You’ve been searching for homes with your agent but can’t find the one that’s ‘just right.’ You know the inventory is tight and that the right one will come along soon, but you’re getting impatient!
Then you stumble across a house that looks perfect. But it’s For Sale By Owner. Now what?
Your agent can still help you – and he should! Just because the owner is selling privately doesn’t mean you can’t look at the house or even own it. Tell your agent about the house and share the address and phone number with him. Your agent will call the owner to see if he’s willing to work with buyers who are represented by a Realtor.
If the owner is willing to pay your agent a professional fee, he and the agent will meet prior to your seeing the house to agree on compensation. That’s usually a percentage of the sale price, but it can also be a set amount. With that agreement in place, your agent will show you the house, and if you decide it’s ‘the one,’ he’ll help you prepare an offer for the seller. Your agent will continue to work on your behalf and help you navigate the transaction to a successful closing.
If the owner is not willing to pay your agent a professional fee, you’ve still got a couple of options. You could choose to pay your agent the professional fee yourself – there’s no rule that says it has to be paid by the seller. You could also choose to negotiate directly with the seller and try to put the deal together on your own. By doing that you’re essentially firing your agent (even if you really like him!) and you’ll need to handle inspection deadlines, repair negotiations and follow-up, and any lender requirements without his guidance. If you haven’t bought a home before, or don’t feel comfortable ‘flying solo,’ you’ll want to give that decision some serious thought before proceeding!
(Consider, too, what you’ll do in case your direct negotiations with the seller are not successful. Will you be able to go back to your agent after dumping him? Ultimately that depends on the kind of relationship you have with your Realtor, but it’s something to keep in mind!)
In today’s market of very limited inventory, it’s only natural that we’d see more sellers trying to sell By Owner. As the buyer, know that you’ve got options and that it’s OK to look at FSBO properties. Talk to your agent and have a game plan in place, so when you find the right house, you can move forward confidently!