I'm buying a for sale by owner house. Besides using a real estate agent, how can I protect myself with contract?
You will need a contract regardless of whether or not you use a realtor. Your lender will require a contract. You will also have to close your loan somewhere. Your state may be an attorney state or a notary state. In either case, most of the time you can get the closing agency to give you a "fill in the blank" type contract. Preferably though, I would have an attorney write it up for you, or at least, hire a realtor to write and review the contract. Many agencies now offer cafe type services where you can just hire them for what you need them for.
We are usually talking about one of the biggest, if not the biggest financial transactions in most peoples lives. Your should get professional representation in one form or another on the contract.