Going Agent-Free Completely
If you happen upon the FSBO home of your dreams and you have not signed on with a buyer’s agent, you have a more basic question to answer. Should you buy without any agents or should you rush to the nearest real estate office and sign up a buyer’s agent real quick? Well it actually all depends.
The first thing to find out is how reasonable and businesslike the seller is being. You should also know ahead of time how comfortable you are haggling face-to-face over price and terms and other contract contingencies such as who pays for the home warranty or what problems will be fixed before you agree to buy.
The question of whether you hire a buyer’s agent for a FSBO purchase basically depends on how comfortable you are handling the important details of a deal such as lining up inspections and title searches. Some well-prepared FSBO sellers will have a sales contract on hand which they will suggest you use for making your offer. But you would be foolish to use that contract without having it first reviewed by your own real estate lawyer. Your best bet would be to hire a real estate lawyer which will cost several hundred dollars to help you prepare the necessary documents and to make sure everything that is put on paper represents your own best interest.
A FSBO seller is supposed to comply with all the state and federal rules requiring various disclosures that are supposed to be given to buyers. They include disclosure about the presence of lead-based paint or asbestos in the home and disclosures of significant flaws such as a leaky roof. They should give you copies of the condo or co-op or homeowners’ association documents. But FSBO sellers may not know or care about their obligations so you need to be especially diligent about asking questions and tracking down information.
And be sure to get a good home inspection. You will have to line up the termite inspection, lender’s appraisal, the title search and the home inspection without any real estate agents involved. Your lawyer or the title company may be able to handle your closing but you will have to scurry to make sure all the pre-closing deals fall into place.