Selling a home without a realtor (also called for sale by owner, or FSBO) can save you thousands in listing agent fees — which in Alabama average 2.7% of the sale price.
A FSBO sale makes particular sense when you already have a buyer and don’t need to list and market your home. It can also work if you’re an experienced home seller with a solid support network, like a realtor friend who can help price and list your home and a lawyer who can draw up the contract.
FSBO homes have lower median sale prices than homes sold with an agent,and they’re prone to sit on the market longer. A survey of recent home sellers found that those who sold without a realtor were nearly twice as likely as traditional sellers to wait at least three months for an acceptable offer.
While we don’t recommend the FSBO route for every seller, many people have had success selling FSBO. FSBO sales made up approximately 7% of home sales in 2022.
If you do decide to sell without a realtor, here are a few approaches you can take.
Options for selling without a realtor
1. Get a cash offer from an investor
If you need to sell fast without a realtor, you can usually get the quickest offers from investors. Investors include national brands like We Buy Houses and local house flippers. They can usually make offers on the spot and close in as few as 7–14 days.
A key benefit of investors is that they can purchase homes that most buyers either aren’t interested in or can’t get traditional funding for. (Most mortgage lenders won’t finance homes in severe disrepair.) Investors are also adept at handling tricky situations, such as pre-foreclosure, problem tenants, or debt-related property liens.
However, if you want the maximum price for your home, you probably won’t get it from an investor.
Investors earn a profit by purchasing homes at bargain prices — usually no more than 70% of fair market value — then fixing them and selling or renting them for market value. However, some investors can offer 80–90% or more through lesser-known options like novation agreementsand seller financing
Any honest investor will tell you that you’ll get more for your home by listing it with an agent. But if you feel like you’re running out of options, an investor can get you cash quickly — with no added fees for repairs or closing costs.
When should you consider selling to a cash buyer?
Selling to a cash buyer makes the most sense when:
- You’re willing to sacrifice equity to sell quickly
- Your home requires extensive repairs you can’t afford
- You’re dealing with a difficult situation, such as pre-foreclosure or problem tenants
- You inherit a property in poor or outdated condition
How can you get the most cash for your house?
When selling your house for cash, you’ll get the best outcome by seeking competing cash offers from multiple buyers. You can do this on your own, with the help of a realtor, or through a free service like Clever Offers.
The amount you get for your home will depend on your property and situation, as well as the type of agreement you make with an investor.
Options like novation agreements or mortgage assumptionscan get you more than the standard cash offer for your home. But you’ll need to have some flexibility with your selling timeline — or be willing to get paid over time instead of all at once.
2. Sell to an iBuyer
iBuyers like Offerpad and Opendoor promise a quick, hassle-free home sale.
Like investors, iBuyers make an initial cash offer based on the property details you provide and can close in as little as a week or two — no showings, negotiations, or home prep required.
In exchange for this convenience, iBuyers tend to offer 5–10% below market value and charge service fees of about 5%. They also make deductions for repairs, lowering offers by at least another 1–2%.
It’s free to request an offer from an iBuyer. If you decide to move forward, the iBuyer sends an inspector to look over your home and document any visible repairs. After the inspector’s assessment, you receive a final offer reflecting any deductions for repairs.
Many homeowners have been happy with the process of selling to an iBuyer. But recent reviews from Opendoor and Offerpad note that final offers are sometimes dramatically lower than initial estimates — even by as much as $100,000.
If you accept the final offer, the iBuyer handles the paperwork and closes on your preferred timeline — anywhere from 8–90 days, depending on the company. You don’t pay any out-of-pocket closing costs, since everything is deducted from your offer.
3. Hire a flat fee MLS listing service
If you list your home without a realtor, a flat fee MLS listing service can help you increase your listing’s visibility without breaking the bank.
While realtors charge 2.5–3% to sell your home, a flat fee MLS company can list your home for a few hundred dollars. And just like with a regular listing, your property is visible to buyers on popular real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin.
You still handle plenty of the selling process on your own, including pricing, photography, staging, showings, and negotiations. You’re also in charge of vetting offers and verifying buyers’ financing.
And you probably still need to offer a 2–3% buyer’s agent commission, or else you risk buyers going elsewhere. Most buyers won’t like having to pay their agent out of pocket, especially when other sellers are willing to cover their realtor fees.
If you’re mainly considering a flat fee MLS company to save money — and aren’t familiar with the process — you’ll find much better overall value with a discount realtor.
4. Hire a real estate attorney
If you already have a buyer, you may only need to hire a real estate attorney to handle paperwork and closing.
An attorney won’t negotiate the price or the terms of a sale, but they’re uniquely qualified to give legal advice related to your home sale.
For example, a real estate lawyer can:
- Draw up a purchase agreement based on terms you and the buyer agreed on
- Make amendments to a contract after inspections or further negotiations
- Advise you on the best approach for complicated legal issues, like selling a home with a deceased owner or splitting proceeds after a divorce
- Look for loopholes in a purchase agreement and advise you on closing them
- Complete a title search and resolve any issues
- Prepare a statement of the transaction fees you’ll pay at closing
- Draft the deed and other documents required for closing
- Oversee the closing process, including recording the deed with the appropriate county official
For a real estate transaction, an attorney may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. Fixed rates for a straightforward home sale — including contracts and closing — can cost $500–2,000. Hourly rates can be $150–600. More complex transactions can end up costing several thousand dollars.
If you’re not sure about selling without a realtor, check out our thorough guide to selling FSBO to help you decide. If you’d like to explore other cost-saving options, consider highly rated discount real estate companies that allow you to work with a top local real estate agent at about half the typical cost.
8 steps to sell a home in Alabama without a realtor
Selling a home without a realtor involves many of the same steps as selling with one, except you’re on your own. To learn more about the basic steps to sell, read our simple, 12-step guide to selling a house.
For Alabama FSBO sellers, here’s what you need to know.
1. Get familiar with the FSBO process
Regardless of how you choose to sell FSBO, you should familiarize yourself with the practical and legal requirements of selling a house in Alabama.
For example, while not technically required in Alabama, many sellers provide a Seller’s Property Disclosure to prospective buyers. This form details the general condition of the home, including its major systems and appliances. The disclosure gives buyers peace of mind and protects you from difficult negotiations if an inspector discovers known issues.
You should provide disclosures to the buyer before signing a contract.
If you hire a lawyer, they can help you know which documents to prepare. Some flat fee MLS companies also provide legal paperwork required by the states they operate in.
2. Get your home ready to sell
If you’re planning to list your house, the next step is preparing your home for photos and showings. This means making sure everything is updated and in great shape to make a good impression on buyers.
Common preparation tasks include:
- Replacing light bulbs and broken fixtures
- Making small repairs
- Ensuring everything is up to code
- Shampooing carpets and deep cleaning
- Applying a new coat of paint
- Improving the landscaping
Strive for a clean, decluttered look when prepping your home for sale. You want the buyer to imagine living there, so many realtors recommend sticking to neutral paint colors and removing personal items.
Avoid making costly upgrades unless they affect the home’s ability to sell. Old, stained carpet or a leaky roof could scare away buyers, so you should address those problems. But you probably won’t get your money back by adding a new porch or swimming pool.
When you’re comfortable with how your home looks, stage it and take listing photos. Realtors especially recommend staging for luxury properties and homes that may need help getting buyers to look past their flaws.
You can do the staging and photography yourself or hire them out. A professional photographer in Alabama averages about $140 for a new listing, and a stager costs about $1,529 per room.
3. Price your home accurately
When selling a house in Alabama without a realtor, be very careful about choosing a list price. This task is something half of recent FSBO sellers struggled to get right. Err on the side of listing your house either at or slightly below market value.
Often, high list prices result in more time on the market, lost buyer interest, and the seller lowering the asking price before actually achieving a sale. A more competitive list price can lead to a lot more showings and interest from buyers, possibly sparking a bidding war and significantly driving up the price.
According to research from Collateral Analytics and the National Association of Realtors, FSBO sellers make anywhere from 5% to 26% less on their homes than realtors with comparable listings. For the average-priced home in Alabama, that could cost you between $10,000 to $51,800!
If you’re not sure how to determine the right price to list your Alabama FSBO home, we recommend using the strategies below.
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)
A comparative market analysis is a great tool for estimating the fair market value of a home. This process involves finding properties similar to yours that have sold in the past few months in your area. Then, you use their sale prices to estimate what your home would likely sell for and then price it accordingly.
This is one of the services a realtor would usually provide, but you can also do it yourself — just be careful not to let your own biases cloud your judgment. Deciding which comparable homes to select and accounting for differences in homes involves a fair amount of guesswork. This leaves you vulnerable to fudging the numbers to make your home value look higher than it actually is.
A good way to eliminate bias is to have a flat fee MLS company conduct a CMA for you. This allows you to benefit from an objective analysis by a real estate professional, but without paying the fee for a full-service agent.
Hire an appraiser
Getting a formal appraisal of your property is another great way to get a professional assessment of your home’s fair market value. An appraiser will do everything involved in a CMA, but they will also show up to your house and evaluate its features and condition. They will also apply their expert knowledge of the area and local real estate trends.
Appraisers value houses for a living, so this is probably the highest-quality valuation of your home you can get. You may even be able to offer the appraisal report to interested buyers so they don’t need to pay for one themselves.
The average appraisal in Alabama costs between $300 to $435, but this is well worth the cost for the thousands — or tens of thousands — it could save you.
When you decide the listing price of your home, be sure to familiarize yourself with any tax obligations that may arise when you receive the proceeds of your home sale.
4. List and market your home
Before listing your FSBO home, read the Alabama advertising regulations for real estate to ensure you’re complying with the law. This will help you avoid unnecessary legal issues.
When you’re ready to post your listing, a good place to start is on free websites such as:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Zillow or Trulia (in the FSBO section)
There are other great sites to list your FSBO property, but they may not all be free. Still, the cost could be worth the additional exposure, depending on your situation.
And, of course, you can always use word of mouth and yard signs to drum up a little extra interest.
If you want maximum exposure, think about working with an Alabama flat fee MLS company.
Alabama flat fee MLS companies
Flat fee MLS companies’ major purpose is to help non-realtors get their listings on the local MLS. Since this is the primary place realtors find listings to show their clients, it’s a big advantage to be listed there.
Some flat fee MLS companies offer different packages that include a variety of services related to selling your home, but getting on the MLS is the main reason these companies exist.
In Alabama, this will cost you about $80 to $1,000. Our top picks for flat fee MLS companies in Alabama are:
Read our in-depth guide to Alabama’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Required Alabama Seller Disclosures
Since Alabama is a “buyer beware” state, providing a seller’s disclosure is not legally required. That said, you may want to provide one to buyers anyway. If you don’t know of any issues with the home, saying so in a disclosure will only increase the likelihood a buyer makes an offer. If you know of issues and keep it to yourself, you’re increasing the risk the deal falls through later if the buyer finds that issue during inspection.
Federal law still requires you to provide a Lead-based Paint Disclosure for any home built before 1978.
You can make disclosures available to interested buyers by attaching them to your listing, emailing them to the buyer, or bringing physical copies to showings. The most important thing is that they are shared prior to anyone signing a purchase agreement.
5. Manage showings on your own
It can be stressful and time-consuming to manage your own showings, so it’s imperative you have a system to keep things organized.
At the very least, you should have a calendar dedicated to scheduling showings. A simple Google calendar could work fine, but something more advanced like Doodle might be even better.
You also want to keep track of interested buyers, their inquiries, and their contact information. A Google Sheet or Doc should be sufficient, but you could even just keep a notebook with this information.
If keeping track of everything is overwhelming, some flat fee MLS companies also offer packages that include add-on tools for managing showings.
Regardless of your system, there are some things you’ll want to do to get the most out of these showings:
- Schedule the showings close together for efficiency
- Leave a 10–15 minute gap between showings to avoid overlap
- Turn on lights and open shades before interested buyers arrive
- Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature at least 30 minutes before the first showing
- Make any documents you wish to share easily available
You’ll also want to be available to answer questions if possible, but preferably not physically present. Buyers often feel uncomfortable looking through your home and discussing their thoughts in front of the seller. Using a lockbox is a good way to allow realtors to enter for showings without you being there personally.
Be sure that you’re prepared to answer questions about the house, your desired timeline to close, and the neighborhood before, during, and after the showing.
6. Review and negotiate offers
Once buyers begin submitting offers, you’ll need to review them and decide what to do. Offers are usually submitted as purchase and sale agreements. These will specify not only the offered purchase price, but also a closing timeline, earnest money details, and any contingencies.
You should read the purchase agreement carefully before signing or making a counteroffer. If anything in the agreement is confusing to you, reach out to the buyer’s agent or a real estate attorney for clarity. In fact, Alabama requires an attorney to prepare legal paperwork in real estate anyway, so it may be wise to hire one early on in the process.
Notable details to look for in a purchase agreement include:
- Purchase price
- If the purchase is traditionally financed or a cash offer
- If the financed offer includes a letter of pre-approval
- Expectations regarding repairs and seller credits
Remember that all of these factors affect how appealing the deal looks to your buyer, and you can use some aspects of the deal to leverage a better purchase price, or vice versa.
Check out our article on negotiation strategies for more ideas on how you can get the best deal possible when selling your home.
7. Allow the buyer to conduct due diligence
After the purchase agreement has been signed, the buyer enters the due diligence period. This is when they will conduct any inspections, appraisals, and title search on the property. If it’s a cash offer, the buyer could skip some or all of these steps, but that will be specified in the purchase agreement.
For traditionally financed homes, the steps are usually the following:
If a contingency clause is triggered at any point during due diligence, like an appraisal comes back low, then you will need to renegotiate the deal. This could involve lowering the purchase price, including seller concessions, or sticking with the original terms and the buyer covering any additional costs discovered during due diligence.
If you wish to back out of the deal without allowing a contingency, you should speak to a real estate attorney to figure out what the repercussions may be.
If no issues arise during the due diligence, you will be cleared to close.
The closing will take place on the date specified in the purchase agreement, unless all parties agree to push it back for some reason.
Closing appointments are conducted by a third party such as a title company or real estate attorney. During these appointments, you and the buyer will likely appear in person and sign a lot of paperwork, including the deed to transfer ownership.
You will also go over and receive a closing statement which accounts for all the expenses and credits that factor into the purchase. It will give a final sum that the seller needs to pay to complete the sale — everyone should know this amount in advance of closing.
Since Alabama is a wet-funding state, you will receive the proceeds of your sale on the day of closing.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Alabama
Below, you’ll find a list of prices for common services you might want to consider if you decide to sell without a realtor. However, know that if your home is in need of repairs or is in a buyer’s market, you might need to spend a lot more to prep and market your property.
💸 Common costs for FSBO sellers
|$300 to $435
|To price your home more accurately
|To compete with homes listed by agents
|To stand out to local buyers
|Real estate attorney
|$204 to $359 per hour
|To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements
|Flat fee MLS listing
|$80 to $1,000
|To get listed on the MLS
|Buyer’s agent commission
|2.7% of sale price
|To compensate the agent that represents the buyer (it’s customary for the seller to pay)
Overall, on average, it costs 7.5% of the home price to sell by owner and about 10% of the home price to sell with a real estate agent. However, the amount you’ll actually save will depend on repairs you need to make, concessions, and other expenses.
Use our calculator to get an idea of how much you can expect to spend if you sell without a realtor.
If you’re considering selling without a realtor in Alabama, check out Real Estate Witch. We eliminate all the hassles and headaches of FSBO while helping you pay less than you would for a traditional realtor.
In Alabama, sellers pay an average of 2.7% to a listing agent. Considering the median home value in Alabama is $207,000, that amounts to $5,630. But with Real Estate Witch, you can sell with a top local agent for just 1.5%, letting you keep more of your home’s equity in your pocket.
For sale by owner paperwork in Alabama
Here’s a list of the Alabama paperwork you’ll need to sell your home without a realtor.
Not finding what you’re looking for? Check out our comprehensive list of paperwork for selling your house without a realtor.
Best alternative: Work with a discount broker
For many people, trying to sell without an agent isn’t worth the hassle. If you think you’ll need some help along the way, a discount broker is a good alternative.
Discount brokers are full-service real estate agents who offer reduced commission rates. Sellers can save thousands while still receiving assistance from an expert local agent.
For discount broker services, try us. We pre-negotiate with top agents to offer you low commission rates without compromising on service quality. Other reputable discount brokers include Redfin and Ideal Agent.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need a lawyer to sell my house in Alabama?
Yes, Alabama requires that you hire a lawyer when selling your home. Real estate lawyers typically charge a couple of hundred dollars an hour, but with all the legal requirements you’ll be dealing with, their help is worth it. Learn more by chatting with an experienced real estate lawyer.
Is selling a house without a realtor worth it in Alabama?
Realtors usually charge a 2.5% to 3% listing commission fee, which you can save by selling FSBO. However, you’ll be handling the entire sales process alone, which can lead to more losses than savings in the end. For example, if you make a mistake in pricing, you can easily miss out on thousands of dollars. If it’s your first time selling or if you’re not confident in your real estate knowledge, then it’s better to work with a realtor.
If you’d like some more advice about selling your home, here are a few great resources to check out:How realtor commissions work in Alabama: Even if you decide to sell your house without an agent, it’s still a good idea to offer commission to the buyer’s agent. Learn how much realtors expect to earn and what you can do to make your listing more appealing to agents and their clients. Top We Buy Houses Companies in Alabama REVEALED: If you need to sell your home in a hurry, a We Buy Houses company may purchase your house as-is for a reduced rate. Find out if this option could be the best option for you here!
How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House? True Costs Revealed: Wondering how much you’ll have to pay to sell your house? Check out this article to calculate your repair budget, closing fees, marketing expenses, and more.