The good news is yes, you can buy a home from a For Sale By Owner. However, in order to protect yourself, you need to do the following: (I'm a former realtor)
1. Work with a local Title company and a local real estate attorney.
2. Make sure the current owner of the home is the person you are dealing with (the Title company will tell you who the current owner is supposed to be or you can go to the county tax assessor's office and see who the owner is.
3. Visit the county tax assessor's office and verify that property taxes are paid up to date - no arrears or late payments.
4. At the county office, ask to see the property card or property description on file. You need to get the lot measurements, square footage, the year the home was built and any other important information. Compare what the county has on file with what the seller is telling you. If there is a dispute, ask the seller to provide documents. Find out why the county has different information from the seller. Hopefully in your case, everything matches up.
5. Follow Solomon's advice below. I don't want to repeat it in my reply.