For-sale-by-owner deals may put sellers at a disadvantage

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The elderly couple planned to sell their small rental home on Washington State's scenic Olympic Peninsula to a young neighbor they had known for years. "We are not going to use a salesperson because it's a pretty straightforward deal," Sally Coombs said. "We've always liked this kid and I think we are charging him enough." Sally's case is typical of a for-sale-by-owner transaction, commonly known as FSBO and pronounced "Fisbo." According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 32 percent of sellers who sold a home without a real estate agent knew the buyer in advance – meaning about one-third of FSBO deals are not placed on the open market. And, not surprisingly, the survey found the biggest problem areas for FSBOs were setting an accurate sales price, prepping their home for sale and understanding and completing paperwork. Half of recent FSBO sellers surveyed said they would sell their current home without the assistance of an agent in the future, while 3...