Can You Successfully FSBO In This Washington, DC Area Market?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Can You Successfully FSBO In This Washington, DC area Market?  

Well, maybe. 

After all, the market in the Washington, DC area is quite robust.  And for many would-be sellers, this inspires thoughts of, well, who needs a Realtor, anyway?

If you are thinking about selling your home by owner, I think I would be insulting your intelligence to say that you can't do it - that a Realtor is a crucial part of a successful transaction.  And having said that, there are pretty predicable mistakes that most FSBO's make.

  • They start off at too high a price.  It's hard to be unbiased when you are evaluating your own home, and comparing your home to other recent sales in your area.  You may also not have accurate information when you come up with the magic number.  And when they finally list with an agent (as most do), they have to lower the price and pay a brokerage fee.
  • They aren't the only ones trying to save the commission.  So are the prospective buyers out there.  If they aren't using an agent, they will likely subtract six or so percent from whatever you are asking. 
  • They don't do enough to get the property ready for prime time - or they do the wrong things.  It's hard to see your own place as a commodity or to know the trends that buyers are looking for.  Most sellers need help with neutralizing and staging their homes.
  • They don't want to pay a brokerage fee to a buyer's agent.  Most of the buyers out there are represented.  If you don't want to pay the agent, your buyer will have to pay the fee in addition to the down payment and closing costs.  Also, there is a chance the agent will talk her client out of your house. 
  • When offers come in, they tend to go for the bottom line.  Price is a big thing.  But so are the terms.  How many contingencies are there, and how long do they last?  What do the buyers' financials look like?  Do they already have their financing lined up?  If it's all cash, have they furnished proof of funds?
  • A lot of FSBOs are difficult for buyers to get into.  They may be able to get in if you hold it open on weekends, but during the week, you may have to leave work to let buyers in.  A lot of FSBOs resist this. 

A FSBO that is well-priced and well presented can sell relatively quickly and for top dollar.  And if you aren't using an agent, you should probably pay an attorney to help you put together and perhaps negotiate the contract.  You also need to make sure that your buyers are not just willing, but also ready and able to buy your place.  Get a reputable lender to ensure they are credit-worthy and able to actually qualify for a mortgage to buy your home. 

But keep in mind, that the vast majority of sellers who start off trying to do it themselves do eventually throw in the towel.  And while I'm a full-service Realtor and think that's the way to go, you do have a lot of options in the market place for agents who will offer some, though no all, of the services to help you get your home sold.

If  you are planning a move to or from the Washington metropolitan area, I can help.  I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia.  Please contact me any time at:   

Patricia Kennedy,, or call 202-549-5167




Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lenn Harley 09/11/2013 09:37 PM
Home Selling
Diary of a Realtor
Be The Best In Your Field
Real Estate Questions & Answers
dc market
for sale by owner in washington

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Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

Not all FSBO's go well and they don't always get the best dollar for their home. Buyers know that they are not paying a commission and immediately lower the price that much and then more. No advertising to speak of keeps a property from getting proper activity for sale. Oh the issues of selling it yourself. Great summary for sellers!

Sep 11, 2013 09:53 PM #15
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Pat, Great post that makes sense, especially when sales are up! FSBOs can be done but why take on the added stress? Overpricing and just waiting for that 'perfect' buyer to magically appear is unecessary, especially when an agent has all the right tools to get it SOLD.

Sep 11, 2013 11:23 PM #16
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Another issue regarding being successful with a FSBO is communicating that it is available.  There are two FSBOs in my area, and I went online to see if I could find any information - about asking price, condition, any pictures.

Nothing.  They weren't listed on any FSBO sites, and googling the address turned up nothing.  How would a potential buyer even FIND it, unless they just happened to drive down that street?

Another reason trying to FSBO is tricky.

Sep 11, 2013 11:30 PM #17
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

I suppose anyone could be a FSBO but in the DC area I wouldn't expect to find too many.  Good points Pat.  Nice new pic as well.

Sep 12, 2013 12:49 AM #18
Patty Da Silva, Davie, Southwest Ranches Cooper City, Plantation, Weston, REALTOR
BROKER of Green Realty Properties® - 954-667-7253 - Davie, FL
Top Listing Broker

Yeah, I agree. One, with your blog. Two, with everyone-- I love the new profile picture :)

Sep 12, 2013 01:02 AM #19
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

You're not going to get an on-point comment from me with a new photo like that! Love it!

Sep 12, 2013 05:08 AM #20
Sandy Shores FL Realtor®, Melbourne Real Estate
M & M Realty of Brevard Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Brevard County Real Estate, Florida's Space Coast

Pat, This is a great post that illustrates the complications that can come in trying to sell a house on your own. It can be quite a challenge.

Sep 12, 2013 05:56 AM #21
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Well those are pretty compelling arguments I would think many un-represented sellers would have a hard time arguing with. Those that would are better off on their own, IMO.

Love the new pic!


Sep 12, 2013 11:03 AM #22
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Sure you can sell your home for sale by owner-but that isn't always the end of the story. I know one who got sued by the buyer.

Sep 12, 2013 11:57 AM #23
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

My friends are trying to sell on their own. They have paid a company to list it in the mls and are cooperating with agents . They have a lockbox but have not had many showings.

Sep 12, 2013 09:24 PM #24
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

If you have the time selling on your own in a hot market is definitely possible and wise provided you do your research.

Sep 12, 2013 11:13 PM #25
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500

Patricia, as you know there are quite a lot to do when selling a house and it isn't for everyone.  The seller could leave much more on the table than they realize.  There are some very capable people who are willing to take the risks and can prevail.

However, there is a lot of liability and may be unanticipated expenses or consequences.   Great advice and remember if you have had the property tenant occupied, review the TOPA laws in DC.

Sep 13, 2013 01:39 AM #26
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
Veteran Friendly Realtor®

I love FSBO's.  I give them a copy of "For Sale by Owner in California", and show them where I've highlighted the areas where it'd be advisable to use a Real Estate Agent for specific portions of the transaction.

Sep 13, 2013 02:52 AM #27
Lisa Michael
Keller Williams Preffered - Raleigh, NC

Great Advice to potential sellers! love the pic and the article.


thanks for sharing

Sep 13, 2013 03:41 AM #28
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Patricia - as always, there are more ways to sell than one. Can you win? Probably... Can you lose? Most probably :)

Sep 13, 2013 03:42 AM #29
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Thanks for sharing the good information in your blog. I enjoyed the commets that you gave us. They are very helpful and enlightening.


Sep 13, 2013 06:34 AM #30
Holly Weatherwax
Associate Broker, Momentum Realty - Reston, VA
A Great Real Estate Experience

Great post, Pat! All your points are exactly right...have a great weekend.

Sep 13, 2013 06:46 AM #31
Elizabeth Bouchard
Long & Foster Realtors - Arlington, VA
Associate Broker in Northern Virginia

Thanks for the post, Pat.  Most of the FSBO's I have seen the sellers have been willing to pay a co-op commission.  But then the selling agent ends up having to do both sides of the work since the sellers don't always know what they are legally required to do.  Fortunately I don't think we see too many of them in our area, although when the market gets hot like it is now they start popping up with more frequency.

Sep 13, 2013 07:14 AM #32
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I see similar FSBO mistakes in my area. The other thing sellers forget about is exposure. While there are lots of options available to sellers, they really don't know where to market their property. It's always better to work with a full-service agent.

Sep 13, 2013 01:54 PM #33
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Boy, you've hit it all here, Pat.  I've certainly learned to work with an agent when I buy or sell because I know what goes on behind the scenes and I wouldn't want to deal with it as a consumer.

Thanks for posting to this Group, Pat.  If we had more posts to this group, I could do a weekly summary post of new Q&A's.

Sep 26, 2013 06:38 AM #34
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