Selling your house without a realtor, also called for sale by owner (FSBO), can sound appealing — mainly because you won’t have to pay a seller’s agent.
A FSBO sale may make sense if you’ve already sold multiple homes or already have a buyer lined up. If you choose to sell FSBO, get familiar with the paperwork and legal requirements for each stage of the home selling process. Having your paperwork in order before, during, and after your sale will protect you legally and financially.
If you’re hoping to save money, it’s worth considering that FSBO homes sell for an average of 5.5–26% less than homes sold with the help of an agent. The loss in profit often outweighs the money you save on realtor fees by selling on your own.
You may find better value with a low commission real estate agent. An experienced agent can price and market your home for top dollar, keep track of paperwork, and save you money by working at a discounted rate.
Paperwork for selling a house by owner
Before you list
|📋 FSBO document||❓ What is it?|
|Comparative market analysis (CMA)||An estimate of your home’s market value, usually performed for free by a real estate agent.|
|Seller’s net sheet||A worksheet showing your proceeds from the sale after expenses have been deducted.|
|Mortgage payoff statement||A statement showing how much you’d need to pay off your mortgage in full.|
|Preliminary title report||A document that identifies any outstanding issues with the property, like liens or back taxes.|
|Certificate of compliance||A document proving your property exists and is in compliance with local laws.|
|Property survey||A plan showing the legal boundaries of your property.|
|Original sales contract||The original contract from when you bought the house, which includes the sale price and disclosures made by the previous seller.|
Before your home hits the market, gather some for sale by owner documents that will make selling your property easier.
These documents can help you avoid legal headaches later on, and they can help market your home to buyers.
Comparative market analysis
A comparative market analysis (CMA) is an estimate of the current market value of your home based on recent sales of properties similar to yours. It helps you set an appropriate listing price, so you don’t underprice or overprice your home.
How can you get it? A CMA is usually completed by a real estate agent. Most experienced local agents will provide a CMA for free.
Seller’s net sheet
The seller’s net sheet estimates how much you may earn from your home sale, after deducting expenses and fees.
This document helps you keep track of the money coming in and going out throughout the home sale process, so you stay on top of what you’ll earn from your home sale. You’ll need this FSBO document for your closing statement once the sale is finalized.
How can you get it? If you sell FSBO, the number crunching is your responsibility. If you sell with an agent, they’ll provide one based on the list price, then do other versions as you compare various offers and counteroffers.
Mortgage payoff statement
If you haven’t paid off your current home’s mortgage, you’ll want a mortgage payoff statement. A mortgage payoff statement shows your payoff amount, which is how much you have to pay to satisfy your mortgage in full. The payoff amount is different from the current or outstanding balance because the payoff also includes extra costs like fees and interest you may owe.
How can you get it? You can request a payoff statement from your lender or mortgage servicer.
Preliminary title report
The preliminary title report tells you if you have any outstanding title issues with your home — things like liens, back taxes, or other restrictions that could complicate the sale.
You can use the preliminary title report to fix any title issues it identifies. For instance, you may decide to solve any issues yourself (e.g., by paying off liens and back taxes) or add them to the disclosures and pass savings onto the buyer by lowering your listing price.
How can you get it? A preliminary title report generally costs between $25 and $150 and is available from any title company or your county assessor.
» LEARN: What Is a Property Title Search?
Certificate of compliance
A certificate of compliance is a legal document that confirms your parcel of land exists and is in compliance with any state and local subdivision laws.
This document is not required everywhere, so check your local laws.
How can you get it? You can request a certificate of compliance from your local county or municipality, usually through its building or planning department or the tax assessor’s office.
The property survey shows the legal borders of your property, buildings, improvements, and the location of any easements. A property survey isn’t normally required, but it can be useful if there aren’t obvious property boundaries.
How can you get it? If you don’t already have a copy, your best bet is to contact your municipality or county’s land records, building department, or tax assessor’s office.
Original sales contract
The original sales contract is from when you bought the house. It shows the chain of ownership — from the previous owner, to you, and then to the buyer. It also shows disclosures made by the previous seller and the previous sale price.
It isn’t necessary in most states, but many buyers ask for it.
How can you get it? You should have your own copy of the original sales contract. If you can’t find it, reach out to the realtor or broker that originally helped you buy your property (assuming you used one). Many realtors keep copies for about four to seven years after the sale.
Other FSBO paperwork you may need before you list
- Receipts for improvements and repairs: Receipts reassure potential buyers that you’ve invested in keeping up the property. While not essential, they can help convince buyers that the home is well taken care of or recently renovated.
- Appliance warranties and service records: If you’re including the home appliances in the sale, the buyer will likely want to see the warranties and service records for them.
- Past utility bills: Although this isn’t a required disclosure, you can expect the buyer to ask about your utility costs in order to get an idea of what they may have to pay.
- Professional appraisal: The buyer typically orders an appraisal after they’ve made an offer. However, you are free to get your own appraisal to see if you’ve priced your home correctly. Unlike a comparative market analysis, an appraisal costs money.
- Inspection report: Like an appraisal, the buyer typically orders an inspection after putting in an offer. But you can get one done early to identify any necessary repairs. Or you can use it as a marketing tool to reassure buyers about the state of your home.
» LEARN: How Much Does an Inspection Cost?
Offer and contract paperwork
|📋 FSBO document||❓What is it?|
|Purchase offer||Includes how much the buyer is offering for the property along with any counteroffers.|
|Final purchase/sale agreement||Includes the final sale price, closing date, and contingencies.|
|Seller disclosures||A form that lists material defects of the property that the seller is aware of.|
|Home inspection report||Evaluates the condition and safety of the property.|
|Appraisal report||Establishes the fair market value of the home.|
The contract negotiation phase of the home selling process comes with a whole new stack of paperwork — including the all-important purchase agreement.
A buyer’s offer is really just a starting point for negotiating the terms of the home sale — including the purchase price, earnest money deposit, closing and moving dates, buyer’s agent commission, contingencies (like the buyer’s right to an inspection and appraisal), deadlines (for delivering the required disclosures, negotiating repairs, etc.), and concessions (such as who will pay for repairs discovered during the inspection).
As a seller, you’ll also need to verify the buyer’s financing to ensure that they’re working with a reputable lender who can get them approved for a loan on time. (Real estate agents who handle a lot of transactions are usually familiar with the most reputable local lenders and can tap their networks to verify the reputation of mortgage lenders they’re not personally familiar with.)
Once you’ve vetted the buyer and agreed to the purchase terms, you’ll need to sign off on the final purchase agreement. From there, you’ll start executing on your part of the contract. At minimum, you’ll need to provide the buyer with mandated disclosures and other documents that allow them to do their due diligence. You may also need to grant various parties access to your home to complete an inspection and appraisal.
With so much on the table, many sellers find the offer and contract period to be the most stressful phase of the home selling process. Here’s a closer look at the paperwork you’ll need at this stage in the game.
The purchase offer documents the buyer’s offer and defines the terms of the deal. When you get a purchase offer from a potential buyer, you can choose to accept it, reject it, or make a counteroffer. If you negotiate on price, counteroffers will be amended to the purchase offer.
This document typically includes:
- Basics of the property like the home’s address and seller’s name
- Names of the people who will be on the title
- The purchase price the buyer is offering and the down payment
- Earnest money deposit
- Any contingencies and concessions
- A list of fees and closing costs
- Key dates like the buyer’s preferred closing date, move-in date, and deadline to respond to the offer
How can you get it? If the buyer has an agent — which they probably will — you’ll get the purchase offer from their agent. Otherwise, it will come directly from the buyer.
The purchase agreement is essentially the final version of the purchase offer, including the final sale price, terms of the deal, closing date, earnest money amount, contingencies, and other elements of the sale. It is a binding contract between the buyer and the seller.
How can you get it? Sometimes the buyer’s agent will write up the purchase agreement. If the buyer doesn’t have an agent — or you’re in a state that prevents the buyer’s agent from representing both parties in a home sale — it will likely be on you to provide a purchase agreement. In that case, your best bet is to work with a real estate attorney, low-commission agent, or transaction coordinator to draft one.
A seller disclosure form lists known defects or negative conditions about the property.
Most states legally require home sellers to disclose any known issues with the property, such as:
- Water damage or mold
- Lead-based paint
- Hazardous conditions (wildfires, earthquakes, floods)
- Termite or other pest damage
- Repairs and insurance claims
Some states have additional disclosure obligations. For example, Illinois requires sellers to disclose possible radon exposure on the property, while California requires sellers to disclose if the property is in an area that’s at risk from floods, wildfires, or earthquakes.
How can you get it? We’ve compiled a list of free U.S. and state disclosure forms.
Home inspection report
The buyer may request a home inspection once they have a purchase agreement. The buyer’s home inspector will create a detailed home inspection report after evaluating the home from top to bottom. The report will include photos of the home’s systems, appliances, and structural features — and note any issues that could affect the value or safety of the property.
Issues uncovered by the inspection could bring both parties back to the negotiating table. The buyer may want to renegotiate the sale price, for example, or want you to cover the cost of repairs for any defects uncovered during the inspection.
How can you get it? Usually the buyer pays for the home inspection.
» LEARN: What do inspectors look for?
The appraisal report details the fair market value of your home, and it’s typically required by lenders before they approve a buyer for a mortgage. To minimize their risk, lenders want to be sure that the amount they’re loaning out is in line with the property’s actual value. If the appraised value comes in below the offer price, the buyer has to make up the difference in cash or convince the seller to lower the price.
The appraiser’s report includes details and photos about the property, similar properties the appraiser compared it to (often called “comps”), and the process the appraiser used to arrive at a final number.
How can you get it? The appraisal is for the benefit of the buyer’s lender, so it’s usually the buyer’s responsibility. As the seller, if you want a copy, you must request a copy within 30 days from the lender.
Other FSBO documents you may need
- Contingency removal form: This FSBO document lists the pre-conditions of the sale, such as an inspection or appraisal. While it is required only in California, it can help speed up the selling process elsewhere. But if you opt against using a contingency removal form and you’re outside of California, don’t worry — contingencies automatically expire after a set time or after their conditions are satisfied.
- Homeowners’ Association (HOA) documents: If your home is in an HOA, you’ll need to provide a copy of your Homeowners’ Association agreements (usually HOA bylaws, CC&Rs, and regulations) that explain the HOA regulations and dues.
|📋 FSBO document||❓What is it?|
|Deed||A document that legally transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.|
|Closing statement||The final form of the seller’s net sheet. Details the seller’s proceeds from the sale after expenses.|
|Property tax records||Local/state documents that show your property’s data, including tax rate and assessed value.|
|1099-S tax form||Determines any capital gains taxes owed on the sale.|
The documents in this final phase of your sale process are often legally required at closing. Any discrepancies, questions, or misunderstandings regarding the closing paperwork can cause a delay. It’s important that both parties review and understand the paperwork before the closing date.
The buyer and seller may have a lawyer present at the closing. Additionally, some states require that an attorney be present.
If you hire a lawyer, they’ll help prepare and draft the closing documents, perform a title search, and identify any issues with the property (like liens or easements). They’ll also help coordinate the closing date, review closing documents, and ensure the money is distributed appropriately at the end of the sale.
Here’s a closer look at the paperwork you’ll need at this stage of the sale.
The deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.
The property deed must be notarized and filed with the appropriate authority, usually your county recorder’s office. The buyer will also get a copy of the deed.
How can you get it? If you can’t find your own copy of the deed, you can get one through your county, usually through the recorder’s or assessor’s office. A real estate attorney or title search company can also get the deed for you. The cost can range from $50 to $250.
The closing statement — also called a settlement sheet — is the final statement of all the costs and credits of a real estate transaction and ensures nothing is missing from the purchase agreement.
How can you get it? The title company will fill out and supply the closing statement, or you can use a closing agent or lawyer to help you navigate the closing paperwork.
Property tax records
Property tax records include local tax data related to the property, such as the tax rate, property assessment value, and tax exemptions.
Tax records help you understand what property taxes you still owe at closing and how much the buyer will have to pay.
How can you get it? You can usually find property records online through your county assessor’s office or through your state’s department of revenue.
1099-S tax form
The 1099-S tax form specifies any capital gains taxes you owe on your home’s sale. This form isn’t required if you’re selling your primary residence and you’re earning a profit that’s less than $250,000 (if you’re single) or $500,000 (if you’re married).
If you receive a 1099-S form, you must file it with the IRS as instructed on the form.
How can you get it? You can download and print the 1099-S form from the IRS website.
Who draws up the contract in a for sale by owner home purchase?
Normally, the seller’s agent writes the contract. But without a realtor, the seller will have to either write it themselves or hire a professional.
That said, drawing up the contract yourself can be time-consuming, challenging, and even costly, since some buyers will want it done by a professional. You’ll also want to consider how complicated your transaction is or if there are special requirements in your state.
Do you need an attorney?
Some states require a lawyer to handle the contract and oversee the closing.
Those states include:
|Kentucky||New York||West Virginia|
The laws about how involved the lawyer or other professional must be can vary per state. You’ll want to ask a real estate professional about any state requirements.
Where to find help with for sale by owner paperwork
Unfortunately, sometimes using a contract template can leave out key information and protections. Having a professional draw up the contract and assist with closing can ensure a smooth transaction and protect your rights.
If you’d like assistance from a professional, here are three affordable options:
1. Hire a discount realtor
A real estate agent can assist you with the entire home selling process, saving you time and ensuring everything is done correctly. Plus, some realtors work for a flat fee or low commission rate. For instance, Clever Real Estate can match sellers with top agents who offer 1.5% listing fees.
You can also see if the buyer’s agent is willing to help you complete the contract for a fee. However, this may create a conflict of interest, and some states don’t allow dual agency.
2. Hire an attorney
Working with an attorney can be more affordable than using a realtor. Some lawyers may charge and hourly rate, ranging from $250 to $500, or charge a flat fee such of $500 to $3,000.
However, a lawyer typically won’t be as involved in the process as a real estate agent. For instance, an attorney may help with the purchase contract, title search, and closing but not other parts of the transaction.
3. Hire a transaction coordinator
A transaction coordinator may be a good option when you want support only with certain aspects of selling your home. For example, a transaction coordinator can help with scheduling, paperwork, the escrow process, and closing.
This can be a good option if you already have a buyer or have ample experience with selling homes and are familiar with the legal requirements in your state. But if you also need help with marketing or negotiations, consider hiring a real estate agent instead.
Clever Real Estate can connect sellers to transaction coordinators who manage the paperwork and closing process (including staying on top of deadlines and filing the paperwork with the proper authorities) for a flat $3,000 fee.
Where to find free paperwork for selling a house by owner
Some FSBO paperwork — like a title search or a professional appraisal — cost money. Other forms, like a standard home purchase agreement and seller disclosure documents, you can find online for free. Below are some of the documents you may need when selling a house without a realtor, broken down by state.
State and local FSBO paperwork by state
|🗺 State||📋 FSBO paperwork|
|District of Columbia|
If in the table you can’t find the free paperwork you need for selling a house without a realtor, there are other places to look.
You can easily find templates for purchase agreements and seller disclosure forms online. While there are some paid options — which usually include other FSBO documents — you can find free templates. Here are some free and paid options for purchase agreements:
We also recommend contacting your local realtor’s association or your state real estate commission. Some have forms available to download on their websites, although others make these available only to licensed realtors.
Many legal forms, such as tax records, property surveys, and deeds, can be found through local or state government offices, such as your tax assessor’s office, department of revenue, or the local building department.
Complete list of for sale by owner documents
|📋 FSBO paperwork||🔎 Where to find it|
|1099-S tax form||From the IRS.|
|Appraisal report||Appraisals are usually arranged by the buyer.|
|Certificate of Compliance||From your local building department or tax assessor’s office.|
|Closing statement||From the title company or closing agent.|
|Comparative market analysis (CMA)||Provided free of charge by most real estate agents.|
|Deed||From a real estate attorney, title search company, or your local recorder or assessor’s office.|
|Final purchase/sale agreement||Find purchase/sale agreement templates here.|
|Home inspection report||From a home inspector. This is often the responsibility of the buyer.|
|Mortgage payoff statement||From your lender or mortgage servicer.|
|Original sales contract||If you don’t already have a copy, contact the realtor or broker who originally helped you buy your home.|
|Preliminary title report||From a title company or your county assessor.|
|Property survey||From your local land records, building department, or tax assessor’s office.|
|Property tax records||From your local tax assessor or your state’s department of revenue.|
|Purchase offer||The purchase offer will come from the buyer or the buyer’s agent.|
|Seller disclosures||Find seller disclosure forms here.|
|Seller's net sheet||If you don’t have a real estate agent, you’ll have to make this yourself.|
The best alternative to selling FSBO
If all of this paperwork sounds overwhelming, you’re not alone! Not only is there the paperwork to worry about, you also have to prep your home for sale, come up with a marketing plan, and orchestrate showings. It’s a lot.
It’s no surprise that many home sellers who try FSBO ultimately end up with an agent. Luckily, there’s an alternative to FSBO that can still save you time and money.
Clever pre-negotiates discounted rates with a nationwide network of full-service real estate agents. Let someone else handle the paperwork while you still save thousands of dollars on your home sale.
What paperwork do I need to sell a house without a realtor?
Selling a house by yourself requires a lot of paperwork, including a purchase agreement, a deed, property tax records, a property survey, a home inspection, a seller’s net sheet, and more. You can find a full list of paperwork for selling a house by owner here.
Where can I find free FSBO paperwork?
Online resources offer some free paperwork for selling a house by owner, although other documents — like title reports and a certificate of compliance — usually cost money. Find free FSBO paperwork for every state here.
The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers for Every Budget: A discount real estate agent is a good option if you’re looking to save money on the sale of your home but you don’t want all the hassle that FSBO entails. Check out our list of the best ones.
Read This Before You List Your FSBO on Zillow: Zillow is one of the most popular platforms for FSBO sellers. Read our complete guide to listing your FSBO home on Zillow, including its pros and cons.
11 Best For Sale By Owner Websites: Wondering which site to use to sell your home FSBO? Check out our list of the best FSBO websites, including reviews from real customers.