Negotiation as a For Sale By Owner

What For Sale by Owners Need to Know to Close

Saleswoman shaking hands with Hispanic couple
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After a buyer has expressed the desire to purchase a For-Sale-by-Owner home, the negotiation starts. As a For Sale by Owner, you are in a unique position to negotiate directly with the buyer, providing you are not paying a buyer's agent fee. If you are paying the agent who brings you a buyer, you will probably negotiate the purchase contract through the buyer's agent.

However, if you are not paying a buyer's agent and you are negotiating only with the buyer, you might need to help the buyer find a For Sale By Owner contract. So stock up on for sale by owner contracts that you can easily complete for the buyer to sign.

Key Takeaways

  • If you're selling your house FSBO, you'll likely be negotiating directly with the buyer since you may not be working with an agent.
  • Be sure to do your research—for example, review how offers are written and understand contingency offers.
  • It may be a good idea to obtain your own home inspection before putting the house on the market.
  • Federal law and your state law will mandate required disclosures and material facts, and make sure you give this information to the buyers.

Purchase Contract For Sale by Owner Negotiation

  • If a buyer does not have an agent, you can offer to help the buyer write the purchase contract.
  • Buyers may write different offers depending on the climate of your market. Review how buyers write offers in a buyers' market to the way buyers write offers in a sellers' market.
  • Make sure your buyer is prequalified by a lender to purchase your home.
  • Accept an earnest money deposit that makes your buyer, as the expression goes, put money where the mouth is.
  • Think about asking the buyer for a contingency offer, which could be subject to you finding your replacement home. If you are concerned that you won't find a suitable home, making your offer contingent on it is one way to guarantee you won't be homeless.
  • On the other hand, the buyer might ask you for a contingency sale. Handled correctly, you can always bump the buyer out of the deal or force the buyer to remove the contingency if a better offer comes in through First Right of Refusal.
  • Expect that you might need to compose a counter offer. You don't have to accept the buyer's offer, and if it is too low, always counter; don't walk away. Sometimes buyers want to test the water by poking in a toe. Don't be insulted if they try to take advantage of you.
  • Review the reasons why you might end up rejecting the buyer's offer to determine if they apply to you.
  • If the buyer refuses to pay your price, you might want to sweeten the deal by offering to buy-down the mortgage for the buyer or offer to pay some of the buyer's closing costs.

What For Sale By Owners Should Know About Home Inspection Negotiation

When selling as a For Sale by Owner, it might possibly be prudent to obtain your own home inspection before putting the house on the market. This way you know what is wrong and can fix it or otherwise address it. Plus, you can give the buyer a copy of your home inspection, which the buyer might accept in-lieu-of hiring another inspector. A real estate agent will not advise a buyer to accept your inspection, but unrepresented buyers won't know any better.

  • If the buyer opts to obtain a home inspection, then here is what you need to do to get ready for a home inspection. These tips will ensure the home inspector moves through your home quickly and efficiently.
  • Sometimes buyers hire bad home inspectors. In that case, let your pre-sale home inspector talk to the buyer's home inspector.
  • Be prepared for the buyer to conduct a final walk-through inspection. This is not the time for a buyer to renegotiate.
  • Before paying for your own inspection, stop to consider your home inspector might find different defects than the buyer's home inspector.

Home Disclosures

In many parts of the country, buyers ask for pest control reports from the seller. It's better to get those inspections completed before entering into a purchase contract, otherwise, agree that specified reports are subject to your approval since you will not know upfront if repairs are indicated or required. You don't want to agree to pay for pest work, for example, and then discover it will cost $30,000.

  • Federal law and your state law will mandate required disclosures and material hoou must give the buyer a copy of all required disclosures and it's smart to obtain the buyer's signature of receipt.
  • If you live in a planned unit development such as a condo or townhome, the buyer will ask for a copy of the homeowner association rules and regulations. If there is a fee charged to produce these documents, it is generally negotiable as to which party pays it.
  • The buyer will likely obtain title insurance, which again is a negotiable expense between the parties.
  • For peace of mind after the sale, it is a good idea to offer to pay for a home warranty plan for the buyer. This way, when every little thing breaks or malfunctions, the buyer isn't calling you to fix it or blaming you for the failure.
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