How to Sell Your House Without a Realtor

October 15, 2013

sell your houseOne of the advantages of having a real estate agent sell your home is that you have access to their expertise. In addition the agent is working on your behalf so that you don’t have to do as much with the nuts and bolts of selling your home. The biggest downside is the fact that you have to pay a commission.

Many real estate agents take a 5% to 6% commission on a home. On a $180,000 sale, 5% is $9,000 – that’s money not going into your pocket. Whether realtors are worth it is a topic we’ve discussed before and it really depends on your personal situation.

However, if you’ve decided not to use a real estate agent to sell your house, here are some things to consider.

1. Understand the market.

Research your area and understand the local market. Find out what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for. You can also ask a couple of real estate agents to come by and give you some analysis. If you are up front about your desire to sell the home on your own, some may pay you a visit. They want to leave a good impression just in case you get tired of trying to go it alone. Get a realistic idea of what you can expect for your home and try to avoid pricing it too high.

2. Advertise your home.

You can’t sell your home if no one knows it’s for sale. To spread the word, you’ll need to advertise your property.

You can do this with ads in the local classifieds, which can be quite reasonable. You can also list online with a service like For Sale By Owner. These cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000, depending on the service and what is included. Some sort of listing is a good idea, since it will make your home more searchable in databases used by real estate agents and buyers when they are looking for homes.

For the best exposure you can have your home included in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) by agreeing to pay the commission of the buyer’s agent when your house sells. This is typically about 3% of the sale price – which is still a lot of money but better than 6%.

If you have some free time and want to be creative, you can take pictures of your home, and put them online on a website or blog of your own. Getting people to your site will be the trick but if you’re creative enough you might be able to draw attention from local media or local bloggers.

3. Know the paperwork.

Perhaps the most difficult portion of selling your home without a real estate agent is making sure that the paperwork is in order. You can get help on this from a trusted attorney, preferrably one with experience dealing in real estate.

The legal fees you’ll pay won’t be cheap but will be less than what you would pay in commission. You can do the paperwork yourself, but you need to make sure that you are in compliance with all the state and federal laws that apply. Take some time to educate yourself about these things before you begin.

4. Prepare to work hard.

Selling your home is hard work. Be prepared to show the home, negotiate, and keep it clean. You may need to stage your house or enhance its curb appeal. You also need to be ready to put in the hours necessary to educate yourself and properly advertise your home. If you are prepared, you can sell your home on your own – and save yourself the commission fee.

Are you thinking about selling your house on your own? What questions might you have? Leave a comment!

This article was originally published May 6th, 2011.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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8 Responses to How to Sell Your House Without a Realtor

  • Financial Samurai

    I’ve thought about selling a home myself b/c of the ridiculous commission rates and high absolute fee. But then I’m torn b/c a good realtor is worth his or her weight.

    I’d love to read about your experience Miranda of selling your home without a realtor and whether you found the experience good and profitable financially. What made you decide to go without a realtor?



  • Brian

    Hi Miranda! Great writeup! I agree with a lot of extra due-diligence and work you can sell your house and the benefits can be good. Thanks for sharing the other possibilities for home owners!

  • Catrine

    You’re right! With a little more effort we can do it ourselves! Maybe it will take time but we will save money!

  • Tom

    I think preparing to work hard is key for this type of thing. On the other hand, in cities like Vancouver, where you can’t get anything under $300K, those commissions really add up. If you’re willing to put in some time, you could save big on commissions.


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