The vast majority of real estate sales are accomplished through the use of a realtor. I personally think this is still the best way to sell your property as they have a wide array of marketing techniques available to put your property in front of willing buyers. However, it is not uncommon to sell property “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO), in other words without the use of a realtor. Typically, buyers in a FSBO transaction are friends, family or someone who is familiar with the property, perhaps a contractor who has worked at the house. Because there is a pre-existing relationship with the buyer, a seller may be tempted to skimp on the details of the transaction. Although it may be uncomfortable to talk “business” with friends or family, you still need to protect yourself in the event something goes wrong.
First, in order for any real estate contract to be binding, it must be in writing. Also, make sure your buyer has the means to purchase the property and put a deadline on when financing needs to be secured. You must fully disclose known problems with the property – cracks in walls, leaky basement, etc. – through the Residential Property Disclosure Form. Finally, it is imperative to obtain a proper title search and purchase title insurance to give you peace of mind that there are no hidden liens or mortgages.
As you can see, there is a lot of moving pieces to a real estate transaction and therefore many pitfalls that a lay person cannot look out for. Thus, I recommend highly that you seek out an experienced attorney to help you make sure all the “i’s” are dotted and “t’s” crossed. It will minimize the potential for hurt feelings or worse (i.e. litigation) between yourself and your family or friends, that could effect your relationship for years to come.