Paperwork for Selling a House By Owner

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Selling your house by owner, or FSBO (For Sale By Owner), can be an alluring option if you’re looking to save money on real estate agent commissions. However, it requires careful planning and thorough preparation. One of the more challenging tasks is identifying and handling all the paperwork for selling a house by owner.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential paperwork needed for selling your house by owner and provide tips to help you navigate this process with more confidence.

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Editor’s note: The paperwork required for your home sale can vary by state and county. When selling by owner, HomeLight recommends you consult a real estate attorney.

Common paperwork for selling a house by owner

When selling a house by owner, having the right paperwork will not only help you avoid delays and keep the sale legal, but it will also reassure your buyer that they’ve made a good choice, allowing them to remain confident in the deal.

Our list below provides an overview of the most common documents required when selling a house by owner. However, the paperwork you’ll need for your home sale may differ depending on the state where you live. Be certain to check local government requirements or consult with an experienced real estate agent before you proceed.

Here’s a breakdown of the essential documents you’ll need:

Residential property disclosure form: This form discloses the condition of your property to potential buyers, including any known issues or repairs needed.

Signed sales contract (purchase agreement): A legally binding agreement between you and the buyer outlining the terms of the sale.

Title and title reports: These documents prove ownership and outline any liens or legal issues associated with your property.

Deed to your home: The legal document that transfers ownership from you to the buyer.

Certificate of occupancy: A document certifying that your home complies with local building codes and is fit for occupancy.

Property survey: A map of your property’s boundaries and any structures on it, which is often required for verifying the exact property being sold.

Mortgage statement and other loan documents: Documentation showing the current status of any loans or mortgages on your property.

Latest utility bills: These provide proof of recent utility costs and usage, which can be helpful for potential buyers.

Latest property tax bill: Proof of the most recent property taxes paid.

Homeowners association covenants and agreements: If your home is part of a homeowners association, you’ll need to provide any relevant documents outlining rules and fees.

Plans and permits: Any plans or permits related to renovations or major repairs done to your home.

Floor plan or blueprints (if available): These are detailed layouts of your home, which can be helpful for buyers.

Receipts for improvements and repairs: These receipts can confirm upgrades or repairs you’ve made to your home, which can add value to your property.

Major purchase receipts, warranties, and service records: Documentation of major purchases like appliances or home systems, including any warranties and service records.

Special forms required by your state: Some states require additional forms, such as California’s Contingency Removal Form, so be sure to check your state’s specific requirements.

Optional: Professional appraisal or inspection reports: As a FSBO seller, having your own professional pre-listing appraisal or inspection report can provide credibility and transparency to potential buyers. An appraisal can also help you set a fitting sale price.

Some states require an attorney at closing

In many states, having an attorney present at closing is mandatory, even if you’re working with a real estate agent. This requirement helps maintain the legal aspects of the transaction, protecting both you and even your buyer.

When selling your house by owner, having an attorney is highly recommended, even if it’s not a state requirement. An attorney can help you navigate complex legal documents, ensure all paperwork is completed correctly, and provide valuable advice on any issues that arise during the sale. This professional guidance can help prevent costly mistakes and provide peace of mind, making the FSBO process smoother and more secure.

If you decide to sell with a Realtor®, start here to find a top agent

We analyze millions of home sales to find real estate agents who sell homes faster and for more money. It takes just two minutes to match you with the best agents in your community.

Are you prepared to sell your house by owner?

Selling your house by owner requires significant time and effort. Here’s an overview of what to expect:

  • Set your home’s sale price: Research the local market, evaluate comparable homes, and set a competitive price for your property.
  • Prepare your home for sale: Clean, declutter, and make any necessary repairs to present your home in the best possible light.
  • List and market your home: Take high-quality photos, write a compelling listing description, and post your home on multiple listing sites and social media.
  • Host open houses and showings: Schedule and conduct open houses and private showings, ensuring your home is always in top condition for potential buyers.
  • Handling inspection-required repairs: Address any repairs identified during the buyer’s inspection to avoid potential deal-breakers.
  • Negotiate and close the sale: Work directly with buyers to negotiate terms, complete necessary paperwork, and handle the closing process.

Pitfalls to avoid when selling a house by owner

Selling your home by owner comes with a set of challenges. Here are common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Overpricing your home: Setting an unrealistic price can deter potential buyers and prolong the selling process.
  • Inadequate housing market research: Failing to understand the local market can lead to pricing and marketing errors.
  • Weak or ineffective marketing: Insufficient marketing efforts can limit your home’s visibility and attract fewer buyers.
  • Failing to properly disclose issues: Among the most critical pitfalls is not disclosing known issues about your home. This can lead to legal problems and jeopardize the sale.
  • Not using a professional photographer: High-quality photos are often considered the first curb appeal opportunity. This is vital for attracting buyers and showcasing your home effectively.
  • Not preparing properly for showings: A cluttered or unclean home can leave a negative impression on potential buyers.
  • Inadequate legal and financial expertise: Lacking professional guidance can result in costly mistakes and legal issues.
  • Lack of negotiation skills: Inexperience in negotiating can lead to unfavorable terms or losing potential buyers.
  • Overlooking important closing details: Missing a required step or document in the closing process can delay or even derail your home sale.
  • Unwilling to seek professional advice: Not seeking or ignoring expert advice can lead to avoidable problems and hinder your ability to sell successfully.
  • Underestimating the workload and costs: Selling a house by owner requires a significant time commitment, effort, and expense, which many sellers underestimate.

Know how much your home is worth

Understanding your home’s value is always important when selling your home, but it’s doubly important in a FSBO sale. Setting the right price can make the difference between a quick sale and a property that lingers on the market. Overpricing can deter potential buyers, while underpricing might leave money on the table.

Use online valuation tools, research comparable home sales in your area, and consider getting a professional appraisal to determine a fair and competitive price.

Get a preliminary home value estimate: To get a ballpark estimate of your home’s current worth, try HomeLight’s free online Home Value Estimator tool.

FSBO homes usually sell for less money

As you make plans to sell your house by owner, be aware that while you may save money on the listing agent fees, FSBO homes typically sell for less money. According to the National Association of Realtors, FSBO homes last year sold for a median of $310,000 compared to a median of $405,000 for agent-assisted sales. This may be why only about 7% of homes are sold by owners. The majority of these sellers (57%) already knew the buyer.

If you need to sell your home fast

Sometimes, circumstances require a quick sale. Whether you’re relocating for a job, facing financial difficulties, or dealing with a life change, speed may be essential. HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform can help you get a cash offer in 24 hours and close in as little as 10 days.

To get started, simply answer a few questions about your home and selling timeline. This option provides convenience and peace of mind, allowing you to move forward without delay.

Here’s how HomeLight Simple Sale works in three easy steps:

If you need to buy before you sell

Real estate solution companies like HomeLight offer innovative programs that can remove much of the stress and financial pressure of selling your current home before purchasing a new one. With this modern option, you can tap into existing home equity and use the money to make a strong offer on your new home.

Here’s how HomeLight Buy Before You Sell works:

Unsure about FSBO? Ask an agent for a free CMA

Even if you’re committed to selling by owner, getting a professional opinion on your home’s value can be invaluable. A comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent can provide a detailed look at local market trends and comparable sales. Many agents will provide a CMA for free when meeting with them for a consultation.

HomeLight can connect you with top agents in your area who can provide this service. Their expertise can guide you in setting the right price and marketing your home effectively, increasing your chances of a successful sale.

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