Selling a home without a realtor (also called for sale by owner, or FSBO) can save you thousands in listing agent fees — which in Maryland average 2.6% 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, like Clever Real Estate, 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 Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland.
For example, Maryland home sellers must use a Residential Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement to notify buyers about any defects that may affect the home’s value or livability. This form also has information about the home’s general condition, including its major systems and appliances.
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. On average, a Maryland photographer charges $140 for new listings, and a stager charges about $1,529.
3. Price your home accurately
When selling a house in Maryland 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.
Here are the best options for discovering your home’s ideal list price:
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)
A comparative market analysis (CMA) is a report that collects info about recent sales of homes that resemble yours. It then analyzes that data to come up with a fair list price for your home.
You can get a CMA from a real estate agent (they often provide them free to prospective clients), a flat fee MLS company (you may have to pay an additional fee), or you can create your own using publicly-available data. Just make sure to stay objective when selecting homes that closely resemble yours, and be honest about the condition of your home.
Hire an appraiser
During an appraisal, a licensed, professional appraiser will visit your home, closely examine it, and estimate its value based on its size, condition, materials, materials, neighborhood, and surrounding local market.
An appraisal report is more comprehensive than a CMA, which is why it’s trusted by banks, lenders, and investors.
In Maryland, a home appraisal costs an average of $300 to $435.
4. List and market your home
First, read over Maryland’s state laws on real estate advertising to make sure you’re compliant during your home sale.
Next, post your listing on free FSBO-friendly sites like:
- Zillow’s and Trulia’s FSBO section
- Facebook Marketplace
Use free social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor to get the word out to your network. Tell friends, family, and coworkers about your home sale to tap into the power of word of mouth.
Finally, put up a yard sign to let neighbors and pedestrians know your home is on the market. Yard signs are legal in Maryland as long as they’re not adjacent to a state highway.
However, if you want maximum exposure, think about working with a Maryland flat fee MLS company.
Maryland flat fee MLS companies
The local multiple listing service (MLS) is your area’s main directory of homes for sale, but only eligible agents and brokers can upload listings there.
A flat fee MLS company, which is run by an eligible agent or broker, can increase your listing’s visibility by getting in onto the MLS for a single, flat fee. Listings that appear there are automatically uploaded to high-traffic sites like Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com.
Flat fee MLS companies don’t typically offer many services beyond the listing, but they’re much cheaper than a conventional agent.
In Maryland, a flat fee MLS listing will cost you about $80 to $1,000. Our top picks for flat fee MLS companies in Maryland are:
- Cottage Street Realty: Best for showcasing your home
- DNK Real Estate: Best for rock-bottom pricing
- Mr. Lister Realty: Best for inexperienced sellers
Read our in-depth guide to Maryland’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Required Maryland seller disclosures
In Maryland, sellers are legally required to either fill out a standard disclosure form describing known defects in the home, or submit a disclaimer form that states they’re selling the home “as is.” Sellers who use either option can still be sued for misrepresentation or fraud if they fail to disclose a “known defect.”
Provide disclosures to buyers by attaching them to the listing, printing out hard copies for showings, and emailing copies to interested buyers.
5. Manage showings on your own
Hosting your own showings and open houses is a lot of work. Make it easy on yourself by coming up with a system and sticking to it.
Use a free calendar tool to track appointments and buyer contact information. If you use a flat fee MLS company, they may provide one.
Some tips on conducting showings:
- Schedule showings together to build competition; when buyers see other interested parties coming and going, they may submit faster or more competitive offers.
- Try not to be around during showings, as your presence can make browsers uncomfortable. If you must be present, give them space.
- Consider using a lockbox on your door so buyers and their agents can access a key to your home while you’re not there.
Provide flyers that contain the home’s specs and your contact information. Consider attaching required disclosure forms, and put these packets in a conspicuous area like the kitchen counter.
Buyers will have questions at the end of their showings, so be prepared to provide answers.
6. Review and negotiate offers
Offers for your home will come as a document called a purchase and sale agreement, also known as a “buy-sell.” (When it comes to the Maryland real estate contract, for sale by owner and conventional agented sales can use the same form.)
First, carefully read the entire text of the offer. If you have any questions, contact the buyer or their agent.
How do you tell the difference between a good offer and a not-so-good offer? Consider the following:
- Note any contingencies, since these can cancel the deal. One or two contingencies in an offer is common, but several can create more risk for you.
- Determine if it’s a cash offer or a financed offer. Some sellers prefer cash offers, since there’s no lender approval needed.
- Note if the buyer is asking for repair credits. You can negotiate the amount, or offer to do the repairs yourself.
Use these negotiation strategies to get the best deal possible.
You can accept the offer, reject it, or submit a counteroffer with suggested changes. If you want to counteroffer, simply amend the purchase agreement and return it to the buyer’s agent.
You’re not required to hire an attorney when selling a house in Maryland, but as a FSBO Maryland seller, it never hurts to have a lawyer review your sale paperwork.
7. Allow the buyer to conduct due diligence
The period after you accept the offer and before final closing is the due diligence period.
This is when the buyer (or their lender) takes care of things like:
- The home inspection
- Mortgage underwriting
- The property title search
- The home appraisal
- The final walkthrough
The buyer may want to negotiate the purchase agreement based on findings from this process, or maybe even back out of the deal using a contingency. On the other hand, if you decide you want to back out of the sale, but don’t have an out via contingency, speak to an attorney.
Once negotiations are settled, you can proceed to closing.
The exact closing date will be identified in the purchase agreement.
A few days before closing, you should receive the closing statement. This document lists all fees and charges associated with the sale and specifies who pays what.
The closing is typically facilitated by the buyer’s title company, though it can also be coordinated by an attorney or broker.
At the actual closing, you’ll sign legal and financial paperwork, sign the deed over to the buyer, and hand over the keys. In Maryland, sellers typically receive payment in full the same day as closing.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Maryland
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
|Appraisal||$295 to $380||To price your home more accurately|
|Photography||$164||To compete with homes listed by agents|
|Staging||$891||To stand out to local buyers|
|Real estate attorney||$210 to $283 per hour||To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements|
|Flat fee MLS listing||$250 to $1,000||To get listed on the MLS|
|Buyer’s agent commission||2.5% of sale price||To compensate the agent that represents the buyer (it’s customary for the seller to pay)|
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.
The average realtor commission in Maryland is 2.6% of the sale price, or about . If you want to keep more of this money in your pocket, Clever can match you with an experienced agent at a fraction of the price.
For sale by owner paperwork in Maryland
Here’s a list of the Maryland 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, we highly recommend Clever Real Estate. Clever pre-negotiates 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 to hire an attorney to sell my house in Maryland?
No, Maryland law doesn't require sellers to hire a real estate attorney. It's still a good idea to have a legal advisor on your side if you have any questions or concerns about your responsibilities as a seller, though.
Can I sell my house without a realtor in Maryland?
Yes, it's possible to sell a house without a realtor in Maryland. However, this isn't always the best option for sellers. A lot more goes into selling property than cleaning up your home and scheduling tours.
If you need some more advice about selling your Maryland home, here are a few great resources to check out:
Average Real Estate Commission in Maryland: Even if you decide to sell FSBO, you should still offer a buyer’s agent commission. Learn what realtors expect to earn from an average home sale in Maryland here!
Top We Buy Houses Companies in Maryland REVEALED: Need to sell your home quickly? A We Buy Houses company may be willing to purchase your property right away, but for a discounted price.