By Owner Transactions: A List of People With Answers For You


A common question people have about Buying or Selling “By Owner”, particularly first-time home buyers/sellers, is “Who do I talk to when I have questions?”

Anyone wondering that will be glad to learn that there are MANY sources for getting your questions answered quickly, easily, and free. With this list of suggested resources, I hope to remove some of the intimidation factor of Selling or Buying “By Owner” by showing you several options available to you.

If you have questions about Buying or Selling a home, here are some people to talk to for free answers:

Agents - The first and most obvious resource is a real estate agent. Most people have at least one friend who s a realtor they can call and ask questions without feeling any pressure. Any good, professional agent will gladly answer your questions and help you out in your efforts, knowing that if at any point you decide you want the professional assistance you ll use him/her because of the goodwill they ve established. However, let s face it: some agents have sour grapes about FSBOs altogether, and become very hostile and threatened by you. These agents won t give you the time of day (which is big mistake on their part ), so one of the other options may be more suitable to you.

Mortgage Loan Officer - It warmed my heart to read this recent article by the owner of a mortgage company. It illustrates how helpful most loan officers are willing to be. If there s any individual who sees as many real estate transactions as a realtor, it s a loan officer. So in some cases, they may be even MORE qualified to answer questions for you. They know the process inside-out, and it s in their best interest for you to understand everything - they want you to be able to buy/sell that house so they get the mortgage business out of it! An additional plus to this source is that sometimes you ll get more objective information, since they re not tempted by the potential for a huge commission.

Closing Attorney / Title Insurance Company - Another individual who sees as many real estate transactions (if not more) as a realtor is a closing attorney. Real estate agents actually depend on these guys a LOT - more than you may realize, so don t be afraid to go straight to the source. Finding a good closing attorney is usually as quick and easy as opening the phone book to “attorneys” - if they do real estate closings, they ll advertise it. And if you re concerned about working with a reputable attorney, just pick one of the bigger, more expensive looking ads - that s usually an indication that they re pretty good.

FSBO Advertising / Asssistance Companies - There are several companies who s entire existence is to help FSBOs market and sell their homes. Some companies are advertising only - either online or in print. But most can answer your questions for free, too - they deal with FSBO customers all day every day, and know the common questions and problems, as well as good companies in their area to suggest to you. If there s a local company in your area that you know about, give them a call - or you can do a Google search for “< your city or state > fsbo” and find the companies who can help. Some examples of service-oriented FSBO companies with a national presence are ByOwner or FSBOzone. If there s no other company with a local presence, these companies are more than likely to be able to help you out and answer your questions with a phone call.

Are there any more? - If you ve bought or sold a house By Owner and gotten help from a source I haven t listed here, leave a comment so we can add it to the list!

Bottom line: if you decide to try selling your house without an agent, don t be intimidated you re not all alone. You ve got access to the same resources they do. And using these sources doesn t make it any less “By Owner.” Quite the contrary - you get many of the benefits and guidance without the high commission costs.

Agent s Advice (Not?) In Your Best Interest


News: Major Federal Realtor Crackdown is Underway

In real estate transactions, the majority of an agent s job is just suggesting companies to the buyer and/or seller to use for certain functions (ie. what mortgage company to use, what closing attorney/escrow company to use, which appraiser, etc.) Many people are under the impression that this advice comes in your (buyer/seller) best interest.

That may be true in many cases, but you can t count on it. For decades, agents have gotten kickbacks and “thank you” fees from the companies they recommend. The Federal Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recognized this is likely to skew the motivation for an agent s recommendation to being based on who s paying them more rather than what s in your best interest (ie. is the company safe, legitimate, professional). As a result, RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) guidelines significantly restrict these kickbacks.

The problem: agents have been ignoring the RESPA guidelines, or skirting them underneath the table, initating a major government (HUD) crackdown - including EVERY state - with fines and penalties to agents and their benefactors.

The moral of this story: when an agent recommends a company to use in the sale process, ask yourself “Why?” Do some independent investigation of the company they re suggesting. It just may be in your best interest. But it could be in your agent s.