How to Sell a House By Owner in Virginia: an Old Dominion FSBO Guide

How to Sell a House By Owner in Virginia: an Old Dominion FSBO Guide

When the time comes to move, some tenacious homeowners in Virginia are eager to take over the reins of their home sale and figure out how to sell a house by owner.

A house is typically a person’s largest financial asset, and the decision to sell solo is often understandably driven by a desire to save on commission fees and pocket more equity from a hard-earned investment.

In recent years, the hot Virginia real estate market and a steep rise in equity added extra incentives to maximize profits.

Impulsive home purchases also weren’t unheard of during the pandemic, so maybe you haven’t owned your Virginia home very long and are concerned about covering the cost of selling your house. As the market shifts, you may have new concerns about how much you can get for your home and the amount of your net proceeds.

With millions of homes sold each year, a modest portion of sellers — about 7% in 2021 and 10% in 2022 — choose to list “For Sale By Owner” (or FSBO — pronounced fizz-bow). Of those, 50% already knew the buyer of the home, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

While the method can work for Virginians, it does come with some risks. Selling a house is a pretty rare event for most people, so you don’t know what you don’t know.

In this guide to selling FSBO in Virginia, we’ll cover what can be the most difficult aspects of selling by owner in the Old Dominion, including the steps that might be harder than you think. We’ll also provide a comprehensive overview of the full process to prep, market, and close on your home without the assistance of a real estate agent.

Note: Once you’ve seen what’s required, you can roll up your sleeves and get started with your FSBO sale. Or — in the event you’d prefer to work with a real estate agent — HomeLight would be happy to introduce you to highly-rated professionals in your Virginia market who can help you command top dollar and provide a low-stress selling experience.

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Process of Listing Your Home FSBO in Virginia?

Selling your home yourself is a complicated and time-consuming process. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to list your home FSBO, working with a top agent in Virginia could be your best bet. HomeLight analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to find you the best agent for your unique situation.

 

How does selling by owner (FSBO) work in Virginia?

Disclaimer: While we’ve done our best to research laws, guidelines, or policies for FSBO sales in Virginia, HomeLight always recommends that you look into the local regulations for your area and when in doubt, consult with a legal advisor.

FSBO is a method of selling your home without the involvement of a listing agent. In a FSBO scenario, the seller assumes the responsibilities that would normally fall to their agent such as pricing the home, marketing it to potential buyers, arranging showings, and negotiating the deal.

In an agent-assisted sale, the seller typically pays a commission amounting to around 6% of the sale price, which is then most often split 50/50 with the buyer’s agent. That 6% is deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. By selling FSBO, a seller can eliminate the cost of the listing agent commission (so around 3%), though they may still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission.

Buyers’ agents will expect compensation for the work they do to bring a buyer to a sale, such as arranging showings and helping to tee up and qualify the buyer. Plus, when a seller isn’t working with an agent, the buyer’s agent may end up carrying more of the weight to get the deal to the finish line.

Next: Consult our guide on who pays closing costs when selling a house by owner for more details.

Finally, a FSBO sale does not mean that a seller won’t need any professional assistance. In Virginia, sellers are not required to hire a real estate attorney, but FSBO sales typically warrant legal and professional oversight of some kind to avoid an abundance of legal risk.

Most people who sell by owner will need to hire an attorney to review and prepare key documents and make sure paperwork is filled out properly, such as the seller’s disclosures. We’ll address what disclosures are required when selling a house in Virginia later in this post.

Their perception is they’re saving six percent. But really what they’re talking about is the listing agent commission (around 3%). And often the amount that they would make with a listing agent is dramatically more than what they save on the listing agent commission.
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Why sell a house by owner in Virginia?

The top three reasons people cite for selling FSBO include: “did not want to pay a commission or fee” (36%); sold to a relative, friend, or neighbor (30%); or that the buyers contacted the seller directly (8%), according to NAR data.

To get a firsthand perspective on selling homes in Virginia, we spoke with Keri Shull, a top real estate agent in the Arlington, Virginia area. Shull is an SFH expert who works with over 70% more single-family homes than the average Arlington agent.

We also spoke with Christine Cahoon, a top real estate agent in the Virginia Beach area who sells more townhomes and condos than the average Virginia Beach agent.

Shull shares that sellers who choose FSBO expect to save money, often not realizing that they typically will still need to pay the buyer’s agent commission, and that the proceeds when selling by owner can be much less.

“Their perception is they’re saving six percent. But really what they’re talking about is the listing agent commission (around 3%). And often the amount that they would make with a listing agent is dramatically more than what they save on the listing agent commission,” she explains.

For example, 2022 data from NAR shows that “FSBO homes sold at a median of $225,000, significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $345,000.” This NAR data contrasts the median prices among all FSBO homes (for which we have limited data) against all agent-assisted homes, regardless of distinctions like square footage. However, an independent study from 2016 to 2017 which does adjust for square footage also shows a significant price difference: FSBO homes sold for an average of 5.5% less than agent-marketed sales.

As you can see, FSBO is a mixed bag. So, before we share our selling tips, let’s lay out some pros and cons to help you decide if this is the route for you.

Pros of selling a house by owner

  • Ability to save on listing agent commission fees, usually around 3% of the sale price.
  • You’re entirely in charge and can manage the sale as you please.
  • No “go-between” in your communications with buyers.
  • You don’t have to put your trust in anyone else.

Cons of selling a house by owner

  • FSBO listings tend to sell for less, statistically speaking.
  • Unless you already have a buyer lined up, such as a friend, neighbor, or relative, a FSBO home might take longer to sell. In a study by Bright MLS, MLS-listed homes went under contract in an average of 11 days compared to 31 days for off-MLS homes, such as FSBO properties, which eventually ended up being promoted through the MLS.
  • Managing all communications and negotiations yourself is time-consuming. Not having a communication buffer can be a downside if the buyer pushes back or says negative things about your property.
  • You’ll be negotiating without help from an expert, which could mean leaving money on the table.
  • Setting the listing price is challenging — you may be tempted to go too high. You could also risk under-selling with a low price.
  • Marketing your home is time-consuming.
  • You’ll still have selling costs, which may include transfer taxes and settlement fees. Not having agent representation could also lead to paying more in seller concessions.
  • Without the help of an agent to guide you through the disclosure process, transactional paperwork, and legal documentation, you may put yourself at legal risk and may be liable for potential future problems with your home.

The biggest drawback of selling FSBO, explains Shull, is failing to calculate opportunity cost.

“Because there’s a value that they bring to the world, and trying to be their own real estate agent is taking away from their natural gift. Really intelligent people make the mistake of not calculating their own hourly rate and their own well-being and the opportunity cost in the equation,” she says.

In spite of the cons, we’ll help you navigate the challenges of FSBO if you’re committed to selling your Virginia house without agent assistance. For some, selling a home FSBO is a challenge worth accepting, and success can be measured in more ways than one.

Steps to sell a house by owner

Next, let’s review the FSBO process step by step.

1. Prepare your house for sale

Whether you’re selling with an agent or FSBO, at a minimum you’ll want to get your Virginia home into respectable shape before any showings to increase your chances of receiving a fair price.

The key to preparing your home is to take yourself out of the role of the seller and walk through the home as a buyer. You have to shift out of the “this is my home” mindset to make your home appeal to as many people as possible. If you love florals, bold colors, or whimsical wallpaper, you need to neutralize your palate.

Here are a few standard tasks to add to the list.

Indoors

These efforts will go a long way toward impressing buyers looking for a home in Virginia:

  • Declutter floors, shelves, and surfaces throughout the home
  • Remove any personal items, such as family photos and school announcements.
  • Make small fixes and repairs, like a leaky faucet or broken door handle.
  • Lightly update with new light fixtures, faucets, or cabinet hardware.
  • Refinish hardwood floors and remove any scatter rugs that are covering them up.
  • Repaint bold walls (or those that look dingy) in a neutral color.
  • Reduce furniture in crowded rooms — consider a temporary storage unit. Don’t block doors with furniture.
  • Stage the home with final touches like fresh-cut flowers or a basket of fresh produce.
  • Use rugs to define spaces and place them strategically.
  • Deep clean until the house is sparkling.
  • Open blinds or drapes to show off a great view and add natural lighting. Replace any dim, blown, or missing bulbs with bright bulbs.

“Closets in Arlington tend to be smaller than what the buyer is looking for. So, I teach my clients to remove half of their clothing because it looks like there’s all this space. Small tricks like this help to put buyers at ease subconsciously,” says Shull.

Outdoors

Data from HomeLight’s 2022 Top Agents Insight Report shows that on average, “Buyers will pay 7% more for a house with great curb appeal versus a home with a neglected exterior.”

Some important curb appeal upgrades can include:

  • Mow the lawn and pull weeds. Green up the grass with winter rye.
  • Add seasonal flowers and a nice door wreath.
  • Apply fresh mulch liberally. According to Cahoon, red mulch is popular in the Virginia area and looks striking against a light-colored home.
  • Upgrade your landscaping. Consider a new walkway, flowerbed, or shrubs.
  • Add a fresh coat of exterior paint.
  • Install a new garage door if yours is looking old or not working properly.

2. Do the homework necessary to set a competitive price

You’ve arrived at a critical moment in your FSBO process: setting a listing price. You don’t want to leave money on the table, yet you want to encourage activity on your listing.

Before listing a home, an agent usually conducts a comparative market analysis (CMA). This is a highly-detailed study of “comps” — similar homes nearby that have sold recently, are pending, on the market, or were previously listed but taken off the market. Some may have even been pulled off the market without a sale. Unfortunately, sellers have a hard time pricing their own properties objectively.

“Overpricing is a catastrophic mistake in today’s market because it’s your one chance to make a good first impression. If buyers see that a property has been reduced and reduced again, they think something’s wrong with it. Ultimately, the seller has to reduce to an even lower price. It’s best to price correctly the first time. But houses in the Arlington and northern Virginia area aren’t cookie-cutter. This makes pricing problematic,” warns Shull.

Cahoon agrees and explains that pricing correctly is part of her strategy to getting the best sale price:

“Pricing is a critical reason to hire a real estate agent. For example, what I’m doing is pricing a little bit below the market because the market is changing every single day. And then I list houses on a Thursday, which is the best day. We hold an open house and end up with multiple offers and sell above the list price. For sale by owners are missing the experience necessary to price their home, create that auction effect, and get 110 percent of the list-to-sale value.”

Without an agent, you’ll miss out on the complexity of a full CMA, the know-how to interpret it, and the expert strategy to get top dollar on your property sale.

However, with a little time and money, you can set a competitive price yourself.

Conduct your own “CMA Lite”

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and research.

Start with an online home value estimate

As a starting point, look at several online estimators for your home’s value. HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator aggregates publicly available data such as tax records and assessments, your home’s last sale price, and recent sales records for other properties in the same neighborhood.

We also add a new layer of information to our estimates using a short questionnaire. Tell us a few details about your Virginia home, such as:

  • How much work does it need?
  • What type of home is it (single-family, condo, townhouse, or other)?
  • Roughly when was your house built?
  • Are you planning to sell soon?

Using these insights, we’ll provide you with a preliminary estimate of home value in under two minutes.

Whether you use Zillow, Chase, Realtor, or Redfin to get a home value estimate, think of any online home price tool as a first step (not your only source of truth) — and recognize that the data used may be limited.

Narrowly filter your search for comps

When you’re ready to find comps, you can choose from sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or Realtor.

You’ll want to filter your searches to the area very near your house (within blocks if possible) and with similar characteristics. If you’re not finding any comps, expand your search map.

You’ll also want to filter results by details like:

  • Listing status (look at recently sold, pending, and active)
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Square footage
  • Home type (single-family, condo, etc.)

Beyond the above criteria, the more houses you find with floor plans and an age similar to yours, the better.

Use a site like Zillow to collect your data

As an example, let’s take a look at how to filter your search for comps on Zillow.

  • Navigate to Zillow.
  • Type in your address. If a pop-up with your home’s specs appears, close it.
  • Filter by “sold.” Yellow dots should appear on the map surrounding your house.
  • Now, filter by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and check the box “Use exact match.”
  • Next, filter by home type.
  • Next, select the “More” box. Here you can specify square footage, lot size, year built, and — crucially — the “sold in last” (time period) category.
  • Scroll down and select to view houses that sold in the last 30 days.
  • If you find there are not many results in your area, try expanding to 90 days. However, the further back you go, the less relevant the comps.
  • If necessary, click the plus or minus buttons to widen the search area.
  • Once you’ve collected data for sold houses, revise or restart the search to view active and pending listings, as well.
Invest in an appraisal

If you want to reduce guesswork further, top agents recommend paying an appraiser to provide a professional opinion of value for your home. An appraiser will combine recent property data, research of the surrounding market, and information collected from a walkthrough of your home to determine an appraised value. For a single-family home, an appraisal will likely cost $500 to $600 — well worth it to avoid possibly over- or underpricing your house by thousands.

Make sense of the research

Compare your home’s features against the nearby comps you collected. Hopefully, the houses you studied give an indication of an appropriate price range for your home. From there, you can make dollar adjustments based on characteristics that add value (patios, curb appeal, an extra bedroom) versus detracting from it (a busy street, deferred maintenance, less square footage).

Consider the differences and similarities of comps with the appraised value of your home to choose a price that will encourage activity (too high and it may seem out of reach to many buyers) but will also maximize your profit.

3. Photograph your home

Listing photos are powerful, either pulling in buyers for showings or keeping them away.

To give your listing an edge, consider hiring an experienced real estate photographer. While they may charge as much as $140 to $180 an hour,

But if you do go the DIY route, make sure to:

  • Use a good camera with a wide-angle lens.
  • Pay attention to lighting.
  • Include a photo of every room.
  • Take multiple pictures of living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms.
  • Try shooting different angles.

Review our guide on how to take quality real estate photos for further guidance.

4. Create a detailed, compelling listing

Along with stellar photos, you’ll want to craft an informative and compelling listing. Leverage both the listing description (a paragraph or two highlighting key features) and the property details to show potential buyers all about your home and what makes it desirable.

Tell a story with your description

Draw in potential buyers with a powerful listing description that tells a story about your Virginia house, including details like:

  • Your home’s most unique and desirable features, like a breakfast nook or sunroom
  • Recent upgrades like a kitchen or bathroom remodel or new roof or HVAC system
  • High-end appliances, materials, or finishes
  • Outdoor features like a pool or patio
  • Neighborhood features and amenities
  • Nearby parks, walking trails, restaurants, and attractions

If your home has features buyers are looking for, it’s a good idea to play those up. Virginia buyers lean toward an open kitchen, a lot of sunlight, a sizable master bedroom suite, and a huge backyard.

Remember that your listing is competing with thousands of other listings for buyer attention. To set your property apart, study your competition. This means looking at how other sellers are listing their houses. What features do they consider important? Talk about your extra bedroom. Play up your spectacular view. If you have a garage in an area where homes don’t, feature that. The opposite is also true. If you have a single garage and every other home has a two-car garage, don’t focus on that.

Lastly, and this is crucial: specify in your description the commission a buyer’s agent will receive from the proceeds. Most agents don’t want to show their clients properties from which they’d receive a paltry commission. When you list in the MLS, you must include a buyer’s commission. It can be as little as $1 but recognize that may limit your buyer pool as buyers’ agents typically expect to be compensated for their efforts. As we discuss below, if you choose not to list in the MLS so you can forego the buyer commission, you’ll seriously limit the exposure your home will get.

Don’t skimp on the property details

Aside from writing the description, you may be prompted to enter information like:

  • Age of the home
  • Square footage
  • Architectural style (i.e. split-level, rancher, craftsman)
  • Appliances included
  • Exterior building materials
  • Flooring types
  • HOA fees
  • School zone information
  • Lot size

Many real estate agents and potential buyers really do read this “fine print” on your listing — so include accurate details, and plenty of them.

5. List your home online

It’s finally time to post your Virginia home online. While you can create FSBO listings for free on popular search sites, you’d have to painstakingly post site by site, and your listing wouldn’t reach the majority of buyers and agents

To give your home the most exposure, pay to have your home put on your local MLS (multiple listing service) — a platform agents use to share properties with one another and major real estate sites. Posting there will feed your listing to buyers’ agent databases and to common sites buyers use.

Only licensed real estate agents and brokers who are MLS members can post to the MLS. However, you have two options to gain access: paying an agent to post for you or using a FSBO platform online.

Pay an agent to list your home on the MLS

A local agent may be willing to list your house on the MLS for a flat fee, without any other involvement in your real estate transaction. If you decide to go this route, ask whether the fee includes updating your listing if necessary.

Use a FSBO platform with an MLS option

You can use various paid websites to list your Virginia house online as “for sale by owner.” These sites offer packages ranging from about $100 to $400 for just a listing, or a larger flat fee of $3,000 to $5,000 that includes any number of additional professional marketing services.

Some of these companies display their rates on their websites but others won’t quote a fee until you input your address or select an area of the country. A few examples include:

It’s important to note that most of these companies serve FSBO sellers nationwide, which can cause challenges if the assisting representatives don’t understand the local market trends in your Virginia neighborhood.

Whatever you choose, read the fine print carefully: some sites may have hidden fees or even take a percentage off your sale — a detour you’d rather avoid on the FSBO route.

Not willing to pay for the MLS?

If you’re determined to save money by foregoing the MLS, creating a free FSBO listing on Zillow might be your top option. You can post a video and unlimited photos, and get fairly wide exposure via Zillow and the Zillow-owned Trulia.

6. Market your home

Now it’s time to spread the word about your Virginia home.

Experienced agents like Shull and Cahoon know that posting a home on the MLS is just the beginning of the marketing phase. A successful home sale requires a deliberate and targeted marketing plan to reach the right buyers and attract the best offers.

Sellers get valuable marketing exposure from a real estate agent, explains Cahoon. FSBOs must market their property to compete with homes that are selling with the benefit of the “door knocking, the calling, the open houses, the international listings on broker sites, the door hangers, and the mailers.”  These are critical marketing tactics agents use to maximize exposure.

Here are some of the steps you can take to market your home:

Place a nice FSBO sign by the road

Consider getting a custom yard sign rather than purchasing a generic one you write on with Sharpie. You can order a custom sign on a site like Vistaprint with your contact information, plus a stand, for as little as $25 plus shipping. Note that some MLS providers may have rules about whether you can post a FSBO yard sign while your home is on the MLS.

Share on social media

Share your home across social media — and ask your friends to share, too.

Hold an open house

Try these strategies for a successful open house event:

  • Share details on Facebook and Nextdoor.
  • Update your MLS listing with the open house details (if you’re able to as part of paying the flat fee), or update your DIY FSBO listing.
  • Place open house signs at nearby intersections.
  • Tidy up the house before potential buyers come through.
  • Pass out info sheets with the address, bullet points about the house, your contact info, and perhaps one photo.
  • If you can, collect visitors’ info — then follow up later to ask if they have any questions.

Find more expert tips for how to hold an open house at this link.

7. Manage showings

If your marketing is successful, your next step will be to show the home to prospective buyers. Welcome to the busiest phase of the home sale process. Some FSBO sellers switch to an agent because they underestimate the time, energy, and expertise needed to manage this crucial step.

To manage the logistics of showings:

  • Respond to inquiries ASAP.
  • Set end times if you need to fit many showings in one day. This will also create a sense of demand and urgency for buyers to place offers.
  • Remove or secure valuables.
  • Make sure the home is clean and tidy for showings.
  • Follow up with buyers’ agents after showings to get their feedback.

Should you be present for showings?

If you’d rather not be present for every showing, consider using a lockbox with a code to let buyers’ agents enter the house. This is standard industry practice among agents. To ensure you’re working with someone legitimate, use Google or sites like arello.com to check their real estate license number.

With unrepresented buyers, plan to be on the property for the showing. During a showing, we recommend you:

  • Point out a few highlights of the house.
  • Let buyers look without hovering.
  • Be prepared to answer questions.
  • Avoid the temptation to tell all — let the house and listing do the talking.

8. Evaluate offers, negotiate a deal, and make disclosures

You’ve got your first offer — congratulations! Before signing anything, know that a written offer becomes a purchase agreement – a binding contract –  the moment you sign it.

So, before you sign, examine the paperwork, study up on the contingencies and understand everything that goes into the agreement. You may want a real estate attorney to review the documentation so you know what you’re getting into.

Here are key considerations when considering an offer on your Virginia home:

  • Vet potential buyers by requiring a mortgage pre-approval letter or proof of funds.
  • Require everything in writing.
  • Remember you can counter-offer and negotiate.
  • Look for a good real estate attorney. (See the next step!)

Property condition disclosure

According to Cahoon, the state of Virginia is a “buyer beware” state that employs the “Caveat Emptor” rule. This rule states that it is the buyer’s responsibility to discover if there are any issues with the home.

The Caveat Emptor rule doesn’t protect the seller from liability if issues with the home are discovered after the sale. When legal disputes come up, courts tend to side with the buyer who has less knowledge of the property condition than the seller.

The Caveat Emptor rule also does not protect the seller if the seller deliberately provides false information about anything important that has happened in the home. This includes when crucial information is held back, or if the seller misrepresents the facts about any significant defects within the home or property.

According to the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act (§ 55.1-700) the owner of a residential home must furnish to a purchaser a residential property disclosure statement for the buyer to beware of certain matters that may affect the buyer’s decision to purchase the property.

The disclosure statement is provided by the Virginia Real Estate Board and includes a list of declarations that start with: “The owner makes no representations with respect to…” The statement advises the purchaser to exercise whatever due diligence the buyer deems necessary to vet out any issues in 17 categories that include:

1. The condition of the real property
2. Lot lines or the ability to expand, improve, or add structures
3. Matters that pertain to adjacent parcels, including zoning and uses
4. Provisions of any historic district ordinances that may apply
5. Whether the property contains any resource protection areas
6. Information about registered sexual offenders
7. Whether the property is within a dam break inundation zone
8. Presence and condition of the wastewater system
9. Rights to install or use solar energy collection devices
10. If the property is in a flood hazard area or requires flood insurance
11. If the property is subject to one or more conservation or other easements
12. Whether the property is subject to a community development authority
13. Whether the property is located on or near deposits of marine clays
14. Whether the property is located in Radon Zones as defined by the EPA
15. Whether the property is fitted with plumbing that may contain lead
16. The existence of defective drywall on the property
17. The condition or status of any impounding structure or dam on the property

The Virginia law also governs what information owners must disclose to prospective buyers in the form of affirmative written disclosures. This includes statements about properties with:

  • Proximity to a military air installation
  • Pending building code or zoning ordinance violations
  • Lis Pendens filed (suit pending)
  • History of previous methamphetamine manufacture activities
  • Privately owned stormwater management facilities
  • Repetitive risk loss
  • Septic systems, and must show the validity of operating permits

Home sellers must provide the signed disclosure to the buyer before accepting the purchase offer and signing a purchase agreement.

To set buyers at ease, Cahoon gives her sellers a homework sheet.

“It’s an opportunity to list any upgrades, to let buyers know you replaced the roof, updated the HVAC or the water heater, put in new hardwood floors. The more information you can provide about the home, the better. Maybe the crawl space has been encapsulated. Maybe you have a termite contract. Or you’ve recently painted, put down new carpeting, and upgraded the padding. It’s important to let the buyer know that the house has been well taken care of.“

Whether required by law or not, some sellers may prefer to provide disclosures before an offer has even been presented so that a prospective buyer is more informed beforehand and less likely to withdraw from a deal later on.

If in doubt about a problem with the home’s condition, most top real estate agents would recommend you disclose it. If you know of an issue and choose not to disclose a major problem, and that defect is later discovered, you could be liable for damage or subsequent costs.

9. Close the sale — with professional help

Time to button up that deal.

While some states require that FSBO sellers hire a real estate lawyer to help close their sale, Virginia does not.

However, it’s still a good idea to invest in the services of an experienced attorney as you close one of the biggest and most complex deals of your life. By doing so, you’ll minimize your legal and financial risk, simplify the process for yourself, and help secure the success of your sale.

Real estate attorney fees can vary depending on location and how much help you want or need. In Virginia, they generally range from $101 to $399 and average $344 per hour — well worth it for professional guidance in closing one of life’s largest legal transactions.

FSBO mistakes to avoid in Virginia

On your FSBO journey, watch out for these major pitfalls:

  • Missing out on the MLS
  • Forgetting or refusing to pay the buyer’s agent commission
  • Over- or under-pricing
  • Letting your house sit on the market too long (Lack of activity is a common reason FSBO sellers turn to an agent for help)
  • Not meeting all the legal requirements involved in the transaction

“The biggest mistake sellers make is getting emotional about the process. Twenty to 25 percent of the deals I’ve negotiated would’ve been blown by an emotional reaction. Many sellers shut down during negotiations. They need to take a lot of breaths. They need to take time to evaluate the upside and the downside of any decision. In a negotiation, it’s crucial to focus on the logic,” Shull explains.

If it looks like your negotiations may fall through because the buyer wants something you can’t provide, it’s helpful to think it through. There may be cheaper, faster alternatives to save the deal.

Instead of replacing a sump pump, the buyer may be satisfied with a home warranty. If they’re wary that your home is in a flood zone, you may set them at ease with a CLUE report or by transferring your flood insurance to them. This is where a skilled professional is helpful. You can pay an agent a flat fee to oversee a difficult negotiation.

Request a Cash Offer on Your Virginia Home and Skip the Prep Work

Skip the prep work and the agent commissions by requesting a cash offer for your home. With HomeLight’s Simple Sale, you can receive a no-obligation all-cash offer in as little as one week, and close the sale in as few as 10 days.

Alternatives to selling by owner in Virginia

If you decide you don’t want the hassle or pressure of FSBO, you’ve got other solid options.

Enlist the help of a top-rated real estate agent

Ultimately, the services and price gains you can get with an experienced real estate agent may put more money in your pocket than FSBO. A proven agent is also better equipped to help you achieve your selling and moving timelines.

“I had a FSBO seller contact me to evaluate a purchase price and make sure he wasn’t being taken advantage of. It sounded like the buyer was a wholesaler and I expressed my concerns. I suspected that the buyer would wait until the last minute and negotiate the deal when the seller’s back was against the wall — and that’s just what happened. Three weeks later he called, distraught. He was supposed to be closing on another house but his money was tied up in this sale. I found him a cash buyer, got him a higher purchase price, and he was able to move on to his new home. He just experienced so much more stress trying to handle it himself,” Shull shares.

Cahoon shares that it can be difficult even for an experienced agent to take the emotion and ego out of their own FSBO sale.

“A good friend of mine who was a licensed agent was going to sell her personal property FSBO. After talking it over with her husband, they decided to list with me instead. It was an emotionally difficult process. The buyer was relocating and had their own home to sell. My friend told me afterward that she was so glad I was involved in the transaction. There were many times that I talked her off the ledge. So, going back to keeping your emotions out of it — I wasn’t emotionally attached to the home or the transaction. I could see the horizon and know we were going to close, that it was going to be fine. That’s difficult for anyone who’s emotionally involved in the sale.”

Interested in such expertise? HomeLight can connect you to top-performing agents in your Virginia market. Our free tool analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs. It takes only two minutes to receive your matches.

Request a cash offer to buy your Virginia home

If you’d like to skip the sale prep altogether — plus avoid paying agent commissions — you can opt to sell your home “as-is” to an all-cash buyer instead.

For a low-stress experience, consider requesting a cash offer from HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Tell us a few details about your home, and in as few as 72 hours, we’ll send a no-obligation all-cash offer your way. If you decide to accept the offer, Simple Sale sellers have the ability to close in as little as 10 days.

Without leaving the Simple Sale platform, you’ll also be able to compare your cash offer to an estimation of what your home would sell for on the open market so you can make an informed decision.

Ready to sell your Virginia home?

Unless you already have a buyer lined up, selling a house by owner in Virginia requires a significant investment of time and effort. You’ll need to pull your own comps, capture excellent pictures, create a listing, market the house online, field inquiries, host showings, negotiate, and close the deal. And that’s after preparing the house itself.

You also have to consider that FSBO listings tend to sell for less than agent-assisted sales. An experienced agent who knows the area can make recommendations for targeted upgrades to help you maximize your sale price and get a premium offer. This can help to offset or, in some cases, more than make up for the cost of commission — while saving you time and headaches.

If you choose to go FSBO, you should have a good idea now of what to expect from the process.  Otherwise, our internal transaction data at HomeLight shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for as much as 10% more than average, and we’d be happy to introduce you to some of the best agents in your Virginia market.

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