home is a lynch pin for making a profitable sale. Do-it-yourself online appraisals only give a ballpark figure and are often misleading.

A real estate attorney. A real estate attorney can offer peace of mind during the process. Each state has their own set of real estate laws, so this kind of help is crucial to understanding  your state’s laws and avoiding problems with paperwork during the sale. 

A closing agent. Consider hiring a closing agent to give guidance through closing and begin the escrow process.

MilitaryByOwner should be the first place to visit if you’re thinking of conducting a For Sale By Owner for your home. With several resources to guide your way through the process, including downloadable FSBO ebooks, you’ll find all the information you could need for success!

By Dawn M. Smith, updated 2018 by Danielle Keech.