Buying a "for sale by owner," or FSBO, house requires a little extra legwork by you, but it can be worth it , especially if the savings the seller makes from not paying agent commissions is reflected in the price of the house. The process of buying a FSBO property is essentially the same as a transaction involving agents. You and the buyer will simply connect without the help of a real estate agent and manage the deal with the help of a lawyer.
Search for FSBO properties. If you don't already have your eye on a property, search real estate classified ads or online FSBO home databases, such as ForSaleByOwner.com, to find a house you like. If you are searching a particular neighborhood, you will also see For Sale By Owner signs.
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Contact the sellers. With a FSBO listing, you must reach out directly to the sellers. Ask the questions about the house, the neighborhood and the price. Arrange a time to view the house.
Order a valuation report of the house. A valuation report tells you what other similar homes in the area have been selling for so you can gauge the fairness of the asking price. Valuation reports don't take into account special features in a house that may make the price higher than recent sales in the area. For instance, if the homeowners have added a pool, the valuation report won't capture that increased value. However, it can be a useful tool for getting a ballpark idea of home prices in the area. You can get an instant valuation report online from a number of different companies by plugging in details about the house.
Hire a lawyer. Your state bar association can recommend an attorney who handles FSBO transactions and knows the local laws where you are buying your home.
Make an offer on the house. Your lawyer will help you draft your offer and will submit it either to the sellers or their attorney.
Shop for good mortgage rates. Even though the seller has not yet accepted your offer and there may be a series of counteroffers before you settle on a price, you should lock-in a mortgage rate. You can do this by finding a mortgage broker who will track down mortgage rates for you, or you can handle the work yourself by contacting banks and mortgage companies directly. After completing the necessary applications and receiving loan offers, select the one with the best rates and terms to lock-in. Although lock-in periods vary, most lenders will let you "hold" that rate for 30 to 60 days as you continue to negotiate price with the seller.
Hire a home inspector to complete an inspection of the property. Your lawyer may also be able to recommend someone they have worked with in the past. According to ForSaleByOwner.com, expect the inspection to cost between $300 and $600. If the inspector finds that the home needs expensive repairs, your lawyer will help you negotiate with the seller to reduce the purchase price to compensate for these expenses.
Close on the house. Closing rules differ based on local and state laws, but your attorney will advise you throughout the process. You will provide payment to the seller, and they will transfer the deed over to you, at which point the transaction is complete.