Woman warns of 'For sale by owner' transactions

Experts suggest credit checks, real estate attorney when selling a home yourself

SALEM, Va. – Spring and summer are busy times for people looking to buy or sell a home, and one woman who sold a Salem home herself said the experience was a nightmare.

Teresa Lyon said the home had been in her family for about 80 years, and when her parents passed away, it became hers.

"My grandfather owned it first, then my mother bought it from my grandfather, so I grew up here," Lyon said.

Lyon said she no longer lives in the area, and when she was finally ready to sell the home, a family offered to buy it.

"A family came to me and said they wanted to buy it, and I sold it as is," Lyon said. "Basically did a 'For sale by owner' as is, and I did owner financing because we didn't have any kind of mortgage on this house, so they started paying me."

She said the family's payments started out on time, but after about a year that changed.

"After that, he just stopped paying," Lyon said.

Experts said if you're thinking about selling a home yourself and handling the financing, it's important to remember to:

- Review a buyer's credit.
- Get a down payment.
- Verify that a buyer can afford the monthly payments.
- Hire a real estate attorney.

Teresa said the family agreed to turn the home back over to her and it's now back in her name.She said she's now left cleaning the mess they left behind and cautions others about the dangers of selling a home yourself.

"Know who you're selling your house to, especially owner financing, or just get a bank to finance it and don't owner finance it," Lyon said. "I definitely learned a big lesson here." 

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