8 Steps on How to Find and Buy Homes For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

how to find and buy homes for sale by owner

It’s understandable how most home sellers choose the FSBO option to save big and gain more profit. These are usually homes being sold by their owners without a representation or a real estate agent. That means sellers don’t have to pay the typical 6% commission.

So it’s pretty unsurprising that several FSBO properties are now listed in the real estate market—often through online marketing. Although this kind of process is exhausting, some sellers rely on online services that offer a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of listings for sales that also connects agents, sellers, and buyers. Some for a flat fee, the MLS also helps determine a sale price for your home, as well as with the legal documents and contracts.

Although maybe you’ve heard that FSBO sellers aren’t serious about selling, it’s just a myth to scare away buyers. Well, some may just want to test the waters, but most of these sellers do want to sell and make a deal out of their homes.

Purchasing a For Sale by Owner Homes is kind of buying a property—but without the help of that listing agent. To help you haunt the right FSBO home for you, here are a few steps and tips you should definitely follow.


Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?


3min Video: How to List Your Home on the MLS by Owner

2min Video: How to Request Changes to Your MLS Listing

Narrow down your search.

Buying an FSBO home can be pretty tricky since there are multiple key factors involved. Since you’re on your own, you have to be very extra careful about choosing a home to invest in. To find a solid home investment, you don’t have to limit your search by one. As much as possible, look at more than one area and see if it’s within your price range and amenities.

Visit Zillow to browse for more neighborhoods. It’s crucial to consider things such as how close the homes are to malls, highways, schools, or other landmarks. You also need to look out for areas that are nearby strip clubs, hospitals, cemetery, or bad schools that may drag down the value of homes.

As the idea here rings true to the real estate cliché, location, location, location. To say the least, the desirable the location, the faster your home sells. Some key factors that you need to note are neighborhoods with nearby parks, shopping or dining amenities, homes with tidy and neat front yards, and even local employment opportunities.

Browse the property online.

Before the age of the internet, For sale by Owner properties were much difficult to market. You can only rely on word of mouth, yard signs, flyers, and billboard ads to get attention. These days, however, online portals are now available—with the help of real estate agents, too—to cater to your home-selling needs. You can always search “For Sale by Owner Near me” online and a list of homes will pop up on your screen.

After you’ve narrowed down your search, you can find properties online. Here are a few lists of the best For Sale by Owner websites that feature houses listed as a For Sale by Owner.

Houzeo.com

Houzeo is America’s #1 For sale by Owner and Flat Fee MLS platform that features For Sale By Owner Homes for Sale. The company is working on simplifying the process of selling your own home. Rather than relying on an agent, most of the real estate processes are now automated and digitized. From listing a property on MLS to signing forms, Houzeo has made those priorities less exhausting for sellers. And now, they aggregated a list of Homes For Sale by Owner on their platform to help buyers and sellers find what homes they’re looking for.

Here are the steps on how to browse and buy a homes for sale by owner in Houzeo.

  1. Visit Houzeo.com and start filtering your search by city, state, or zip, and find the best matches.
  2. You can narrow down your search by choosing the property type, whether it’s a For Sale, Sale Pending, or Sold (with corresponding color coding).
  3. Sort the price from minimum to maximum. And you can filter your search more by choosing what’s the number of beds.
  4. You can also find what kind of home type you’re looking for: single-family, multifamily, townhouses, condos, co-ops, lands/lot, mobile, other.
  5. By clicking more, you can also customize your search via Max HOA, tours, square feet, lot size, year built, basement, no. of stories, days on Houzeo.

If you want to remove all the options you choose, you can just reset them. With these options, you’re not wasting any time and find easily what homes you want to buy. Once you pick a home, you’ll be redirected to the property photos and details—all are there for your convenience. You can send the seller a message or contact the agent assigned to the property. And have the choice to share the property on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Fsbo.com

FSBO.com, The Premier For Sale by Owner Real Estate Website, is another type of real estate online portal that features For Sale by Owner homes. The site also claims that they have the most affordable and simplest route to selling or buying homes online—which saves you thousands of dollars in each step. Their FSBO package price is $99.95 while the MLS package starts with $399.95. To search for FSBO properties, here are the steps you have to follow

  1. Visit their site FSBO.com, and you can filter your search results by city, state, zip, and listing ID#.
  2. You can then revise your search by distance, price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
  3. If you want to see the property description and photos you have to click on view listing details.
  4. If you want to save the listings you like, you can send them to different social media channels or e-mail it to yourself. The site also offers a directory of nearby professional services in your state, including attorneys, movers, investors, etc.

Fizber.com

As the site claims, Fizber is the most advanced online marketing system that provides comprehensive (marketing portal) reports and statistics to manage and analyze your listing activity. They have also available resources or tools to help sellers and buyers, such as their Digital Boost, What’s My Home Worth (Home Valuation), Flat Fee MLS, and Legal Forms. You can find real estate professionals too, from mortgage lenders, home insurance, to real estate agents.

Browse for homes for sale by owner by simply searching on their database of off-market and FSBO homes.

  1. You can find your next home by entering your address, city, state, or zip on the search bar on their homepage site.
  2. After that, you’ll be redirected to another page. You can filter your search if it’s by the owner or by an agent.
  3. And add some details such as the home type, price, the min and max number of beds and baths, year built, square footage, lot size, days on market, and MLS #.
  4. After clicking the desired property, you can then view the property overview and details with photos.
  5. On the property page, you can contact the seller to request more information. You can also compare today’s mortgage rates, and search by state and credit score.

Forsalebyowner.com

ForSaleByOwner is another FSBO site that showcases helpful tools and resources for buyers and sellers with no charge to use. Whether these be pricing, listing, marketing, showing, or selling your home, they promise to make the process easier. The platform focuses on selling by the owner that provides easy-to-use marketing tools and how-to guides to market your home.  

You can also browse Houses for sale by owner via state or city. Here’s how it works.

  1. Choose or browse for homes for sale by city or state. Once you click on it, you’ll be directed to the listings in the state or city you choose.  
  2. The site allows you to filter your searches by geographic area, property type, price, no. of beds and baths, property size, and year built.
  3. If you’ve found a neighborhood you like, you can share the listing via email, message, Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp. Or you can save it to the favorites list to access or view them later on. 
  4. Although you need to sign for registration, you’ll be emailed weekly of new listings based on your desired search criteria.
how to find and buy homes for sale by owner photo of houses

Visit the neighborhood.

Browsing for Houses for sale by owner involves checking the field. Now, it’s time to take an in-depth look—ask some people around—at the area and see to it the FSBO neighborhood has some good features. Drive around the community and check how the area looks offline. Property photos online, especially Homes For Sale by Owner, can be deceiving.  That’s why you have to be sure and check the property in person.

Is traffic bad? Find out if your targeted For sale by Owner neighborhood has some serious congestion of vehicles. And more importantly, check how safe the place is during the evening. Do the majority of their street lights broken? Explore the area and ask some locals to know more about the place.

Hire a real estate agent.

The idea of choosing FSBO is not about discouraging working with a professional real estate agent. In fact, it’s a great idea to have an agent to assist and manage your property.  These are professional and licensed agents who can walk you through the entire process, whether these be about legal issues or transactions.

The idea of choosing FSBO is not about discouraging working with a professional real estate agent. In fact, it’s a great idea to have an agent to assist and manage your property.  These are professional and licensed agents who can walk you through the entire process, whether these be about legal issues or transactions.

Most home agents can create a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to get you a better FSBO property deal. They’ll guide you to what comparable homes are selling so you can make competitive offers. At its best, agents are experts when it comes to making a better offer—and helps you avoid overpaying a home.

Secure the financing.

While some FSBO home buyers directly purchase a property through cash, most buyers either choose three options which are permanent financing, short-term financing, or seller financing.

While some FSBO home buyers directly purchase a property through cash, most buyers either choose three options which are permanent financing, short-term financing, or seller financing.

Permanent FSBO financing is an option for buyers to own or hold an investment property with no intention of selling the house. These are usually long-term property rates that don’t require home upgrades or repairs. This kind of financing solution includes options like Blanket mortgages, Portfolio loans, Conforming loans, and Homestyle renovation mortgages.

On the other hand, Short-term FSBO financing is for investors who want to purchase and fix the property and then flip it usually within a year. Notably, these are options such as Rehab loans, Hard money loans, bridge loans, and Home equity lines of credit or HELOCs.

Lastly, seller financing is another way to finance FSBO homes. Rather than obtaining a loan from a bank, you make arrangements with the seller to pay him/her in installments. But both parties—the seller and buyer—will come to an agreement and the seller typically receives a balloon payment at the end of the loan.

Make the right offer.

If it’s your first time making an offer, maybe you need to research and get familiar with the negotiating process and sales contract. Remember to always prepare to negotiate. If it’s way beyond your capability, you can always ask your real estate agent.

Before making an offer, it’s advisable to analyze what similar properties in the immediate area have been already sold within the last 3 to 6 months. A CMA or comparative market analysis helps buyers confirm if the house price is a good deal. And also, determines a reasonable and competitive offer.

If you’ve hired an agent, you can take advantage of the multiple listing service or MLS to find recently sold properties that you can compare—with the same number of bedrooms and lot size. Once you know what offer to make, you have to submit the offer on a legal contract.

After the proposed offer is accepted and The Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed, the seller has the right to perform a home inspection and appraisal. So, you can now buy the property if it passes the home inspection and the offer is approved (via assessment).

Perform home inspection & appraisal.

It’s always advisable to hire a reliable home inspector and appraiser for every deal. A licensed property inspector inspects the current condition of the home if there are major issues that need replacement. Otherwise, you’ll end up purchasing a worn-out, unfixable home.

If the inspector found several major issues after inspecting, you have options to ask the seller to fix the issue (but not in the case for a property being sold “as is”); credit you the money toward your closing costs; or, reduce the home’s sales price (varies on the estimated repair cost).

The home appraiser, on the other hand, helps determine the value of your property through on-site inspection. All lenders require you to get an appraisal before lending money to buy a property. But if you’ve decided to go with the deal without financing, you may need an appraiser to get the true value of the property. Or your agent can find or recommend one.

Close the deal.

Congratulations! You’re almost done with the process of buying an FSBO home. During the closing process, some legal documents and contracts need to be signed. A real estate agent can help you legally transfer the property and assist you with all the legal transactions. In this way, you avoid future lawsuits.

Get title insurance to protect you from any title issues. The title insurance guarantees that the property is sold to you clear of any problems. As a smart buyer, you have to acquire property insurance to cover risks to your property from weather damage, fire, theft, etc.

Key Takeaways:

For Sale by Owner homes are perfect for buyers who want to save more. It’s also a great route for buyers who want to experience home-buying hands on and in-depth. Although it needs a lot of work, it can be a challenging journey with a much rewarding experience.

Even if you’ve hired a real estate agent, you still end up saving money because most FSBO sellers don’t have agents. With less competition on making an offer, this option becomes more looked-for. When in doubt, always ask any question to your agent or attorney. Buying FSBO homes is a serious business and requires careful attention. So, step forward because your dream home is maybe waiting for you.


Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?

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