How To Sell Your House Without A Realtor
When you’re getting ready to sell your home you have a lot of choices to make. When to list and sell, where you want to move to, and how much money you hope to make. If you’re a “do-it-yourself” type, you might be considering another choice — selling your house without a Realtor®.
For most sellers, saving on real estate agent commission fees is the biggest appeal to selling by owner. But before you make the decision based on money alone, make sure you have a good grasp of the process and the amount of work involved.
Your three main options to sell a house without a Realtor® include:
Sell to a cash buyer
Hire a real estate attorney to facilitate a sale to a known buyer
Handle the sale yourself via For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
We’re going to identify the pros and cons of each option, and give you some basic steps to follow if you decide to sell your house without a Realtor®.
Selling without a realtor: Pros and cons
The decision to sell your house without a real estate agent comes with pros and cons. While you will save money on your listing fee, there are other costs to consider. Plus, you’ll need to manage the amount of time and work selling a house entails.
Before you dive in, consider the potential drawbacks and benefits.
✅ You won’t have to pay a listing fee, which is 2.72% of the final sale price on average For most sellers, the biggest benefit of selling without a realtor is not having to pay the fee charged by a listing agent. The current average listing fee is 2.72%, which on a home sale represents thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of money that you’ll get to keep in your pocket at the end of the day. ✅ In a hot real estate market, your house may “sell itself” If you live in a hot real estate market, you may not have as great of a need for a real estate agent. Where homes routinely sell above asking price and within days of coming on the market, things like marketing, staging, showing, and negotiations tend to require a lot less time. However, you will still need to do some work if you live in a hot market, such as getting your house listed, hiring a photographer, and taking care of the paperwork. That’s why you should have some experience selling a house already. If you do feel comfortable selling on your own and you think your current real estate market conditions are favorable, you’ll need to find out what the actual process is for selling without a realtor where you live. ✅ You’ll have full control over your FSBO sale For extreme DIYers, selling a house without a real estate agent is appealing. You’ll have full control over every aspect of your sale, including pricing, prepping, photography, marketing, and negotiations. While for many people all that work is less than appealing, it may suit your personality just fine. So long as you have the time to be able to commit to it, selling FSBO may be worthwhile if you prefer a more hands on approach. Keep in mind, however, that there is a steep learning curve when it comes to selling without a realtor. No matter how much of a DIYer you are, you should at least have some experience selling homes already and, ideally, you should live in an area where there is a lot of demand. ❌ FSBO homes often sell for less Homes that are sold without a realtor tend to fetch lower prices than agented homes. Research shows that FSBO homes sell for anywhere from 5.5-26% less than agented homes on average. Without a realtor, you risk mispricing your home, which — if it is underpriced — can lead to you getting a lower purchase price for it than you would with a realtor. Most real estate agents are also experienced negotiators and they tend to have a good idea of when an offer is worthwhile and when it isn’t. Since most buyers have a realtor, you’ll be at a significant disadvantage during negotiations. Plus, if you had your own seller’s agent, you’d have someone who knows what buyers are most likely willing to pay a premium for — such as certain types of renovations or a seller’s willingness to cover closing costs. This insider knowledge of the market can ultimately help you get a better price for your home. Without it, you risk losing out on a higher sale price. ❌ FSBO paperwork can be overwhelming Paperwork is one of the most daunting aspects of selling a home and it can quickly become overwhelming. ❌ Selling FSBO takes time and work Selling a home is a lot of work and can easily overwhelm even experienced sellers. In addition to the paperwork already mentioned, some of the other tasks you’ll likely have to tackle include:
Prepping the home (including possible renovations)
Creating a listing
All of this work can mean that selling your house is a full-time job. Not only that, but you may end up creating more potentially unnecessary work for yourself in the process. For example, you could end up investing in renovations that you think will help your house sell faster, only to find out later that those renovations aren’t a priority for most sellers. Because a real estate agent is much more likely to know how to attract buyers, they can better advise you about which renovations are worth the investment, and which aren’t. If you’ve decided selling your house without a realtor is the best approach for you, follow these steps to increase your chances of a successful sale. 1. Determine how much your home is actually worth Pricing your home correctly is vital. Realtor.com notes that buyers may form negative opinions of a home that’s been on the market for a long time, or that’s had to adjust its price multiple times. Use online tools like Zillow to research recent sales in your neighborhood. Learn the price per square foot for comparable homes nearby and apply that to your home. This can only take you so far, though. The unique features and upgrades of your home, the conditions of your local market, and more will impact your ideal listing price. A lack of knowledge of industry and pricing trends is likely one reason why FSBO homes often sell for less. 2. Prep your home for sale Pre-inspection Depending on your home’s age and the conditions in your local area, it may be worth it to conduct a home inspection prior to selling. Typically, a home inspection is initiated by the buyer after their offer is accepted. But you can use a seller’s pre-inspection as a bargaining tool, plus it will give you a heads-up on any repairs you may want to do proactively. Repairs Depending on what the inspector finds, you may want to perform some repairs on your home. If you’re aware of things that need repair, you’ll usually have to disclose that to potential buyers. In most cases, it will make more sense to just go ahead and take care of smaller repairs (like a leaky toilet or sticky door jamb) before listing your home. Improvements Typically, realtors can advise on whether major home improvements will net a positive return on investment. For example, remodeling a bathroom may cost you $7,000, but it could boost the overall home value $12,000. On the other hand, some improvements will net a negative return on investment. Without the guidance of a listing agent, you’ll have to decide which improvements (if any) will help your home sell, and which will be a waste of money. Staging You may want to consider staging your home to maximize appeal, especially if you plan on holding an open house.. This can be as simple as decluttering, putting some personal items in storage, and rearranging your current furnishings. Or you may choose to move out and hire a professional company to stage your home with rented furniture and decor. Home staging costs about $1,500 and a storage pod goes for around $100/month. While this may seem expensive, it will help your home look its best to buyers. Curb appeal It’s a good idea to make your home look welcoming from the outside as well as on the inside. Make a good first impression by tidying up the landscaping and adding inviting details. This can include trimming the grass and shrubs, planting some seasonal flowers, power-washing walkways and the exterior of your home, and adding a simple welcome mat. 3. Market your home Photography Professional photos are one of the most effective ways of attracting potential buyers. Since browsing properties online is so popular, photos that show your house in its best light are crucial to a successful sale. Potential buyers want to see clear photos of key areas around the home, like the kitchen, main gathering areas, and backyard. If you’re selling without a realtor, we strongly recommend getting a professional photographer to take pictures of your home. Get on the MLS One of the most effective ways to market your home is to list it on the multiple listing service (MLS) with a flat-fee MLS service. The MLS is the main directory buyers’ agents use to find homes and it is how your listing will get syndicated to major real estate websites, like Zillow and Realtor.com. Only a person or company with a real estate license can post on the MLS. That requirement would typically shutout most FSBO sellers. Flat-fee MLS companies solve this problem by having their own real estate license, so they can post your listing to the MLS on your behalf. Fees and services offered by flat fee MLS companies vary. Some are as low as $100, while others charge upwards of $1,000 if you need more hands-on service (at which point you’re probably better off just hiring a discount agent). 4. Negotiate offers As offers start coming in, negotiations begin. Negotiating a purchase agreement can be difficult for a FSBO seller because you’re usually dealing with buyer’s agents who are seasoned pros. Price negotiations will be influenced by how much interest there is in your home. If you have a few decent offers to choose from, you’ll have some leverage at the bargaining table. If you only have a single offer, a bunch of low-ball offers, or your house has been on the market for a while, the buyer will likely enter the negotiations with more power. Of course, you’re under no obligation to accept any offer at any time, but when you’re desperate to find a buyer, you may end up selling for much less than you planned. 5. Gather the closing FSBO paperwork and sell your house! After you’ve found a buyer, compiling all the necessary documents and filing them correctly is one of the most challenging tasks for a FSBO seller. Below is a checklist of items you’ll need in most transactions. Research your local and state regulations, as requirements may vary. Not sure if you’ve set up your paperwork correctly? Reach out to a real estate attorney for support. Alternatives to selling without a realtor If you want to save money when buying or selling your home, FSBO isn’t your only option. There are ways to save on commission while retaining the benefits of working with a listing agent. Work with a flat fee MLS company Most flat fee MLS companies allow you to pick and choose which services you need. For example, you may want help with listing on the MLS and with contract review, but you prefer to opt out of a yard sign and video tour. Choose a discount brokerage Some brokerages (like Redfin, for example) offer reduced commission rates while still providing you with a full-service real estate agent. Discount brokers provide a good balance between savings and service. You get to keep more money in your pocket, but because you have a realtor you’ll face fewer risks than if you sold FSBO. Be sure to do your research into each discount broker beforehand, since service and savings do vary. With some, for example, you’ll be working with a team rather than one agent, which can lead to a reduction in service quality. Others assign you just one agent, so you’ll get a more traditional realtor experience, but for less. Or work with our partner agent who can offer you a full service at a discounted commission! Another easy option is to request a no-obligation cash offer here for your house in Harford County, MD and surrounding areas!