Q: Can you give me any recommendations or a checklist for purchasing a home that is for sale by owner? I know I need a real estate attorney to close, but what about earlier in the process?

Since the market has been so active, I have seen more houses for sale by owner. I did see a house I might be interested in, but buying without an agent makes me nervous.

A: What do you need to know about buying a property that’s for sale by owner? There are so many things it’s hard to know where to start.

First, you have to make sure the house is fairly priced for what it is. The only way to know this is to spend time visiting a lot of other homes in the area. You can also try a website, www.domania.com, for information on home values in your neighborhood, but just be aware that the site doesn’t cover each area equally.

Next, you should hire the real estate attorney now, to write up the contract and make sure you’re protected. It’s very important to have documents that protect you in this situation. Not only that, but the attorney can make sure the taxes have been paid, can review title and survey matters, and any other documents that are needed for the closing.

Finally, many times a seller who lists by owner will be amenable to paying a buyer’s broker a half commission. If you’re been working with a buyer’s agent or buyer’s broker, you should approach this seller about working with your agent and paying some sort of commission.

That would probably make you feel a whole lot better. From the seller’s point of view, paying a half commission, or 2.5 to 3 percent, is a lot better than paying 5 to 6 percent.