Every year over 200,000 home sellers decide to sell their homes without the use of a real estate agent. These transactions are known as for-sale-by-owner or FSBO home sales.
Owners selling their homes without a real estate listing agent may sell their homes to buyers who are represented by a buyer’s real estate agent. In some cases, neither party has any representation, and they are negotiating contracts, inspections, and closing requirements completely on their own.
Title Companies and Title Agents
According to the website https://www.forsalebyowner.com/, in most states, a title company is sufficient to manage all facets of the closing, including title searches, documents, and funding. The Title Agent will conduct a title search, offer title insurance, manage escrow, put together the settlement documents, and supervise the signing.
While the Title Agent will ensure all parts of the transaction are completed properly and legally, they are a neutral party. They have no obligation to communicate any liabilities or advantages among parties. The transaction is secure, yet neither party have a professional protecting their interests.
In states where a lawyer is required in real estate closings, both parties must secure attorney representation in order for the sale to be completed. According to forsalebyowner.com, “many customers hire a Real Estate Attorney to protect their interests throughout the real estate transaction. A lawyer can act as an escrow agent for down payments, evaluate any complicated offers from potential buyers, and handle closings.”
Data collected by the National Association of Realtors, NAR, indicate that FSBOs accounted for 7% of home sales in 2020. While that is a small segment of the 5.6 Million homes sold, it still represents hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate transactions. The median price for a home sold by the owner in 2020, was $260,000.
NAR also found that 57% of all buyers of for-sale-by-owner homes, knew the sellers prior to entering into a real estate transaction. That means that 43%, roughly 170,000 for-sale-by-owner transactions were completed by strangers. Strangers who have to navigate a complex process of negotiation, documents, and deadlines to successfully exchange hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home.