Should I use a realtor? | What does a realtor do in Massachusetts? | Cost of selling without a realtor | Massachusetts real estate regulations | How to sell without a realtor | Alternatives to selling without a realtor | FAQs
Selling your home without a realtor means you won’t have to pay a listing commission, which in Massachusetts averages 2.7% of the sale price. Considering a typical Massachusetts house is worth about $566,000, that’s a savings of $15,112.
However, trying to sell a home For Sale by Owner (FSBO) can be tough. It will cost you a lot of time and energy because you’ll have to complete most parts of the selling process.
In the end, selling a house without a real estate agent isn’t worth it for most homeowners in Massachusetts. Especially considering there are low commission real estate companies that offer professional assistance for a lower cost.
If you’re considering selling a house without a realtor in Massachusetts, read on to find out everything you need to know to do it successfully.
✍️ Key Takeaways of FSBO Sales
- Selling without a real estate agent means avoiding a listing commission (2.7% on average in Massachusetts). But in exchange for those savings, you’ll have to do everything from advertising your home to completing legal paperwork to negotiating the final deal.
- In most cases, you’ll still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission. 2.3% is typical in Massachusetts.
- Selling without an agent is best for experienced sellers or people selling to family or friends.
- For most sellers, there are better cost-saving options that will net you more money and provide professional support.
Should I sell my house without a realtor?
Not sure if FSBO is right for you? Use the checklists below to find out if selling your Massachusetts home without a realtor is the best option for your situation.
✅ Selling without an agent might be right for you if…
You want to save on commission.
When you sell without a realtor, you won’t pay a listing agent commission. In Massachusetts, that puts 2.7% of your final sale price back in your pocket. However, you will still need to offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission (2.3% is typical in Massachusetts).
You already have a buyer.
If you’ve already lined up a deal with a friend or family member, there’s no need to pay an agent to list your home on the MLS, host open houses, or negotiate on your behalf.
You have lots of time to spare.
Selling a house is a lot of work! You’ll need time to take on all the tasks a realtor normally handles.
You’re in a hot seller’s market.
If you’re in a high-demand area with low inventory, buyers are more likely to come to you. With a flat fee MLS package or a “For Sale” in your yard, you could find a buyer relatively easily and without additional professional help.
Here’s how fast and for how much homes in Massachusetts are currently selling for so you see how your local market compares.
|Avg. days on market||Avg. listing price|
🚫 Selling without a realtor might not be right for you if…
You’re short on time.
If you’re on a tight deadline, hiring an agent might be your best option. Unless you already have a buyer lined up, you’ll have to squeeze home selling tasks into your nights and weekends — or make sacrifices elsewhere in your schedule.
You’ve never sold a home in Massachusetts.
Without an agent, you won’t have any professional guidance about increasing your property’s curb appeal, pricing your home, or choosing the best offer.
We can’t say this enough: If you’ve never been through a Massachusetts home sale or are facing a complicated transaction, do not try it without a real estate agent.
Making one mistake could cost you tens of thousands of dollars or create some serious legal headaches for you.
You want to sell for more money.
There are conflicting studies about whether FSBO properties sell for less compared to those sold by agents.
On the one hand, FSBO sellers are more likely to sell to friends or family and offer them a good deal on the home. This lowers the average price of homes sold without a realtor.
However, if a FSBO seller is inexperienced with pricing a home, they can lose money by pricing too low or scare away buyers by pricing too high.
If selling your home without a realtor sounds too risky or like too much work, you have other ways to save on commissions. You can work with a discount broker, save money, and not have to deal with the stress of selling without a realtor.
What does a realtor do in Massachusetts?
Real estate agents have to do a ton of work to sell a house. Even highly desirable condos in Boston or historic homes in Salem can be hard to sell if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you decide not to work with a realtor, you’ll be responsible for all the work listed below.
Prices homes competitively
If you’re earlier in the home selling process and just need a general idea of what your house is worth, you can plug your address into several free home value estimators, such as Zillow, Redfin, or Realtor.com. We recommend using several websites for a more accurate picture of your home’s value.
However, an agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) for a more accurate valuation. CMA home values are calculated based on the strength of your housing market, how much similar properties are selling for, new upgrades or renovations, and other variable factors.
To get an idea of how much home values can vary, here’s a comparison of different sized homes value in Massachusetts.
|Home size||Home value in Massachusetts|
If you sell FSBO, consider hiring a licensed appraiser to objectively evaluate how much your home is worth. Pricing is one of the most important aspects of listing your house, so it pays to get it right.
» LEARN: What is an appraisal?
Connects you with local pros
Experienced agents have networks of the best professionals in the area. They can connect you with handymen, stagers, photographers, and other service providers so you don’t have to track down reliable pros on your own.
Lists your home
Working with an agent will get your property listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) database. This can only be accessed by real estate agents, who use it to find homes to show their clients. Without a realtor, you’ll need to pay a flat fee MLS company to list your property, or you will face a much smaller pool of potential buyers.
Markets and negotiates
An agent can market your home, schedule open houses, reach out to potential buyers, and follow up with people who toured your home.
Agents will also take care of negotiating with prospective buyers and completing paperwork — two things sellers often dread handling on their own.
Do I need a real estate attorney in Massachusetts?
No, you don’t need an attorney to sell your house in Massachusetts. However, consulting an attorney can be a wise move to prevent legal complications. An attorney can explain all the documents required to sell your home so you can close with confidence.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Massachusetts
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||$330 to $420||To price your home more accurately|
|Photography||$168||To compete with homes listed by agents|
|Staging||$1,367||To stand out to local buyers|
|Real estate attorney||$150 to $363 per hour||To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements|
|Flat fee MLS listing||$400 to $1,500||To get listed on the MLS|
|Buyer’s agent commission||2.3% 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 Massachusetts, check out our friends at Clever Real Estate. Clever eliminates all the hassles and headaches of FSBO while helping you pay less than you would for a traditional realtor.
In Massachusetts, sellers pay an average of 2.7% to a listing agent. Considering the median home value in Massachusetts is $566,000, that amounts to $15,112. But with Clever, you can sell with a top local agent for just 1.5%, letting you keep more of your home’s equity in your pocket.
Real estate regulations for sellers in Massachusetts
FSBO sellers in Massachusetts often choose to work with a title company during the closing process. Title companies can process the property title transfer, disburse closing costs, and collect all the paperwork required for the sale.
However, before sellers can think about closing, they’ll need to learn the local real estate laws and regulations.
Massachusetts is a “buyer beware” state, so sellers aren’t held to the same strict disclosure rules required by other states. Sellers only need to disclose the presence of lead paint (if the property was built before 1978) and prove that the home has a septic system.
However, sellers are not permitted to be deceitful if a buyer asks about the home’s condition or history. Because of the lack of required disclosures, buyers in Massachusetts are also likely to be cautious and have a thorough inspection done before closing.
Certifications and inspections
Massachusetts sellers need a certificate of compliance to verify that their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors meet the state’s standards. Sellers can contact their local fire department to conduct the inspection.
The fee for the compliance certificate varies by county, but the average cost is between $50 and $100.
Massachusetts law also requires homes with septic systems to be inspected within two years before a sale or within six months after a sale if weather conditions prevent an earlier inspection. This is referred to as a Title 5 inspection.
The average cost of a Title 5 inspection can vary between $500 to $800. The final price depends on how accessible your system is to the inspector.
FSBO advertising rules
If you choose to list your home with a flat fee MLS company, you must follow the rules of the MLS the company uses. Many flat fee MLS services available in Massachusetts list on the MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) because it’s the biggest MLS in New England.
However, its rules and regulations require that sellers only use “For Sale” signs from their listing broker (this would be the flat fee MLS company in most cases). If you decide to use a flat fee MLS company in Massachusetts, find out if they list on the MLS PIN and whether they provide a yard sign because there’s a good chance you won’t be able to use a “For Sale by Owner” sign.
9 steps to sell a home in Massachusetts without a realtor
Selling your home without a realtor can be intimidating. Here, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for you to rely on and make the selling process less daunting.
🏡 How to get your home ready to sell
1. Make basic repairs
Simple repairs, such as fixing a squeaky door or repairing dents in the drywall, can greatly improve the aesthetic appeal of your house. Outdoors, a fresh coat of paint, and some basic landscaping work can boost curb appeal.
2. Stage the rooms
You can hire a professional stager to get your home picture-perfect for showings, but this can be expensive. While prices vary from city to city, in Massachusetts it costs an average of $1,367 to stage a house.
3. Photograph the home
High-quality photos of your property can make a huge difference when attracting buyers. Prices can vary based on your location, but in Massachusetts you can expect to pay $168 on average for a session with a professional photographer.
✍ How to list your home for sale
4. Get an appraisal
Without a real estate agent, it can be difficult to accurately price your home. An appraisal is a professional assessment of a home to evaluate its condition and estimate its value. In Massachusetts, an appraisal costs $330 to $420.
» MORE: Tools for pricing your home
5. Advertise your home
In Massachusetts, this will cost you $400 to $1,500, but without a realtor, it’s the only way to get your property listed on the MLS — which is how most buyers find homes.
📅 How to show your home
6. Get organized
Once buyers start contacting you, it’s important to have a system to track showing appointments and their contact information. If you don’t have one already, set up a digital calendar that will remind you when showings are and also allow you to take notes about the buyer.
Also, ask if they have a pre-approval letter from a lender before scheduling a tour. A pre-approval letter shows that a buyer is able and qualified to buy a house.
7. Don’t hover
During a showing, be available to answer the buyers questions, but don’t follow them around from room to room. That can come off as overwhelming and scare buyers off.
🤝 How to accept an offer and close
8. Know your priorities
Reviewing offers is about more than the price. You also need to consider whether the buyer’s moving timeline aligns with your own and what types of contingencies or concessions they’re asking for. Those parts of the offer will impact negotiations and how much you’ll actually walk a way with.
» LEARN: Common home buying contingencies
9. Use a title and/or escrow company
It’s important to have a third party that will take care of collecting signatures and fees before and during closing. Often this will be your title company, but in some cases, you might have to find a separate escrow company to manage the money involved in the transaction.
Alternatives to selling without a realtor in Massachusetts
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, here are a few other low-cost options.
Massachusetts flat fee MLS companies
A few of the best flat fee MLS agencies in Massachusetts include EntryOnly.com, Landfall Properties, and EntryOnly New England. The cost of using a flat fee MLS service can range from $400 to $1,499, depending on which package you choose.
|EntryOnly.com||Landfall Properties||Entry Only New England|
|Number of Photos||20||Max allowed||10-42|
|MLS Listing||6 months||Up to 2 years||12 months|
Another option for FSBO sellers is hiring a discount broker. Discount brokers can help you save thousands in realtor fees without having to compromise on expert service.
For discount broker services, we highly recommend our friends at Clever! Clever pre-negotiates with top agents to offer you the lowest commission rates without compromising on service quality.
Frequently asked questions
Can I sell a house without a realtor in Massachusetts?
Yes, but this might not be the best option for you. If you need to sell quickly, aren't familiar with the local real estate market, or don't have the time to market your property, working with an agent could be the right choice.
Do I need a lawyer to sell my house in Massachusetts?
No, sellers aren't required to work with a real estate attorney in Massachusetts. However, an attorney can help you avoid legal complications, understand all the documents required to sell your home, and review your closing documents to ensure a clean title transfer.
Selling a home in Massachusetts can be complicated and confusing. If you need some extra guidance, these resources can further demystify the Massachusetts home seller experience:
Average Real Estate Commission in Massachusetts: What’s Fair in 2022?: Realtors earn commission when they help a client buy or sell a home. Learn how much Massachusetts agents expect to earn and what you can do to reduce commission rates.
Cost to Sell a House in Massachusetts: Seller Closing Costs and More: Selling your home without a realtor can save you money on commission, but you’ll be on the hook for several other costs. Find out what you’ll need to budget for here!
How to Sell a House By Owner: Paperwork You Need: If you decide to sell without a realtor, check out all the forms you’ll need for a smooth transaction.