For Sale By Owner Basics


If you’ve chosen to sell your home as a  "For Sale By Owner," then we can assume you already know the benefits of using this method to sell your home--though you may not know where to start.


As you can imagine, selling a home takes a lot of work and patience! We’ve created a checklist for you, home seller.


Use this guide to walk you through your FSBO from start to finish!


1) Prepare your house. 


Declutter. When you’ve spent years in a house, you tend to forget everything you have laying around. Go through your home and purge everything you don’t need. Then walk through again and remove all the things that you don’t need on a daily basis but aren’t willing to give away.


We recommend renting a storage unit for these items. Since buyers will want to look at the garage, piling discarded stuff in there just won’t do.


Clean. When you live in a home, there are simply things we just don’t see and can’t get to. After you’ve decluttered and removed the extras, hire a professional cleaning crew to come in and scrub everything from the ceiling to the floor. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you did.


Update. Many home buyers are looking for a turnkey home, so it’s important to neutralize your space. Go through and replace dated hardware, fixtures, and appliances throughout the home.


Then consider putting a fresh coat of bright, neutral, colored paint on the walls. If you already have neutral paint, then look for areas that may need touched up.


Stage. Don’t underestimate the power of staging. Homes that are staged sell faster and for more money than those that aren’t. Hire a professional, if you need help, otherwise, follow these pro tips for home staging.


Landscape. The outside of your home will make the first impression on your potential buyers. Put a little money into your curb appeal by updating the front door and touching up faded or chipped paint. Remove and replace dead plants and keep your yard neatly trimmed.


For a more detailed to-do list around the house, check out the Home Buyer Walk-Through Checklist and learn what your potential buyers will be looking for.




2) Set a price. 


Choosing a price for your home can be challenging as a FSBO seller. It requires objective thinking to set aside your emotions and determine the fair market value of your property.


  • Search for comparable listings in your area to learn what price others are giving their homes. What is the average price per foot for your type of home in your area?
  • Keep factors like location, condition, upgrades, and layout in mind as you discuss what price to set your home.
  • If you’re marketing to the military community, keep in mind what the local BAH is and how attainable your mortgage is for the average military family.
  • Study similar homes in your area and learn what’s selling quickly. Find out what they’re doing that you’re not and adjust your strategy.
  • Price your home just under a whole number. For example, use $299,000 instead of $300,000.
  • Hire an appraiser to get the most accurate financial value of your home.

3) Advertise. 


Take photos. Good quality photos are invaluable! Since most people start their search online, your photos will make the very first impression. They will also persuade or dissuade potential buyers from considering your home as a candidate in their search.


We recommend hiring a professional or follow these tip to ensure your home is represented successfully in your photos.


Create a listing. Combine your photos with a detailed description of your home and create a listing on MilitaryByOwner. You might also consider paying a fee to list your home on a flat fee MLS or another Multiple Listing Service for real estate agents. Additionally, if you are willing to pay a fee to a real estate agent that brings you a buyer, consider adding a statement to your description that says something like "Buyers Agents Welcome".


Market. Launch your listing and share it on social media! You can also market your home locally by hanging flyers around town or on base.


4) Host an Open House. 


Make it comfortably quiet, make it feel like home, and make it organized!

  • Have a sign-in sheet for everyone who comes through the house to make it easier to follow up or notify of a price change.
  • Remove pets and all evidence of pets for the day.
  • Make your home welcoming with all the lights on, fresh flowers, and even a plateful of cookies. Remove personal items and photos. Prospective buyers will want to envision themselves in the home.
  • Have records and utility bills available for prospective buyers to review.
  • Promote! Don’t forget signage, posting on social media, and your MilitaryByOwner ad.

5) Review offers. 


Review what’s on the table. With multiple offers, you need to compare amounts offered, contingencies, and proposed closing date.


Ask a lawyer. Hiring a real estate attorney to evaluate offers may help ensure that your interests are protected, assist in negotiation and closing, as well as a number of other things.


Do a double-check. Confirm that your buyer is financially qualified to purchase your home. You should request the buyer provide a copy of their letter of pre-approval from their lender--this is based on their actual income, debt, and credit history.


As the seller, you want to be a confident that your buyer will be able to obtain financing.


6) Paperwork and closing.


These final steps of your FSBO are sensitive. If you continue on to our FSBO ebook, you’ll find further details of the paperwork needed to close on your house.


The escrow account. This account serves as an objective third party and is established to hold the earnest money provided by the buyer upon his initial offer.  


The appraisal. This step of the process is ordered by the buyer’s lender. Make sure that you are present for the appraisal and provide records of improvements to ensure they determine the most accurate financial value of your home.


Inspection. Although this step is not required, most often, the buyer will order and pay for a home inspection as part of the contingency of the sale contract. The inspector will look for housing code violations and visual problems with the property--electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, foundation, and crawl space.


Once the inspection is recorded, another round of negotiations will take place and you may have to consider pushing back the closing date to accommodate time for any repairs that need to be made for the sale to close.


Move. If everything went well with the appraisal and home inspection then you will need to prepare your move from the property. Prior to the final walk through--which usually takes place 24 to 48 hours prior to closing--your belongings will need to be fully vacated.


Prior to closing. The day before you close, you’ll have the final walk-through and obtain final settlement financials from the lender.


Closing day. Before you can celebrate on your successful FSBO sale, you will meet with the buyer, the closing agent, and potentially other parties to sign all the paperwork to finalize the home sale.


The paperwork. MilitaryByOwner’s partner, US Legal Forms, can provide you with the documentation needed for your FSBO. For more information regarding these documents, download our free FSBO ebooks.


And there you have it, six steps later and you’ve successfully sold your home For Sale By Owner! As you embark on this method of selling, please refer to our FSBO FAQ’s ebook and blog for any questions you might have.




MilitaryByOwner is here to help you make your home sale a successful one!


By Danielle Keech