Should you sell your house without a realtor?
Selling your house without a realtor is doable, but it’s not easy. It requires you to understand the selling process from start to finish and know your local market inside and out.
You may not even save money on the home sale. Recent data shows that sellers who use an agent sell for nearly $50,000 more on average than those who don’t, negating any potential commission savings.
The big difference in profits comes down to factors like the right listing price, marketing, and negotiating skills — areas where agents have expertise.
For most homeowners, there are better alternatives to selling without a realtor, like using a full-service discount broker. This option lets you save money and get the expertise of a real estate agent.
If you’re still set on selling without a realtor, here’s how to do it right.
Steps to sell your house without a realtor
- Set a listing price
- Prepare your home for sale
- List and market your home online
- Manage showings
- Review and negotiate offers
- Accept an offer
- Host buyer inspections
- Close on your home sale
1. Set a competitive listing price
It’s important to price your home correctly from the start. Buyers often get skeptical about homes that linger on the market too long or change price several times.
“A lot of people have this mindset of, we’ll price it high and see what happens, then lower it if we need to,” says Delaney Juarez from Keller Williams. But this strategy can backfire. It often wastes the initial two weeks of listing, which is when a home attracts the most interest, according to Juarez.
Mispricing is a common issue with FSBO sales. A recent survey found that over half of FSBO sellers had to lower their initial asking price before selling.On the flip side, data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that agents often sell homes for the full asking price (or higher).
FSBO sellers often struggle to price homes because they lack the insider knowledge needed to set the right price. They usually don’t have access to the multiple listing service (MLS)or up-to-date information on the latest market trends.
Here are some resources you can use to set the right listing price.
2. Prep your home for sale
“If your home is ready to go, you’re in a prime spot to sell,” says Juarez.
But if your home isn’t move-in ready, consider getting a pre-listing inspection. It can help you spot hidden issues that could slow down your sale.
Around 76% of buyers request a home inspection contingency.Buyers might ask for repair fixes or a price cut based on their inspections. Getting ahead of this with a pre-inspection (and repairs) can smooth the process.
However, a home inspection isn’t a must for every seller, and it can be tough to figure out which fixes or updates a buyer might request. This is where a realtor can be super helpful. They can guide you on which repairs will give you the best return — and which ones you can skip.
Want personalized advice? Connect with top local agents from leading brokerages — it’s 100% free, with no obligation.
Here are some tips to get your home ready to sell in 2024.
3. List and market your home
If you don’t have a buyer already or aren’t selling to someone you know, getting your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) is a smart move.
The MLS is a massive database where real estate professionals share information about properties for sale. It’s a key resource that connects sellers (and their agents) with a wide network of potential buyers.
About 86% of all sellers use the MLS, making it the top spot for listing homes, way ahead of methods like yard signs. But only 3% of FSBO sellers tap into the MLS, even though it’s where most buyers start their search.
Experts agree that listing on the MLS can help you sell your home quicker and for more money.
Plus, most MLS services don’t just list your home on the MLS. They push your listing to hundreds of other real estate websites, including major sites like Zillow.
Here’s what you can do to list and market your FSBO home.
4. Manage showings
Booking showing appointments is a crucial part of selling. Potential buyers will visit your place in person, see if it feels right, and hopefully make an offer.
You’ll be the primary point of contact for home-showing inquiries. Be prepared to manage a lot of phone calls and emails from interested buyers and realtors.
It’s best to use scheduling tools, such as Google Calendar or a traditional planner, to keep track of showings. This will help you remember details for each showing, including the date, time, and contact information for the buyer and their agent.
5. Review and negotiate offers
A buyer’s offer usually includes this information:
- The offer price
- Whether they want you to cover their closing costs (and if so, how much)
- The proposed closing date (usually 30–60 days)
- Any items they want included (like appliances)
- An email with their pre-approval letter
When you receive an offer, you have three options for how to proceed:
- Accept the offer. If the price and terms are what you were hoping for, and you don’t expect better offers to come in anytime soon — you may want to accept it.
- Make a counteroffer. If you’re unhappy with the offer, or you have other offers (or will likely get some soon), consider making a counteroffer. Almost everything’s up for negotiation, not just the price. For example, you can negotiate a faster closing date.
- Reject the offer. If the offer’s too low or not what you’re looking for, it’s okay to say no. Send a polite response to the buyer or the buyer’s agent. The buyer might come back with a better offer.
6. Accept an offer and complete the closing paperwork
Once you and the buyer agree to the purchase terms, the next step is to sign the offer.
The buyer or their agent will likely send the offer digitally, using e-signature software like DigiSign. Keep an eye on your inbox for an email prompting you to sign the “Offer to Purchase.”
Read the contract, and consider reviewing it with a real estate professional or attorney before signing. After you sign it, start fulfilling your part of the contract.
At a minimum, you need to provide the buyer with the mandated seller’s disclosures and other documents (such as your HOA agreement) that allow them to do their due diligence, if you haven’t done so already.
Research your local and state regulations for specific paperwork requirements.
7. Allow buyers to conduct inspections
The buyer will need to conduct their due diligence before proceeding with the purchase. That includes any inspections they’re allowed to make, as outlined in the contract.
8. Close on your home sale
There are a few important steps to take before you get paid.
- Review and sign the closing disclosure (CD). This important document details the final terms and costs of the sale. Review the CD to ensure all information is correct, and sign it when you’re ready.
- Hand over keys to the buyer’s agent or your attorney. You’ll need to provide the buyer’s agent with any spare keys to the property to allow the new owners access to their home.
- Maintain communication. Stay in contact with your attorney, if you have one, throughout the closing process. They can assist with any last-minute questions or issues that may arise.
Risks and benefits of selling without a realtor
|On average, FSBO homes sell for less than agented homes.
|You don’t have to pay a listing fee.
|Errors in FSBO paperwork can lead to legal problems.
|In a hot market, your house may “sell itself.”
|Selling FSBO is time-consuming.
|You have control over the entire selling process.
|You have to do everything yourself, including pricing, marketing, showings, and negotiations.
❌ You’ll likely get less money
Selling your home without an agent might result in lower profits. A 2023 survey by Clever Real Estate found that sellers using agents netted an average of $46,603 more than FSBO sellers.Here’s why FSBO homes tend to make less:
❌ FSBO paperwork can be overwhelming
Paperwork is one of the most daunting aspects of selling a home, and it can quickly become overwhelming. In California, for example, the average property sale is 180 pages long, according to realtor Marlene Bertrand.
Paperwork errors also carry significant risks. In many states, disclosure laws require sellers to inform buyers of defects with the property. If you fail to disclose a defect, you could be held liable by the buyer, resulting in potential legal and financial consequences.
Since paperwork requirements vary by state, it’s crucial to understand the specific obligations for how to sell without a realtor in your state.
❌ Selling FSBO takes time and work
Selling a home is a lot of work and can easily overwhelm even experienced sellers. In addition to the paperwork, some of the other tasks you’ll likely have to tackle include:
- Prepping the home (including possible renovations)
- Creating a listing
The emotional toll of selling a home is significant. A recent study found that 47% of sellers reported shedding tears during the process, rising to 50% among those who sold without an agent.This highlights the extra stress of managing a sale independently.
✅ You won’t pay a listing fee
Selling without a realtor saves you money on the listing agent’s fee, which is typically 2.72% of the home’s final sale price.
However, our Data Center survey reveals that many sellers forget about the buyer’s agent commission, which averages around 2.65%.
You can choose not to offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission, but doing so can significantly reduce your property’s appeal. Since 89% of buyers use agents,a low commission can deter agents from showing your home, potentially limiting buyer interest.
✅ In a hot real estate market, your house may “sell itself”
Living in a hot real estate market can reduce the need for an agent. Homes in these markets often sell quickly and above asking price, so tasks like marketing and staging may take less effort.
However, you’ll still need to manage certain aspects of the sale, like listing your home, getting professional photos, and completing paperwork. This process is easier if you have prior experience selling a home.
You also have to understand the specific process for FSBO sales in your area. Real estate laws and regulations can differ significantly across states.
✅ You’ll have full control over your FSBO sale
Selling a house without an agent can be rewarding for DIYers. You have complete control over pricing, preparation, photography, marketing, and negotiations.
If you enjoy hands-on work and have the time, selling FSBO could be a good fit. But be aware of the steep learning curve involved in selling without a realtor. Having some prior home-selling experience is beneficial.
Cost of selling with an agent vs. FSBO
|With an agent
At first glance, selling your home without a realtor may seem financially appealing because of the realtor commission savings.
In the $500,000 home sale example, you could save around $15,000 by avoiding the listing fee. You’d only need to cover the buyer’s agent commission, usually about 2.5–3%, along with standard closing costs of 2–3%.
But selling FSBO can impact the sale price. NAR’s 2023 data shows that FSBO homes often sell for close to $100,000 less than homes represented by an agent.The expertise of real estate agents often leads to higher selling prices, offsetting their fees.
FSBO sellers also experience more challenges and dissatisfaction compared to those using agents.
How to sell a house without a realtor in your state
The process for selling without a realtor varies between states due to local laws and regulations. Before selling on your own, we recommend reading a state-specific guide to selling without a realtor.
To see how the process works where you live, click on your state:
Alternatives to selling without a realtor
|You need to sell fast
|Sell to a cash buyer
|You already have a buyer
|Hire a real estate attorney
|You need more service
|Use a discount brokerage
If you want to save money when buying or selling your home, FSBO isn’t your only option. Here are some alternatives based on your situation.
Sell to a cash buyer
Selling to a cash buyer is a great option if:
- Your home needs major repairs you can’t afford
- You’ve inherited a property that’s outdated or in poor shape
- You’re okay with selling for a lower price in exchange for a quick sale
Cash buyers are often the fastest route to sell without a realtor. They can make on-the-spot offers and close within 7–14 days.
But remember, if you’re aiming for the highest sale price, investors might not be your best bet. They buy homes at lower prices (often around 70% of fair market value) to profit from fixing and then reselling or renting them.
» COMPARE: Companies that buy houses for cash
Hire a real estate attorney
If you already know your buyer, you might only need to hire a real estate attorney instead of a realtor. While attorneys don’t negotiate sale terms, they can provide essential legal guidance.
What does a real estate attorney do?
Real estate attorneys:
- Draft contracts based on your agreement with the buyer
- Supply necessary paperwork, such as property disclosure documents
- Amend contracts after inspections
- Perform title searches and address any issues that arise
- Prepare a statement of your closing costs
- Create the deed and other required documents for closing
- Oversee the entire closing process, including the recording of the deed
Attorneys generally charge a flat fee of $500–2,000 for straightforward sales, although complex real estate transactions may have higher costs.
Use a discount broker
Discount real estate brokers provide lower listing fees for home sellers. For example, they might charge a 1.5% listing agent commission instead of the usual 2.5–3% rate.
However, service levels vary. While some discount brokers provide full service like traditional agents, others offer limited assistance that doesn’t include negotiation, paperwork, or closing guidance.
Top discount brokers optimize the selling process to offer full services at reduced rates. For instance, Clever Real Estate connects sellers with local realtors who offer discounted commissions through referrals, saving costs for both agents and sellers.
What are the legal requirements for selling my house without a realtor?
Selling your home without a realtor involves key legal steps, including complying with state and local real estate laws, accurately pricing your home, and disclosing your home's condition and any past issues to buyers.
You'll need to draft a legally binding purchase agreement, handle contingencies like inspections, and ensure a clear property title. And the closing process often requires professional assistance, such as a title company or attorney.
Check out our state guides to learn more about the legal requirements in your area, and consult with a local real estate attorney to ensure compliance.
How do I determine my home's price when selling without a realtor?
Home value estimators like Zillow give you a starting point, but you can't rely on them for pricing. Your best bet is to get a CMA or broker price opinion from a realtor.
How much does it cost to sell without a realtor?
FSBO sellers usually save about 2.5–3% in listing fees compared to those who sell with a traditional real estate agent. So you'll likely pay 4–4.5% when factoring in other seller closing costs.
However, recent research found that FSBO sellers net $46,603 less than those who sell with a realtor. This means you may end up losing money by selling your home without a realtor. Working with a full-service low commission company may be a better option, since you get the expertise of a realtor at a lower cost.
How can I sell my house fast without a realtor?
The best way to sell your house fast is to sell directly to a cash buyer, since they can make you an offer instantly and close within a couple of weeks.
If you want to maximize your profits, you can sell without a realtor while still listing your home on the MLS. You’ll also need to know the process for selling without a realtor in your state, since regulations vary and mistakes with paperwork can slow down a sale.
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