FSBO - Horse Properties~ Has Anyone Had Success Selling Without a Realtor?

I’m thinking about selling my lovely horse farm near Aiken but I’ve had several less than stellar experiences with realtors. I’m not in a rush to sell so I wondered if it was worth trying the FSBO route.

Can anyone weight-in on their experiences? Did you advertise on the FSBO websites (which ones), craigslist, local papers or just put a sign out front?

Try it, you can always list later on but make sure your initial listing price is high enough to pay commission if you decide to list it.

I had to laugh at a agent that came to give me her assessment of my farm. She knew it was a farm and wore a white pant suit, it was also pouring that day. She wouldn’t even go around the property to see the barns, indoor, outdoor and the things that really add value to a horse property. The commission at her sale price would have been 32G total. For 16G I expected a little more effort considering I would be the one having to show the farm. Sorry I also have work and a business to attend to…

That said, it is a tough market for horse farms in this area and exposure is key. Google horse farms for sale in xxx and see the most popular sites. Some have free basic listings.

I would give it a try for sure. With my last place I considered selling several years ago and only mentioned that I was fixing it up for sale on an online forum and had two people email me and one made an offer using their agent who (had it not fallen through) would have gotten only half of what you would normally pay in commision.

When we came around to selling again two years ago, we used an agent and I wish we hadn’t. I could have had the place sold off of cheap advertising on horse sites (like NC horse news) and craigslist believe it or not. The problem is that you need to know your way around the paperwork and will have to negitiate directly with the buyer and that can get very very touchy. Buyers will nitpick every detail and when you built up a farm, it hurts to hear it and you might be pissed off quite a bit. But you can save a ton in commission that way, there IS added legwork, buyers will want all sorts on info on the deed, on old surveys, etc, so a couple trips to the local courthouse will be in order, something a realtor normally does. When you pay a realtor you are buying a person who will advertise the place, but more importantly they deal with the details, and work as a negotiator for you and a good buffer between buyer and seller. Mine actually would hold off calling me with a demand after a certain limit and break things to me gently after I hit my breaking point.

I’ve sold our last two - a 50 acre horse farm and a 100 acre race horse training center. Those were listed by an agent (and we paid the commission), but the present farm I’ve been doing everything myself. Local CL, EquineNow, HorseClicks, MyHorseForSale, and most valuable "Lands of America/“Your State”. We just signed with realtor for a flat rate MLS listing because I felt getting it on Realtor.com was valuable. I put my info on our horse web site and link to FB periodically, but just FB would do well, too. Provide every bit of info and details that horse people would appreciate (stall, pasture, tack room stuff and distance to horse functions, services) and LOTS of good pictures. I believe that you, the owner. has a lot more interest in selling YOUR place that a realtor!! (Sorry COTH realtors!!) If you can save big $$ and do it yourself, give it a try. You can see our web site/facility to see what I did.

My neighbor sold her farm through a FSBO. She initially dealt with 2 different Realtor’s and was not happy. She did get a higher offer when she listed with the 2nd Realtor but would have gotten less after the 6% commission was paid. She was happy.

Another thing. Put a nice, attractive, “attention getting” sign out front or at the busiest intersection (legally) that states what you’ve got…“Home, # of Acres, Horse facilities” A plain sign FSBO will get a lot of non-horse people people and fail to attract horse people. Mine says “80 acre Horse Farm” and an arrow pointing our way and “1 Mile” on it. It is made with blaze orange duct tape around the edges and is set on a busy state highway close to our ranch/farm.

As others have said, since you say time is not a problem, then go ahead and try it yourself, and then you can always get a realtor if you get no offers, or low offers. With the fee for service ones, that can do a realtor.com ad with a bunch of great pictures, you could get national exposure.

A nice feature for visitors is to have a good notebook with all of the features of the house and land, a list of appliances and equipment that’s staying, and exactly what comes with the property. Include lists of the suppliers, and repair people you use. Include any easements, zoning, and any other information you think buyers might want to have. List the different utilities that are available at your home, and if you have something like great cell reception or any other positive factor, then include that also. Include items like the age of the roof, extra insulation, or other upgrades you’ve made also.

List anything that will attract a buyer including items such as, the number of animals you’re zoned to have, if businesses, such as boarding are legal. The distance to schools.

Decide if you’ll deal with realtors, because that will increase the pool of potential buyers. When I was house hunting about 10 years ago, there was a nice house that was FSBO, and my realtor said sometimes sellers would deal with a realtor. My realtor called and left a message, but the people never called back, and I heard later that the sellers refused to deal with realtors, and as I recall (I drove by the house every day) the house took many months to sell.

FSBO types make one of two errors: they grossly overprice or grossly underprice.

If you overprice you’ll get close to zero traffic and mark yourself as a real amateur. There’s a house near me that has been FSBO for more than 6 years. The price has gone from $169,000 to $145,000. It has been rented for at least three short period (1-6 months) during this time. Otherwise it has been vacant.

An equine property next door to me was FSBO and realtor-listed for more than five years. It consists of a 16 stall barn with one BR apartment; 75’x225’ covered riding arena; and an equimpment shed. It was grossly overpriced @ $350,000. After more than five years it sold recently. The selling price, per the local Tax Assesor, was $149,000.

Sometime folks err the other way and sell way too cheap. You don’t hear much about those, but they exist.

FSBO can work but it means the the seller must do their homework and make an accurate assessment of valuation (or hire an appraiser). Then they must market the place (with all that goes with THAT). If it doesn’t sell because it’s priced too high the seller usually must take a big hit to their expectations. Now they have to cut the price to a realistic level AND pay a commission. That usually stings just a bit.

I don’t have a realtor’s license. I’ve bought and sold three farms and six houses over the years. I’ve always used a realtor. I don’t regret that decision in any transaction but one (where the realtor lied to me about their MLS status).

Do your due dilligence when hiring a realtor as you would any other professional.


Wow…this is all great information! I really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I can see where pricing a bit below could really bit you in the butt if you then sign with a realtor and move the price up. Good points all around. I do think nit-piking would wear on me a bit as I have done tons of work on this place. I think it looks fabulous but it is a renovated farmhouse.

Local CL, EquineNow, HorseClicks, MyHorseForSale, and most valuable "Lands of America/“Your State”. We just signed with realtor for a flat rate MLS listing because I felt getting it on Realtor.com was valuable. I put my info on our horse web site and link to FB periodically, but just FB would do well, too. Provide every bit of info and details that horse people would appreciate (stall, pasture, tack room stuff and distance to horse functions, services) and LOTS of good pictures.

This is what I call legwork and hustle! Thanks for sharing as I had no idea you could do a MLS listing with a realtor for flat fee and get on realtor.com

You still need to do the preliminary sales work, no matter how you list. Declutter, everything clean, replace all burned out bulbs, get the cobwebs off the light fixtures (you can tell I have spiders where I live, and cobwebs are a not so lovely surprise regularly), change the furnace filter, and have extras next to the furnace (you want people to know you regularly do the little things, which to many people means you do the big ones also). If you have any faucets that drip, or anything like that, then get it done before listing. Get rid of extra stuff, so you don’t have to work around it, or move it. Take out of season clothes and pack or put in space bags, or just get out of the way, so closets don’t look crowded. Now is a good time to go through clothes and shoes, and give away what you don’t use, or need. I have all of my clothes on the skinny, felt covered hangers (I get the triangle ones, with a bottom bar, they’re stronger than the shirt ones), so everything hangs well, saves space, and makes everything look more organized. You want to look like the fussy person, who keeps everything neat and in good working order, because these days people want turnkey, or else a great price. If you have area rugs or floor mats inside the door, make sure they look good, and not tired. If you have animals, plan how you’ll keep them safe during showings. If you put a sale sign near the gate or on the lawn, get the type that has a holder for flyers, and with the phone number for appointments. However, don’t think someone just driving by isn’t a real potential buyer, because that might be the local person that will buy your place, because they have admired it before, and think they’d like to live there. Depersonalize, and take down personal pictures and mementos, so buyers can picture living there. Safely store any financial items (especially statements and spare checks), prescription drugs, and anything that’s easily portable and valuable. I know it sounds awful, but I’ve known people who lost silver picture frames with their wedding picture, prescription, and regular medicine, and small, portable keepsakes to thieves masquerading as buyers. State in the description if quick possession is possible, and if you say it, then mean it (don’t ask about my friends’ experience with this one-houses advertised as ‘quick possession’ and the house was a full of junk from the owner’s relatives that were still living there, and had no intention of moving). There are lots of MLS and realtor.com listing services for flat fee, so you might google some and contact them for their rates, and where they advertise. Farm & Land does listings for rural properties, so see what they charge also. Tell everyone you know that your place is for sale, especially your neighbors, because you never know when someone might know a buyer, and locals are a great source of potential buyers.

Remember there was someone on here a while ago that advertised their place on Craigslist, and sold very quickly. Decide what your absolute bottom price is minus sales cost, and negotiate with everyone, unless their price is ridiculously low. Many people watch HGTV and other real estate shows, and think you can get any property for a song, and don’t realize that it’s just tv, and not reality. Don’t forget that just because you have farm and horse property, that your buyer might be someone who is a car collector, llama farmer, or wants to have a huge dog kennel, or might not even have animals, and they’re buyers also.

I recently sold my farm in TN without a realtor. I had listed it by owner over a year ago when we had to move and although I had a number of showings (most to people who had to sell their homes before they could buy) it did not sell at that time. I then made the mistake of allowing a very convincing person to talk me into a lease/purchase deal on the farm. Long story short, they left after 8 months, owing 4K (bad checks) and leaving the place a mess. I had a realtor out to see the place and she suggested listing it for 360K which would have netted us less than 345K (way below what we had in it). Instead, I put it back up for sale (forsalebyowner.com) and started getting numerous inquiries and sold it within a month of the renters moving. We got 370K for it (would have held out for more but it now needed reseeding, fence mending and general fix ups and cleaning after the nasty renters left). My advice is to get your place in tip top shape, take great photos, list on forsalebyowner.com with the option that gets you on Realtor.com, then put Craigslist ads up on both the farm and garden and real estate sections locally and also in other areas where horse people live (I put some ads in various FL locations) referring people to your ad on forsalebyowner.com. It worked for me and I think you should give it a try. Good luck!

As a buyer, I hate when the owner is present to show the property for the first time. I can’t talk about how I feel about the place without offending them and they usually waste my time and wax poetic about some feature they love and worked hard on and I’m thinking OMG, that is hideous and has got to go. I can’t discuss things with my agent openly while touring the place. Also, most buyers with a buyers agent will want you to contribute 3% to closing to cover their agent’s fee. You can refuse of course, but it is almost expected.

Couple other things to consider: *selling your house by owner means you need to consider your home a product when working with buyers and not take anything personally. It’s business. :yes: *When pricing use recently solds and current listings. Unfortunately what you paid for it, what you have into it, what you need to cover mortgage or what you need to get a new place has zero to do with it’s market value. *Use the recently solds for an idea on what yours should sell for, use current listings to know what buyers will be comparing your property to. Go see the current listings if possible. *When staging your property remember that buyers want a lifestyle and ideal, as trite as that sounds. Organize the heck out of everything, buyers will see neat and tidy and cute and want that for themselves. (they assume if they buy an immaculate organized place it will make them immaculate and organized :wink: ) Remove 1/2 of everything in the closets and pack it away. Don’t show anything stuffed, including cabinets. Buyers assume you don’t have enough storage. Same with the barn. And good luck!

We sold our last farmette and some previous property without a realtor rep and bought present farm same…We did the flat fee for an MLS and made sure we had. All,of the tax and critical information accurate…more accurate that the realtors did on listings for us…lesson learned…also had local county laws regarding livestock, sub division , and Ag advantages soil samples etc. I liked my photos and Ad lay outs better. You know your target buyer and the publications and Webb sites best suited to court them…Also find out exactly who you are required to have on board for settlement and get a lawyer who will take care of deposit escrow and contracts there by keeping you in a neutral corner and legitimizing any offers or conflicts. Do keep contracts handy and also a witness around when anything is signed…also make sure you are current on your states real-estate laws they do vary… Also Spend the money for a 1 st rate home inspection by a certified licensed inspector and also pay for a real Appraisal the kind a bank will do not one from a Realtor.Both cost money but are well worth it.getting a copy of your plot plan showing boundary line. I kept packets for every prospective buyer with a list of,schools, train,plane locations, school ratings, distances to major cities, shopping, and of course all thing Equine related, dining, who delivers food, cable, Fios, etc and I had my homes professionally clean 2 x month until sold. We staged the interior and exterior w/ attention to landscape and just those silly small,things like where we placed solar lights for drive bys. And how everything smells…even the barn!!!

I have seriously been taking notes from all the posts on this thread. There is much to think about but it seems vital (even with a realtor) to research, organize, stage, spruce-up, and market well. I sold a townhouse in Vancouver, BC a few years ago. I did all the de-cluttering, paint touch ups, and even got pro photos done when the realtor ones looked so crappy. It sold in 3wks but it’s a very different scene than in the US (plus not a farm).

I didn’t think of going ahead and doing the appraisals and inspections. Plus getting current on real estate laws seems important too. I’ve done lots of landscaping but oh dear I’m not sure I usually notice the small details. I think I’ll actually make myself a checkoff list and go around the place with a clipboard and make notes.

Just a post of encouragement. We bought our farm directly from the owner. Lawyer only involved at closing. We stopped to look because of the sign at the road.

Owner didn’t point out the many tax advantages of the farm, you should if any.

bkkone…can you bring a couple friends or family members over and ask them to walk through your property like prospective buyers and make lists of the bad and good things they notice? Much like being barn blind, we get house blind. It’s very hard for many people to see their homes objectively, that’s totally normal. I also agree 100% with having the property pre-inspected and pre-assessed. Believe me, I know it’s a royal pain in the arse doing all this prep and spending extra money before even putting your home on the market. But as long as you do the right things and price it right for the market, your investment of time and money will be VERY worth it. You’ll maximize sales price while minimizing time on the market. I was a Realtor and the toughest part was convincing sellers to invest the elbow grease and money in prepping the house for sale, but those who did always sold for more in a LOT less time. Even when looking at “used” houses and not new construction, people want all homes to be like new and project free. And most can’t imagine how a home will look less cluttered or with small fixes made or without pink carpets and orange walls. (not that your house has those, LOL) What they see is “OMG this will cost a fortune to hire out and have it changed/fixed” and they either walk away or negotiate you to tears. Staging can be fun too…check on google or bing for staging before and after photos for ideas on what to try.

While it was almost 10 years ago, I did watch TV shows the DYI stuff and also went to a lot of Open Houses for upscale new construction. Paid attention to the staging of each room…when I sold our personal home we de cluttered the basement was spotless the attic empty and vacuumed cleaned, I made brownies. Before open house …smelled so good. Pain in the butt but took 3 months to power wash exterior mulch set up all landscaping freshen paint and make clear what every room in house was for. Made bed skirts from flat sheets put beds on cheap risers blocks of wood bed skirts hid, put charger plates under dinner plates and kept dining room table set. Replaced dead flowers and dead headed stuff…no bird feeder attracted poop mice n seeds, even staged out patio and deck like afternoon tea. Barn squeaky clean manure pile always picked up paddocks drug no cobwebs tack clean hanging neatly…also got Septic pumped and water from well tested a myriad of small details…I also put out a yearly average of utility bills for heat elec etc since we had an energy efficient home rating…

I think one big factor is the price. As Misty said, the price you want or need has nothing to do with the market price. I think each buyer needs to decide how low they will go on price, and many places you also pay almost all of the closing costs for buyers in this market. It makes a difference on price if you look at your circumstances. If you sell because you want to move, but aren’t desperate, it can make a difference vs. you have already bought elsewhere, and have to sell or else. I never wanted to be known as a ‘motivated seller’ because some buyers look at the situation as a chance to try to take advantage.