According to the National Association of REALTORS annual Profile Of Home Buyers And Sellers, only nine percent of today’s sellers are FSBO sellers, and among those who chose the FSBO route, 40 percent knew the buyer who bought their home. Among those who did not previously know the buyer of the home, 18 percent of those were contacted directly by the buyer to purchase the home. Taking these factors into account, the FSBO market of sellers who sold their home without knowing the buyer, and those who were not directly contacted by a buyer, is significantly smaller.

Typically FSBO sellers have lower median incomes and are slightly older than agent-assisted sellers. FSBOs are also more common for mobile home sales and are more likely than other sales to be in rural areas.

The fact that many FSBO sellers know the buyer before the sale of the home helps keep FSBOs on the market for less time, and sellers more often receive 100 percent of the asking price as it is agreed on before an official offer is made.

FSBO and Agent Assisted Sales, By Location and Over Time

For the past two years, 88 percent of sellers have sold with the assistance of an agent and only nine percent of sales have been FSBO sales. Only nine percent of recent sellers reported selling their homes as a FSBO—sales have dropped rapidly from 2003 when they were at 14 percent. Of sales, 60 percent of FSBOs or 6 percent of all sales were transactions where the seller did not know the buyer. Of sales, 40 percent of all FSBOs or 4 percent of all sales were transactions where the seller knew the buyer—an arm’s length transaction.

Characteristics of FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers

FSBO sellers typically had a median age of 57-years-old compared to agent-assisted sellers who had a median age of 52-years-old. The median income for all FSBO sellers was $86,200 while the median income for all agent-assisted sellers was significantly higher at $99,900. Those who first tried to sell their home as a FSBO, but ultimately sold via an agent, were the youngest of all sellers and had the highest median household incomes. Household composition varies among sellers; however, sellers who knew the buyer were more likely than other sellers to be single sellers.

Characteristics of Homes Sold by FSBO and Agent-Assisted Sellers

Among all homes sold, 81 percent are detached single-family homes. FSBO sales are more likely than agent-assisted sales to be a mobile or manufactured home. Ten percent of all FSBO sales are mobile homes compared to only two percent of agent-assisted sales. Among agent-assisted sales, 82 percent of all homes sold are detached single-family homes. FSBO sales are more likely than agent-assisted sales to happen in rural areas.

FSBOs typically have a lower median selling price, though FSBOs typically received 98 percent of their asking price, whereas agent-assisted sales typically received 97 percent of their asking price. Some of the explanation for this is that when looking at FSBO sales where the seller knew the buyer, 59 percent of the time the sales price was equal to or more than the asking price. Sellers who started as a FSBO, then ended up using an agent, had the lowest sales price in comparison to asking price and reduced their price the most of all selling methods.

The Selling Process for FSBO Sales

FSBOs were typically on the market for fewer weeks than agent-assisted homes. In FSBO transactions where the sellers knew the buyer the home was only on the market for one week. The median time on the market for FSBOs was two weeks compared to six weeks for agent-assisted sales. Agents seemed to help in circumstances where homes were difficult to sell. Those who first tried a FSBO then sought out an agent had a median number of 14 weeks on the market.

Six in 10 FSBO sellers did not need to sell their home urgently compared to less than half of agent-assisted sellers. Among FSBO sellers, using incentives to attract buyers was rare—reported by only 15 percent of sellers. Agent-assisted transactions were more likely to use incentives to attract buyers. Twenty-one percent of agent-assisted sellers used home warranties to attract buyers, and 17 percent of sellers used assistance with closing costs to attract buyers.

Reasons of FSBOs, Marketing, and Sellers Experience

Among sellers who did not know the buyer, 58 percent of FSBOs sold as a FSBO because they did not want to pay commission or a fee, and 18 percent because the buyer directly contacted the seller. Among sellers who knew the buyer, 51 percent sold the home as a FSBO because they knew the buyer and 28 percent because they did not want to pay the commission or fee.

Among all sellers, 13 percent waited or stalled their home sale because their home was worth less than their mortgage—most commonly the seller lived in the home during this time. Among FSBO sellers only eight percent of sellers stalled, while 14 percent of all agent-assisted sellers did so. One-quarter of those who first tried to sell FSBO, but did so unsuccessfully and used an agent to successfully sell their home waited or stalled to sell the home because their home was worth less than their mortgage.

Yard signs, word of mouth to friends, relatives and neighbors, and online classified ads were the most common marketing methods for FSBOs. When the seller knew the buyer, 51 percent of the time the seller did not actively market the home. Getting the price right and preparing and fixing up the home for sale were the most difficult tasks reported by FSBO sellers.

More FSBO sellers who knew the buyer would use a real estate agent rather than sell their current home themselves. However, among those who did not know the buyer, a larger share would attempt to sell their homes themselves rather than use an agent.