If you’re getting ready to sell your house, you may be wondering how to do so without a realtor. Tackling this task on your own can be daunting.
Fortunately, it can be done if you have the right information and are willing to put in the work. In this article, you’ll learn how to sell your house yourself without a realtor.
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Why to Consider Selling Your House Yourself
The main reason people consider selling their house on their own is the cost savings. A quality real estate agent typically charges between 6% and 7% to list and sell a home.
While high, this fee is valid. Real estate agents put a lot of effort into listing and selling homes.
There are initial visits with prospective clients, preparation for market analyses, professional photos that need to be taken and more.
Then, there are the tasks of fielding calls from prospective buyers and buyer agents, loads of paperwork and creating a property-specific marketing plan.
Listing and selling a home involves hours upon hours of work. Due to the intricacies and legal requirements of selling a home, using a qualified real estate agent may be your best bet.
However, you might decide that you want to sell your home yourself because you can’t stomach the commission rate local realtors charge.
Or, you may not be in a position where you can pay the commission rate if your mortgage balance is too close to your home’s current value.
Whatever your reason for wanting to sell your home on your own, it is doable.
How to Sell Your Home by Yourself
Research and readiness are critical when you go about selling your home on your own. Follow these guidelines as you prepare to take on this task.
1. Determine Your Home’s Fair Market Value
When you want to sell your home by yourself, the first step is to determine your home’s fair market value. This is how much you will list your home for and should be a reasonable price.
There are a few ways you can go about determining a fair market value for your home.
Use Real Estate Valuation Websites
The first option is to use a real estate website like Zillow. It’s crucial to note that Zillow and other real estate valuation sites have systems in place to determine home values.
Unfortunately, these valuations are not as accurate as a market analysis done by a local real estate agent. It’s not uncommon for real estate valuation site estimates to differ from a home’s actual market value.
This is why using a real estate valuation website to determine your home’s sale price can be risky. A site may determine your market value is lower or higher than it actually is.
Using too low of a valuation means you could lose out on money. A high valuation could result in your home sitting on the market for too long, causing buyers to lose interest.
Get a Comparative Market Analysis
Another option for determining the value of your home is to contact a local real estate agent and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).
A CMA is a report that compares your home with similar homes in your area that have sold recently or are currently on the market.
Professional CMA programs use listings and recent sales of similar homes, along with important individual home criteria, to determine the value of your home.
Values are determined based on several criteria, including:
- House style
- Home size
- Number of beds and baths
- Size of home lot
And more. Since a local CMA uses homes that are close to yours as a part of their analysis, you can be confident that the CMA is more accurate.
The key to getting an accurate CMA is to look at comparable sales within the report to ensure they reflect your home’s style, size and other features.
Pro Tip: When you call a local agent to ask for a CMA, tell them you plan to sell your home on your own. Also, be prepared to pay for this service. Don’t expect a real estate agent to work for free.
Hire a Licensed Appraiser
Another option for determining the value of your home is to hire a licensed appraiser. Note that doing so will likely cost you a few hundred dollars, so going to a local real estate agent for a CMA may be cheaper.
When searching for a local appraiser, be sure to explain that you’re looking for a marketable value for your home as you work to prepare it for sale.
Most appraisers are hired to ensure a home’s value meets the sales price on an accepted offer, so knowing the purpose of the appraisal helps the appraiser to shift their mindset.
2. Prepare Your Home for Attracting Buyers
Next, it’s time to prepare your home for attracting buyers. In order to effectively market your home, there are a few things you should do first.
Here are some tasks to complete as you prepare your home for sale:
- Clean and declutter
- Ensure there is good lighting in all rooms
- Freshen the air with natural (not chemical) deodorizers
- Remove or store valuables and medications
- Make necessary repairs
- Consider a new coat of paint if needed
- Tidy up your front yard
Completing these tasks before you start advertising your home will help set you up for success as potential buyers begin looking at your home.
3. Market Your Home
Marketing your home is vital if you want people to know that it’s available for sale. Here are some ways you can market your home for maximum exposure to the public.
Get a Good Yard Sign
A real estate “for sale” sign with a professional appearance is important when selling your own home. Don’t just pick up a black and white “for sale” sign and write your phone number on it with a sharpie.
Instead, search online for “real estate for sale yard sign” in the shopping tab. You can easily get a sign for under $100. Etsy and eBay can be great sites to search for signs as well.
Place the sign about eight feet from the curb in front of your home. Be sure to have your phone number on the sign and answer calls professionally when they start coming in.
For example, “Hello, this is John. How can I help you?”
Create Flyers or Brochures
You may want to consider creating flyers or brochures for your home. Have these available on the counter when prospective buyers come to look at your house.
Another option is to purchase a plastic brochure box to place next to your for sale sign. That way, curious shoppers can get a snapshot of your home’s features by taking a flyer.
It’s critical to include information on the brochures such as:
- Number of beds/baths
- Total square footage of the house
- Number of garage stalls
- Information about recent updates to mechanicals, etc.
- Sizes of rooms
You may also want to include information about additional amenities in the house, such as a sauna or speaker system. It doesn’t hurt to include features about the neighborhood either.
For instance, you can add information about nearby parks and other recreational attractions.
Be sure to include aesthetically pleasing photos on your flyers. Read up on what makes for a great picture, and be sure to use proper lighting.
Last but not least, be sure to have your brochures and flyers printed on high-quality paper using a quality printer. It may be best to visit a professional print shop for help with this.
You’ll want to be sure to advertise your home online. There are a few websites you can consider using for advertising your home.
Start with Facebook Marketplace and other local buy and sell sites, such as Craigslist. Also, consider paying to have your home listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
The MLS is a private cooperation between real estate agents for the purpose of sharing home listings. Generally, you can only post a home for sale on the MLS if you are a licensed real estate agent.
However, there are services out there that will list your home on the MLS for a fee. Sites such as MLSMYHOME.com charge a flat fee to put a home on the MLS.
It might be wise to spend the $100 to $200 needed to get your home listed for sale on the MLS. Getting the maximum exposure for your home can help your home sell faster.
Most buyers use the MLS listings to search for the home they want to buy, whether directly or through local real estate company websites.
Also, search professional residential real estate listings to get ideas on terminology to use in your advertisements, and don’t forget to include quality photos.
Host an Open House
Consider holding an open house after you’ve started advertising your home. Scheduling these on the weekends or weeknights can make them accessible to more potential buyers.
Advertise the details of your open house on all of the sites you are using to market your home. You can also hand out flyers in your neighborhood sharing details about your open house.
Additionally, store-bought cookies and a pitcher of water with cups can be a nice touch to give your home a welcoming feel.
4. Negotiate the Sale
If all goes well, you should start receiving offers. But how do you negotiate the sale when the offers start coming in?
This is the tricky part of selling your house yourself without the help of a realtor. There are many working parts to a purchase agreement that involve state and local real estate laws.
If one or both parties of a for-sale-by-owner real estate transaction are unaware of these laws, mistakes could lead to the potential for lawsuits in the future.
For that reason, obtaining the services of a real estate attorney before signing any purchase agreement you are offered can be a wise choice.
The one exception to this rule would be if you have former experience in the real estate industry.
You can consider searching online for real estate contracts in your state to get a better understanding of what they should include. This may help you avoid any missteps, but there are no guarantees.
There are many points of negotiation in a real estate transaction, including:
- Price point
- Closing date
- Closing costs
And more. It’s crucial that you understand every aspect of the purchase agreement you’re considering before you sign on the dotted line.
The contract needs to include all details of the sale, so make sure everything is in writing.
Whether you educate yourself on the items in the purchase agreement by hiring a real estate attorney or doing an internet search is up to you, but please proceed with caution.
What if a Real Estate Agent Brings a Buyer?
You’ll need to determine a commission amount you’ll pay if a real estate agent brings you a buyer. Most for-sale-by-owner homeowners choose a 3% commission.
You may not want to give up 3% of your home’s sale price as a commission to an agent. However, the chances of you finding a buyer who is also unrepresented by an agent are slim.
Furthermore, the risks of dealing with an unrepresented buyer can be great. They may not be approved for a loan, or they may have little knowledge of the legal pieces involved with a real estate transaction.
Choosing a buyer who is represented by a licensed real estate agent may cost you some money, but it could save you more money than you’ll pay a selling agent for bringing a client to your door.
5. Handle the Closing
Now it’s time to schedule the closing. You can choose to be represented by either a real estate attorney or a title company representative.
Which professional you use is your call. There’s typically not much difference between the two as far as price or handling the transfer of title.
However, some sellers choose to use a real estate attorney because of their extensive training in law regarding real estate transactions.
Get recommendations from trusted friends or family members. You can then contact local title companies or real estate attorneys directly if you have questions and to schedule the closing.
As with the purchase agreement, there are many working parts to the closing. This is another area where real estate transactions handled by the owner can get tricky.
Avoid unexpected errors by being in regular communication with your title company’s closer or your real estate attorney.
Here are some frequently asked questions about selling your house without a realtor.
As you peruse offers from potential buyers, ensure they include a pre-approval letter from a legit mortgage company.
Do your research online regarding the company the letter is from. Call the phone number on the letter to verify that it is valid.
You may want to conduct a background check on the buyer as well.
You will likely get agents approaching you, offering to list your house for sale. I recommend listening to their offer to see if it might appeal to you. Feel free to tell them “no” if it doesn’t.
However, you should expect to pay a commission to any agent who brings you a bona fide offer if you accept that offer and the deal closes
It depends. You may decide to hire a discount real estate broker who charges 1%, 2% or 3% to sell your house.
That technique does work for some people. Nevertheless, be prepared that there’s a reason for the steep discount on fees.
A discount real estate broker typically doesn’t provide full-service benefits. That means you may still be stuck doing a lot of the work on your own.
You might miss out on full marketing, great customer service or other benefits a full-service real estate agency will provide.
As with anything else, you typically get what you pay for in real estate representation.
Many investors and real estate companies offer to buy homes from sellers outright, no questions asked. Many of these investors are looking for a great deal so they can flip your house or rent it out.
If you feel the discounted price they’ll give you for your house is worth the ease of selling in this manner, this could be a good option for you.
That said, it is important that you know what your house is worth compared to what the investor is offering you. Do your research so you don’t get short-changed.
When it comes to how to sell your house yourself without a realtor, it’s critical to cover all of your bases.
Avoid false advertising and protect yourself from unscrupulous buyers. Use safety precautions during open houses, and get the proper professional help as you negotiate the sale and handle the closing.
Most of all, know when you’re in over your head and need to call a licensed real estate agent. You want selling your house to be a money-making experience, not a legal hassle.