How to Buy Santa Cruz Real Estate For Sale By Owner

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 at 8:13am.

There are a few misconceptions about buying Santa Cruz real estate for sale by owner (FSBO). 

Seller Isn't Serious

Some buyers think that the seller isn’t serious about selling the house, that they’re just testing the market.  While this is true in some cases, most sellers will accept an offer that is close to the asking price at any time.

Sometimes Santa Cruz real estate for sale by owner will sit on the market for a while.  This may be because the owner is not open to negotiations on the sale price.  More often, it’s because the owner doesn’t have the experience showing homes to potential buyers that a real estate agent does.  A typical owner isn’t likely to have the time to properly market the house.  If there aren’t enough buyers looking at the house, it’s going to be harder to get a good purchase offer.

Real Estate Agents Can't Help

Some buyers believe that real estate agents can't help negotiate the purchase of a FSBO.  That's not true.  If you find a FSBO you're interested in, whether you find it because you drive by it or see it in an advertisement, let your Santa Cruz real estate agent know.  Real estate agents can represent your best interests when purchasing FSBOs, just like they do when purchasing homes listed with real estate companies.

If you do happen to come across a for sale by owner that you just love, you need to include several things in the purchase offer to protect yourself.  These include:

• Home inspection required that shows there are no significant defects or pest infestations in the house. 

Make sure you hire a credentialed home inspector; you do not want to buy a house that needs major repairs. 

• Appraisal of the home is a specific value.  You don’t want to agree to buy a house for more money than it’s worth. 

• Clear title on the property. 

• Seller disclosures.  The seller is required to give you all the same documentation you would expect to get from an agent-represented seller.

• Mortgage approval. 

With a for sale by owner, you never want to give the earnest money check directly to the seller.  A third party, like a real estate broker or title company, should hold on to all earnest money.  If you give the money to the seller, there is no legal trust entered, and you lose the ability to determine how the money is used. 

If you're interested in buying a home, whether it's a FSBO or not, I'd like to help you.  Call me today at 831.662.6522 or email me at




Purchase offer


About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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