Should You Go Solo with a FSBO? The Pros and Cons of Selling Your House Without a REALTOR
Wendy Kedzierski
July 20, 2022 — Read in 5 mins

It’s time to sell your home, and you’re weighing the pros and cons of using a REALTOR. After all, if you sell it yourself, won’t you save money by not having to pay the listing agent’s commission?

Not so fast! The benefits of using an agent are numerous and this value usually outweighs the commission charge. And don’t forget: If you’re buying a home, there’s no out-of-pocket cost to you because buyers’ agents are paid from the proceeds of the sale.

Here’s some general information about FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sellers according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

  • Only seven percent of recent home sales were FSBO sales this year. This is slightly down from seven percent last year, and is a historical low share recorded since this report started in 1981.
  • The majority of FSBO sellers, 57 percent, knew the buyer of the home.
  • Within rural areas 12 percent sold via FSBO compared to four percent of sellers in urban areas.
  • FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $260,000 last year, significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $318,000.

If you’re still thinking about going, FSBO, here are a few reasons other sellers have contemplated a FSBO transaction, and some additional insight into each rationalization.

  1.  “I’ll avoid paying the listing agent’s commission.” 

On average, homes sold with a REALTOR® sell for more than a FSBO. And remember, you’ll still have to pay the buyer’s agent commission. The listing agent and the buyer’s agent typically split the commission at the close of the sale, so if you sell your home to a buyer represented by an agent, you’ll still need to pay approximately 2% to 3% of the sale price. There will probably be marketing costs as well. You’ll also spend much more time taking care of all the things a real estate agent handles, and time is money.

  1. “I get to choose the listing price and am determined to get top dollar.”

A good real estate agent knows the present market conditions inside out with access to the most recent market data. Their job is to get you top dollar, but to also be objective using the most up-to-date sales data to determine market value and pricing strategy. They will prepare a market analysis before listing to help you find the right price.

If your FSBO home languishes on the market because it was priced too high and then you drop the price, buyers will be wary and your home may become stigmatized. On the other hand, you don’t want to price too low and have seller’s remorse later on. REALTORS® will also negotiate on your behalf through potential bidding wars and fierce competition, working to make sure you get the best price.

  1. “I know the most about my home and my neighborhood.”

True, you have lived in your home and neighborhood and can show prospective buyers the home’s attributes from a first-hand perspective. However, agents know what buyers are looking for and how to get the house noticed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and on the Internet. They also have local market expertise and an established audience of people looking to buy in your neighborhood. 

  1. “I can easily advertise my house, show my house and host an open house.”

Keeping your house pristine all the time and being prepared to leave at any moment an agent calls for a showing takes work, but not as much work as the behind-the-scenes preparation of advertising, screening clients and following up with prospective buyers for feedback. Further, an agent can objectively tell you how to stage your home to highlight its assets.

What Else Does a REALTOR® Do?

Paperwork

Buying and selling a home requires mountains of documents and an adherence to many deadlines. Good real estate agents are experts when it comes to keeping all your legal and financial papers in order (contracts, legal disclosures, inspection reports, etc.) and ultimately keeping your closing on track. 

Network

REALTORS® have a vast network and experience working with other industry-related professionals and service providers. From inspectors and home repair pros to top-quality lenders and attorneys, you will benefit from their recommendations. You won’t have to spend time vetting contractors and other professionals – they will have a list of good, experienced prospects.

Access

For buyers, real estate agents have expanded search power through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) with access to all sorts of listings – even those that haven’t even hit the market yet. For sellers, this access will give you information on comparable sales and easily get your property on the MLS, which has a global audience. (Keep in mind that many real estate agents will steer their clients away from FSBOs for a number of reasons. They may have found previous FSBOs more difficult to work with than working with another knowledgeable agent.)

Expertise

Experienced real estate agents not only have the proper licensure and education, they also have been around the block a time or two – or a hundred. They know how to navigate even the most complicated situations. They have important knowledge of liability, property disclosures and reports that a novice may not have. One small mistake could ruin the sale. They also know how to show your house in its best light, enlisting professional photographers/videographers who specialize in residential photos.

Convenience

From showing, staging and advertising your home, to coordinating inspections and appraisals, enlisting the help of a REALTOR® will save you time and energy. In the end, if you decide to sell your home on your own, you may quickly find yourself in over your head. 

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