For Sale By Owner: Real Estate Horror Stories

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent4/7/2022

Depressed,Real,Estate,Agent,Sitting,On,Grass,In,Front,OfThe great debate over whether or not you should sell your home without a real estate agent has been an ongoing battle for decades. There are proponents on both sides of the conversation, but the risks often outweigh the rewards, as you’ll see here. How can you turn these sellers into a client? Let them know that you are ultimately going to save them time, money, and a big hassle. It’s also okay to let them know what they face if they continue on the path themselves. 

The risks associated with FSBO properties:

  1. Scams happen more than people realize
  2. The paperwork is never ending
  3. The homes often sell for less when there isn’t a professional negotiator involved
  4. The liability is all on the seller
  5. Inspections can be problematic to say the least
  6. Hidden costs (staging, cleaning services, etc.) add up

There are dozens of other potential downfalls we can list, but first, let’s meet the pros who are sharing their stories, and then we’ll get into the details. 

Meet the Real Estate Pros

Pavel HeadshotPavel Khaykin 

A realtor and the founder of his own real estate business, Pavel Buys Houses, Khaykin has been involved in real estate for several years. He is on a quest to simplify the world of real estate for the average person and help provide people with an informed buying and selling process. In his time, he’s seen many horror stories, some of which inspired him to do what he does. 



Josh-Eberly HeadshotJosh Eberly

Josh is the owner of 717 Home Buyers and started in real estate at a young age as a means to help people buy and sell homes without all the stress. They offer an alternative to a traditional realtor, and Josh uses his industry experience and smart sales tactics to get homes sold quicker and for better prices than most people expect. In his years, he’s also seen and heard his fair share of treacherous tales, one of which you’ll see below. 



Cohen headshotMax Cohen

Max started in real estate as a rehabber and attempted to list his first rehab as an FSBO. After getting his Florida real estate license, he’s since found success in the market and now has a successful business in Florida Home Buyers, but that first transaction was probably one of his most painful lessons in the process. Today, Max’s company buys and sells properties throughout Florida in all conditions, offering a simpler, more transparent process for homeowners. 


The Horrors of Not Using a Realtor: Told By the Pros

In Pavel’s story, we heard a horror that most people don’t even think about: robbery. According to Pavel, he once heard from a colleague a story about an open house hosted by a seller that was listed as For Sale By Owner. The seller was not paying close enough attention during the open house, and someone managed to take some personal belongings from the second floor of the home and leave undetected. By the time the seller realized what had happened, the open house was long over, and there was nothing they could do. 

Listing with a professional realtor gives you the peace of mind that your property will be protected. Not only are agents trained to keep an eye on the entire property during an open house, but they’ll be wise enough to advise you to remove any sentimental or valuable items before the open house just to be safe. Had the seller opted to use a professional instead of going it alone, they may have been able to avoid this situation. 

Josh’s story is practically robbery, although it’s more about the dangers of working with realtors when you don’t have a good one. Josh tells us about a client that came to him once who’d been nearly taken advantage of. The realtor recommended an astronomical amount of repair work that needed to be done before the home could be listed and then negotiated a price that was well below what it would actually cost. The homeowners realized, fortunately, that they were losing money, and they went to 717 Home Buyers. 

As Josh says, “I want homeowners to know that there are more options out there, without the cost of endless repairs!” 

You don’t have to do what a realtor says or take whatever “offer” or “negotiation” they suggest. Too often, people take the “real estate agent knows best” mindset and lose money on their sales because they don’t know what they could be getting. By working with reliable companies and realtors, you can ensure that you’re getting a fair price for your home and not being forced to spend a fortune on repairs before you can sell. 

Firsthand Experience

Finally, we’ll end with Max’s story. Experience is the best teacher, and firsthand experience is definitely the best way to see just how dangerous not using a realtor can be. Max’s experience caused him to become the person he needed when he started rehabbing properties, and he’s hoping it can help others avoid unscrupulous transactions and getting ripped off in their home buying and selling. 

Max didn’t have a lot of money starting out and didn’t have a real estate license yet. Thus, he felt that his only option for his first rehab was to list it FSBO. He did, and the buyers’ realtor smelled his inexperience right away. According to Max, “…she bullied me through the entire transaction. I made several repairs, gave the buyer money off of the original price, and when I thought it was all over, I took a hit when the property appraised below our asking price.”

Max says he could have saved a month or more, and a small fortune, had he chosen to hire a real estate agent to represent him in the first place. In fact, he probably would have profited enough to cover the seller’s agent’s commission without even noticing. 

The Bottom Line

All three of these stories tell a different tale about why having a real estate agent matters, but they all point to the same answer– these days, there’s no place left in the market for FSBO unless you’re an experienced real estate pro selling your own home. Agents exist for a reason. Their entire job is to save you time and money and ensure that your transaction is exactly what it should be. Whether you’re buying or selling, those are all critical to your experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re the exception when hiring an agent has so many benefits. If you really want to get the most out of your home sale, call and talk to a professional real estate broker today. 

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 4/7/2022



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