Selling a home without a realtor (also called for sale by owner, or FSBO) can save you thousands in listing agent fees — which in Ohio average 3.2% 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 Ohio 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 Ohio 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 Ohio.
For example, Ohio home sellers must use a Residential Property Disclosure Form 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, an Ohio photographer charges $140 for new listings, and a stager charges about $1,529.
3. Price your home accurately
When selling a house in Ohio 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.
So how do you settle on the right price? We recommend the following options:
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)
A comparative market analysis uses data on recent local sales of properties that have the same profile as yours to come up with an up-to-the-minute list price. You have several options for getting a CMA:
- Get one from a flat fee MLS company.
- Ask a realtor (who often provide them for free to potential sellers).
- Create your own. (Just make sure to stay objective.)
Hire an appraiser
A licensed, professional home appraiser will closely inspect your home and produce an unbiased assessment of your home’s value that you can use to set your list price. In Ohio, a home appraisal will cost an average of $300 to $435.
4. List and market your home
Go over Ohio’s laws regulating real estate ads before you do anything. You don’t want to accidentally break the law during your sale.
Next, list your home on free, FSBO-friendly sites like:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Zillow’s and Trulia’s FSBO sections
Take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, and Twitter. These platforms are free, and many for sale by owner Ohio homes have found buyers on there.
Use word of mouth, too. Tell your friends, family members, coworkers, and anyone else you can think of about your home sale.
Finally, consider a FSBO yard sign. Sellers throughout Ohio can put a “For Sale” sign in their yard. However, the exact guidelines for installing signs can vary by city or county. Check with your local county to see if there are any specific sign ordinances in your area.
However, if you use a flat fee MLS company, you’re legally barred from using a FSBO sign. Since the company is technically representing you in the sale, you’ll have to display one of their signs.
If you want maximum exposure, think about working with an Ohio flat fee MLS company.
Ohio flat fee MLS companies
If you’ve been researching how to sell your own home in Ohio, you’ve likely read about flat fee MLS companies.
A flat fee MLS company will get your home onto the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is the main directory for home listings. MLS listings are automatically populated onto huge, highly visible real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com.
Only agents can access the MLS, but flat fee MLS companies act as brokers, allowing you access to the MLS without a full-service realtor.
In Ohio, a flat fee MLS listing will cost you about $80 to $1,000. Our top picks for flat fee MLS companies in Ohio are:
Read our in-depth guide to Ohio’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Required Ohio seller disclosures
Ohio’s disclosure law requires sellers to disclose defects they already know about, meaning they aren’t required to order an inspection to discover unknown defects. Sellers should deliver their disclosures to the buyer before the purchase agreement is signed. Failure to do so means the buyer can back out of the sale within three business days.
The Residential Property Disclosure Form is available for free from the State of Ohio Department of Commerce. The form asks sellers about the property’s:
- Environmental hazards, such as radon or asbestos
- History of pest infestations
- HVAC systems
- Risk of flooding or erosion
- Structural defects in the roof, foundation, walls, or floors
- Water, plumbing, and sewage systems
At the end of the disclosure form, there’s room for the seller to write down any additional facts or issues that don’t fit neatly into any of the previous categories.
Make these important Ohio for sale by owner documents available to buyers by having hard copies at showings, sending digital copies to buyers and their agents, and attaching completed disclosures to your listing.
5. Manage showings on your own
Scheduling and conducting showings is a tough job even for an experienced realtor. It’s important to come up with a system to manage your workload.
Use a free calendar tool that enables you to track appointments and buyer contacts. If you sign on with a flat fee MLS company, they may provide one.
Here’s our advice on showings:
- Schedule showings back to back to encourage competition among buyers
- Consider using a lockbox and security cameras for buyer-guided showings
- Try not to be in the home during showings
- If you must be there, don’t hover; give the buyers space
Provide buyers with fact sheets listing your contact info and the home’s specs. Attach disclosure forms, and place the packets in a conspicuous place like the kitchen counter.
Many buyers will have questions at the end of their showings, so be prepared.
6. Review and negotiate offers
Offers typically take the form of a purchase and sale agreement (sometimes known as a “buy-sell” agreement).
Carefully and completely read the offer before you sign, paying special attention to the following:
- Are there any buyer contingencies? These can cancel the sale later. You can also insert your own buyer contingencies.
- Is it a cash offer or a financed offer? Cash offers usually come with less risk, since they don’t depend on mortgage approval.
- Is the buyer asking for repair credits? You can offer to perform the repairs yourself, negotiate the amount of the credits, or accept them.
Utilize these negotiation strategies to get the best deal. If you want to submit a counteroffer, amend the purchase agreement and send it back.
You’re not required to hire an attorney to sell a house in Ohio, but it’s wise to have one review your paperwork, especially since you won’t have an agent on your team to call out any red flags.
7. Allow the buyer to conduct due diligence
Once you accept the buyer’s offer, the due diligence period begins. Generally, it runs up until the day of closing.
During this period, the buyer makes sure the property’s acceptable while their lender finalizes the mortgage. The due diligence period may include any or all of the following:
The buyer may want to renegotiate after seeing the results of the inspection or appraisal, or they may even use a contingency to back out of the deal. If you want to back out, but don’t have a contingency giving you an out, talk to an attorney.
Once negotiations are done, you can move on to closing.
Your purchase agreement specifies the exact date of closing.
The title company generally runs closing meetings, though they can also be handled by an attorney or broker.
Around three days before closing, you should receive a closing statement that lays out all the charges associated with the sale and who’s responsible for them. On the day of closing itself, you and the buyer will sign all the necessary paperwork, and then you’ll transfer the deed to them. In Ohio, sellers typically receive payment in full on the same day as closing.
DOES OHIO HAVE A TRANSFER TAX?
Yes! The current state transfer tax rate is $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s sale price. Ohio counties may collect their own transfer taxes as well, charging anywhere from $1 to $3 per $1,000 of a home’s value. For example, Franklin County imposes a $2 fee for every $1,000 of a property’s sale price. In total, this would mean that Franklin County sellers have to pay $3 per $1,000 of their home’s sale price.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Ohio
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||$290 to $340||To price your home more accurately|
|Photography||$135||To compete with homes listed by agents|
|Staging||$1,887||To stand out to local buyers|
|Real estate attorney||$161 to $306 per hour||To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements|
|Flat fee MLS listing||$199 to $999||To get listed on the MLS|
|Buyer’s agent commission||2.6% of sale price||To compensate the agent that represents the buyer (the seller usually pays)|
|State transfer tax||$1 per $1,000 of sale price||To pay the state of Ohio for the title transfer|
|County transfer tax||$1 to $3 per $1,000 of sale price||To pay the Ohio county for the title transfer|
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 Ohio is 3.2% 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 Ohio
Here’s a list of the Ohio paperwork you’ll need to sell your home without a realtor.
- Seller Disclosure Form
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
- Flood Risk Disclosure
- Purchase and Sale Agreement
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 a real estate attorney to sell a house in Ohio?
No, the state of Ohio doesn't require sellers to hire a real estate attorney. However, it can be a good idea to have legal guidance on your side to avoid complications during the closing process. Learn more by chatting with an experienced real estate lawyer.
Does Ohio have a transfer tax?
Yes, the current state transfer tax rate is $1 for every $1,000 of a property's sale price. Individual Ohio counties may also charge transfer fees, ranging from $1 to $3 per $1,000 in value.
Still have questions about selling your Ohio home? Check out these additional resources to learn more:
The Cost to Sell a Home in Ohio: Realtor Fees and More: Ohio realtor fees and seller closing cost figures vary by market, but it’s typically more expensive to sell in Ohio compared to other states. Learn more about Ohio realtor fees and seller closing costs.
Average Real Estate Commission in Ohio: Even if you choose to list your house on your own, you should still consider offering the buyer’s agent commission. Learn what Ohio agents expect to earn from an average real estate transaction here.
Top We Buy Houses Companies in Ohio REVEALED: Need to sell your place right away? A We Buy Houses company could purchase your home for cash without requiring you to make any expensive repairs. Find out if this could be the best option for you!
How to Sell Your House — The Ultimate Guide: Our guide breaks down the process of selling a house in 12 steps. We discuss how to find and choose a realtor, list your home for sale, review and negotiate offers, close, and calculate capital gains tax.