Can I Sell My House without a Realtor?
Yes. You absolutely can. It’s legal to do so and you don’t need a license to sell your own home.
For every vote that you can do it yourself, you will get 99 votes that you shouldn’t. This answer is the 1 vs the 99.
To sell your own house set aside a substantial block of time.
Like dozens of hours. If you have a day job, be aware that the endeavor of selling your home will compete with your full-time employment. Working part-time or are retired? This will be like going back to work for a period of time.
And you’ll need to brush up on the law. There are industry legalities, laws, municipal regulations, and other idiosyncrasies that Realtors spend days sitting in a classroom each year to learn and stay up to date on. Some of these will differ by town, county, and certainly by state.
You will also need to allocate financial resources.
The carrot for the Buyers Agent to visit your for-sale home with their client-in-tow is the Buyers Agent Commission (B.A.C.). This fee (the B.A.C.) is the money that the buyer broker would be paid (receive). It’s around two and a half percent and it comes out of the overall listing commission – or in this case – the lack thereof. The allocated B.A.C. is a percentage of your sale price. It’s Standard Operating Procedure. If you’re thinking of dodging the Listing Commission AND the Buyers Agent Commission your open house will be like a birthday party that no one comes to. Those that do show up may have nefarious intent.
Summary: Set aside the 2.5% commission.
There are blind spots in the process that could wipe you out financially.
Are there scams in real estate sales?
Each day a person is swindled out of their hard-earned equity or savings. Yes, it’s real. Very real. Losses can be non-recoverable. The scams are more elaborate than you can imagine. You’ll think a scammer wouldn’t go through these ludicrously expensive schemes just for one victim. And you’d be correct. Many of these scams are perpetuated daily by the same thieves – the number of crimes can get into hundreds and thousands of occurrences. Add up the zeros and you can see why these schemes are engineered so complex.
Factually: real estate and wire fraud are more likely to occur in the For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) arena. There are fewer gatekeepers, the guard level is lower, and the seller’s sniff test is non-existent because they have no prior “foul smells” to compare the current suspicious smell to.
Before you chart the course you need to define the “Why”
There are a handful of reasons you may elect to sell yourself, without a broker. You’ll need to agree with yourself why you are seeking this channel of sale. Each reason requires a different rulebook and set of blueprints.
Reason #1 – You want to save the money of paying a listing commission.
I get it. Real estate sales commissions are large ticket items. Like one-half to a full year’s salary, or the cost of a new SUV that you’re about to drop into the ocean.
As mentioned above, if you want a buying audience – as opposed to no one coming – you’ll need to allocate that 2 ½ percent from your budget. Total listing commissions range from 4 to 6% depending on the expertise and confidence of a listing agent. Other factors to determine the total commission range could be how you present as a seller and the complexity of the property you are going to sell. A seller could present eager, helpful, and additionally recognize their responsibility in the sale as one requiring much involvement. A hands-off seller, or one that refuses to get rid of the old paint, oil, and swing set used by the now-twenty-year-olds, will probably push the commission to the higher end.
For ease of math (I’m writing this in a low caffeinated state) let’s posit a 5% total listing commission.
From the 5% subtract the 2 ½ percent for the B.A.C. and that leaves you with 2 ½ percent potential savings. On a house of $600,000, that’s a $15,000 commission you’re hoping to save.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to earn your $15k.
First, you’ll need to bury your Home Owners Ego. It’s virtually impossible to not think your (pick any) house, car, diamond, or future concert ticket, is worth more than it is. Anything that you’ve worked hard to save money to purchase or have invested sweat equity in … it’s really hard not to put a value on those items that are likely to be higher than what someone on the open market is willing to compensate you for.
If you are the rare egoless, realistic pragmatic – then you also have to overcome the noise of the market. “Everyone is paying over the asking price” …. really? Check out the sale incentives and price reductions of homes currently on the market. The red upside-down triangle is on the majority of listing more than 10 days aged.
“Like hooking fist in a barrel” …. not so fast. When the market is akin to a yo-yo due to the Federal Reserve sneezing or stopping to pick up a coin, accurately hitting the red center of a (pricing) target takes thousands of string draws of the arrow.
That’s a long way of saying – you’re going to need assistance pricing your home.
Priced too low and you’ve given up the $15k you tried to save and also have just added 100 hours to your To-Do list.
Priced too high and you’ve committed to taking a later train. Maybe even tomorrow’s train, or (I’ve seen it) an entirely different rail line after some uncomfortably long waiting.
Secondly, you’ll need to infuse your home into the “bloodstream” of the market. This is known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Without the MLS your home will be nearly invisible for sale. You’ll pay a fee for that. If you think you can sell without MLS you are gravely misinformed.
Thirdly, first impressions are everything. Your house, as it appears online, will determine who is going to crash the open house waiving offers in their hand. A good photographer is worth her fee. Her equipment is superior (and expensive). She knows how to edit out the shadows. And how to make your dog toys disappear in the photos.
Fourth – A good realtor will help you project manage your “Honey do” list. You may decide to keep the wall-to-wall carpet and pastel paint colors, but having a voice of authority on the team to direct you on the proven ROI of each task will motivate you to find solutions and service folks help get it done.
Fifth to Fiftieth – In addition to the pre-launch items above you’ll have separate categories for Strategy (timing of open houses and showings, offer consideration, creating an environment of competition) as well as raw Administrative tasks, scheduling smoke alarm inspections with the fire department and final meter readings, and Deed preparation).
Reason #2 – There’s a privacy issue at hand.
Maybe you don’t want your neighbors to know your house is for sale. There may be a divorce that you aren’t ready to talk about yet. Your children aren’t equipped to answer questions at the bus stop from other prying parents.
There could also be a larger topic at hand that you’re not ready to address with your neighbors yet.
This topic may be better suited for an “Off Market Sale”. FSBO and Off Market are distinctly different channels.
What if there was a Realtor who understood your situation and could tailor a solution for a below-the-radar way to market your property? As stated above, the buyer of your home is likely to find your home online. Neighborhood “For Sale” signs are mainly advertising for future business for the Listing Agent. Could your house be sold without a For Sale sign? Absolutely. Are there ways to market it without the mob-scene open house? I assure you there are.
If you fit this description please call or email us. We will listen to you; from there we can figure out a plan and perhaps make an introduction to a realtor who wasn’t birthed with a bull-horn instead of mouth.
Reason #3 – You’re the ultimate D.I.Y. person …. on everything
The DIY Guy; a blessing and a curse rolled into a single human being. You’re smart, curious, ambitious, and more than a little skeptical. Not a fan of delegating or giving up control. 4,311 hours into the restoration of your old pickup truck. Even though you could build your own IT network you roll with a flip-phone and utilize a desktop PC. You manage your own money and also know how to run a backhoe.
This listing thing? You got this.
Reason #4 – You know more than one realtor and don’t want to play favorites.
Most of you reading this think this one is a stretch. But when I tell you this is a real thing, Broker Bullying, a few of you will see your exact situation in this example to follow.
Many real estate salespeople, I’ll even say most, are absolute gentlemen. A high level of professionalism and licensure – knowledgeable and highly compensated. However, like a crosscut from any industry, there is a very small batching of ultra-competitive agents that engage in childish sales methodology. If you happen to be related (by blood or marriage) they are going to feel entitled to the sales commission for selling your house. And if your two-decade-standing Friday morning golf foursome has a real estate agent as well, you’re concocting a volatile stew.
Being averse to confrontation, there may be an easier play than you think. Why can’t I just list the property for sale myself?
Sure you can. But at what cost? And did you just submit to the Bully?
Reason #5 – You’re just testing the waters on the sale price.
Not yet fully committed to moving? But at the same time keenly curious about the potential equity gain on the sale of your home. You may be hoping for a “make me move” kind of offer.
This is the most common scenario we see our clients wrestling with.
Not fully vested in the move, but itching to “see what I can get”.
In the situation, as it stands, you are trying to solve a math equation with more variables than constants.
The future home’s purchase price is a variable. Heck the future home itself is a variable. The mortgage rates are arrhythmic, on a good day. Your downpayment is shielded behind opaque glass which is the untold sale price of the home you will need to sell to harvest the equity being used for the down payment.
In order to even arrive at a simple mortgage payment on a prospective new house, you’d need to know how much your existing home would fetch on the live market.
Where do you start? A market analysis from a Realtor?
Perhaps. But if you have started down this path before, you may recall two realtors will provide you with two different sales prices. It’s also like walking into a Ford dealership and expressing that you’ve got money to spend when you don’t even know if you want a Chevy or Toyota.
So you find a way to put it on the market. Maybe a $199 List-Your-House website.
This brings out THE WORLD. The salespeople. The scammers. I’ve heard stories of folks inquiring about Lending Tree or Rocket Mortgage that needed to burn their phone after doing so. Same thing here, you’ll get the attention you’re seeking, but which ones are legit, and who wants to wire you a deposit from Tanzania? Conclusion: We’re not in the Home Listing business. We wouldn’t even accept a gift card to help a client sell their house. There are several ways to de-fur this feline and we’d be happy to point you in the correct direction.