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Selling A House Without A REALTOR: Should You Do It?

Before you make any decisions, you must have a clear understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of working with an agent.

When you’re ready to move, it can be tempting to want to sell your house without a REALTOR® or real estate agent. After all, who wouldn’t be frustrated by the thought of having to give up a chunk of the proceeds from their sale? However, there are certain downsides involved in selling your property by yourself.

Before you make any decisions, you must have a clear understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of working with an agent. In this article, we’ll help you decide whether you should sell your home solo, and even give you tips for how you can do it successfully – if you choose to do so.

What Are FSBO Listings?

FSBO listings are properties on the market that are advertised as being “for sale by owner.” They differ from traditional market listings in that the entire transaction is completed without the assistance of a licensed real estate agent.

In reality, FSBO listings aren’t all that common. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, only 8% of homes sold in 2020 were FSBO listings. Most commonly, sellers will decide to list their homes without an agent because they don’t want to pay the commission to a listing agent.

However, smart sellers typically only follow through with a FSBO listing if they:

  1. Are conducting a non-arm’s length transaction. Such transactions often occur when the buyer and seller already know each other and attempt to find terms that satisfy both parties’ interests.
  2. Have a lot of previous experience handling real estate transactions.

How Do Home Sales Without REALTORS® Work?

Home sales conducted without REALTORS® or agents work very similarly to those conducted with them. However, the process of selling a house without hiring an agent differs primarily in the listing phase.

When a seller obtains representation, the real estate agent lists the home on the local multiple listing service (MLS), where the majority of agents find available properties to send to their buyers. Unfortunately, only licensed agents have access to the MLS. Therefore, homeowners cannot list their homes on the MLS themselves.

FSBO sellers can pay specialized real estate companies a flat fee to list their homes on the MLS. However, these services usually cost a few hundred dollars and don’t include any kind of representation. As a result, most homeowners decide to list their homes for free on online listing services, like ForSaleByOwner.com.

Pros And Cons Of Selling Without A Real Estate Agent

Selling without a real estate agent is a tremendous undertaking. Before you decide to sell without an agent, you must make sure that you’re ready for the responsibility. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons involved, so you can decide if selling your home independently is the right decision for you.

Pros

A seller may get a greater feeling of satisfaction, knowing that they were able to sell their home without the assistance of a real estate agent. Here are a couple of more specific pros behind doing so.

  • FSBO sellers can save money on a real estate agent’s commission. Selling a home independently allows homeowners to avoid paying a listing agent’s commission. However, these sellers will still have to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission if the buyer is represented.
  • FSBO sellers have more control over the process. FSBO sellers don’t have to worry about real estate agents’ opinions differing from their own. They have the confidence in knowing that they can dictate the terms and dedicate as much time to selling their home as they desire.
  • FSBO homes can sell faster because they’re often sold through a non-arm’s length transaction. The National Association of REALTORS® reports that in 2020, 77% of FSBO homes sold in under 2 weeks. The speed of these sales was usually a result of the fact that the sellers sold their homes to individuals they already knew.

Cons

Selling a FSBO home is typically much harder and more labor-intensive on the seller, who often does not have the experience, access or connections necessary to price, market and negotiate the property. Let’s take a look at some specific drawbacks of FSBO sales.

  • FSBO sellers will still have to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission. As the National Association of REALTORS® notes, 88% of 2020 home buyers used an agent when purchasing their homes. Therefore, it’s more likely than not that FSBO sellers will be forced to pay a 3% commission and be the only party that doesn’t benefit from representation.
  • FSBO sellers are more likely to over- or underprice their property. Pricing property can be challenging for FSBO sellers because they don’t have experience with the market and may be clueless as to what would constitute as fair market value for their home. Overpricing can cause the home to linger on the market while underpricing will minimize their proceeds.
  • FSBO listings tend to sell for less than homes sold by real estate agents. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2020, the median sale price of FSBO homes was $217,900, while the median price of homes sold by agents was $242,300.
  • It’s harder for FSBO homes to get publicity without an agent. However, FSBO sellers must find a way to get buyers and buyer’s agents to see their home either through individual showings or open houses.
  • FSBO sellers are often inexperienced negotiators. Once the FSBO home receives an offer, the seller must negotiate the price and terms to ensure that they walk away satisfied. This last step again requires the FSBO seller to precisely determine what the home is worth and which types of contingent offers are safe to accept.

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