How can I sell my house fast without a real estate agent?

You want to put your house on the market. Whatever the reason, whether it’s to relocate for a new job or because you’ve found the house of your dreams, you’re ready to move fast. For many people, selling your house without a traditional real estate agent might seem like the perfect way to speed up the process and save you some money, since you won’t have to pay an agent’s commission. But there are a few things to consider before proceeding on your own.

Should I sell without a real estate agent?

According to the National Association of Realtors®, only 10 percent of home sales were For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sales. However, there are times when selling your house without a traditional real estate agent can be the right decision:

  • You have a buyer already lined up.
  • You want to save money on commission fees.
  • You have plenty of time to devote to marketing and showing your home.
  • You are in a hot seller’s market.

Pros and cons of selling without a real estate agent

As with any decision, there are pros and cons to selling your house on your own. The obvious benefit is you will pocket the money you would have paid in commissions to a traditional real estate agent. The average commission can range from 3 to 6 percent, which could be a few thousand dollars you get to keep. You also have the advantage of remaining in control of the entire home-selling process.

The downside of an FSBO sale is you might end up getting a lower sale price for your home. Real estate professionals can help with pricing your home right, advising you on improving curb appeal, showing, and negotiating in your favor. Real estate transactions are one of the biggest monetary transactions you’ll make in your lifetime, so it can be tricky to do so without the insight of a professional who understands the ins and outs of negotiating and current, local market trends.

Choosing to sell FSBO is a big decision. But armed with the right information and tips, you can succeed at selling your home fast, on your own.

Steps for navigating the FSBO sales process

If you fit the above scenarios, and the pros of selling by owner outweigh the cons, you’re ready to become an FSBO seller. Our experts at Sundae have studied the selling process and have the information you need to sell your own house fast without a traditional real estate agent.

Get your home ready to put on the market

The best way to ensure a quick home sale is to have your house in picture-perfect condition. From sprucing up outside for better curb appeal to making interior spaces more appealing, what home sellers do to prep before putting their houses on the market can help sell quickly and maximize the home’s final sale price.

Focus on curb appeal

Freshen up the mulch around your entrance, plant a few fresh flowers in the window boxes, and clean the gutters, for a start. You might also consider giving the front door a bright new paint color or replacing the mailbox to attract potential home buyers.

Freshen up the interior

You might have loved the lavender in your daughter’s room or the bright yellow for your breakfast nook, but the best way to sell a house is to think neutral, so potential home buyers can imagine themselves living in the space. Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls to eliminate scuffs and brighten things up. Consider taking up old carpet, especially to showcase hardwood floors underneath. If you don’t have hardwoods, you could replace the carpet with a nice laminate for a clean new look.

update your hardware

Other fast fixer-upper ideas to get your home market-ready include switching out all the light bulbs to LED lights, which will brighten up the spaces. Also consider changing out hardware on doors, cabinets, and light switches. Investing in a few upgrades can help you get the purchase price you’re looking for and improve your odds for a quick sale.

Spend time Staging

Look at your home through the eyes of potential buyers. Put some of your furniture and clothes in storage to make the rooms and closets seem bigger.

Price it right

It sounds easier than it is to figure out the right sales price for your house. You want a sales price that will attract buyers, but at the same time, you want to make sure you get the best price you can from the sale. That’s why it’s important to do your research on current market value, especially when selling your house without the help of a listing agent.

Research comparable homes in your area

Finding out what other homes sold for is easier now than ever, thanks to the availability of real estate websites such as Redfin, Realtor, and Zillow. Use their “Find a Home” features to get lists of homes in your area and track the listing price or what they sold for.

Most traditional real estate agents recommend staying within your immediate neighborhood for a list of comparable homes, but that isn’t strictly necessary. In a slow housing market or in rural areas, you might have to cast a wider net and look within your school district or zip code.

Consider hiring an appraiser

Most of the time a market analysis is enough to get a fair listing price for your house. But if you’re having a hard time finding homes similar to yours that have sold recently in your area, you might consider hiring an appraiser. Keep in mind that appraisers value your home based on the home value, not current market value. Depending on what type of market you are in, your home could sell for more than its appraised value (something that could cause issues with closing later, if your buyer is pursuing financing from a traditional mortgage lender).

However, hiring an appraiser can be especially helpful for homes with distinctive features not common in your area, such as a detached guest house, a tennis court or solar panels. It’s also recommended in rural areas, when homes nearby aren’t necessarily similar to your property. They will be able to value your property for what it is and help you set a listing price that will get you the most money from your sale.

Take good photos

Now that your house is looking its best, make sure you take pictures that help it sell. Pay attention to set up of your photos, and make sure you’re highlighting all the features that make your home attractive to potential buyers.

Hire a professional photographer

For the best selection of photos of your house, consider paying a professional photographer who is experienced in real estate photography. With social media and online listings, photos are an important tool in getting people to take a look at your house, and are especially important when selling a house without your own agent.

List your property

You’ve got your home priced to sell, now it’s time to get it on lists so potential buyers can find your property. Online options such as Zillow, Trulia, FSBO, HomeFinder, and forsalebyowners.com allow anyone to list their house without a traditional real estate agent.

MLS listing

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) list helps get your property in front of buyer’s agents. It is also a way to help vet potential buyers to help make sure you’re only showing your house to people serious about making an offer.

Flat-fee MLS service

The MLS list is a tool intended for traditional real estate agents only, but there is a way for FSBO sellers to get on, through a flat-fee MLS service. This is a service provided by real estate agents to allow FSBO sellers the benefits of an MLS listing. While you do have to pay for the service, you’ll still save money compared to what you would pay in commission fees.

Another benefit of the MLS listing is that it automatically updates your property on all the other available lists, including real-estate websites. This means if you decide to update your listing price, you only have to do it one place, rather than logging on to each individual online listing site.

Market your house

Getting on the MLS listing is just the first step in marketing your home. FSBO sellers benefit not only from signage in the neighborhood, but also social media marketing. Take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to get your house in front of the most number of real estate agents and home buyers. This is another reason to have good professional photos, to have your house looking its best and make a good first impression.

Show it like a pro

You might have foregone hiring a traditional real estate agent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your house like one.

  • Resist the urge to hover over home buyers as they look through your house.
  • Highlight features such as a recently remodeled kitchen or bathroom, or upgraded appliances.
  • Don’t go into detail about why you’re moving.
  • Have a flyer with pertinent information, including asking price, square footage, local school system and your contact information.

Hold an open house

Open houses are a great way to get a lot of people into your house at one time. For FSBO sellers, this is especially convenient because it saves the hassle of having to schedule times for separate showings and meet up with people individually.

Carefully review offers

Once you have an offer, it’s time to decide whether you’re willing to take it or negotiate for a better deal. Home sellers in a hurry will often want to take the first offer, but if you’re in a seller’s market you have the upper hand.

Negotiate a good deal

When selling a house without a realtor, it might be tempting to take the first offer on your house. But taking time to negotiate can help you sell your house for a better price, even when selling FSBO. Most buyers will make an offer lower than list price, but it’s also lower than what they’re willing to pay.

Once you have an offer on the table, it’s time to counteroffer. More often than not, you’ll be working with the buyer’s agent. Stand firm on your home’s market value, as negotiating can be stressful.

Choose your counteroffer carefully. You can come back to them with an offer a little under listing price, or you can take a hard line negotiating tactic and hold to your original price. Either way, expect a little back and forth.

Closing costs are often used as a negotiating tactic. It’s become common for sellers to pay closing costs, so you might find you can offer that without coming down on your listing price.

Once you’ve agreed upon the home’s final sales price, it’s time to make up the sales contract. For FSBO sellers, you can find templates for sales contracts online.

Close — Tips for a faster closing

Once both you and the buyer come to an agreement, you can set a time for the closing. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, including the title, property tax information and loan documents.

The closing process takes an average of 49 days, but can close in 30 days or faster. The buyer and their mortgage loan process are a large part of what takes time at this point, but as the seller there are things you can do. Staying on top of the home inspection and the title company. Getting things done in a timely manner can make sure things go smoothly and help you sell your house fast.

Other options for selling without a real estate agent

You might think the only option to sell without a traditional real estate agent is selling FSBO and to navigate the entire selling process by yourself. There are others, however, including using a real estate attorney for parts of the selling process, or selling off-market, to a cash buyer.

Hire a real estate attorney

If you feel comfortable doing all of the listing, showing, and negotiating on your own, but the closing process and all the legal documents aren’t your cup of tea, consider hiring a real estate attorney to complete this part of the home sale process. In fact, some states require real estate attorneys to be present at the closing.

A real estate attorney will review all the documents, including the mortgage agreement and title transfer, and work with the buyer’s agent to facilitate the closing.

Sell to a cash buyer

Cash buyers are exactly what the name implies, someone who is able to make a cash sale for your property. The benefits of working with cash buyers are they often are able to move fast with the closing and there’s little worry of the sale falling through at the last minute. However, you might sacrifice getting a higher price with someone else in order to sell your house fast with the cash investor.

Seeking out individual cash buyers isn’t your only way to pursue this type of deal. By selling your house through the Sundae marketplace you can ensure that your house listing gets in front of many local investors who will compete to offer the best price. Working with Sundae can mean choosing from multiple cash offers, without the hassle of showing your home, scheduling open houses, or managing the sale process.

Successfully selling a house without a real estate agent

It might seem like a big undertaking, but if you have the time and energy, you can find success with FSBO. Alternatively, if moving fast is key or you don’t have the resources to do all the necessary prep and showings, go for an off-market sale — such as a cash sale through Sundae’s marketplace. You’ll find you can make it through the entire selling process very successfully without a traditional real estate agent.

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Composed by a team of experienced content, marketing, and real estate professionals, the Sundae Blog is a go-to authority for tips, instructions, and data-driven insights aimed at helping homeowners maintain, renovate, sell, and buy homes, while navigating a complex real estate market.

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