Litchfield County real estate information, local events and more.


Honey, let's not use a Realtor!

The idea behind not using a real estate agent in the purchase and sale of a home is a simple one, to save yourself some money. I get that.  Buyers think they will save money on the price of the home, sellers will save at least half the commission amount. (Many do offer a commission to a buyer's agent.)


fsbo and unrepresented buyerNow we are talking! Part of my job as a real estate agent is to know what my seller is selling, and what my buyer is buying. This includes data from the town hall such as property taxes, building department information, health department information and more. I make sure my seller is really ready to sell, and that my buyer is fully informed as to what he/she is actually purchasing. 

Recently I heard a true scenario that could have been prevented. Lives are now affected as the sale cannot continue, all sorts of personal plans had been made on both sides of the deal. The seller misrepresented the property tax, this information was given to the buyer who passed it on to the mortgage professional. It was a large enough difference to affect the buyer's ability to afford the home. And because the seller did not provide a document such as a listing sheet, or tax information from the town hall, and the buyer didn't realize he/she should actually go to the town hall and check before regurgitating this misinformation to the mortgage person, the sale is now dead in the water. What a mess.


Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind selling a FSBO. But what I do mind is that the owner looks to me for help. AND I CAN'T HELP! I can only help my buyer. I also mind when I have to wait for the opportune moment to show a FSBO because the seller has to be there, because they work and have a life and don't trust that I know what I am doing when it comes to selling a home.


I know there are statistics out there that say a home listing by a real estate agent sells higher than a home listed as a FSBO. I think it depends on how the owner arrived at their price. Using a zestimate to obtain pricing here in my neck of the woods is a bad idea because we find that the Zestimate doesn't match the final sales price. Even Zillow says it is a STARTING POINT for a price. 

What I do see is that FSBO's are often overpriced for the market, sit on the market languishing, the owner gives in and hires an agent who prices it correctly and it sells. If you want to sell, price it correctly and you won't be making as many of those mortgage payments, tax payments, home maintenance and utility payments and you can move on. 

Go and visit some open houses in your market area if they compare to yours. Learn the local market, don't rely on Zillow to tell you what your home is worth. And put aside your home owner mentality, look at your home through very critical eyes. Because that is the eye the buyer uses!


So, now you have the right price, please do yourself a favor and hire a professional to take the photos. Bad photos equals potential buyers moving on before they even get to your home. Also make sure it is show ready, inside and out. 

If you do have seasonal photos, bring the photographer back to take new photos. Snow photos scream to a buyer that you have been listed for a long time!

Make sure when your home is presented online it is in as many places as possible and that is looks inviting to buyers. Get them interested right away because if they don't like what they see, they will click off in 30 seconds or less!

And whatever you do, make it available to show!


  • If you intend to go directly to the FSBO owner, you need to know what you are doing. Get all the information you can from the home owner,
  • Property disclosures (if they don't provide you with any, you will be getting $500 at closing)
  • Lead disclosures if the home was built prior to 1978.
  • Ask if there are any association fees, what they are, what they include and if they are current. 
  • Get yourself to the town hall to find out the real scoop on the property.
  • Find out what the property taxes are and if they are paid up.
  • Pick up the field card and compare the information on that to the information provided by the home owner.
  • For those properties with a well and septic, stop in at the health department to get all that information, making sure it is a septic and not a cess pool, that the size of the septic supports the amount of bedrooms in the home, find out the depth of the well.
  • Go to the building department and see if any work done has the proper permits, and please, make sure the house has a certificate of occupancy!
  • I also suggest you check that there are no liens against the property.

Now you can make a decision based on correct information and your ability to obtain financing for the home can be ascertained by your mortgage person earlier on. For instance, if the price of the home is acceptable, but the property taxes are so high  you won't be able to afford the monthly payments, you need to know this up front! (I often see in condo's the buyers ability to purchase a property is hindered by either taxes or high association fees.)

use a realtor or notUSE AN AGENT OR NOT?

I don't mind helping a buyer purchase a FSBO, it is my job to protect you, to assist you in purchasing the home for the best price possible and navigate the pitfalls you can encounter. 

And I won't turn down the opportunity to show a FSBO owner what their home is worth in this market, to show my marketing program, and help to sell your home for the best price possible in the shortest amount of time. 

Give me a call to discuss what I can do for you. 203.460.1775.

Whatever you decide, I hope you avoid that FSBO and unrepresented buyer perfect storm!



Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor


 Search homes for sale in Litchfield County, CT.


Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776


© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 57 commentsAndrea Swiedler • August 14 2016 04:54AM


Its our job to educate buyers/sellers as to how much we get paid, how we get paid.  They are really shocked!!!

Buyers think they will save money on the price of the home, sellers will save at least half the commission amount. (Many do offer a commission to a buyer's agent.)

Posted by Sham Reddy CRS, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) almost 3 years ago

Good Morning Andrea - you have given many good reason why a real estate agent offers value to the buyer or seller.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) almost 3 years ago

This is great, Andrea.  I can't count the times that I have seen FSBO properties sit on the market for a very long time.  In most cases their(owners/sellers) ability to market, their lack of understanding of the process and their "attachment" to the property and the outcome are all cause to pick up the phone and call a professional. Most times they do reach out, but it is usually after months of unsuccessful open houses and showings that yield zero results. There is no savings when both seller and buyer are trying to save the same commission.  As well, some of the FSBO properties that I have come across in the last few months are actually under priced.  EEEK!


Posted by Chris Lima, Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you. (Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise) almost 3 years ago

Unfortunately many people think what we do is easy and don't understand the experience we use to protect them in a transaction is learned over time and gained by education.  Just because a read a book on how to do surgery it is not a good idea for me to try it on my own!  Great information for FSBOs or buyers who approach a FSBO.

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) almost 3 years ago

I had a buyer who wanted to purchase a FSBO. I arranged compensation from the seller at the close of escrow. The seller asked for my assistance. However, I informed the seller that I represent the buyer and not the seller. We closed the deal.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) almost 3 years ago

Getting the emotions out of a sale can best be done consulting a REALTOR®!  Otherwise, FSBOs and unrepresented buyers do, indeed, create the perfect storm!  GREAT post, Andrea!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) almost 3 years ago

In all my years in this business, I've never had to deal with a FSBO.  However, I've heard many agents in my office complain about sellers wanting them to do all kinds of things for them.  They need to understand they are saving money for a reason . . .

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

Many are either too cheap or they do not trust most real estate professionals. In our area many FSBO are willing to pay a referring fee to buyer agent but will pay nothing (not a penny) to a listing agent. For $100 one can get someone put on MLS. For $400 one can get a Supra key, MLS and limited liability.  They do not feel listing agent has any added value for what they do. So why even bother to haggle to offer discount for $100 discount off a listing that costs $100 or $400 for?

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) almost 3 years ago

I have dealt with an occasional FSBO;  fortunately, my brokerage provides a multitude of forms that the seller signs attesting to the fact they are not being represented in any way so I don't have to keep repeating myself.  There are certain things we, as agents, must do in order to protect our buyers, of course, but I cannot imagine an unrepresented seller and unrepresented buyer working together on the sale of such a large investment. 

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 3 years ago

Andrea, I had a buyer call just a few minutes ago asking about a FSBO he saw on Zillow. He did tell me early in the conversation that he would probably use an agent his lender recommends. What was my incentive to help him. I gave him the homeowners number. Bye.

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) almost 3 years ago

Selling or buying a FSBO with no representation is a tough thing! The buyer and seller don't know what they don't know. Great overview!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, almost 3 years ago

Good afternoon, Andrea Swiedler what a great post....and congratulations on the feature.... I love the line "NO, REALLY, I CAN'T HELP YOU, YOU AREN'T MY CLIENT!" that's the bottom line and it's the most important part of any transaction..... REPRESENTATION.... and the FSBO has none....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 3 years ago

I have never worked with a FSBO.  Andrea Swiedler you have made some great points regarding the important role we play.

Posted by Melissa Jackson, Helping You Make The Right Move (Citiwide Alliance Realty) almost 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing this post awesome and congrats on getting it featured. Awesome information .. You are not my cilent yes that is just how it is. 

Posted by Laura Filip, What can we do for you today? (Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life ) almost 3 years ago

No free rides...too often people are not willing to pay for our services, to that I say sorry I cannot help you and have a good day.

Posted by Raul Rodriguez, Looking out for the client's interest and not my p (Covenant Partners Realty) almost 3 years ago

Andrea Swiedler 
What a thorough presentation of the pitfalls without representation! IMHO - your post is a MUST read for all Buyers and Sellers.
All the best - Lynn

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) almost 3 years ago

@andreaYour detail and clarity were very much appreciated.  Thanks a lot, Andrea Swiedler

Posted by Carol Wilson (Your $imple Home) almost 3 years ago

You've listed some great examples of by owners not presenting their property truthfully. 

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) almost 3 years ago

Hi Andrea - This is some great information for anyone considering a FSBO from either side. Hopefully they will understand that there are big risks and uncertainties and a lot of opportunity for unhappy endings.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) almost 3 years ago

Andrea Swiedler ,

Great post!  I have worked with unrepresented sellers.  They are a challenge.

Hope all is well with you!

Ann Hayden

Posted by Ann Hayden, (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri) almost 3 years ago

Good afternoon Andrea. You make a very compelling case with this and I appreciate your clarity.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 3 years ago

Good afternoon Andrea Swiedler,

Love your post and so glad to see it featured! There are huge risks trying to represent yourself in the sale of your home in our litigious society!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) almost 3 years ago

This is sad...but it doesn't surprise me when people try to go FSBO.

It's just like so many other things in business (and life).  People only look at the cost side of the equation and not the benefit.  If people start treating realtors and marketing materials and people as investments (rather than costs), they would get so much further.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 3 years ago

Thanks for providing this valuable information - in this day and age, it never ceases to amaze me how many people think they are qualified to sell their homes and represent themselves - both buyers and sellers.

I guess they don't realize we're here for the purpose of protecting them from themselves and their lack of knowledge

Just amazing! Grats on the feature

Posted by Jennifer Mackay, Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582 (Counts Real Estate Group, Inc.) almost 3 years ago

I have no problem working with a by Owner sale and have sold quite a few.   We don't have a lot of those who choose this way and probably a good thing I'd say.  All the ones that I have sold have paid me to also represent them and sometimes the buyer as well.  

When I meet with home buyers I tell them what I do and how I work.  This includes a Buyer Representation Agreement.  I have not yet had anyone refuse to sign this.  There are 3 options in CA and it's up to the agent if they want to use these and if so which one.  I always explain what I do and how I work and yes, fees if we/they find a home where there is no offering of a commission.  

This includes FSBO, New Inventory or a home that I might find by actively searching based on their needs.  This could be any home that is not on the market for sale.  If there is an offering of compensation from the seller they do not pay.  If there is not we agree on what they would pay.  I'm not getting into a commission discussion here, but I will say if more agents would work this way our service would be taken as more professional and valuable.  If a buyer does not choose to agree to this they are not one that I will work with.  

FSBO's do often start at a price and often it is over priced, but I have also seen situations where they are priced correctly but no one knows they are for sale as they limit their marketing to agents who just don't bother looking for them.  

There are also those who have the attitude that they can do it without an agent and it's best to pass on those as some do think they can do it and save the commission.  Your featured post is great info to pass on to those who are thinking of doing this on their own as either a buyer or a seller.  Both need to be fully aware of the obstacles.  

Posted by Teri Pacitto, Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty (Compass) almost 3 years ago

Andrea - I wish all buyers would read your post and understand the pitfalls of not having an agent to represent their best interests. So many things can go wrong as you pointed out. Same goes for sellers!  I can't recall doing s FISBO in many years. We don't have many in my area.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) almost 3 years ago

Thanks for your insights and knowledge into this very difficult market segment Andrea Swiedler - also, congratulations on the feature!

Posted by Jessie Cochran, Panama City Realty Group (Counts Real Estate Group, Inc.) almost 3 years ago

There's a reason why NAR started out as a professional member organization over 100 years ago.  People were getting screwed.  Many lawyers were shysters too and unethical.  I've sold a few FSBO's that were advertised in our local MLS.  They are called "limited rep" listing agreements.  They advertise a BAC, and I'll show their property.  I will NOT represent them.  I represent the buyer in these scenarios.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 3 years ago

What a shame!  That FSBO seller has no idea the value of using a REALTOR!  You have a great list of concers for any buyer considering buying a FSBO.  Invaluable info! 

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) almost 3 years ago

Hi Andrea

We hear stories like this all the time, where the seller thinks they are going to get a deal by not involving a real estate professional and can handle things on their own. I suspect it's rare when that really happens. Buyers who insist on going on their own need to truly understand the risks and issues that could come up as presented in your list.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) almost 3 years ago

Most people get into trouble trying to do a Realtor's job. Either through failed contracts or just bad salemanship. We get paid the "BIG" money for a reason.)

Posted by Erika Bentley almost 3 years ago

FSBO sellers have come to me on occasion when they couldn't sell their home -- usually on Craigslist. But the seller gets stuck and, when they've seen other homes in their area have been sold through me, they call. By then they have lost the attitude about "who needs an agent, I want to save the money". Howver, I will not help a buyer who wants to buy a FSBO. Never have, never will. I would end up doing the work of both sides, plus deal with the attitude of the seller. Life is too short.

Posted by Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®, Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea almost 3 years ago

I've been "hearing" about this post all day, Andrea, in the Rain, so had to come over and see what all the hullabaloo was about! A well deserved feature if you ask me!

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) almost 3 years ago

Very well thought out post, I would say great information to USE a realtor, in the end it is worth it.

Posted by David Alan Baker Laveen & South Phoenix Realtor, Your local Expert (Keller Williams Realty Phoenix) almost 3 years ago

Great POST. Will share with some of my releuctanat buyers!


Posted by Danielle Doucet Personal Real Estate Corp, Kamloops & Kelowna Real Estate (Kamloops PropertyFor Sale) almost 3 years ago

Andrea, I don't do many deals with FSBOs.  Some absolutely refuse to work with an agent, so my buyers and I typically move on.  And the last deal I did with a FSBO seller he was furious that I wasn't repping him too despite the fact that I'd explained from the beginning (and he's signed the applicable paperwork) that I ONLY represented the buyer.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 almost 3 years ago

Hello Andrea

Great post, a bit long for VB but I skimmed through most of it. I just came across a home owner that doesn't want to use a RE agent because he doesn't want to pay the commission. And on the sale of a home to a buyer the RE agent's fees are FREE and the home buyer isn't going to save and money not using a agent.

Congrats on the feature from The God's and have a great week ahead 

Posted by Robert Vegas Bob Swetz, Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale (Realty ONE Group) almost 3 years ago

Andrea "Honey, let's not use a Realtor!" is a statement made by a Seller who quickly finds out how little they know about what it takes to sell and house.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) almost 3 years ago

There are  very few short cuts in this business that will not cost someone money in the end.  With the amount of money involved on either side of a transaction, having the advise and guidance of a seasoneed professional agent is worth what ever the cost may be

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 3 years ago

For Sale By Owners are in for a treat when their homes don't sell right away. They know it is worth every penny they are asking too!

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

This spells out the problems with trying to do it without an agent. I believe using a Realtor saves the seller money.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) almost 3 years ago


Buyers and selling in a real estate need the help of a real estate professional to help them through a real estate transaction.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) almost 3 years ago


Congratulation on earning a gold star feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) almost 3 years ago

That's we strongly suggest using a trained professional, a Realtor!!!

Posted by Sham Reddy CRS, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) almost 3 years ago

You can only get so far on certain subjects and then you need consultation. Real Estate is one of those subjects. There is no fast track learning. Hire up & relax

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 3 years ago

Hi Andrea Swiedler, this is a must read post by every Mr and Mrs FSBO as well as those looking to sell their home without a Realtor. It costs them more to cut out a Realtor. There's a for sale by owner in a subdivision where I sold three homes, listed them after the FSBO sign went up and it's still there. Well deserved feature!

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) almost 3 years ago

I have occassionally sold a FSBO where I represent the buyers' side only.  Sellers are generally not happy in the end because they feel like if they are paying a commission they should have me on their side. But the contract they signed says otherwise and that was explained and they signed a document saying they understood the explaination.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 3 years ago

I show for sale by owners and note the difference in presentation of the homes professionally listed.

Love the sellers who follows you around to show you every closet and why they have keep all the treasures in the home for 40 years!

Posted by Sharon Kowitz, Cary, NC Relocation Specialist ~ Buying or Selling (CRS-SRES-ABR-GRI-E-Pro-CREN Fonville Morisey Cary, NC) almost 3 years ago

FSBOs do quite well here, but then again, they are not truly FSBO.  There are several brokerages that assist the seller for a fee with marketing including professional photos and staging services, all at an a-la-carte price.  In a seller's market, they are successful, but the cost is the bad taste left in the neighborhood.  Because of "saving the fee", a home just like mine sold for $25,000 less than the market and immediately depreciated my home and all the homes around it for the next 6 months.  

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) almost 3 years ago


Good information for buyers and sellers alike.  FSBO's may not know everything about their home and they certainly don't know how to access the information they need to provide a buyer.  They do need a Realtor.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) almost 3 years ago

Very nicely done Andrea. In my pre-licensing days I've been a FSBO and at other times I've hired agents. However, today it is a lot more complicated, challenging and risky to be a FSBO. 

Posted by James (Jim) Lawson, DBA, Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE ( LLC) almost 3 years ago

Andrea Swiedler - indeed a perfect storm!

Both unrepresented buyers and sellers - and yes, we cannot help them!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 3 years ago

Andrea Swiedler Great post on why people should not sell real estate on their own.  If you needed a cardiologist, would you say you could treat yourself?  Of course not, and the same goes for real estate. 

Congrats on the feature!

Posted by Elyse Berman, PA, Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR (Best Connections Realty, Inc.) almost 3 years ago

Selling a FSBO, means ( in many cases) that we end up doing the job of the seller's agent and the buyer's agent for half the commission which is not right. Now the big thing is they list it on the MLS for a flat fee and expect buyers to flood them with offers. Most of them end up listing with a full time professional. Many of the FSBO's in my area are realtors .

Posted by Janice Zaltman Realtor, LEED AP (United Realty Group) almost 3 years ago

Andrea Swiedler  Amazing post and well written . I ran into a similar situation recently .Has the makings of a good blog . I just read your comment on selling your own house and I agree . So glad you are back in the Rain .

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) almost 3 years ago

Great article and I stay away from FSBO properties because I want to work with a professional on the other side.  

Posted by Marnie Matarese, Showing you the best of Sarasota! (DWELL REAL ESTATE) almost 3 years ago

I used to think FSBO meant Failed Sale By Owner.. I still do although the fail may be on the buyer side. Unless one knows the process extremely well the best a Realtor!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 3 years ago