How to Sell a House Without an Agent – Selling Real Estate as an Owner

August 27, 2021 / Posted in How-to
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

Only about 8% of all Americans decide to use the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) listing method, and for a good reason – it means more work and responsibility and demands more time. Learning how to sell a house without an agent is a must if you want everything to go according to plan. Relocation brings enough stress as it is, so ensure not to add more fuel to the fire – follow our guidelines and become an FSBO pro.

Using our guidelines will guarantee a successful sale

If you have faith in yourself and your negotiation skills, it’s more than normal to ask yourself Can I sell without an estate agent? Thousands of dollars you can save that way could be put to some cause you see fit – and there is plenty to choose from when it comes to the cost of interstate relocation.

Pros and Cons of Deciding to Sell a House Without an Agent

Hiring a realtor can make the selling process, and therefore, the relocation itself, much easier, which is why they assisted almost 90% of sales in 2020. When thinking about how to sell your house without an agent and whether it is the best decision, you’ll find – on paper – a lot more cons, such as:

  • You don’t have the network a realtor has, which means you’ll get fewer potential buyers,
  • You don’t have the experience to negotiate, motivate, or assess if a buyer is qualified,
  • Because it’s your own place, it’s hard to stay objective,
  • It can harm your routine because you’ll have to answer phone calls at all times, schedule appointments, and organize open showings,
  • As an owner, you are not familiar with the market,
  • Statistically, it is more likely that your home will be sold for less.

How do you sell a house without an agent is, on the other hand, a common question for people who are looking to find the cheapest way to move out of state. One thing that is most likely to lead sellers to the FSBO option is exactly the money. By opting against hiring agents, you’ll avoid paying a commission fee, which is usually somewhere between 3% and 6% of the price for which you sold the property. Less common, but for some, a very important reason for FSBO is the possibility of being in control of everything without a mediator.

Is it hard to sell your home without a realtor? The honest answer is yes, but have no fear, as long as you stick to the plan. If you decide that FSBO is a good choice for you, know that the following guide will more than help you with the intention of selling the place by yourself. And when you do, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to save the extra cash or make your cross-country move more comfortable and safer by hiring long-distance moving services and an auto transport company.


Market Analysis, Calculators, and Special Services – Determining the Value of Your Place

When you decide where to live and see that a sale is approaching, determining the selling value will be your first task. Just like you need to estimate the value of household goods, it is also necessary to estimate the value of your place. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is – you’ve probably formed an emotional connection with your soon-to-be-old home. That means that it is highly possible that you’ll be more subjective about the cost and sometimes the purchasers, which can result in you declining reasonable offers.

Remember that even though you have a lot of positive memories and emotions intertwined with the place, you must ensure to stay realistic and set an objective value – overpricing is a lot more common than you would think. However, selling below is also a not-so-rare occurrence, especially when it comes to a last-minute move when sellers are very much in a hurry.

When deciding on the cost, start by exploring your neighborhood. Search for recent successful sales of homes similar to yours in their size and condition and find out the average cost per square foot. You can also use online calculators, such as Zestimate provided by Zillow, which gives you the approximate prices in your area. And if you deem that you’ll need the help of professionals, know that hiring a realtor isn’t a must – you can always go for partial services, such as hiring a real estate appraiser or choosing to pay just for market analysis.

A woman calculating home value before long-distance moving overlay
Calculating and estimating the value of your place should be the start of your FSBO journey

For Sale by Owner Listings and Home Preparation

How to sell a house without a real estate agent and staging, in which they are more experienced? If you opt against a realtor’s services, the preparation of your place will be left solely to you – and that doesn’t mean that you need just to vacuum, dust, and let the people come in. Proper preparation, no matter how dull of a task it is, is bound to secure you more money.

Decluttering the House – Get Rid of Old Appliances and Furniture and Store Your Cars Somewhere Else

If you are the type of person who finds it hard to say goodbye to old things, now is the time to start working on that skill. If you save old appliances, furniture, and other unnecessary items in different corners of your rooms, know that it can distract buyers and make your place seem smaller, which will negatively reflect on the buying itself. Purge your place, decide what to get rid of before moving, and toss or donate unwanted items. It will save time for packers (if you hire packing services), or yourself (if you do it alone), but also some cash – the cost of long-distance relocation is often determined based on inventory.

The most cluttered rooms in your place will be storage spaces, such as basements, attics, and garages. Remember that when selling, every square foot counts. Ensure that these areas are covered, too, and that they are as empty as possible. One of the best tricks to make your garage seem more spacious, for example, is getting your car(s) out – removing such large objects will do wonders in the perception of space.

Upgrade Your Home to Get More Money

When getting organized to move, save some time to prepare your home for sale and work on those long-planned repairs, deep cleaning, painting, and taking care of your hardwood floors. Keep in mind that you can use another pair of eyes, aside from yours – every house has flaws their owners aren’t able to see. It could be because you don’t deem it as a flaw or because they have been there for so long that they have become normal to you. No matter the case, a person that is not you can bring more objectivity.

The goal you want to achieve when preparing your real estate is for it to have a bigger appeal for potential purchasers. Not only does everything need to be cleaned and polished, but your place will attract more potential buyers if it is staged in a certain way. Ensure to follow the latest trends when it comes to colors, decorations, and furniture layouts – remember that every penny counts when relocating out of state on a budget. If you consider it necessary, hire an interior designer or property stager to help you make the place more presentable – or just watch the following video:

Go on an Undercover Mission

Learning how to sell your house without a real estate agent and going through with it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the best. Show up at open viewings as a potential buyer and prepare to write down all the tricks a realtor is using. Look at the staging they come up with, see how they behave and what he points the buyer’s attention to. Try to spot all the negative sides of the place in question and learn how to go around the listing’s disadvantages. This “training” will most definitely improve your salesperson skills – after all, you’ll learn from those who have spent years in the business and sold numerous homes.

A man and a woman discussing with a realtor  overlay
Visit real open showings in different homes in your neighborhood

Putting Your Place on the Market

If you want more people to be interested in what you are offering, proper advertising is in order.

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, so ensure to have some good ones when you decide to advertise. You could take photos by yourself or hire a professional photographer. In both cases, your pictures need to be edited, but not to the point of misleading the potential purchasers – but playing with lighting and contrast is allowed.

When the photo shoot is over, you must decide on advertising. Think big – post on social media, share flyers, install a yard sign, but also use websites to advertise your listing for free. Probably the best way to attract buyers would be paying a flat-rate fee for having your listing shown in the MLS (multiple listing service) databases, which realtors use. Keep in mind that bad advertising means less demand, which could, in the end, result in waiting longer for the place to be sold or accepting lower offers.

Discover the Secrets of Popular Real Estate Listings

Not only does the photo need to attract the potential buyer, but so does the description of the place. Analyze those that had great success, see what they put the focus on, and research the language and style they used. Note that the description needs to be attractive enough to grab the attention of the potential buyer, so create a description that is unique and appealing.

a woman writing a description for selling the house before long-distance overlay
Learn a thing or two from the best listings and be creative

Organizing Appointments and Open Showings

Once your listing is out there in the world, start expecting calls from people who want to set up appointments. If you don’t have enough time at your disposal, consider hosting open viewings where all potential buyers can come and see the place. It will create an atmosphere in which people who are interested in buying will feel more comfortable than in one-on-one meetings. However, when hosting this gathering, don’t forget to follow the rules concerning relocating in the age of coronavirus – if your health is a major concern, host virtual showings.

After people get the answer to everything they are interested in, see how many of them are genuinely interested and consider the possibility of a bidding war that will earn you more than the price you initially asked for.

The Art of Negotiations

If you want to dive into a realtor’s business, you need to amp your negotiation skills. Try to approach the buyer’s wishes objectively and not get offended by their questions or demands – some of them will be more than realistic. Put yourself in their position and think about what you would want from a potential seller. If you deem it reasonable, accept what is asked of you. For example, if a buyer wants to negotiate a lower cost because of all the repairs that need to be done, don’t refuse immediately – think about every request.

After you choose the offer that suits you best, do a background check on your buyer. Be sure that they will be able to pay the price agreed upon, so ask them to provide you with their mortgage pre-disclosure letter. However, don’t be surprised if lenders want to do their own appraisal – they will not be willing to pay more than fair market price (the difference in the price, in that case, will be paid directly from the buyer’s pocket).

Take Care of Your Kids and Pets

No matter how safe your potential purchasers may seem, they are still strangers, so ensure the safeness of your young ones. Hire a nanny or ask a friend to watch them while you host the open viewings. The same goes for your pets – they could get confused and scared in a place full of unknown people.

Note that the same advice goes for whenever there is a crowd of people during the relocation to another state – for example, most relocation day tips will advise you to be safe while letting long-distance movers in your living area.

A girl playing with a black cat overlay
Ask your friends for help with kids and pets during the open viewings

Pre-Closing Obligations – Disclosing Properly

When you reach the deal, there are some legal obligations you must meet. So you don’t expect a lawsuit in the near future, ensure that the other side has gathered all the important information about the place – disclosing properly will save you legal troubles down the road.

Know that there are different requirements concerning different states – ensure to follow the rules given by the state you are leaving. And while in some states, hiring a home inspector is not mandatory, it is always better to be safe than sorry – let a professional help you spot potential problems with electricity, pipes, or anything else. Bonus tip: know that there is no better proof of fair seller than informing a buyer about everything that needs work. It is a great way to get a buyer’s trust.

As-Is Sellings

As-is sellings do not demand an inspection because a buyer is interested in buying the properties as they are, without additional repairs. The owner won’t have to stage the place because this type of purchaser doesn’t care about the cosmetics. They are usually investors who are interested in building on the property or flipping. This type of sale doesn’t demand an agent’s presence but note that homes are usually sold for less. However, if your reasons to move demand for your place to be sold promptly, this could be the choice for you.

Seek Legal Representation

Having your legal representative during the sale is not only a plus but also mandatory in some states. Their job is to take care of all your legal documents and manage all legal questions. So that there are no misunderstandings, it is always better to seek legal advice when possible, especially when it comes to closing the contract.

A girl signing a closing contract before long-distance overlay
Have a legal representative read the contract before signing it

Prepare Yourself for the Next Step – The Move

This guide for FSBO sellers will provide you with a great start to a stress-free move – part of the answer to why relocation is so stressful lies in the process of selling your place. However, that is only the beginning of the relocation to a new state – the next step on your relocation to-do list should be hiring cross-country movers and a car shipping company if needed. When relocating to a new home, remember that a long-distance moving company will take most of your worries upon itself – hiring one is a wise way of spending the money you made on the FSBO.

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