Selling A House Without A Realtor: Pros & Cons

Sell House Indepedently

FSBO, commonly pronounced as “fizzbo,” stands for “For Sale by Owner” in the real estate world. It’s a term many are familiar with.

Many homeowners opt to sell their property without the assistance of a real estate agent primarily to avoid the 6-7% commission that typically gets split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents. This can translate to a significant sum!

However, for those selling their home for the first time, the savings from FSBO might not compensate for the added stress and uncertainty. In this piece, we’ll guide you in deciding if FSBO is the right choice for you by addressing these key points:

  • What role does a real estate agent play in selling a home?
  • What’s needed to sell your property without an agent?
  • Is the financial gain from skipping an agent worth the potential challenges?

What’s the Role of Real Estate Agents?

Role of Real Estate Agent

Why exactly are you shelling out 6-7% of the closing price to these professionals? Here’s a breakdown of the services real estate agents provide to justify their commission:

Conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) to set the right price for your property Enlist your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Promote your property through ads, online platforms, and brochures Organize open houses and events to spotlight your home Stand by your side during discussions and at the closing table

This leads to the inevitable questions:

  • Can I handle these realtor tasks myself?
  • And is the effort truly worth the savings?

While it’s feasible to undertake these responsibilities yourself, remember the invaluable expertise and resources a realtor brings to the table. They simplify the complex world of property transactions, offering a smoother experience. As you contemplate your choices, factor in the worth of your tranquility when considering their fee!

Still on the fence about hiring an agent? Dive deeper below to understand the intricacies of selling a home without one, helping you gauge if the endeavor aligns with your energy and commitment!

How to Navigate a Home Sale Without an Agent?

Here, we’ll walk you through the steps to take on the role of a realtor yourself.

Determine the Right Price for Your Property

House Price

Setting the right price isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. A misjudged price can greatly affect your FSBO journey. Often, homeowners have a biased view of their property’s worth, leading to overpricing and prolonged time on the market without any takers.

Typically, realtors assess comps (similar properties) to gauge your home’s market value. This assessment can be complex, as even neighboring properties can vary in value. It’s essential to impartially evaluate factors like market trends, financing options, location, size, and unique features of your property. 

Engaging a professional appraiser might be a wise move for this step.

Self-List Your Property on MLS with a One-Time Fee

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the primary database for property listings across the U.S. While agents usually handle this for their clients, you can do it independently by paying a nominal one-time fee.

It’s worth noting that many buyer’s agents will be scouting properties on the MLS.

Promote Your Home with Ads and Brochures

Before diving into your promotional strategy, pinpoint the unique selling propositions of your property and highlight them!

Your promotional content should not just list the basics (like location, size, and number of rooms) but should also spotlight appealing features, such as hardwood floors or a newly renovated kitchen.

Once you’ve identified these standout features, ensure they’re prominently featured in your promotional materials, complemented by high-quality photographs.

For promotion, you can opt for traditional methods like distributing brochures and placing ‘For Sale’ signs in your yard. Alternatively, embrace the digital age by setting up a dedicated website, posting on local FSBO Facebook groups, or enrolling in an FSBO online listing service. Ideally, employ a mix of these methods to tap into a broader audience.

Host an Open House Solo

Organizing an open house is no small feat. Before setting a date, ensure your home is in pristine condition—this means thorough cleaning, polishing surfaces, and ensuring every nook and cranny is spotless. Every tiny detail can influence a potential buyer’s decision.

For safety reasons, secure all valuables and personal documents. Consider setting up surveillance cameras or maintaining a visitor log for those who come to view your property. 

If the idea of an open house seems daunting, consider using a lockbox system. This allows agents to show your home to potential buyers at their convenience, without you being present. However, this means your home should always be in a presentable state.

Discuss the Buyer’s Agent Commission

Even if you’re going solo, there’s a high chance your potential buyer will have an agent. This agent will typically expect a commission of 3-3.5% of the sale price.

Refusing to pay this commission might deter agents and, by extension, potential buyers. You essentially have two choices:

Cover the buyer’s agent’s commission, benefiting from the smoother transaction that an agent can facilitate. Or, negotiate this commission into the home’s final sale price. It’s challenging to finalize a property sale without involving a third party, especially when legalities come into play. 

Ensure Your Contract is Valid and Abides by All Regulations

Contract is Valid

When you’re close to sealing the deal, the buyer will present a contract for your review. This document might require some back and forth until both parties reach an agreement.

Most regions have standardized real estate contracts. If you’re unfamiliar with these, it’s wise to consult an attorney to review the terms.

Remember, your contract should also adhere to national regulations, such as the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against buyers based on factors like ethnicity, religion, or gender.

Safeguard Yourself Financially from Potential Liabilities

Navigating the intricacies of real estate escrow can be daunting. One perk of partnering with a real estate agent is their Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance. This policy protects them from potential oversights during the intricate financial negotiations.

As an independent seller, it’s prudent to consider an E&O Insurance policy to shield yourself from potential financial liabilities.

For example, our platform provides a specialized 6-month E&O policy tailored for FSBO sellers. This policy offers coverage up to $25,000 in case of legal disputes or significant disclosure violations. Plus, our user-friendly mobile escrow app lets you monitor your escrow’s progress, demystifying an otherwise complex procedure!

Pros And Cons of Selling Your Home Independently (Without an Agent)

✅ Advantages: No agent commission | Complete autonomy |❌ Disadvantages: Potential for lower sale value | Time-intensive | Legal complexities

Choosing to sell your home without the assistance of a real estate agent might seem appealing, especially when you consider saving up to 3% in agent fees. However, bypassing an agent doesn’t always mean more profit for you.

The money saved on agent fees can be offset by challenges like mispricing, longer listing durations, and other obstacles faced by independent sellers (FSBO). In reality, many who initiate an FSBO transaction eventually turn to a real estate professional to navigate the intricate and high-pressure realm of property sales.

Deciding to sell your property independently is a significant financial and operational choice. Thoroughly explore your alternatives before determining your selling method. If you’re uncertain about collaborating with a real estate professional, this breakdown of advantages and disadvantages will guide your decision.

Pros of selling your home independently:

For those with prior home-selling experience, a ready buyer, or ample time to manage every aspect of the sale, FSBO might be an attractive option.

✅ No agent fees

Opting for an independent sale means you avoid the typical listing agent fee, which is usually around 2.5-3% of the property’s final sale price. While 3% might seem minimal, on a $500,000 property, that’s a substantial $15,000.

Though you might still need to cover the buyer’s agent fee (around 2.5-3%), there’s room to negotiate favorable terms with the buyer, such as a reduced sale price for expedited closing or fewer conditions.

✅ Full authority over the sale

Selling independently grants you total control: from setting the price and marketing strategies to scheduling viewings and negotiations. This autonomy allows you to manage your timetable without syncing with an agent for property showings, inspections, etc.

Direct communication with the buyer or their agent is another perk of this approach. If you’re confident in handling discussions and overseeing the entire transaction, FSBO provides more hands-on involvement than using an agent.

However, be prepared: a survey revealed that 73% of buyers believe they can negotiate better deals with FSBO sellers. So, gear up for some tough negotiations.

Cons of Selling Your Home Independently

❌ Potential for Reduced Sale Value

Statistics indicate that homes sold by owners tend to fetch about 26% less than those listed with agents. This difference can negate any savings from avoiding agent commissions.

To illustrate, a $500,000 property might only secure $370,000 if sold independently, a 26% reduction. While you might save on the agent’s fee (2.5%), the overall loss would be around $117,500.

Comparison for a $500,000 property: Selling WITHOUT an agent: $370,000 (26% below asking) – $9,250 (2.5% buyer commission) = $360,750 total earnings. Selling WITH an agent: $500,000 (asking price) – $12,500 (2.5% buyer commission) – $12,500 (2.5% listing commission) = $475,000 total earnings. » MORE: Expenses of Selling a Home Independently

❌ Challenges in Pricing

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) highlighted that the primary challenge for independent sellers in 2022 was accurately pricing their homes. Mispricing can deter potential buyers and impact your final earnings. Without an agent, you’ll either have to determine a fair market value yourself or invest in a professional appraisal. In contrast, agents typically provide comparative market analyses to set competitive prices.

❌ Time and Stress

Factors Real estate transactions demand constant attention, often extending into evenings and weekends. With the average property listing lasting 48 days, expect to dedicate a significant amount of time to the sale. As an independent seller, you’ll handle tasks typically managed by agents, such as:

  • Marketing strategies
  • Property viewings
  • Negotiation processes
  • Legal documentation

Balancing a home sale with personal and professional commitments can be overwhelming. It’s essential to recognize that the selling process might be more prolonged and demanding than anticipated.

MARKETING LIKE A PRO-Independent sellers often face limitations in reaching potential buyers due to restricted marketing tools. While agents utilize the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to showcase properties on major real estate platforms, independent sellers might need to invest in flat-fee MLS services to gain similar exposure.

❌ Potential for Mistakes and Legal Complications

Handling contracts and paperwork means ensuring compliance with regional real estate regulations. Given that real estate contracts are legally binding, errors can result in delayed closings, penalties, contract breaches, or even legal disputes.


What is a private listing?

A private listing refers to a property sale where the details are not publicly advertised or disclosed. Instead, the information is shared with a select group of potential buyers or agents.

What does it mean to sell privately?

Selling privately means that a property owner chooses to sell their property without using a real estate agent or listing it on public platforms. The seller handles all aspects of the sale, from marketing to negotiations.

What does it mean to be sold privately?

When a property is sold privately, it means that the transaction occurred without the involvement of a public listing or a real estate agent. The sale details are typically kept confidential.

What is self sell?

Self sell refers to the process where homeowners sell their properties directly without the assistance of a real estate agent. This approach allows the seller to avoid paying agent commissions.

Can you sell on Marketplace privately?

Yes, on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, you can choose to list items privately, meaning only certain people or groups can view the listing. This provides a level of privacy while still utilizing the platform’s reach.

How does personal selling work?

Personal selling involves direct interaction between a seller and a potential buyer. It’s a one-on-one communication method where the seller aims to persuade the buyer to make a purchase. This approach is common in industries like insurance, real estate, and high-end retail.

What is passive sell?

Passive sell refers to a sales approach where the seller doesn’t actively pursue potential buyers. Instead, they wait for interested parties to approach them. It’s the opposite of aggressive or active selling.

Is it hard to sell yourself?

Selling oneself, whether in job interviews, business pitches, or other scenarios, can be challenging for many. It requires confidence, a clear understanding of one’s strengths and value proposition, and effective communication skills. The difficulty varies among individuals based on their self-awareness and comfort in self-promotion.

Is Going Solo in Home Selling a Practical Choice?

Deciding whether FSBO is the right path involves balancing the possible expenses mentioned earlier against the potential savings from bypassing a real estate agent’s services.

These costs are concrete and don’t factor in the time you’ll invest in research, marketing, and negotiation. Additionally, there’s the emotional toll of navigating the uncertainties and stress of the process. However, if you’re proactive, self-reliant, and can spare the time, taking the FSBO route might just be a perfect fit for you!

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