Most Common Mistakes Made by FSBO Sellers

Portrait of Vietnamese mature woman holding for sale sign in front of her house
Portrait of a mature woman holding for sale sign in front of her house.


Many otherwise competent and savvy homeowners opt to forgo an agent’s services and take on the sale of a house by themselves. While skipping an agent’s commission may seem attractive in the immediate, For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) sellers tend to make common mistakes leading to financial losses, constant headaches, and even threats to personal security. 

Sentimental Value vs. Realistic Value 

Private owners who have lived in the property for sale, especially for a considerable amount of time, often have a skewed perspective on the home’s true worth. Home improvements made by the owner are generally not worth as much as the owner might think, given the effort they feel went into such projects. Such effort, along with personal memories associated with the house can not and will not translate to potential buyers, and lead to a tendency for FSBO sellers to list the property too high. If the house is overpriced, most potential buyers will pass by the listing and not visit it at all.

Lack of Marketing Plan 

A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) e is perhaps the most valuable tool in finding the right buyer for the right house. MLSs connect buyers and sellers through their agents, and is the powerful marketing tool that connects buyers and sellers for the majority of home resale transactions. . With little exception, only subscribing real estate professionals can list a property on an MLS. Since most buyers are matched with homes via MLSs, not listing via an agent is a critical mistake in the marketing of a FSBO property. 

More practical examples of poor marketing of an FSBO property can be found in poor photography of the listing, low-grade lawn signage, and lack of social media prowess all of which can be significantly enhanced by the service of an agent. 

Risk to Personal Security 

When working with an agent, you’ll know that potential buyers visiting your property will have been screened for their legitimate purchase intent and that someone will be onsite during each showing. As a FSBO, you’ll be on your own. FSBO scams are not uncommon showings of this kind tend to attract visitors with nefarious intentions. Some attendees of an FSBO showing may be more interested in the seller’s medicine cabinet or scouting the property for future theft than buying the property. 

Furthermore, an FSBO’s lack of professional experience may make them more susceptible to financial scams, including fraudulent loan documentation, purchases through fraudulent third-party buyers, and identity theft. An agent’s experience would better protect the seller from these sorts of predatory efforts. 

Paperwork, Paperwork 

Tired of all the paper work that agents have to get done

The most confusing and stressful part of the FSBO processing real estate sales is navigating the necessary paperwork. Managing detailed purchase agreements, funding documentation, contingencies, inspections, insurance, deeds, and more will likely leave an FSBO disappointed and exhausted by the hoops they have to jump through. Experienced agents know the best practices for each step of a resale transaction, and can handle all of this for the owner.

Bottom line:

If you’re ready to sell or rent your home, work with an agent. Their hyper-local expertise and business acumen will help you get the most out of your move.

Ready to sell or rent your property? Optimize your ROI—get connected with an agent by emailing today!

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