REAL ESTATE LAW

For Sale By Owner

When a property owner sells a property on their own without a real estate agent or a broker, it is commonly referred to as a “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) transaction. There may be a few different reasons a homeowner may choose to sell a home on their own, but most commonly, it is to save on real estate commissions, which can run from 4% – 6% of the real estate sales price. 

Often, homeowners contact a real estate attorney because they are selling their home to a friend, family member, or tenant, and therefore they do not want to pay a real estate commission since the seller already has a buyer ready to purchase their property and there is no need for a real estate agent to market the property to find potential buyers.

If you are considering selling your home without using a real estate agent or broker, it is critical that you obtain the assistance of an experienced For Sale By Owner (FSBO) attorney to ensure the sale is conducted in compliance with all California real estate laws.

Why You Need a Real Estate Attorney in a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Transaction

For most people, a home is the most expensive asset they will ever buy or sell. More and more individuals are choosing to sell their home on their own to save the money they would spend on real estate commissions. Although a FSBO transaction may seem relatively easy, it is a complex transaction that comes with significant risk exposure. There are many legal issues involved in a real estate transaction, including but not limited to certain clauses in purchase and sale contracts, contingencies, mandatory seller disclosures and regulations. 

Failure to seek the legal counsel of an experienced real estate attorney can lead to major liability issues and potential litigation caused by mistakes or omissions during the selling process. Therefore, the guidance of an experienced FSBO attorney should be sought to ensure you are legally protected.

Can I Post For Sale By Owner (FSBO) On MLS?

A variety of companies offer “flat fee” multiple listing services (MLS). However, you must be careful and ensure you fully understand what your true fees will be because after you have listed your home on MLS, you will be contractually obligated to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. This may not be apparent from a flat fee MLS advertisement, but such a fee can be between 2%-3% of the sales price.

Why People Choose An Experienced FSBO Attorney

Often, homeowners come across our real estate law firm because they are searching for an experienced For Sale By Owner lawyer. For many homeowners, it is advisable to list a home for sale with a highly qualified real estate agent or broker so the home can be marketed to as many qualified buyers as possible. However, there are situations where a FSBO transaction is appropriate and can potentially save a real estate seller tens of thousands of dollars. The following are just some examples of when a homeowner retains our law firm for assistance with a FSBO transaction.

  • Owner is selling the property to a tenant.
  • Owner is selling the property to a friend or a family member.
  • Owner has marketed the property themselves and has found a buyer.
  • Owner has been solicited to sell the property to a real estate investor.
  • A Buyer has found an off-market home to purchase without a real estate agent.

What Can An FSBO Attorney Do For Me?

Generally, an FSBO attorney can oversee and manage the entire sales process from drafting the initial Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions (CAR RPA) to title review and ensuring a smooth closing. In particular, the following are examples of some of the things an FSBO attorney can do for you:

  • Prepare all documents for sale of the property, including the purchase agreement and escrow instructions, addendums, counter offers, acceptance, rejections, contingency removals, and notices to perform.
  • Provide legal advice and legal review during the entire sales process.
  • Keep track of all contingencies and ensure they are timely satisfied or waived.
  • Open escrow and coordinate with the escrow and title company.
  • Ensure a preliminary title report is ordered.
  • Review preliminary title report for title matters that may need to be cleared.
  • Provide required disclosures.
  • Help seller prepare and provide all mandatory seller disclosures.
  • Ensure the seller follows its legally required obligations and minimize the seller’s liability exposure.
  • Coordinate with lenders that may be involved in the transaction.
  • Request and review estimated seller and buyer closing statements.
  • Review inspection reports if needed.
  • Coordinating final signings and ensuring a smooth closing.

Frequently Asked Questions

When selling your property as "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO), it's important to be aware of several legal considerations. First, you'll need to ensure that your property's title is clear of any liens or encumbrances that could impede the sale. Additionally, you'll need to prepare a legally sound purchase agreement that outlines all terms and conditions of the sale, including the price, contingencies, and the timeline for closing. Disclosures are also critical; you must comply with state and federal laws by providing potential buyers with accurate information about the property's condition, known defects, and environmental hazards. Finally, you'll need to navigate the legal requirements for closing the sale, which typically involve transferring the title, handling the funds, and complying with state-specific real estate laws. Consulting with a real estate attorney experienced in FSBO transactions can help ensure that you navigate these legal considerations effectively and protect your interests throughout the sale process.


While it's not a legal requirement to have an attorney when selling your property without a real estate agent (FSBO), having legal representation can be highly beneficial. An attorney can provide invaluable assistance in drafting or reviewing purchase agreements, ensuring that all legal requirements are met, and addressing any potential issues or disputes that may arise during the sale process. Our firm specializes in FSBO transactions and can offer guidance every step of the way. We help you navigate the complexities of real estate law, ensure compliance with state-specific regulations, and protect your interests throughout the sale. Whether it's reviewing contracts, conducting due diligence, or providing legal advice during negotiations, having an attorney on your side can provide peace of mind and help you achieve a successful FSBO transaction.

The process for drafting and negotiating contracts when selling FSBO typically involves several key steps. First, you'll need to create a purchase agreement that outlines all the terms and conditions of the sale, including the sale price, contingencies, and the timeline for closing. Negotiations may follow, during which you and the buyer may propose changes or amendments to the agreement. It's crucial to ensure that the contract complies with state and local real estate laws and is clear and comprehensive to avoid potential disputes later on. Our attorneys can help you navigate this process by reviewing or drafting the purchase agreement, offering legal guidance during negotiations, and ensuring that the contract aligns with your goals and protects your interests. We work to make the transaction legally sound, safeguard your rights, and minimize the risk of complications or disputes throughout the FSBO sale.

Selling FSBO comes with several potential pitfalls and challenges. Common mistakes include setting an unrealistic asking price, inadequate property marketing, insufficient legal documentation, and poor negotiation strategies. Additionally, FSBO sellers may lack the experience to handle complex negotiations, contingencies, or unexpected issues that may arise during the process. Our firm can provide valuable guidance to avoid these common mistakes by offering expertise in pricing your property competitively, creating effective marketing strategies, and ensuring all legal documentation is in order. We also provide negotiation support, helping you navigate buyer inquiries, offers, and counteroffers. By leveraging our experience, you can navigate the FSBO process with confidence, reduce the risk of errors, and optimize your chances of a successful sale while saving on real estate agent commissions.

Our attorneys play a crucial role in assisting with property disclosures, title searches, and other legal aspects of selling a property on your own (FSBO). We can help you compile and present accurate property disclosures, ensuring that you comply with state and federal laws by disclosing any known defects, environmental hazards, or other material information about the property. Our firm can conduct comprehensive title searches to confirm the property's title is clear and free of liens or encumbrances that could impede the sale. If any title issues arise, we can provide guidance on resolving them. Throughout the FSBO process, our attorneys offer legal expertise to address any unforeseen legal challenges or questions that may arise, ensuring that you navigate the sale legally and confidently.

Seeking legal advice and representation when selling FSBO offers numerous benefits, including expert guidance on legal requirements, protection of your rights, and assistance in navigating complex transactions. Our firm understands that every FSBO sale is unique, and we tailor our services to your specific needs and circumstances. Whether you need help drafting a legally sound purchase agreement, conducting due diligence, resolving title issues, or navigating negotiations, we provide tailored legal support that safeguards your interests and ensures the transaction proceeds smoothly. By leveraging our expertise, you gain peace of mind, reduce the risk of costly mistakes, and have the confidence that your FSBO sale is legally compliant and optimized for success.

Top Rated For Sale By Owner Attorneys

For Sale By Owner Attorney

Real Estate Law Corporation™

If you need legal assistance with a For Sale By Owner transaction, Real Estate Law Corporation has experienced FSBO attorneys that serve clients in the greater Sacramento area and all over California.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact us.

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