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TheStreet Open House

Can You Handle Selling a Home By Yourself?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Home prices are up and there aren't enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. It sounds like perfect conditions for the seller who wants to go it alone, saving the hefty real estate agent's commission.

The mechanics of the FSBO -- for sale by owner -- have become relatively simple, thanks to the Internet and various low-fee services to help sellers with the process. And many sellers who have completed FSBOs are thrilled with the savings, escaping the agent's commission that typically runs to 6% of the sales price. But there are pitfalls.

So how do you know if you are a good candidate?

The key consideration: Do you have enough time? Selling on your own means, of course, that you must have time to show the property. Although traffic is typically heaviest on weekends, the seller really has to be available during the week and on short notice.

More important, though, the seller should expect the process to take longer than if professional agents are involved, because traffic is likely to be much slower. Many buyers, already nervous about home buying, think there are too many hassles and risks in working without a pro, so they won't consider a FSBO property.

And, since most buyers have agents of their own, you will cut yourself off from those buyers unless you are willing to pay a buyer's agent's commission, typically around 3%.

So the FSBO is best for the seller who has no deadline.

Critics of FSBOs typically cite two other potential problems. First are legal risks. Doing something wrong in filling out the sales contract or disclosing issues with the property could cost you a sale or, worse, invite a lawsuit.

But this need not be a major consideration. For a few hundred dollars, a lawyer familiar with real estate can help you with the paperwork.

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