Here’s what you need to know if you should sell with or without an Agent

Selling your home can be a complex process, which is why 89% of sellers work with a real estate agent or broker. But working with a real estate agent or Realtor means you’ll have to pay a commission.

Though it requires a much larger time investment, about 7% of home sales are done without a seller’s real estate agent.

Listing your house without using an agent is known as FSBO, which is short for “for sale by owner.” If you choose to list your house as FSBO, you will be responsible for a number of tasks that would normally be handled by an agent, such as:

  • Setting the asking price: While sellers always have the final say in determining the asking price for their property, an agent or Realtor can provide guidance in setting a price that is appropriate for the specific home and location. Sellers working without an agent will have to do their own research on comparable properties and market value.
  • Preparing the home for sale: Real estate agents have the expertise and experience to know which minor home quirks will turn off buyers and which are likely to be overlooked. Without an agent, you will have to figure out what specific preparation and staging your home needs to attract buyers.
  • Photographing the home: Many agents work with professional photographers or have experience taking pictures that help the home stand out in online listings. You will need to either take your own pictures or hire your own photographer.
  • Coordinating showings: Potential buyers will be working directly with you to find a time to tour your home.
  • Responding to inspections: If a potential buyer’s home inspector finds issues with the house and the buyer would like you to make repairs before the sale, it will be your responsibility to negotiate who will handle the repairs and how and when they will be done.

What is an FSBO listing?

In addition to these seller responsibilities, FSBO also differs from an agented sale in how it is listed. Only agents have access to the local multiple listing services (MLS).

Each MLS is an aggregate of properties currently being sold by local brokers. Having your home listed on the MLS means greater exposure to potential buyers since most agents use the MLS to find what properties are available. In addition, home listings on an MLS will often be automatically posted on real estate websites like Zillow and Redfin.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that 89% of buyers use an agent or broker to purchase a home, and all home buyers use the Internet to search for a home. Unfortunately, this means the vast majority of buyers will not learn about homes that are not listed on the MLS.

FSBO sellers do have listing options available to them, however. There are several FSBO listing websites. These sites will generally allow you to list a home online for up to a year for a flat fee. Some will also automatically share your FSBO listing with real estate websites like Redfin.

Finally, there are flat-fee real estate brokers who will list FSBO homes on an MLS. This service typically costs  a small fee.

Reasons to sell your home without a Realtor!

Sellers generally choose to go the FSBO listing route for one of the following reasons: To save money

Commissions for real estate agents typically cost about 5% to 6% of the sale price (although the recent Nar Settlement could end up changing the commission structure for agents). For a $400,000 home, that means agent commissions could cost around $20,000 to $24,000. The seller traditionally covers the cost of the commission, and the money is taken out of the proceeds from the sale.

However, it’s important to remember the total commission amount includes payment for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. In most cases, the commission is split down the middle for the agents on either side of the sale. This means if you sell your house without an agent, you will still be on the hook for the buyer’s agent commission.

In the case of a $400,000 house sale, you would save roughly $10,000 to $12,000 on commissions with an FSBO listing.

  • Selling to someone you know: Forgoing a real estate agent makes sense when you are selling to someone you know since you can usually skip a number of steps the agent would handle in the sales process. This helps explain why the National Association of REALTORS® found that 57% of FSBO sellers know the person buying their property. For such sellers, there is no need to hire an agent since they are not worried about attracting a buyer who is indecisive or not financially ready.

    Drawbacks of selling your house without a Realtor

    There are some major disadvantages to selling your home via FSBO, including:

    • FSBO homes sell for less than agented homes: The median sale price for FSBO homes was $310,000 in 2023, while agent-assisted listings sold for a median price of $405,000. Depending on the seller’s situation, this could be because their listing reaches fewer people by not being on an MLS or because they don’t fully understand how to price their home or negotiate.
    • Selling your home is time-consuming: You are solely responsible for prepping and staging your house, listing your home, answering calls from prospective buyers, coordinating showings, responding to inspection requests, and filing paperwork.
    • Negotiation is your responsibility: Agents have negotiation experience and are comfortable pushing back on unreasonable requests. If the buyer’s agent tries to take advantage of your inexperience in the negotiating process, you may end up losing money.
  • If you’re interested in selling your home or have any question, please call us a 718-291-7000