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Selling Your Home by Owner in Georgia: The Ultimate Guide

Hal WierzbickiJune 27, 2024

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Sooner or later, there’s a very good chance you’ll need to move.  The average person moves 12 times in their life, according to Rocket Mortgage. When that time comes, you have to sell your current home — and there’s every reason to want to squeeze every dollar you can out of the sale. You could want to fund the move itself, put a down payment toward your next home, or just set aside a bit of a nest egg.

So, is it worth it to see a chunk of your sale go toward real estate agent fees?

To create a complete guide to selling your home in Georgia, we performed our own research — and spoke with a seasoned professional, DJ Olojo. DJ Olojo is a real estate investor and Realtorⓡ, as well as the podcast host of The Foreclosure Fix and Managing Director of ASO Custom Homes, LLC. While it’s possible to sell a home FSBO, there’s a lot that goes into it — and it could be easier to get a real estate agent than you think.

But first, some good news. People are selling their Georgia homes — even if the interest rates are quite high. “The fallacy that no one wants to sell due to their low interest rate mortgage is not true for everyone,” says Olojo. “Many people have to sell because of life events. They are aging and don't want stairs, they are having kids and need a larger home, or they are facing financial hardships and need to make a change. Homes are coming to market and are being purchased by individuals and corporations alike.”

So, should you bring your own home to market?

How does FSBO work in Georgia?

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is rising across the country — and in Georgia in particular — but it’s not a perfect process.  You must handle risks and expenses that wouldn’t come up with an agent-guided sale, so it’s important to know all the pros and cons before making your decision.

Most home sellers in Georgia use real estate agents to sell their homes.  For some people, they may not even realize there’s another option.  Agents are just How It’s Done.  That can’t account for the majority, though, so how does FSBO work, and why might you choose not to use it?

FSBO is simply the process of selling a house, handled on your own.  You’ll still need to get other people involved: lawyers, escrow companies, home inspectors, and banks. Your buyer very likely has an agent of their own — so, while you don’t need an agent to sell to them, the agent is still involved in the process.

In other words, you take on a lot of the legwork to avoid paying a seller’s agent their commission.  Both buyer’s and seller’s agents tend to charge in the 2.8-3% range, so you’re really saving yourself 3% of your sale price.

Considering that the median price for a home in Atlanta is $395,000 as of 2023, a 3% commission is $11,850; a good chunk of change. But keep in mind that not all agents charge 3% and some might even have deals available.

Redy makes it easy to find real estate agents who want to compete for your business — and even, sometimes, offer a cash reward. You can put up a profile property on Redy and get a list of competitive offers waiting for you.

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So, the single biggest benefit of selling FSBO is the savings, but what are you giving up to keep that 3%?

The drawbacks of a Georgia FSBO home sale

Generally, the biggest drawback to FSBO sales is having to do all of the work yourself. People often underestimate just how much time and effort it takes to do everything, including:

  • Researching the market and determining a competitive market price for your home.

  • Cleaning and performing minor repairs to spruce up your home.

  • Hiring and managing contractors to perform more significant repairs as necessary.

  • Getting a complete home inspection to have a report for prospective buyers.

  • Staging your home, inside and out, for curb appeal and attractive walk-throughs.

  • Taking enticing pictures for your listings, plus video walkthroughs, and other media.

  • Writing and posting listings on the major real estate market websites.

  • Promoting and managing interested parties, including scheduling walkthroughs and open houses.

  • Writing and signing contracts and closing the deal.

  • Working with banks and other involved parties, including the buyer’s agent.

Even if you save financially throughout this process, your time is valuable, and the time spent doing all of this can be extreme — especially if you have no idea how to get started in the first place.

FSBO also has implicit drawbacks when working in a market dominated by agents.  Buyers may be hesitant to buy FSBO and may be skeptical about why you’ve chosen the process.  Often, FSBO sales are close to nearly $100,000 lower than agent-represented sales.

It’s worth mentioning that a significant amount of the time – 57% of the time, specifically – FSBO sales are done with someone who you already know.  If you’re selling to a friend or family member, it makes sense to go FSBO and skip the agents since you don’t need most of their services.  The lower price might also reflect cutting family deals, so it’s not necessarily as dire as the statistic makes it sound.

Despite the above, there are good reasons to sell FSBO in Georgia.  Money, added control, direct oversight and communication with everyone involved — it’s not nothing.

How to sell your Georgia home FSBO, step-by-step

Selling FSBO involves a lot of work, but let’s face it: that work must be done anyway.  It’s just a matter of who does it and who builds the to-do list.  You don’t need to pay an agent to tell you this.

Step 1: Prepare your home for sale

Unless you’re selling a home as-is – a whole other can of worms – you need to put some work into getting it ready.  

  • Move most of your stuff out.  A few generic items can be good for staging, but you want the home to be as close to a “blank slate” as it can be for potential buyers.

  • Make any minor repairs, patch holes from paintings, repaint, clean, and refresh the home.  Those dings and scrapes and nail holes are great for character and memories, but your buyer doesn’t have those memories, and a fresh coat of paint can boost your home value by as much as $4,000.

  • Refresh the outside by enhancing curb appeal.  Weed the garden, trim the hedges, prune the trees, bring in fresh gravel, patch the driveway, and make repairs and enhancements to the exterior of the home to make it look better from the street.

All of this is, more or less, just surface-level details.  It’s also just the first step of the process.

Step 2: Determine your list price

For many, this is going to be the most important step. How much is your home worth?  There are a handful of ways to determine your home's appropriate value. Olojo recommends, “Price the property appropriately. Pricing is an art, not a science. It varies street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.”  

A comparative market analysis looks at recently-sold homes with similar characteristics to yours and adjusts based on any differences, like age, neighborhood, HOA, and more. But without an agent, a comparative market analysis might be hard to get your hands on.

Real estate agents generally have a wealth of data and experience they can use to come up with a good list price.  You have to do the homework with FSBO sales.  On the plus side, you can pay for an appraisal, which ranges from $100 to $650, depending on how detailed you want it to be.

Once you’ve determined a price, you can write up a listing.  Now what?

Step 3: Get your home listed for sale

The best way to sell a home is to list it on real estate listing sites.  Since these sites generally all pull from MLS, all you need to do is submit to MLS.  Except there’s a catch: you can’t submit to MLS directly in Georgia.  You have to hire a flat-fee MLS listing service to do that step for you.  This helps ensure consistency in listings, but it can be a bit of a hassle.

Another thing to remember is that you must have your paperwork properly filled out.  In Georgia, you’re required to hire a real estate attorney to handle closing.  Additionally, you have to have a seller’s disclosure that includes information on any known material defects with the property, and any information directly requested by the buyer or their agent.

Speaking of agents, make sure to offer the agent a commission.  You may not be paying a seller’s agent, but you’ll want to compensate a buyer’s agent if one exists.  Most buyer’s agents won’t show their clients homes when they won’t get anything out of the sale.

Step 4: Manage marketing, showings, communications, and bids

Putting your home for sale on the listing sites is a good first step, but there’s often a lot of additional marketing you can do, from social media to a yard sign (if your HOA allows it!)  All of that will get the interest rolling in, but you still have a lot to do.

  • Be ready to schedule showings at the drop of a hat.  This can be very disruptive to work, family life, and even the homebuying process, but it needs to be done.

  • Prescreen prospective buyers.  Selling a home is risky, and there are always scams and fraudulent buyers to avoid.  Making sure you’re dealing primarily with buyers’ agents can be a good step.

  • Respond to contacts ASAP.  Delays in dealing with agents or buyers can be a turn-off, even if you’re professional and proactive when you do communicate.

Eventually, you’ll get a bid that you’re willing to accept and can close the deal.  But Olojo cautions that he’s seen some hesitance in the current market — you might not close your first deal. “We often see first-time homebuyers get cold feet during due diligence and not purchase the home,” warns Olojo. “This has happened multiple times this year for me and my colleagues.”

As mentioned above, Georgia is an attorney state, meaning you’re working with an attorney rather than a title company for the final closing.  It’s time to ring them up and get the papers signed.

Is a Georgia FSBO right for you?

If you want to sell your home in Georgia, it’s an amazing time — especially if you’re in Atlanta. Olojo notes, “The Atlanta market is hot! People are moving to Georgia in droves due to job opportunities, great weather, and a friendly business climate. As of April, we are still seeing an average of fewer than 60 days on the market for residential, detached homes. According to the First Multiple Listing Service, the Residential Detached Average Sales Price YTD through April 2024 was $498,941, compared to $460,058 for YTD 2023. This represents an increase of 8% for YTD 2024 vs. YTD 2023. Homes are selling fast.”

But that doesn’t mean you want to sell your home FSBO.

FSBO is great if you want control and insight into the process of selling a home.  It can save you money if you don’t go overboard or make costly mistakes in the process.  But it’s not the only way to sell a home in Georgia.

With Redy, you can sell FSBO but with many of the benefits of using an agent.  That’s because Redy puts seller’s agents in competition, bidding for the chance to be the one to represent your home on the market.  It’s easy to start, so why not see what Redy can do for you?

Hal Wierzbicki is a professional freelance writer with nearly two decades of experience covering diverse topics, including real estate, marketing, health, and travel. His work has appeared on sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and more. When he's not writing, you can often find him hiking local trails and enjoying nature.

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