Promoting Your For Sale by Owner in a Competitive Market

Many homeowners discover there are hidden costs to selling a home, with real estate commissions being one of the biggest. A typical commission split between the buyer's and seller's agent can be as high as six percent of a home's sale price. With the median existing single-family home price reaching almost $260,000 in April this commission could cost a home seller more than $15,000. So it's no wonder some opt to put a "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO) sign in the yard to save some money. One downside to going it alone is that most For Sale by Owner sellers aren't professional real estate marketers. So an FSBO seller may have difficulty getting the word out about their property listing, which means potential buyers won't find out about their opportunity. The FSBO marketing challenge is tricky enough in an average housing market, but it can be even more of an issue if your city is an especially competitive housing market. But don't despair. But don't despair. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners successfully sold their home without a real estate agent - or their commission - last year. And this year looks to be just another "hot" FSBO year. The key to marketing your FSBO home in a competitive housing market starts with the basics and then takes advantage of newer technological tools. Here's are some tips:

Place a Sign in the Yard

It may seem old-fashioned, but don't skip this important first step: place a "For Sale" sign in the yard, ideally as close to the street as possible. Make sure your sign isn't obstructed by hedges, the garbage can, or anything else. Also ensure that there's a large, easy-to-read phone number on the sign so that someone will be available to answer during the workday and after hours. When you advertise your home with a yard sign, all sorts of prospective buyers will see it. You may attract interest from buyers scoping out your neighborhood for available listings. You will also help buyers who saw your listing online know that they've arrived at the right house.

Create Copywriting and Photography to Showcase Your Home

You know the best features of your home, but that doesn't necessarily mean your home speaks for itself. An important part of FSBO marketing is showcasing what makes your home special. One of the challenging, but also fun parts of selling your own home is to step into the shoes of the buyer. You don't just want to tell prospective buyers what you think is great about your home. Make sure to lead off with features and benefits that will appeal to wants and needs of today's home buyer. To do this, you'll need to spend some time crafting a creative and descriptive listing ad for your home. You may also want to create more detailed brochures or flyers. Online templates and printing services can be found online easily from many providers with a search for "FSBO flyer." It's also important to take some high-quality digital photographs of your home. Make sure to declutter, clean, and spruce up the yard beforehand. You might even want to consult with a home staging expert for maximum impact. You'll want to show off each room, often from multiple angles. And some experts even recommend photographing your home's exterior at different times of day and in different seasons, just to make sure you show off its best features, particularly when you face stiff competition from other listings.

Take Advantage of Online Advertising Tools

Still, the most important thing you can do to market your FSBO home in a competitive market is to take advantage of all the online advertising tools now available. Consumer Reports notes that a mini FSBO industry has sprung up to help For Sale by Owner sellers do just that. While tools from,, and other sites aren't free, they do cost a fraction of the typical agent commission. $395 will get you a six-month listing on the site as well as on major online real estate portals like, Trulia, and Zillow, and on your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), used by both real estate professionals and home searchers, for a full six months. ForSalebyOwner offers a similar range of FSBO services from $99 to $499, and can even send out a professional photographer to take photos of your home for an additional fee. Many additional online tools are available, including Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and more. And don't discard the possibility of free social media promotion. Your 300 friends may not be interested in buying your home, but one of those persons' 300 friends might be in the market for a home. Plus, it costs nothing to ask your network to share your listing, which could make a difference when you're facing stiff competition from other sellers.

Present Your Home as Promised in Marketing Materials

Finally, one last piece of marketing advice: make sure you present your home as it is promised in your marketing materials. While it's always good practice to put your best foot forward, you don't want your FSBO listing to overpromise. Like any customer, prospective buyers could be turned off over inaccuracies in your home listing. This might include the number of bedrooms, square footage, or acreage, as well as by the appearance of your home during showings not matching up with listing photography. On the other hand, meeting and even exceeding expectations could go a long way toward selling your home, even in a competitive housing market.


For Sale by Owner home sellers face unique challenges when marketing their home listings, particularly if they live in a competitive real estate market. It's important to take advantage of all the tools available and make the best use of each. A yard sign is always a good start. Marketing materials, such as a creative listing description and great property photography, will help you stand out amidst the competition. And, of course, make sure to take advantage of newer tech tools that can help you get your listing seen on the local MLS and other top real estate listing portals. Listing your home yourself can be more work than listing with an agent, but some like the challenge, and, of course, there's the possibility of saving thousands in real estate commissions. While many people today will choose to work with a real estate agent, there are thousands of homeowners who will successfully sell their home this year as an FSBO seller. With a little extra effort, you could be one of them.

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