How to Sell a House by Owner in Georgia: Your GA FSBO Guide

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

With millions of homes sold each year, a modest portion of sellers — about 7%-8%, historically — choose to list “For Sale By Owner” (or FSBO — pronounced fizz-bow).

In this guide to selling FSBO in Georgia, we’ll cover what can be the most difficult aspects of selling by owner in the Peach State, 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.

Overwhelmed By The Process of Listing Your Home FSBO in Georgia?

If you have done the research on selling your home yourself in Georgia and have found that it’s just too much, have no fear. Working with a listing agent to sell your home might be your solution. HomeLight analyzes over 27 million transactions to find the best agent for your unique situation.

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 Georgia market who can help you command top dollar and provide a low-stress selling experience. 

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

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. HomeLight recommends that you look into the real estate regulations for your area and consult a trusted 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, 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.

Buyer’s 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.

Sellers should also consider things like whether or not their HOA will allow yard signs (many don’t!) or if they can put their house on the MLS. In Georgia, you don’t need a real estate agent to do this, but you also can’t do it yourself — you would need to hire a flat-fee MLS listing service to do it for you, and you’d still have to provide your own listing information and photos.

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 Georgia, sellers are 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. In Georgia, sellers are required to disclose the following:

  • Any known material defects in the property (such as information about the home’s condition)
  • Information requested directly from the buyer, meaning that sellers must answer the buyer’s questions truthfully

Georgia is also what’s known as an attorney state, which means sellers are required to hire a real estate attorney for closing as opposed to using a title company.

Why sell a house by owner in Georgia?

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 data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

To get a firsthand perspective about selling homes in Georgia, we spoke with Georgia agent Courtney Newton, who is based out of Marietta and works with 71% more single family homes than the average agent in her region.

We also spoke with Julie Dean, a top agent in Hinesville, Georgia, with more than eight years of experience in Georgia real estate.

Newton says that the Georgia FSBOs she encounters usually do so because they think they’ll be saving money. “Most sellers think they are saving money by not paying a commission, but statistically, they usually make more money on the sale of their home when they hire a qualified agent,” she explains.

According to 2021 data from NAR, “FSBO homes sold at a median of $260,000 last year, significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $318,000.” An independent study from 2016 to 2017 bears this out: 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 completely in charge and can manage the sale as you please.
  • No “go-between” in your communications with buyers.

Cons of selling a house by owner

  • FSBO listings tend to sell for less, statistically speaking.
  • Unless the seller already has a buyer lined up, FSBO listings can take longer to sell. Dean notes that when you first put a house on the market, that initial time frame is the most attention it’s going to get. If it’s over-priced or has other issues, it may end up sitting on the market for a long time.
  • Some buyers will shy away from FSBO because of concerns it will be more complicated without an agent involved in the sale.
  • 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 could potentially have people coming through your home that haven’t been vetted by an agent, or aren’t qualified to buy.
  • 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.

In spite of the cons, we’ll help you navigate the challenges of FSBO if you’re committed to selling your Georgia house without agent assistance.

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 Georgia home into respectable shape before any showings to increase your chances of receiving a fair price. Here are a few standard tasks to add to the list.


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

Dean says that making those small repairs around the home are even more important than actual staging. “Water leaks, mechanical issues, you need to make sure everything in the house is functioning,” she advises.

Newton adds, “For inside the home, I really think decluttering and depersonalizing is crucial. Go through every room and remove personal and unnecessary items. You need to look at the house from the perspective of a buyer.”


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.
  • Apply fresh mulch liberally.
  • 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.
  • If you’ve got a traditional wooden porch, make sure to repair any old or rotting wood, and seal against water issues. Georgia’s heat and humidity can do a number on wood porches or siding.

“Curb appeal is probably where you’re going to get the best return on your investment,” says Dean. “It helps the buyers feel that the home is well-cared for.” Both she and Newton say that when a buyer comes to a showing, it’s likely that they’ll be sitting outside for a bit while they wait for their agent, or for the seller to come let them in the house. That first impression can affect the home’s potential sale, so putting your home’s best foot forward with an attractive exterior can be a big plus.

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.

Dean says that pricing, primarily over-pricing, is one of the biggest mistakes she sees FSBO sellers make. “Usually people end up over-pricing,” she says. “If you put your house on the market and it’s too high, during those first 7-10 days it’s likely to drop to the bottom, marketwise, and stay there.”

Without an agent, you’ll miss out on the complexity of a full CMA and the know-how to interpret it.

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 Georgia 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.
Consider an appraisal

If you want to further reduce guesswork, some 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.

“It can be helpful to bring someone in who has access to sales information that the seller might not have,” says Dean.

An appraisal isn’t always necessary or recommended, however, especially if you’re in a fluctuating market. “An appraiser is often looking at values from 6 – 8 months ago,” says Newton, “and those values may not be accurate for current market conditions.” Newton adds that if the appraisal comes back higher than the market will bear, a seller could end up with an inflated sense of their home’s value, and price it too high.

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. For example, if your house doesn’t have a garage but the comps you’re using do, you’ll want to take that into consideration when setting a price.

Also, if you have a home with basement bedrooms, Newton notes that they are sometimes not considered “true” bedrooms in Georgia. “If a seller says a house has seven bedrooms, but three are in a finished basement, you may not really be able to call those bedrooms.” This is especially true if those downstairs rooms don’t have properly egressed windows, which means they cannot technically be referred to as bedrooms.

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, this could be one of the most important things you do to sell your home. When a potential buyer looks at a listing online, photos that don’t showcase the home in its best light can lead to them scrolling on by. This includes photos that are too dark, kitchen photos of cluttered countertops or dishes in the sink, or photos that are blurry or don’t fully show a room.

“A FSBO seller already has a somewhat limited toolbox,” says Newton. “It’s important to use every tool available to you, including professional photos.”

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.

Make sure you are marketing your home in its best light, and that you note things that are pertinent to today’s market. If you have an open floor plan, or granite countertops, be sure that information is included.
  • Julie Dean
    Julie Dean Real Estate Agent
    Julie Dean
    Julie Dean Real Estate Agent at Salt Coast Properties, Inc.
    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 10
    • Transactions 96
    • Average Price Point $189k
    • Single Family Homes 88

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 Georgia 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

Researching and understanding the specifics of popular design trends that might entice buyers can also help your listing, says Dean. “Make sure you are marketing your home in its best light, and that you note things that are pertinent to today’s market,” she says. “If you have an open floor plan, or granite countertops, be sure that information is included.”

Lastly, and this is crucial: specify in your description whether a buyer’s agent will receive a commission from the proceeds. Most agents don’t want to show their clients properties from which they’d receive no commission. You can decide not to offer a buyer’s agent commission, but recognize that doing so could limit your buyer pool as buyer’s agents typically expect to be compensated for their efforts.

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. Make sure your square footage is accurate, note the dates of any upgrades, and if you have things like fencing, garages, or storage sheds that might be included, be sure to mention those as well.

5. List your home online

It’s finally time to post your Georgia 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 as well as 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, make sure you ask whether the fee includes updating your listing if necessary.

Use a FSBO platform with an MLS option

There are a variety of paid websites that you can use to list your Georgia 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 Georgia 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 videos 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 Georgia home.

Experienced agents like Dean and Newton 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.

“Market exposure is big,” says Dean. “You need to offer as much access to buyers as possible.”

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. “Social media can be very helpful,” says Newton, “If you can create specific social media pages for your listing, that’s a great tool.”

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. According to Newton, a major reason some FSBO sellers switch to an agent is that they underestimated the time, energy, and expertise needed to manage this crucial step.

“When you don’t have a Realtor® managing your traffic flow, it can hurt you in the long run,” she says. “If you’re at work, you can’t show your house. A Realtor® can show your house all day.”

Dean explains why the showing phase is so critical. “This is when a buyer is able to actually see what they are purchasing, to get in the space and really get a feel for the home. Looking at photos online just isn’t the same,” she says.

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 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.

While you might think that your presence at the showing isn’t a big deal, according to Newton, it can affect a potential sale. “It’s hard for buyers to see themselves living in the home when the seller is there,” she says. “A seller might also inadvertently say something that is off-putting to buyers, like mentioning issues with neighbors or noise.”

8. Evaluate offers and negotiate a deal

You’ve got your first offer — congratulations! Before signing anything, make sure all your documentation is in order, and that you’ve provided any required disclosures.

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

  • Vet potential buyers by requiring a mortgage preapproval letter or proof of funds.
  • Require everything in writing.
  • Remember you can counter-offer and negotiate.
  • Line up your real estate attorney for closing
  • Make sure you’ve completed all required paperwork and disclosures

9. Close the sale — with professional help

Because Georgia is one of several states that require a real estate attorney for closing, you’ll already have an attorney handling the bulk of the closing and verifying documentation. Additionally, you may want to hire your own attorney to review your paperwork and make sure you haven’t missed anything.

“There is a lot of liability involved,” says Dean, “a seller could find themselves in trouble down the line due to ignorance of the laws.” She says that while you won’t necessarily need a separate attorney, it isn’t a bad idea to hire one to draw up the initial sales agreements and verify that you are meeting all state requirements. “There are certain defects that must be disclosed by the seller. For example, our state requires a lead-based paint disclosure — otherwise, there could be legal ramifications,” she says.

Real estate attorney fees can vary depending on location and how much help you want or need. In Georgia, the average hourly rate for a real estate lawyer is about $294, which might be well worth it for professional guidance in closing one of life’s largest legal transactions.

FSBO mistakes to avoid in Georgia

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
  • Not marketing your house properly

Newton says that marketing a FSBO property can be a challenge, and sellers often miss out on opportunities simply because they don’t know what’s available. “They don’t know how to market, and without an agent, it’s like putting a billboard up in the desert as opposed to putting one up in Times Square,” she says.

Alternatives to selling by owner in Georgia

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.

Newton recalls a client she took on who was originally a FSBO seller. “We had a listing in the same neighborhood as the FSBO home, and even though the houses were similar and went on the market at the same time, we ended up getting tons of traffic and they had none,” she says. “When they saw how quickly we were able to get our listing under contract, they became our client. Within two weeks, we had the house staged and it sold shortly thereafter. I think it even closed earlier than our original listing!”

Dean adds that she has made cold calls to FSBO sellers, and finds that they often contact her after a period of time. “Having an agent not only provides you with access to the MLS, which feeds to all the major online sites, we have an agent network,” she says. She points out that agents meet up, talk to each other about upcoming listings, and have a relationship and access to buyers that a FSBO listing simply won’t have.

Interested in such expertise? HomeLight’s Agent Match platform can connect you to top-performing agents in your Georgia 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 Georgia 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 little as one week, 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.

Skip The Prep Work and Request a Cash Offer On Your Georgia Home

If you want to sell your home quickly, and skip the agent commissions, HomeLight can provide a cash offer for your home in as little as one week. You can also choose your own closing date, so you can move when you’re ready.

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 Georgia home?

Unless you already have a buyer lined up, selling a house by owner in Georgia 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 Georgia market.

Writer Hayley Abernathy contributed to this story.

Header Image Source: (Jason Weingardt / Unsplash)