Selling a home without a realtor (also called for sale by owner, or FSBO) can save you thousands in listing agent fees — which in Washington 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, 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington.
For example, Washington home sellers must complete a Residential Property Condition Disclosure notifying buyers about any known issues with the home, including the condition of its structure, 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. If you prefer paying someone, expect the photos to run about $140 and staging to cost $1,529 on average.
3. Price your home accurately
When selling a house in Washington 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.
Don’t make this costly error by guessing on a list price. Instead, use one of the following strategies.
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)
A comparative market analysis (CMA) researches homes similar to yours that have sold in the past few months.
The range of sale prices for these homes gives you a general idea of what your home might sell for, and then you can adjust based on differences in your home. For example, if one of the comparable properties (called “comps”) is slightly larger or has an extra bathroom, yours will probably sell for slightly less.
Realtors usually perform this analysis for their clients, but FSBO sellers can do it themselves. Just make sure to be objective about the condition of your home.
Instead, you could get a CMA from a flat fee MLS company. That way, you get the benefit of a professional analysis without paying as much as a full-service realtor.
Hire an appraiser
The most thorough approach for valuing your home is getting a professional appraisal. A licensed appraiser will account for the condition and amenities of your home in a way that a CMA doesn’t, giving you the best estimate of your home’s fair market value.
The average appraisal in Washington costs between $300 to $435, but it could be a worthy expense if it saves you thousands on the sale proceeds.
Once you’ve determined your list price, figure out what tax liabilities you should prepare for based on your expected profit from the home sale. In addition to any federal capital gains taxes that might apply, you should also be aware of Washington’s real estate excise tax (REET) which applies to all sales of real property.
4. List and market your home
If you want to sell your own home in Washington state, you need to adhere to advertising regulations. Many regulations are for realtors and brokers, but some may apply to you, depending on your marketing approach.
For example, yard signs are an old standby for marketing homes for sale. But Washington has a lot of rules governing these signs, and local governments may have more. Sellers are prohibited from putting their signs in certain places or giving descriptions of their home on the sign.
Washington FSBO sellers can start with free online venues to gain exposure for your listing. Some popular options include:
- FSBO section of Zillow or Trulia
- Facebook Marketplace
You can expand your outreach by including paid sites in your marketing approach, but they may not be worth the additional expense.
If you want maximum exposure, think about working with a Washington flat fee MLS company.
Washington flat fee MLS companies
A flat fee MLS company makes your listing available on your local multiple listing service (MLS). Most realtors prioritize the MLS as their preferred venue for locating listings for their clients.
In Washington, this will cost you about $80 to $1,000. Our top picks for flat fee MLS companies in Washington are:
Read our in-depth guide to Washington’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Required Washington seller disclosures
According to Washington law, you must provide a disclosure statement identifying any material defects in your home within five days of the signing of a purchase agreement. You can create your own form from a template provided by the state of Washington or use an online seller disclosure form.
Depending on your proximity to bodies of water, you might want to include a Flood Risk Disclosure as well. This is not required by law, but it could put your buyer’s mind at ease and increase the probability of closing a sale.
Also, federal law requires you to provide a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure if your home was built prior to 1978.
How to share these disclosures is up to you, but we recommend having a record of the information being shared. Common approaches include attaching the disclosures to your listing, giving interested buyers a hard copy, or emailing the documents to them.
5. Manage showings on your own
Managing showings can be one of the more difficult aspects of listing your house for sale by owner in Washington. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and sometimes chaotic.
Reduce stress by having a well-organized system before you get started. Create a calendar dedicated to home showings and keep an email to save all communications with home buyers and their agents.
When it comes time to conduct showings, here are some tips to keep things organized and efficient:
- Schedule showings back-to-back to reduce the inconvenience of leaving your home
- Provide relevant information up-front to minimize follow-up questions
- Buy a lockbox to allow entry without being physically present
- Be available by text, call, or email before and after showings
- Allow time slots outside normal business hours for appointments
Place fact sheets and disclosures in a conspicuous place and alert agents to where they are. Be prepared to answer questions not only about the house, but the taxes, utilities, schools, and neighborhood as well.
After showings, solicit feedback from buyers’ agents to help you get a feel for buyer interest and reactions to your home.
6. Review and negotiate offers
Only consider offers submitted in writing as a formal purchase agreement — verbal offers are non-binding and generally a poor use of your time. A purchase agreement is a commonly used form in Washington state for FSBO sellers and realtor-sold properties alike.
When considering offers, consider all aspects of the offer — not just the purchase price. Other important elements include:
- Sellers credits
- Repair expectations
- Cash offer versus conventional financing
- Pre-approval amount, if included
- Earnest money deposit
- Closing timeline
Although a real estate attorney is not required to conduct a sale of real estate in Washington, you should consider hiring one if any part of the offer letters does not make sense to you. Understanding offers and all their implications is paramount when selling a house without a realtor to assist you.
An attorney can also help you compare offers and handle aspects like title insurance and escrow services, which often confuse sellers who are not real estate professionals.
Remember that not every offer needs to be accepted or rejected. Especially when you have multiple offers on the table, building a compelling counteroffer is probably your best bet for negotiating a great deal.
7. Allow the buyer to conduct due diligence
The buyer enters the due diligence period after the purchase agreement is signed by both parties. This is their opportunity to have the home inspected and appraised, as well as conduct any other research they feel is necessary to complete the purchase.
Although the specific actions pursued by buyers may vary from one deal to the next, most conventionally financed homes involve a pretty standardized process of the following steps:
If issues arise during any of these steps, a second round of negotiations may be necessary.
Renegotiations could be as simple as adjusting the sale price or a buyer coming out of pocket to address whatever problems are discovered during this period. Regardless, these possible snags are why it’s important to carefully evaluate offers and contingencies before signing a purchase agreement.
Speak to an attorney if you or the buyer wish to cancel the deal without an applicable contingency identified in the purchase agreement.
Ideally, no surprises will surface during due diligence, and you can be cleared to close on schedule.
Your closing appointment will be confirmed by whoever is conducting the closing — usually a title company or attorney — days in advance. They should also provide a closing statement that allows you to conduct a final overview of the sale before showing up to sign the paperwork.
If everything looks good, you can proceed to closing as planned. Mostly, you’ll just go over and sign a bunch of paperwork, including the transfer of title.
Since Washington is a dry funding state, the sale proceeds will take a few days to arrive in your account, usually by wire transfer or check.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Washington
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||$400 to $580||To price your home more accurately|
|Photography||$180||To compete with homes listed by agents|
|Staging||$1,499||To stand out to local buyers|
|Real estate attorney||$314 per hour||To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements|
|Flat fee MLS listing||$300 to $1,000||To get listed on the MLS|
|Buyer’s agent commission||2.6% of sale price||To compensate the agent that represents the buyer (it’s customary for the seller to pay)|
|Transfer tax||1.1% to 3% of sale price||To pay the state of Washington 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.
If you’re considering selling without a realtor in Washington, 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 Washington, sellers pay an average of 2.7% to a listing agent. Considering the median home value in Washington is $554,000, that amounts to $14,792. 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.
For sale by owner paperwork in Washington
Here’s a list of the Washington paperwork you’ll need to sell your home without a realtor.
- Seller Disclosure Form
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
- Flood Risk Disclosure
- For sale by owner purchase contract
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
Is there a transfer tax in Washington?
Yes, Washington's real estate excise tax (REET) varies between 1.1% and 3%, depending on the property's sale price. Homes priced $500,000 or less are taxed at 1.1%, whereas homes valued over $3,000,000 are taxed at 3%. Learn more by chatting with an experienced real estate lawyer.
Do I need to hire a real estate attorney to sell a house in Washington?
No, sellers in Washington don't need to hire a real estate attorney. However, it's still a smart move to have a legal expert review your paperwork or help you navigate the closing process.
Still have questions about selling your Washington home? Check out these additional resources to learn more:
Average Real Estate Commission in Washington: Even if you choose to sell FSBO, you should still offer commission to your buyer’s agent. Find out how much you should offer to remain competitive in your local market!
Top We Buy Houses Companies in Washington REVEALED: If you need to sell your home fast, a We Buy Houses company is one potential solution. Learn about the pros and cons of these businesses to decide if this route is the best move 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.