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Elaine Abercrombie: Don’t Try This at Home

Selling 'by owner' opens the door for risky oversights and complications

Elaine Abercrombie
Elaine Abercrombie (Roe Anne White photo)

When you hear that someone managed to sell a home without representation, it’s likely that the sale was to a family member, close friend or a tenant who was already renting and living there. These exceptional cases are not the norm, and there are powerful reasons why it is so difficult to make a sale “by owner.”

The biggest roadblock is that For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) aren’t included in the Multiple Listing Service that licensed Realtors and organizations use.

A sign in the yard and an ad in the newspaper are no match for the widespread exposure gained from a listing visible on the MLS.

Since the FSBO has no listing agreement providing for a sales commission, many Realtors won’t show these homes with no promise of compensation.

Again, this greatly reduces the number of potential buyers exposed to the offering, not to mention the fact that buyers who do express interest will not have been screened by a professional to determine their qualifications.

Perhaps the most hazardous aspect of selling “by owner” is the potential for legal oversights and complications. Real estate transactions are loaded with potential liability for unrepresented and unwitting sellers. One overlooked form or improper disclosure could generate an expensive lawsuit.

Just as you wouldn’t enter the courtroom without an attorney, you shouldn’t sell your home without professional representation.

Elaine Abercrombie, a broker with Abercrombie Fine Homes at Village Properties, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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