Statistics on FSBO popularity | FSBO vs. realtor sale prices | FSBO seller motives | FSBO pricing strategies | FSBO marketing strategies | Where buyers look for homes | Where is FSBO most popular? | How long it takes to sell FSBO | Biggest challenges | Is FSBO right for you?
FSBO (for sale by owner) refers to the process of selling a home without a real estate agent. While the vast majority of American home sellers work with a realtor to sell their homes, a minority are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to go it alone.
Most FSBO sellers are driven by a desire to save money on realtor fees. But statistics show that FSBO homes tend to sell for approximately 26% less than agent-assisted homes, which often negates any commission savings.
Another motive for FSBO sellers is a fast sale. Since about half of FSBO sellers already know their buyer and don’t have to waste time marketing their home, selling FSBO means a transaction can close faster.
Want to see what other FSBO statistics say? Read on for more facts and figures about the FSBO market that can help you decide if this is the right option for you.
If you’re trying to save money on realtor commission fees, a discount real estate agent may be a better option than choosing FSBO. Selling a house yourself is complicated and risky, and the price you achieve may be much less than what you can get with an agent. Our friends at Clever Real Estate can match you with a full-service real estate agent who will list your home for a pre-negotiated, low commission rate.
- FSBO makes up a small and declining share of American home sales.
- FSBO homes sell for an average of 26% less than agented homes (median of $217,000 vs. $295,500).
- FSBO sellers use a variety of strategies to price and market their homes, and more than one-third take pricing advice from a real estate agent.
- FSBO may be suitable in certain situations, but the data suggests that most home sellers benefit from the expertise of an agent.
Statistics on FSBO popularity
For sale by owner accounts for a small percentage of home sales. FSBO sellers represented 8% of all home sales in 2020, according to a large annual survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).Zillow Group’s estimate isn’t far off: the company reported in 2017 that FSBO sellers who never used an agent comprised 11% of the seller’s market.
The popularity of FSBO is also declining with time. From 1981 to 2020, FSBO sales dropped from 15% of all sales to 8%, according to NAR. That percentage stayed within a narrow range of 12% to 14% from 2001 to 2008. Despite inching up from 7% to 8% from 2019 to 2020, the long-term trend is clear.
It appears that the growing complexity of real estate transactions and the rise of low commission real estate is chipping away at the popularity of FSBO. Since there are other ways to save time and money on a transaction, selling FSBO might not be ideal for inexperienced home sellers to try.
Statistics on FSBO vs. realtor sale prices
Many FSBO sellers hope they can save money by not using an agent. But studies show that FSBO homes sell for less than agent-assisted properties.
Collateral Analytics, a provider of real estate analytic products, studied real estate sales that occurred in 2016 and 2017 in 13 counties across the U.S. and used a model to control for property differences such as age.The company found that FSBO homes sold for an average of 5.5% less than comparable homes listed on the multiple listing service (MLS).
That 5.5% is “remarkably close” to average commission rates, Collateral Analytics noted. Average realtor commissions vary by state but are typically in the 5–6% range. The takeaway? Since FSBO sellers are essentially earning 5.5% less on their sale — the sale amount they’d pay to an agent — it may be easier to just go with the agent in the first place and avoid the headaches of managing the sale process on their own.
Using a different methodology, NAR found that FSBO homes typically sell for around 26% less than other homes. The association’s 2020 survey of 8,212 recent home buyers found that FSBO homes sold for a median of $217,900, whereas agented-assisted homes sold for a median of $295,500. (The median price for all homes was $242,300.)
And buyers assume that making an offer on a FSBO home will lead to a better deal for them. In a 2022 Clever Real Estate survey of 1,000 home buyers, 73% said if the seller wasn’t represented by an agent, either themselves or their agent could negotiate a better deal.
Statistics on FSBO seller motives
Saving money is the biggest motivator for FSBO sellers. According to Zillow, 61% of FSBO sellers are trying to save money by going it alone.tend to sell for much less than agented homes, often neutralizing the cost advantage of dispensing with an agent.The problem is that FSBO homes
Other reasons for sellers to choose FSBO included “to save time” (37% of FSBO sellers). NAR’s data shows that FSBO transactions do tend to be completed faster than their agented counterparts. This is likely because around half of sellers already have an interested buyer in mind.
Despite this, FSBO homes can — and often do — sit on the market for a significantly longer period of time than agent-assisted homes. Moreover, the home sale process is typically complex and time-consuming, and for many sellers without an agent, it amounts to a full-time job.
In addition to these motives, 36% of FSBO sellers said they were confident they could sell without an agent. While this is surely true for some sellers, it’s worth noting that many FSBO sellers eventually cave and hire a realtor. We don’t have specific data on how common this is, but according to a 2017 Zillow report, 36% of sellers tried to sell their homes on their own, but only 11% actually sold without an agent.
This suggests that a remarkable 25% of all home sellers in the U.S. tried and failed to sell FSBO. If you don’t like those odds, a Clever agent can help you save money without the risk of a botched FSBO sale.
Statistics on FSBO pricing strategies
FSBO sellers use a variety of methods to price their homes, most of them informal, and many sellers apparently use multiple methods. According to Zillow, the most popular pricing methods for FSBO sellers are:
- Online home valuation tools (53%)
- Using the internet to find comparable homes for sale in the area (51%)
- Paying for a professional appraisal (38%)
- Taking advice from a real estate agent (35%)
In cases where sellers eschew professional advice, FSBO sellers risk asking for too much, causing the house to sit on the market unsold. Conversely, they may leave money on the table by asking for too little.
Largely backing up these results, the 2020 NAR survey finds that 50% of all FSBO sellers priced their homes by comparisons to recent home sales in their area.Other methods included:
- 34% used appraisals
- 19% used online home evaluation tools
- 17% calculated the price based on the profit they need from the sale
- 10% relied on a presentation by an agent that they did not hire to sell the home
Less common methods included setting the price to cover what was owed on the home and attending open houses for sale in the area or viewing homes for sale online. The NAR survey further breaks down these numbers according to whether or not the seller already knew the buyer:
Pricing varies by market
The data shows that there is wide variation by market in how FSBO homes are priced compared to agented homes. Generally, FSBO homes are priced at a steep discount, but in some cases, sellers appear to be more optimistic about the value of their properties.
|Metro||FSBO Median Price||Market Median Price||FSBO listing difference|
|San Francisco, CA||$786,000||$1,148,000||-31.5%|
|San Jose, CA||$650,000||$899,000||-27.7%|
|Urban Honolulu, HI||$585,000||$679,999||-14.0%|
|El Paso, TX||$140,000||$152,475||-8.2%|
Statistics on FSBO marketing strategies
According to NAR, nearly half (46%) of FSBO sellers didn’t market their homes.Among sellers who already knew the buyer, 68% didn’t actively market their homes.
But for FSBO sellers who did actively market their homes, these were the most common strategies:
|Marketing method||Percentage who used it|
|Third-party aggregator (Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc.)||24%|
|Friends, relatives, or neighbors||22%|
|Social networking websites (Facebook, MySpace, etc.)||14%|
|Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website||6%|
Other, less common methods included:
- For-sale-by-owner websites
- Online classified ads (e.g. Craigslist, newspapers)
- Virtual tours
- Other websites with real estate listings (e.g. Google, Yahoo)
- Direct mail (flyers, postcards, etc.)
Not surprisingly, these numbers varied depending on whether the seller already knew the buyer or not. For example, FSBO sellers who didn’t know the buyer were far more likely to use a yard sign than those who did (39% vs. 11%).
The takeaway? If you don’t know your buyer, you’ll probably want to use a mix of marketing strategies to attract the most offers.
Statistics on where buyers look for homes
Home buyers are open to purchasing a home that’s listed for sale by owner, but since those homes often aren’t on the MLS, they don’t know where to look for them. A Clever Real Estate survey found that of the 70% of home buyers who would consider a FSBO listing, 19% weren’t sure where those listings could be found.
That makes sense because the top two ways buyers find homes rely on the MLS. In the same survey, 37% of buyers said MLS syndication sites like Zillow and Realtor.com were the best ways to find a home, while 34% said it was through a real estate agent.
If you decide that FSBO is right for you, it can be extremely beneficial to pay for a flat fee MLS package from a reputable company. That way your home will be listed on the MLS and put on the home search sites most popular with buyers. It might be slightly more expensive than free or FSBO sites, but it will greatly expand your pool of buyers.
|Website||Percentage of buyers who have looked at site|
|None of the above||6%|
Where is FSBO most popular?
The popularity of FSBO varies across the country. While FSBO accounts for a small minority of home sales everywhere, metros with the largest shares of FSBO-listed homes tend to be located in the middle of the country. The metros with the smallest share of FSBO-listed homes are generally coastal.
The exact percentage of homes sold FSBO ranges from as little as 1.3% in Honolulu to 12.7% in Tulsa, OK, according to Trulia data.But it’s usually in the single digits.
|Metro||Percentage of homes listed FSBO|
|Silver Spring, MD||2.3%|
|Montgomery County, PA||2.3%|
|Urban Honolulu, HI||1.3%|
The NAR survey shines a different light on the issue.Breaking it down by region, FSBO was most popular in the Northeast and least popular in the West:
|Region||Sellers who used FSBO|
Interestingly, sellers in the Northeast were also the most likely to try selling on their own and then hire an agent. Working with an agent was most popular in the West (92%) and the Northeast (91%), and least popular in the South (89%) and Midwest (88%).
|Region||Sellers who used an agent/broker only||FSBO sellers who then hired an agent|
✍️ Editor’s Note
- NAR’s survey suggests that only a tiny percentage of sellers attempt a FSBO sale before hiring an agent — far smaller than the 25% of American home sellers indicated by the Zillow survey referenced above.
- The reasons for this large gap aren’t clear, but the NAR and Zillow surveys canvassed different groups of people. NAR surveyed recent home buyers, some of whom had also sold a home. Zillow surveyed five main consumer groups, including recent home buyers and recent home sellers, but the sellers hadn’t necessarily bought a home. It’s possible that these different respondent profiles explain the divergent results. For example, a seller who also successfully buys a house might be more likely to have sought an agent’s help from day one.
- Also, the Zillow survey was fielded in May and June 2017, whereas the NAR survey was conducted in July 2020. It could be that the popularity of FSBO tapered somewhat in that three-year period.
There is also a rural-urban divide in FSBO popularity. Twenty-two percent of FSBO sales are located in rural areas, compared to 14% of agent-assisted sales. Moreover, 6% of FSBO sales are located in vacation or resort areas, versus 3% of agent-assisted sales.
Sixty-one percent of all FSBO sales take place in urban areas or suburbs/subdivisions, compared to 70% of agent-assisted sales. In other words, while there are more total FSBO sales in urban areas, FSBO sales are more heavily concentrated in rural areas than agent-assisted sales. This could be related to the fact that homes are less expensive outside of metro areas, and FSBO sales tend to involve less expensive homes.
In keeping with the rural skew of FSBO sales, FSBO properties are more likely to be mobile or manufactured homes. Mobile or manufactured homes made up 9% of FSBO transactions, compared to 2% for agent-assisted sales. By contrast, detached single-family homes accounted for 78% of FSBO sales, versus 81% for all homes.
The takeaways? FSBO isn’t for everyone. The popularity of FSBO varies based on location, with middle American cities, rural areas and mobile homes overrepresented among FSBO sales. Your mileage may vary, so researching the local market will go a long way towards understanding whether FSBO is optimal in your neighborhood.
How long it takes to sell FSBO
FSBO homes tend to sell quicker than agent-assisted homes, with a median of one week on the market versus three weeks for agent-assisted properties.Seventy-seven percent of FSBO homes changed hands in less than two weeks.
Contributing to the greater speed is the fact that up to half of FSBO sellers already know the buyer. NAR data shows that 4% of all home sales in the U.S. were FSBO sales where the seller knew the buyer, and another 4% were FSBO sales where the seller didn’t know the buyer.
When FSBO sellers know the buyer, the house’s median time on market is less than a week. When FSBO sellers don’t know the buyer, the house’s median time on market is longer (one week).
FSBO may offer faster sales, but sellers are less likely to benefit from that if they don’t have a specific buyer in mind. Agent-assisted sales may take slightly longer because agents are able to secure a higher price for their clients, which requires more negotiation.
You will almost certainly invest much more of your personal time in the FSBO process than if you hire an agent. The FSBO process is complicated, time-intensive, and basically a full-time job.
Speed varies by market
If you’re deciding to sell FSBO, where you live apparently plays a huge role in how successful you will be. In Detroit, FSBO homes took 36 more days to sell than agented properties. On the other hand, in Charleston, SC, FSBO homes sold 51 days faster.
|Metro||Additional days on market|
|Baton Rouge, LA||28|
|Grand Rapids, MI||22|
|Las Vegas, NV||-42|
|Los Angeles, CA||-43|
Comparing FSBO listing prices with time on market gives us additional information about whether seller expectations are aligned with reality. In Buffalo, NY, for example, the FSBO listing price was 16.4% above the agent-listed median, but FSBO houses took 25 days longer to sell. And in Grand Rapids, MI, the FSBO listing price was 17.7% higher than agented-assisted properties, but FSBO houses sat on the market for 22 days longer.
In other cities, FSBO sellers appear to have a more realistic grasp of market conditions. Going back to our Charleston example, where FSBO homes sold a blazing 51 days faster than agented-listed properties, FSBO homes were listed for 18.3% less. The moral of the story? Perform local-specific research to see how FSBO sellers fare in your neighborhood and get a better idea of how long it may take to close a sale.
Biggest challenges for FSBO sellers
Selling a home without the benefit of an agent is usually no easy task. The average property sale in California requires 180 sheets of paper, according to seasoned broker Marlene Bertrand. FSBO sales typically require an array of tools for everything from preparing your home to listing, marketing, pricing, and closing.
FSBO sellers polled by NAR said that the most difficult aspects of the process included:
- Preparing or fixing up the home for sale (12%)
- Understanding and performing paperwork (10%)
- Getting the price right (9%)
Less commonly, FSBO sellers also complained about selling within the planned time period, having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale, attracting potential buyers, and helping the buyer obtain financing.
Pricing in particular is one area where FSBO sellers often stumble and end up leaving money on the table. FSBO sellers often turn to a professional appraiser or a home value website in order to determine their home’s listing price.
Selling a home FSBO also has a variety of hidden costs which don’t show up in pricing statistics, including appraisals, photography, marketing, MLS listing, and attorney fees. These are in addition to the standard costs of selling a home, such as title insurance and escrow fees.
Bottom line: is FSBO right for you?
One of the most important facts about FSBO is that roughly half of all FSBO sellers already know the buyer. If, like them, you know the intended buyer of your home, for sale by owner could be a reasonable option.
But it’s worth reiterating that many people who try selling their home by themselves throw in the towel and hire an agent. The data suggests that roughly one in a quarter of American home sellers fit this description.
Ultimately, whether you decide to go FSBO should depend on:
- Your experience and comfort level with real estate sales
- Your willingness to take risks
- And/or the amount of time you can invest in the process
If the FSBO process seems overwhelming to you, there are ways to save money on commission while benefiting from the services of a professional agent.
Our partners at Clever Real Estate match you with top-rated local agents who can sell your house quickly, for top dollar, AND save you thousands with 1% listing fees.
Can I save money by selling FSBO?
Yes, it’s possible that by avoiding paying for a listing agent, you will save money on a FSBO sale. However, the average FSBO home sells for up to 26% less than agent-assisted homes, so you may wind up losing money overall. And don’t forget that as the seller, you will still probably need to offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission.
Are FSBO sales faster than agent-assisted sales?
Generally, yes. The data suggests that FSBO homes spend a median of one week on the market, compared to three weeks for agent-assisted sales. The difference likely owes something to the fact that about half of FSBO sellers already know the buyer, so they don’t need to spend time marketing their homes. Also, this varies widely depending on the city. In some cities FSBO homes spend far longer on the market.
How do FSBO sellers determine the price of their house?
FSBO sellers use a variety of methods to decide their home’s asking price, including taking advice from a real estate agent. Zillow data shows that many FSBO sellers use online home valuation tools, research comparable homes for sale in the area, and/or pay for a professional appraisal.
Looking to sell your house by owner? Read more to learn about the ins and outs of the process, including the tools you need to execute a successful sale:
The Ultimate For Sale By Owner Toolkit: What You REALLY Need: Discover all the tools and platforms you need to successfully execute a FSBO sale.
How Much Does It Cost To Sell A House By Owner?: Learn about the hidden costs and complexities of the FSBO process.
11 Best For Sale By Owner Websites (2021 Rankings): Read our recommendations for sites to help you market your FSBO listing.