In 2021, homes for sale by owners (FSBOs) accounted for one out of every ten transactions. But when homeowners conduct a home sale without the guidance and resources of a real estate agent, they can miss key markets, advertising opportunities, and market insights throughout the process.
However, the market is adapting. Some homeowners want to sell their properties on their own terms and without paying a listing agent a hefty 3% commission. To accommodate such desires, there are a variety of tools, services, and advertising options available. One of the most handy tools for sellers is FSBO websites: platforms that allow homeowners to describe the property, the listing price, and other details.
But not all websites offer the same value or even the same types of features and services. There are paid websites, free websites, FSBO websites that don’t list properties on default channels, and companies that perform many of the same services as an FSBO website. Before you pick your track for selling your home, learn more about the available for-sale-by-owner websites, the most important services they offer, and how to evaluate them so you can identify the right fit for your real estate goals.
What Are FSBO Websites?
An FSBO website is an online service that allows you to list your property for sale. Listings include a description of the property and details about the home, such as:
- Square footage
- The year the home was built
- Bedroom/bathroom count
- Type of power for utilities
- HVAC details
- Your expectations for offers
These and other pertinent pieces of information tell buyers and their agents what they need to know. Some websites, such as Zillow For Sale By Owner, will internally host your description or property profile. Others will disseminate the information to other popular listing sites to increase exposure of your listing.
There are multiple services on the market, but they can generally be split into two categories: paid and free.
Paid FSBO Websites (May or May Not List Your Property on the MLS)
Paid FSBO sites will list your property in exchange for a small fee. Most paid sites will list your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS); this is the main database of properties that real estate agents refer to when finding properties for their buyers. The MLS also directs information to popular websites, such as Trulia, Realtor, and Redfin, as general consumers and investors do not have direct access to the MLS.
Paid websites may offer additional services that can help property owners market the home, manage negotiations, and better organize showings or open houses.
Free FSBO Websites (Do Not List Your Property on MLS)
Free websites offer a more limited array of services. They allow sellers to list their FSBOs via property profiles, but the listings aren’t shared or distributed. Many companies may offer free FSBO listings as an auxiliary service (like Zillow does) while providing little value, and other sites, such as Craigslist, draw their revenue from ads, not services.
Either of these types of sites can be useful for getting more eyes on your property. However, free and limited FSBO tools are not as powerful, and you must expend more effort or adopt multiple marketing strategies to ensure your property has a fair chance on the market.
The Most Critical FSBO Service: Flat-Fee MLS Listing
Getting your home listed on the MLS is a game-changer for FSBOs. This is the single most valuable resource for spreading the word about your property, especially if you don’t already have a buyer in mind. Without an MLS listing, real estate agents won’t easily find your home and can’t share it with their buyers through automatic search reports. But once you have an MLS listing, anyone with access can look up the details, see your notes and Seller’s Disclosure, and reach out to present an offer.
5 Reasons Why Listing Your FSBO Property on MLS Is Non-Negotiable
Listing your home on the MLS is not a requirement for selling. The fact that access is commonly limited to agents and other business entities can be frustrating for homeowners, especially when they want to be able to sell without involving a lot of commissioned service providers. Five key reasons why you should search for an option that offers MLS listing services are:
- You reach more prospective buyers. Increasing your audience drastically increases your odds of getting several offers.
- You spend less time on the market. Having your house on the market for a long time can be costly, especially if you’ve already moved out and have to continue paying the taxes and utilities.
- You can get a higher price. When your property is listed in the MLS, it gets more buzz, offers, and engagement. As a result, you can negotiate more confidently with buyers’ representatives and even play offers off each other.
- Manually relisting your property across different sites takes a lot of time. When MLS listings go live, they automatically go up on popular real estate sites. You can do this manually on some websites, but it will take hours of uploading and formatting. Some popular sites also won’t allow your listing if it doesn’t come through the MLS.
- Many workarounds will cost you more money or headache. Using paid ads, marketing services, or mailers and signs are all viable options when you’re selling your home. But these options aren’t free, and they can be less cost-effective than using a paid service from the start. If things get out of hand and your property sits vacant on the market for months as you advertise it, the costs can become more expensive than hiring an agent in the first place.
Ask Yourself These Questions When Evaluating FSBO Websites for Your Next Property Sale
When you’re selling a property all on your own, there are a lot of different tasks to handle. This includes researching the market to develop your pricing strategy, marketing the house and holding open houses, managing title issues and the closing process, and ensuring the contract represents your interests.
With all of these big tasks and to-dos on your hands, choosing an FSBO website shouldn’t take up your time. Use these four questions to quickly evaluate a service and decide if it’s a good fit or if you should move on to a different site.
1. Does it put your property on MLS?
Being listed on the MLS is important—and it’s something you can’t do yourself unless you’re a licensed agent. Good FSBO websites should offer this as a stand-alone flat-fee service. This is a fairly black-and-white distinction; either the website does or doesn’t offer this service. However, it pays to do a little bit of shopping around to make sure you’re paying a fair fee.
2. Is it well-reviewed?
Reviews operate as social proof for many online services. Look for a website that has high ratings from as many users as possible, but be wary of star ratings that look too good to be true. Also, read through recent reviews and testimonials. The more you know that a website has provided good results for users in the past, the more confident you can be about your own results.
3. What additional services does it offer?
Just because you want to sell your home as an FSBO doesn’t mean you have to handle everything yourself. Many paid FSBO websites will offer services beyond flat-fee MLS listings. These include:
- AI- or ML-powered pricing models that can help you determine the right listing price for your home
- Dashboards for managing incoming offers and negotiations
- Tools for managing showings
- Photography services
- A Supra device so you can keep your home secure while allowing real estate agents to show their clients the property
These websites may even partner with title companies and related services you can hire for required parts of the transaction and closing process.
4. Will it make you pay too much in time, money, or loss of control?
Choosing to sell your home as an FSBO comes with several advantages, such as saving money, staying in control of the process, and not having to rely on agents to have your best interests in mind. You can use those same metrics to gauge the degree of value a site is really providing you.
If you value your time, a more expensive but much more intuitive and automatable series of tools is worth it. If you value saving money, minimal fees are best. Make sure a website aligns with your preferences before investing in their assistance.
Get Your FSBO In Front of More Buyers With Flat-Fee MLS Listing Services
There are plenty of options for FSBO sellers to market their property to a wide audience. Consider the true value they’re offering before making your final choice. FSBO homes simply sell better when they get on the MLS as soon as possible. At Listing Spark, we help investors and homeowners get the most out of their FSBOs by providing flat-fee MLS listing services that are simple, transparent, and cost-effective. We also offer marketing services and support to sellers who want them (and we never try to upsell to those who don’t). Reach out today to get clear, simple pricing on MLS listing services and put your property out there for buyers to find.
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