Can I sell my home myself?

October 7, 2018 - 4 min read

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“Can I sell my home myself?” If you’re considering a FSBO (for sale by owner), understand that there’s more to it than sticking a sign on your lawn. But selling yourself can pay off if you do the work.

  • Sellers who DIY can save a lot by avoiding real estate commissions
  • However, FSBO selling involves a lot of work — be prepared
  • Buyers may expect you to accept a lower price if you FSBO

Understand that there are alternatives to full-service real estate brokerage that may fit you perfectly while still saving you money.

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How much do FSBO sellers save?

Any commissions you’d expect to pay using a full-service real estate agent, you’ll save if you sell your home yourself, which can be as much as six percent. For example, if you sell your house the FSBO way for $300,000, you put as much as $18,000 in the bank. The more pricey your home, the more you’ll pocket if you sell yourself.

But real estate agents work to make commissions and the more they make, the higher their income. Does that mean they may negotiate sales prices that get them faster commissions, but not necessarily the best prices for you?

That’s because getting a higher price for you takes more time for real estate agents. But, that time investment may not make them more than a few hundred extra bucks. They want to move on to the next house they’ve contracted to sell, not negotiate until you’re satisfied.

If you’re a savvy negotiator who isn’t intimidated by working with buyer’s agents, you could do better by going FSBO. Putting in the time it takes to negotiate a higher price might be worthwhile since you’ll have saved more on commissions.

What work can FSBO sellers expect to do?

You’ll have to do whatever a full-service agent would do. But, start by seeing the sale of your house as a business transaction just as agents do. You achieve that by separating yourself from your home emotionally, and that’s work on its own. The sales effort you’ll make includes, at a minimum, the following:

  • Listing your home for sale on FSBO platforms or sites like Zillow or Redfin, where most buyers start searching first. You’ll take pictures and create descriptions based on site and buyer requirements. Research pricing carefully
  • Marketing or making sure your listings get seen widely, putting out signs, hanging flyers, making and taking phone calls. You’ll need to think like a buyer and be as objective as possible for the best outcome
  • Staging the house for sale and keeping it that way for showings. Be willing to depersonalize your home and live in it that way until you sell. Don’t forget curb appeal
  • Learn the rules and regulations for selling in your jurisdiction. That includes what paperwork you must provide, what disclosures you must make and what you cannot tell sellers to get them to buy
  • Scheduling regular showings at the right times. You’ll also be there while buyers walk through and (possibly) make rude comments. You should know how to answer all buyer questions accurately and honestly
  • Negotiate a firm sales price and deal with all aspects of sales contracts and closing. It’s essential not to take this process personally because you’ll get buyers who’ll try low-balling you
  • Deal with real estate professionals like buyer’s agents, appraisers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers on your own. An agent does much of that for sellers, so it’s vital you learn the ins and outs of doing it yourself

Depending on your property type, its condition and issues (need for repairs or updating), and other aspects of the sale, you may have to do more. However, if you have the time to commit and willingness and ability to learn—sometimes on the fly—it’s worth considering going FSBO.

Do FSBOs take longer to sell?

That depends mainly on what you’re selling, its features, its price and other factors unique to your home or area. How knowledgeable you are about the marketing and sales process, your market and pre-qualifying buyers for showings and sales are factors to consider. If you lack information in any of these areas, that could slow down the sales process.

Sometimes, buyers or their agents don’t want to deal with FSBO sellers, though. They feel they may involve more work because they’re not dealing with an experienced pro.

For some buyer’s agents, paying their 3 percent commission won’t sweeten your deal, either. And buyers with or without an agent will know that your commission expenses are lower, and they’ll likely expect you to pass on some of the savings to them.

Moreover, only licensed real estate agents can list on local multiple listing service or MLS. That’s the source for most buyers and their agents, and also information picked up by online real estate sites.

You can get around that by paying a flat fee to a website or real estate agent that offers the service.

This all means fewer buyers may see your home, and that means it could take longer to sell. But there are plenty of sites that show you how to avoid the problems that can delay sales. There also ways to get the best of both worlds.

Alternatives to FSBO

Multiple websites offer a home sales hybrid model that save both time and money. That allows sellers to combine the control they get selling FSBO with the benefits of having a real estate agent.

On those sites, you can learn all the aspects of selling your FSBO in your area, including the legal requirements. They supply marketing advice, and most have forums where other FSBO sellers share their experiences—and horror stories.

Choose more premium online FSBO services and get packages that provide signage, seller education tools, digital or phone support, sales forms, and MLS exposure. At the very least, you should pay for an MLS listing since you can get it locally or nationally for a flat fee.

Using the hybrid model can still save you thousands in commissions while protecting you from FSBO missteps and disasters. It also can make buyers and their agents more willing to deal with you.

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Dahna Chandler
Authored By: Dahna Chandler
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Dahna Chandler is an award-winning business and finance journalist with 20 years of experience writing for major media outlets and top blogs. She is passionate about helping wealth-minded people thrive financially by reaching their wealth objectives.