Selling your home without a realtor may sound great since you could save up to 3% on listing agent commissions. But selling without a real estate agent doesn’t guarantee more money in your pocket.
The potential savings on agent commissions can quickly disappear when you factor in the risk of incorrect pricing, extended time on the market, and other for sale by owner (FSBO) hurdles. In fact, many people who start with an FSBO sale end up hiring a real estate agent to manage the high-stress, high-stakes situation of selling a home.
Selling your house without a realtor is a huge financial and logistical decision, so research your options before choosing how you want to sell. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to work with a real estate agent, this list of pros and cons will help you decide which path is right for you.
Pros of selling your own home
If you have prior experience selling a house, already have a buyer lined up, or have the time to follow up on every part of the process, then FSBO could be a great deal for you.
✅ No listing agent commission
If you choose the FSBO route, you won’t have to pay a listing agent commission (typically 2.5–3% of the home’s sale price). That may not seem like a lot, but 3% of a $500,000 sales price is $15,000.
You’ll likely still pay a buyer’s agent fee (2.5–3%), but you may also be able to negotiate a better deal with the buyer, such as lowering the sale price in exchange for a faster closing or fewer contingencies.
✅ More control over the sale process
When you sell your own home, you have control over everything: pricing, marketing, showings, and negotiations. You have the power to oversee your schedule instead of coordinating with a listing agent on times for showings, inspections, and more.
You’ll also have direct contact with the buyer’s agent — possibly the buyer — throughout the process. If you’re ready to tackle negotiations and manage the entire process, going the FSBO route offers you more control and oversight than working with a real estate agent.
Brace yourself: in one survey, 73% of buyers believed they could out-negotiate FSBO sellers, so prepare for a hard bargain.
Cons of selling your own home
❌ Potentially lower sale price
On average, FSBO homes sell for 26% less than agent-listed homes, which can cancel out any possible savings on the listing agent commission.
For example, on a $500,000 house, a 26% lower price would result in a sale price of $370,000. While you’d save on the listing agent fee (2.5%), the net loss would amount to $117,500.
FSBO vs. realtor on a $500,000 house
|Selling WITHOUT a realtor||Selling WITH a realtor|
|$370,000 sale (26% below asking price)||$500,000 sale (at asking price)|
|–$9,250 buyer commission (2.5%)||–$12,500 buyer commission (2.5%)|
|No listing commission||–$12,500 listing commission (2.5%)|
|Total earned: $360,750||Total earned: $475,000|
Pricing a home
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the top challenge for FSBO sellers in 2022 was setting the right price, which is typically the most crucial factor in your home sale. Without a clear picture of the market, you risk over- or underpricing your home, which can drastically affect how buyers view it and how much you’ll earn.
FSBO means you’ll have to calculate a fair market value on your own or pay for an appraisal to determine a listing price. Realtors conduct comparative market analysis reports to determine fair market value.
❌ Stressful and time-consuming
Real estate is a round-the-clock endeavor, often requiring nights, evenings, and weekends to finalize a sale. And given that the average house spends 48 days on the market, prepare to treat your home sale like a part-time job for at least two months.
You’ll be responsible for every aspect of the sale process that a real estate agent would usually handle, including:
- Legal paperwork
Selling your home will become your new part-time job, and the significant time and attention to detail needed could be a distraction from your personal life and full-time job. If you’re trying to juggle work, life, and a home sale, just know that selling your home could last longer (and demand more effort) than you initially anticipated.
Marketing like a pro
Homeowners usually have a smaller pool of potential buyers since their marketing resources are limited. Realtors use the multiple listing service (MLS) to market properties on all the major real estate search sites, but you’ll have to pay for a flat-fee MLS service if you want your home listed on the MLS.
❌ Risk of errors and legal issues
When you’re managing contracts and paperwork, you’re also responsible for complying with your state’s real estate laws and regulations. And since a real estate contract is a legal document, mistakes can lead to closing delays, fines, broken contracts, or even lawsuits.
|Protocols to follow||Legal requirements to meet|
|• Inspection and repair requests|
• How to respond to offers from buyers
|• Property disclosure laws|
• Property tax transfers at closing
Realtors and attorneys know the ins and outs of contracts and how to navigate these tricky legal issues when they arise. If you plan to pursue a FSBO sale, you might want to consult a real estate attorney to ensure your contract is accurate and free of potential legal concerns.
How To Sell Your House Without A Realtor. This guide outlines steps to selling without a realtor, pros and cons, and costs.
The Ultimate For Sale By Owner Toolkit: What You REALLY Need. If selling your own home seems overwhelming, check out this list of tools to help you through every stage of the process.
15 Mind-Blowing FSBO Tips to Help You Win at Real Estate. These FSBO tips and tricks from real-life FSBO buyers and sellers will help you get the most for your money!