If you are considering not using a real estate agent to sell your home, it may be because you think you could save money onCommission fees. While this is true, and in some cases it may go well, it is worth noting that real estate agents

It’s not as easy as it seems. Selling a home is often a complex process, and you need to have the right expertise and enough time to close a deal that gets you a fair price.

This article looks at the pros and cons of selling your house without a real estate agent. It discusses the challenges and rewards of doing so and lists other professionals you may need to seek help from if you decide to go through with the sale on your own.

What Is For Sale By Owner?

Homeowners who choose to sell their home without the help of a real estate agent are responsible for all aspects of the sale, from listing the home and showing it to prospective buyers, to negotiating the deal and closing.

FSBOs usually fall into one of these two categories:

  • The seller and buyer know each other. If you want to sell your home to a family member or friend, you might find it easy to sell without a real estate agent. It’s assumed that many FSBO transactions fall under this scenario because, as a National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey noted, 46% of FSBO sellers did not actively market their home, which seems to indicate the buyers and sellers knew each other.
  • The seller wants to go it alone. You can lead the process to set a price for your home, market it online and handle all the negotiations. There are plenty of ways to get assistance with the FSBO process, including websites such as fsbo.com and forsalebyowner.com that showcase homes across the country.

Benefits of Selling Your Home Yourself

Most people are motivated by money to consider going it alone. Here are three benefits to FSBO:

  • FBSO can save you money. A seller can save several thousand dollars in commission fees by not hiring a real estate agent. The more DIY you make it, the less you’re likely to pay others. But you’ll need to account for the many costs associated with home listing and selling, such as posting the home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Also, if the buyer has an agent, you’ll probably pay that agent’s commission, which could be up to 3% of the sale price.
  • You control the process. You can determine your price, whether or where the house is marketed and handle all negotiations when you opt for FSBO. Of course, you also have a say in all of these things when you work with an agent.
  • Your home may sell quicker. The NAR admitted in a recent survey that FSBO homes sold more quickly than agent-assisted homes. The NAR says 77% of FSBO homes were sold in two weeks or less, but that’s usually because the seller knows the buyer.

Drawbacks of Selling Your Home Yourself

There is a reason why some home sellers try FSBO for a while, then decide to hire an agent after not selling their home—it’s not easy. Here are a couple of reasons FSBO might not work well:

  • You lack expertise. Unless you have an extensive background in real estate, you might not be able to effectively handle the most important parts of the job, such as setting a market-friendly price, staging and marketing the home, and reviewing and negotiating a purchase contract and other details. You can’t afford to fail in any of those areas.
  • It takes much of your time. FSBO sounds like a cool DIY project–you know the home, the neighborhood and what you want to get for the home, and it’s a hot market. Sounds easy, right? But consider the hours it will take to determine the price, stage the home (including making necessary repairs), marketing and showing the home and negotiations.

7 Steps to Sell Your Home Yourself

If after looking at the benefits and drawbacks of selling your home on your own, you decide FSBO is still the right move, there are things you can do to better position yourself for success. Follow these steps when selling your home on your own:

1. Weigh the Pros and Cons

This is a very important transaction, and you want to make sure you do it right. Consider all factors, not just how much money you might save. For example, trying to sell your current home while looking for a new one can be difficult.

2. Get the House Ready

Making minor repairs in addition to freshening up the interior and exterior of your home is an important step to take whether you’re selling your home on your own or working with an agent. It’s best to do this before marketing your home so you’re not trying to do too many things at once. You also want to have the home staged as early as possible for photos that will be posted online.

3. Set the Price

If you want to find out how much your home is worth, you could look at homes sold in your area, get a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent, or consult real estate websites. You might also want to hire an appraiser, as you will need one when you buy a home.

4. Market the Home

There are several options for selling your house by owner, including the MLS, and the costs can add up if you’re not careful. You could also put up yard signs, print flyers, post on social media, talk to friends and family, and possibly even set up your own website.

5. Show the Home

If you are selling your home, you may have to do some in-person visits with prospective buyers and inspectors. This can be tricky, especially if you have children and pets to get out of the home for every showing or if you have concerns about coronavirus-related exposure. One alternative is to offer a video tour that’s live or online, but eventually, the prospective buyers and inspector will need to have an in-person look.

6. Review Paperwork and Negotiate

A lawyer can help you to understand a buyer’s offer and purchase contract. The buyer may try to include contingencies that make the purchase dependent on an inspection. You may also need to provide disclosures to buyers, which are often required by state law.

7. Close the Sale

The conclusion of the process might require you to have a lawyer if you have not already done so. The goal is that, once the process is complete, you will get the price you want for a lower cost than if you had hired an agent.

Experts You May Still Need to Hire

Even if you choose to sell the home yourself, there are some real estate professionals you may need to hire to help you complete the process, including:

  • An appraiser. A professional appraiser could provide some valuable insight into how your home compares with similar ones in your area.
  • A real estate attorney. Unless you are an expert in contract law and negotiating expensive deals, you might want to consult with a real estate attorney who can help review the purchase contract, negotiate issues related to the inspection and assist at closing.
  • A title company. Sellers usually provide the owner’s title insurance policy, which can be obtained through a title company. Once you are under contract, the title company could be an impartial third party to hold the buyer’s earnest money. The company also could help you with preparing closing documents and disbursing funds at closing.

The iBuyer Option

A new digitally based option to sell your home without an agent has emerged in the last several years, led by websites such as Opendoor, Redfin (Redfin Direct) and Zillow (Zillow Offers). They’re called iBuyer sites, and generally operate in this way:

  • If you sell direct, you can get paid quickly–possibly within days–and the company might take care of any repairs that might be needed
  • If you list, the company will help you find a buyer. Opendoor offers buyers a $10,000 interest-free advance for renovations

When considering a home-buying service, it is important to be aware of any limitations on the number or type of services available, as well as any costs associated with using the site. In many cases, these sites work on a fee-based model, which can still result in some savings compared to handling the process entirely on your own.

How Much Can You Realistically Save With FSBO?

Sellers who are able to sell their homes without using a real estate agent can save themselves a lot of money, but there are many factors that can affect this.

This text is discussing how, in some cases, selling a home to a family member can be less expensive than selling to a stranger. This is because, if you have agreed upon a fair market price, you will not need to spend money on marketing and will only need to hire a real estate attorney, which would be less than $500.

The standard commission for real estate agents is somewhere between 5-6%. This means that on a 200,000 dollar home, the agent will make around 10-12,000 dollars. If the agent is working with both the buyer and the seller, they will most likely split the commission with the other agent.

If you try to sell your house by yourself, the costs for getting it ready to show, marketing it, and hiring experts and partners such as lawyers and appraisers could cut your total savings by $1,000 or more (unless you would have needed to hire a lawyer regardless).

It can take a lot of time to sell a house. You may have to spend many hours preparing, marketing, and showing your home. You may also have to negotiate an offer and the closing.

NAR’s 2018 home sales survey found that 8% of sales were FSBO, with an average price of $218,000. In contrast, agent-assisted sales averaged $295,000.

If you’re comfortable taking on the task of selling your own home and feel confident in your abilities, then going the for-sale-by-owner route may be worth your while. However, you may discover that it’s worth the investment to hire a professional real estate agent to handle such a big and important sale.

How does selling by owner (FSBO) work?

Note: This is not legal advice. This is a general guide for FSBO sales and yard signs, but rules may vary depending on the state or MLS. Each state has its own regulations for what sellers are required to disclose to buyers. HomeLight recommends that you look into the local regulations for your area and when in doubt, consult with a legal advisor.

In a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) scenario, the seller takes on the responsibilities of the listing agent, such as pricing the home, arranging showings, and negotiating the deal.

In an agent-assisted sale, the seller and the buyer’s agent each typically receive 3% of the sale price as a commission. This commission is deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. If a seller sells their property without using an agent (FSBO), they may still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission, but they will save on the cost of the listing agent commission.

If you are working with a buyer’s agent, they will likely expect to be compensated for their work in arranging showings and helping to tee up and qualify the buyer. If the seller is not working with an agent, the buyer’s agent may have to do more work to get the deal to the finish line.

Steps to sell a house by owner

Next, let’s review the FSBO process step by step.

1. Prepare your house for sale

No matter how you plan on selling your home, you will want to make sure it is in good condition before anyone comes to see it. This will increase your chances of getting a fair price for it. Here are a few things you should do to get it ready:


These efforts will go a long way toward impressing buyers:

  • Declutter floors, shelves, and surfaces throughout the home.
  • Make small fixes and repairs, like a leaky faucet or broken door handle.
  • Lightly update with new light fixtures, faucets, or cabinet hardware.
  • Refinish hardwood floors.
  • Repaint bold walls (or those that look dingy) in a neutral color.
  • Reduce furniture in crowded rooms — consider a temporary storage unit.
  • Stage the home with final touches like fresh-cut flowers or a basket of fresh produce.
  • Use rugs to define spaces and place them strategically.
  • Deep clean until the house is sparkling.


The average buyer is willing to pay 7% more for a house that looks good from the outside than one whose exterior has been neglected, according to HomeLight’s 2022 Top Agents Insight Report.

Some important curb appeal upgrades can include:

  • Mow the lawn and pull weeds.
  • Apply fresh mulch liberally.
  • Upgrade your landscaping. Consider a new walkway, flowerbed, or shrubs.
  • Add a fresh coat of exterior paint.
  • Install a new garage door if yours is looking old or not working properly

2. Do the homework necessary to set a competitive price

You have reached an important point in your process of selling your home without a real estate agent: setting a listing price. You don’t want to sell for less than the home is worth, but you want to generate interest in the listing.

An agent doing a comparative market analysis will look at homes similar to the one being listed that have recently sold, that are currently pending, that are on the market, or that were previously listed but taken off the market.

If you don’t have an agent, you will not be able to get a full CMA or the knowledge to interpret it.

You can set a competitive price yourself with a little time and money.

Conduct your own “CMA Lite”

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and research.

Start with an online home value estimate

By using publicly available data, HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator provides an estimate of your home’s value. Some of the data used includes tax records and assessments, your home’s last sale price, and recent sales records for similar properties in the same neighborhood.

3. Photograph your home

The photos of a property listed for sale can have a big impact on whether or not it attracts buyers or repels them.

If you want your listing to stand out, you should hire a professional real estate photographer. While they may cost around $100 to $125 an hour, it will be worth it, according to Fields.

But if you do go the DIY route, make sure to:

  • Use a good camera with a wide-angle lens.
  • Pay attention to lighting.
  • Include a photo of every room.
  • Take multiple pictures of living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms.
  • Try shooting different angles.

If you need help taking quality real estate photos, be sure to check out our guide.

4. Create a detailed, compelling listing

The text is saying that in order to create a good listing, you should use both a description of the property’s key features, and also provide additional details about the property itself.

Tell a story with your description

Draw in potential buyers with a powerful listing description which tells a story about your house, including details like:

  • Your home’s most unique and desirable features, like a breakfast nook or sunroom
  • Recent upgrades like a kitchen or bathroom remodel or new roof or HVAC system
  • High-end appliances, materials, or finishes
  • Outdoor features like a pool or patio
  • Neighborhood features and amenities
  • Nearby parks, walking trails, restaurants, and attractions

5. List your home online

It’s finally time to post your home online. Creating a FSBO listing on a popular search site is free, but you would have to post site by site, and your listing wouldn’t reach the majority of buyers and agents.

The best way to make sure your home gets seen by potential buyers is to pay to have it listed on your local MLS. This is a platform that real estate agents use to share properties with each other and with major real estate websites. If you list your home on MLS, it will appear in buyers’ agent databases and on common websites that buyers use.

You can only post to the MLS as a licensed real estate agent or broker who is an MLS member. However, you have two options to gain access: you can pay an agent to post for you or use an FSBO platform online.

Ready to sell your home?

selling a house by owner takes a lot of time and energy. You have to find comparable houses in the area, take good pictures, create a listing, advertise the house online, deal with questions and offers, and finalize the sale. And that’s after you’ve already fixed up the house.

Although selling your home without the help of an agent may save you money upfront, you are likely to sell your home for less than you would if you had an agent. An experienced agent can help guide you in making targeted upgrades to your home that will help you get a higher sale price, offsetting the cost of their commission. They can also save you time and headaches.