Wondering how to sell your house without a realtor? We’ve got you covered.
Selling your house without a realtor is possible. But you should go into it understanding the commitment of time and resources it will involve, along with some major pros and cons.
If you want to save money on your home sale but don’t want to deal with the hassle of FSBO, there are other options.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate can connect you with full-service agents from top-name brokerages who will sell your home at a serious discount — $3,000 (or 1% for homes that sell for more than $350,000).
- Selling your house without a realtor can save you money on real estate commissions.
- Homes sold without a real estate agent typically sell for less than those sold with one, negating some of those savings.
- Selling FSBO also involves a huge time commitment and lots of dedicated work.
- There are alternatives to FSBO that let you save money and retain the benefits of working with a real estate agent.
Is selling your house without a realtor right for you?
The decision to sell your house without a realtor comes with pros and cons. Before you dive in, consider the potential drawbacks and benefits.
Pros and cons of selling your house without a realtor
|✅ You will save money on realtor commission||Commission is typically 5-6% of your final sale price, split between your agent and the buyer's agent. With FSBO, you won't pay a listing agent, saving 2.5-3%.|
|✅ You have total control of the transaction||You call the shots and can make decisions free of influence from a realtor (for better or worse).|
|✅ In a hot market, your house may "sell itself"||When home demand outpaces supply, finding an interested buyer won't take much legwork, so paying full price for a listing agent may feel like a waste of money.|
|✅ You may sell faster||If you're selling to a family member or friend, FSBO streamlines the process.|
|❌ Your house may sell for less money||Research suggests homes sold by the owner sell for 5-7% less than homes sold with a traditional agent.|
|❌ There's so much paperwork||The sheer amount of documentation involved in FSBO is overwhelming (see complete list). And, if your FSBO paperwork isn't submitted properly, you may put your sale at risk or face costly litigation.|
|❌ It takes a lot of time||Selling a home is a time-intensive process. If you have other obligations, like a job and family, you may not be able to devote proper time to your home sale.|
|❌ You won't have a built-in network||Realtors have relationships with other local agents and related professionals who help find buyers and support your transaction.|
|❌ You'll have to DIY it all||Real estate agents use a variety of technology tools to automate some parts of their job and to get the word out about your sale.|
💡 Learn more: Do I Need A Real Estate Agent? Learn The TRUTH
The cost of selling your house without a realtor
Most people who choose to sell their home without a realtor do so to save money. According to our research, the overall cost to sell FSBO is about 7.5% of your home’s sale price compared to about 10% for a traditional agented sale.
Without a realtor, you’ll only have to pay closing costs and commission to the buyer’s agent. This means you’ll save the typical 2.5-3% listing agent fee.
However, there are some additional out-of-pocket expenses you’ll incur in a FSBO sale which are usually absorbed by a listing agent.
One of the top challenges FSBO sellers encounter is determining how to price their home.
A professional appraisal ensures your home is priced accurately before it ever hits the market. According to Home Advisor, this service costs an average of $341.
Eye-catching home photos are essential, especially given the popularity of online home sales platforms like Zillow. Professional home photography costs an average of $165, according to Thumbtack.
When selling a high-end home, you may also need to invest in drone photography, videos, or a 3D tour to ensure your listing can compete with other homes in your price range.
Depending on your home and your local market, you may need to spend a few dollars or even thousands to attract the attention of the right buyer.
Marketing can range from a free Craigslist ad and a lawn sign you picked up at the dollar store to an ad in your local newspaper.
The multiple listing service (MLS) is how agents in your local area learn about homes on the market.
Unfortunately, only licensed agents can put a home on the MLS. But there are companies (called flat-fee MLS services) you can pay to list your home. The average price of a flat-fee MLS listing is $299, but this will vary depending on your location and other add-ons.
💡 Learn more: Read This BEFORE You Pay For A Flat-Fee MLS Service
If your contract to sell contains any errors, you could face major legal ramifications down the road.
You can find websites that offer free contract templates, but we recommend you hire an attorney to give your contract a review to make sure it will hold water. The average cost of this service is $300.
💡 Learn more: Do I need a real estate lawyer to sell my house?
Do you really save money selling FSBO?
Even though you save on realtor commission, selling your house FSBO might not result in savings overall.
Research shows that FSBO homes sell for 5-7% less than homes sold in a traditional agented sale.
Every sale is unique, but these numbers suggest that selling FSBO results in net proceeds of 2-4% less than traditional agented sales.
If you want to save on commission and still get the best price possible for your home, there’s a better way.
Our friends at Clever can connect you with top-rated local agents who will sell your home for 1%, compared to the typical 2.5-3% commission rate. On the sale of a $400,000 home, you’ll save $8,000 with Clever!
How to sell your house without a realtor
If you’ve decided selling your house without a realtor is the best approach for you, follow these steps to ensure a successful sale.
1. Determine how much your home is actually worth
Pricing your home correctly is vital. Realtor.com notes that buyers may form negative opinions of a home that’s been on the market for a long time, or that’s had to adjust its price multiple times.
Use online tools like Zillow to research recent sales in your neighborhood. Learn the price per square foot for comparable homes nearby and apply that to your home.
This can only take you so far, though. The unique features and upgrades of your home, the conditions of your local market, and more will impact your ideal listing price.
A lack of industry knowledge and pricing trends is likely one reason why FSBO homes often sell for less.
To help avoid under- or overpricing your home, you can pay for a professional appraisal or ask a realtor to put together a comparative market analysis (CMA).
2. Prep your home for sale
Depending on your home’s age and the conditions in your local area, it may be worth it to conduct a home inspection prior to selling.
Typically, a home inspection is initiated by the buyer after their offer is accepted. But you can use a seller’s pre-inspection as a bargaining tool, plus it will give you a heads-up on any repairs you may want to do proactively.
💡 Learn more: How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
Depending on what the inspector finds, you may want to perform some repairs on your home.
If you’re aware of things that need repair, you’ll have to disclose that to potential buyers. In most cases, it will make more sense to just go ahead and take care of smaller repairs (like a leaky toilet or sticky door jamb) before listing your home.
Typically, realtors can advise on whether major home improvements will net a positive return on investment. For example, remodeling a bathroom may cost you $7,000, but it could boost the overall home value $12,000.
On the other hand, some improvements will net a negative return on investment.
Without the guidance of an agent, you’ll have to decide which improvements (if any) will help your home sell, and which will be a waste of money.
You may want to consider staging your home to maximize appeal.
This can be as simple as decluttering, putting some personal items in storage, and rearranging your current furnishings. Or you may choose to move out and hire a professional company to stage your home with rented furniture and decor.
Home staging costs about $1,500 and a storage pod goes for around $100/month. While this may seem expensive, it will help your home look its best to buyers.
It’s a good idea to make your home look welcoming from the outside as well as on the inside.
Make a good first impression by tidying up the landscaping and adding inviting details. This can include trimming the grass and shrubs, planting some seasonal flowers, power-washing walkways and the exterior of your home, and adding a simple welcome mat.
3. Market your home
The National Association of Realtors reports that 87% of buyers who used the internet in their home search found photos of homes for sale very useful.
Since browsing properties online is so popular, photos that show your house in its best light are crucial to a successful sale. Potential buyers want to see clear photos of key areas around the home, like the kitchen, main gathering areas, and backyard. Make sure your photos are well-lit with natural light and no flash.
The marketing approaches you choose can vary widely from fancy printed brochures to a yard sign from Home Depot.
Some examples of other common marketing expenses include:
- Classified ad in the newspaper: $50/week
- Custom printed yard sign: $15
- 200 glossy printed flyers: $84
One of the most effective ways to market your home is to list it on the MLS with a flat-fee MLS service.
Generally, only real estate agents can list homes on the MLS. But almost every FSBO seller needs to be on the MLS because it’s the best way to connect with potential buyers and their agents.
Flat-fee MLS services help solve this problem, listing FSBO homes on the MLS for a few hundred dollars.
There are also other house-selling websites where you can list your FSBO home for sale, with both paid and free options.
|FSBO.com||$400||A FSBO listing platform that offers a range of packages. Note: Some are so expensive, you won't save money compared to listing with an agent.|
|For Sale By Owner||$399||One of the most popular FSBO sites. Packages range from free basic listings to help with legal forms, MLS listing, and pricing.|
|Craigslist||Free||High-traffic platform that allows free FSBO home listings.|
|Loopnet||Free||Focused on commercial and investment properties.|
|Zillow and Trulia||Free||Zillow is the most heavily trafficked real estate website. Trulia is a subsidiary of Zillow. You can list for sale by owner on Zillow and appear on both.|
💡 Learn more: 11 Best For Sale By Owner Websites
Once you’ve built interest, you’ll need to host open houses and showings so potential buyers can view your property in person.
Coordinating this can be time-consuming, and it may be difficult to keep your home show-ready at all times, but it’s vital to get offers.
When hosting prospective buyers, be professional and remove emotion from the equation. Give visitors plenty of time to browse and look around. Act as a third-party agent would, not as a proud homeowner.
4. Negotiate offers
As offers start coming in, negotiations begin. Negotiating a deal can be difficult for a FSBO seller because you’re usually dealing with buyer’s agents who are seasoned pros.
The negotiation process will be influenced by how much interest there is in your home. If you have a few decent offers to choose from, you’ll have some leverage at the bargaining table.
If you only have a single offer, a bunch of low-ball offers, or your house has been on the market for a while, the buyer will likely enter the negotiations with more power. Of course, you’re under no obligation to accept any offer at any time, but when you’re desperate to find a buyer, you may end up selling for much less than you planned.
5. Gather the closing FSBO paperwork and sell your house!
After you’ve found a buyer, compiling all the necessary documents and filing them correctly is one of the most challenging tasks for a FSBO seller.
Below is a checklist of items you’ll need in most transactions. Research your local and state regulations, as requirements may vary. Not sure if you’ve set up your paperwork correctly? Reach out to a real estate attorney for support.
For sale by owner paperwork checklist
|Must-haves for Closing|
|⬜||Your sales contract (documenting the chain of ownership from the previous owner to you)|
|⬜||Property survey (illustrating the legal boundaries of your property)|
|⬜||Certificate of compliance with local property laws|
|⬜||Mortgage documents (including your latest mortgage statement and payoff amount form)|
|⬜||Tax records and final tax statement|
|⬜||Pre-inspection and/or appraisal reports|
|⬜||Comparative market analysis|
|⬜||Final purchase agreement|
|⬜||Homeowners association documentation (if applicable)|
|Nice-to-haves for new owners|
|⬜||Receipts for past maintenance and home improvements|
|⬜||Manuals and warranty information for appliances|
|⬜||Recent utility bills|
|Other seller documentation|
|⬜||Net sheet to track expenditures, offers, and negotiations (find one from our partners at Clever here)|
|⬜||1099s tax form if your profits exceed your capital gains exemption (more info here)|
Ensure everything is submitted correctly, otherwise you may jeopardize the sale or put yourself at risk for future litigation from the buyer.
FSBO sounding like a headache? Check out an easier option with Clever. Clever’s top-rated partner agents provide full service support, including handling all necessary paperwork.
Best of all, you’ll still save big on real estate fees. Clever agents will list your home for $3,000 (or 1% for homes that sell for more than $350,000).
Alternatives to selling your house without a realtor
If you want to save money when buying or selling your home, FSBO isn’t your only option. There are ways to save on commission while retaining the benefits of working with an agent.
Negotiate a lower commission rate with your listing agent
Real estate agent commission rates aren’t set in stone. When interviewing realtors, you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate with your agent.
You’re more likely to score a discount in a hot seller’s market or if you’re willing to take on some heavy lifting to make the agent’s job easier, like handling staging and photography on your own.
You may feel awkward requesting a lower rate, but it never hurts to ask.
Work with a limited-service agent
Limited service brokerages allow you to pick and choose which services you need. For example, you may want help with listing on the MLS and negotiations, but you prefer to opt out of a yard sign and video tour.
Some limited-service companies price their offerings by service tier, while others allow you to choose each service à la carte. They may charge a flat fee or a reduced commission percentage.
Limited-service brokerages are best for individuals with a few real estate transactions under their belt who know exactly what they need and what they can handle on their own.
💡 Learn more: What Is a Limited-Service Real Estate Agent?
Choose a discount brokerage
Some brokerages (Redfin, for example) offer reduced commission rates. If you decide to work with a discount brokerage, be sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.
Often, these companies are able to offer a discount because they sacrifice certain service elements for efficiency. For example, with most discount brokerages, you won’t have one agent dedicated to your sale, so you may not receive the same level of personalized service you would with a traditional full-service agent.
💡 Learn more: The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers for Every Budget
Work with Clever or another agent matching service
Agent matching services connect buyers and sellers with real estate agents in their local area. Some, like Clever, also provide built-in commission savings.
Clever partner agents are from big-name full-service brokerages like Keller Williams and RE/MAX. They’re vetted top sales performers in their regions.
When you sell your home with Clever, your agent will list your home for a 1% commission rate (or a flat fee of $3,000 for homes that sell for less than $350,000). It’s a way to save big on realtor fees. For example, on the sale of a $400,000 home, you’ll save $8,000!
|Clever Real Estate||Traditional real estate agent|
|Buyer's agent commission||3%||3%|
|Total commission cost||$16,000||$24,000|
Bottom line: Should I sell my house without a realtor?
Selling your home without a real estate agent is a lot of work.
And, it probably won’t save you much money. In fact, you’re likely to sell your home for less.
Unless you have unique circumstances, we think it’s more prudent to work with an agent. It will save you time and countless headaches throughout the home sale process.
But if you’re not sure, check with our friends at Clever. Their licensed concierge team can walk you through your options.
They can also connect you with a full-service agent to handle your sale from start to finish, and you’ll save significantly. The average Clever seller saves $9,600 in realtor fees!
11 Best For Sale By Owner Websites: Learn the pros and cons of the top sites that help you sell FSBO.
Read This Before You List Your FSBO on Zillow: Zillow is one of the most popular home selling sites on the web. But it can be confusing to list your FSBO home for sale. This article details the best approach.
1% Listing Fees: A Way To Save Thousands Or A Huge Scam?: Want all the benefits of a realtor without the high price? Scoring a discounted commission rate is easier than you think.
How much does it cost to sell a house without a realtor?
The cost of selling your house without a realtor is typically about 7.5% of the total home sale price. FSBO sellers usually save about 2.5% compared to those who sell with a traditional real estate agent.
However, FSBO homes generally net a sale price of 5-7% less than agented sales. So, you may end up losing money by selling your home without a realtor. Because of this, working with a full service low-commission company may be a better option.
How can I sell my house fast without a realtor?
If speed is your priority, and you don't already have a buyer lined up, an iBuyer may be the best approach for selling your home fast without a realtor. You'll face additional fees, and may not get the possible price, but the best iBuyers can close on your home in a week!