Avoid These 3 "For Sale By Owner" Mistakes


for sale by owner sign in front yard

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In this article: 

You've decided that a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) is the way to go to sell your home.

Read up, get prepared, and MilitaryByOwner will guide you, including how to avoid costly mistakes during the selling process! Take a look at three common FSBO mistakes.

1) Ignoring the importance of curb appeal. 

Aside from your online listing, your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers notice about the property. Failing to pay proper attention to your property’s curb appeal might give buyers the wrong impression. Think about it. When you see an overgrown yard coupled with paint chipped off the siding, leaves piled in the corners of the porch, or stains on the pavement, what do you assume about the homeowners? 

Not only is this image synonymous with carelessness, but it leaves you wondering about the state of the interior. More importantly, overlooked maintenance is the recipe for greater issues around the house like problems with the foundation, a leaky roof, and poor plumbing.

Here are a few ways to increase your home’s curb appeal: 

  • Keep the yard manicured.  
  • Weed out dead plants and replace them with new. 
  • Replace any broken gutters, railings, or the mailbox. 
  • Clear leaves from the gutters. 
  • Pressure wash the porch, driveway, fence, and exterior of the house.
  • Touch up areas where the paint faded or chipped away on the house, railings, trim, and front door.

woman using rake to clear yard for for sale by owner

Photo from Canva

2) Overlooking interior updates and not staging your home properly. 

While there are some people who look for fixer-uppers to update and sell for a profit, most military homebuyers prefer to purchase a move-in-ready home, since they’re moving every few years.   

Some things buyers want to see in their next home:

  • Neutral paint throughout
  • Hardwood flooring 
  • Updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances
  • A bathroom with a separate shower and tub
  • Smart home features
  • Energy-efficient upgrades 

home staged and clean for sale by owner

Photo from Canva

With that in mind, here's a checklist to help you prep your home to sell: 

Fresh paint on the walls. If your paint is chipped, dirty, or colorful, add a fresh coat of neutral color to the walls. Neutral paint allows the buyers to envision themselves in the home as it doesn’t project an overwhelming personal style as bold colors do. 

Replace the 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.

Check the big-ticket items that will surface during the inspection. Issues like the roof, HVAC system, and plumbing will come up during the inspection. If your roof needs work or the A/C unit needs replacing, this is a great time to make those repairs. Including “new roof in 2022” or “HVAC system replaced in 2022” in your listing description will let buyers know that they probably won’t need to budget money for those more expensive updates. 

More help for your home sale: 

Now, if you've checked all these boxes and you’re working with a sellable, move-in-ready home but want to increase the value before selling, you can consider making more significant updates and renovations. Consider focusing your money on areas with the highest return on interest like: 


  • Bathrooms offer a high return on investment (especially the master bathroom).
  • The kitchen, where putting money into new energy-efficient appliances, sturdy cupboards, and beautiful countertops will pay for itself.
  • Invest in energy-efficient updates that can help the buyer save money, like updating the insulation, installing insulating windows, and technological updates like smart home devices. 

What about staging your home? 

The National Association of Realtors’ study found that 82% of home buyers said home staging helped them visualize the property as their future home. Staging, while another task in a long list of things to do when selling your home, is a major component to selling your home. Not only can it help it sell fast, but for more money as well. 

So what is staging, and how do you do it? 

Home staging is prepping your home visually. It involves rearranging furniture, removing clutter, and carefully placing decor. You can hire a professional for home staging advice or full-service staging, try virtual staging, or do targeted staging (focusing on specific areas).

And, of course, you can stage our home yourself. Simply put, the steps of home staging include:

  • Declutter
  • Depersonalize
  • Update
  • Neutralize 
  • Style
  • Clean

Learn about all things home staging in our resource article, Home Staging 101.

Pro Tip: Ask a friend or neighbor to take an unbiased look at your property and make suggestions. Chances are, they’ll catch flaws that you’re more likely to overlook.

home staging with clear lighting

Photo from Canva

3) 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.

According to the National Association of Realtors: Real Estate in a Digital Age 2021 Report, home buyers were clear about the importance of photos: 

  • 97% of all homebuyers used the internet in their home search.
  • 76% of all home buyers found their homes on a mobile device. 
  • 89% of home buyers say they found website photos valuable.

There’s no doubt about it; photos are one of the most valuable aspects of your online listing, along with a detailed description of your home.

Ensure your photos can be viewed well on a mobile device. As mentioned above, studies have determined that the majority  of people shopped on a mobile device while searching for a home.

If you’re not hiring a photographer and want to DIY your home photos, take a look at our posts, 3 Easy Steps to Take Amazing Photos for Your Home Listing and Top 4 Don’ts for Your Home Listing Photos for helpful guidance.


List your home with MilitaryByOwner. We have 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.


Pair your stellar photos with a virtual tour and a thorough description of your home, and you’ve got yourself an advertisement ready for the web. Once it’s live, don’t forget to share your listing on social media groups to spread the word. 


Learn how to craft a home listing that draws buyers in: How to Create an Unforgettable Home Listing.

One question that often arises when selling your home yourself is, should you hire a professional for help with your FSBO?

Believe it or not, you can do a FSBO and hire a few professionals to step in and help along the way. Some states even require their assistance as real estate professionals can help prevent potential lawsuits and costly paperwork errors.

Some professionals to consider hiring include: 

An appraiser. An accurate current market value of your home is a keystone for making a profitable sale. DIY online appraisals only give a ballpark figure and can be misleading.

A real estate attorney. A real estate attorney may provide peace of mind during the home sale process. Each state has its own set of real estate laws, so bringing in an attorney can help you avoid hiccups with paperwork during the sale. 

A closing agent. A closing agent can guide you through closing and begin the escrow process.

As you go through the FSBO process, MilitaryByOwner is here to help answer any additional questions you have. Download our free FSBO ebooks below for even more home selling help.


We provide guidance to help you learn how to market and show your home, as well as resources to help you hire real estate professionals and gather legal paperwork. Every step of the way, MilitaryByOwner is committed to helping you have a successful FSBO!