I want to sell my house on my own, NO REALTOR

44 Replies

I would like to sell my house on my own to save on commission fees. I live in CA so it is legal for me to sell my own home. I need some guidance however as to what paper work is involved and how i go about getting that paperwork. Just need a guideline as to what to expect when dealing with the buyers agent. I dont want to pay closing costs either. What costs and duties are required by me "the seller" during this transaction, what do i need to provide title report, inspection report when needed who pays for that? etc. Thank you for yall's help.

It is legal to sell your own house and you can stipulate that you will not pay any closing costs but you will not be dealing with any buyers agents with a listing at a broker The only way to have your propertyrepresented by an agent and exsposure on the mls is to sign a exclusive agency lsiting. This allows for no commission to be paid if you find your own buyer

Returning to your first question you can legally sell your house yourself but most who do this advetise on their own and network to find their own buyers You can downlaod the forms needed at 

http://www.uslegalforms.com/ca/CA-00472.htm This is actually the first way I sold a home in California after winning a home on auction,com I just happended to have a friend who needed a home at the time and it worked out. Please remember over 70% of for sale by owners fail or get get much less money then employing a real estate agent Good luck

You can do

1: sell by owner

You will be responsible for all the work. Buyer's agent normally expect a commission. You can decide whether you want to work with them or not. If not, specify principles only. This is the most tough path.

2: get a flat fee mls listing. But handle all showing, other works yourself.

As for title fees, you really can not get away with it. Either buyer or seller need to pay, you can negotiate with buyer to have them pay.

Good luck.

Hi @Varinder Kumar - keep in mind that this is all negotiable.  You don't want to pay closing costs, neither does the buyer.  You want more money in your pocket, the buyer wants more money in his.  You don't want to pay commissions, the buyer's agent doesn't want to work pro bono.  

As for what to expect when dealing with the buyer's agent:  

First, they likely have a contract with their client that states that if the seller refuses to pay their commission, the buyer will pay it out of pocket.  Buyer's tend to move on to the next house when that issue comes up.  Offering a fair commission up front to the buyer's agent can help ameliorate that problem.

Also, the buyer's agent often has to do extra work when working with a FSBO, for just the reasons made clear in your post. Agents have experience and resources for making sure the transaction happens smoothly and legally, whereas owners doing FSBO often don't, and so often lean on the buyer's agent. There's nothing wrong with that, but it usually results in more work on the agent's part to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Keep that in mind when considering what a "fair" commission is.

Here is an FSBO irony: if you choose to offer a buyer's agent commission but your buyer is also representing themselves, they'll likely expect you to reduce the price by that amount of the buyer's commission! After all, if you were willing to pay a commission, why not reduce the sales price by that amount if you don't have to pay a commission?

You may do just fine FSBO, but it is usually the more difficult route. It might save you some money, just depends on how things go. Be sure to calculate the value of your time in marketing and selling the property, though - nobody should work for free! Whether or not it's worth your time and effort is really up to you and the conditions of your market. In any case, let us know how things go!

Hi @Varinder Kumar

When you sell as an owner, people assume they can get a bargain out of you since you're not using an agent. So they'll try to lowball you during negotiations. When they find out you don't want to pay any closing costs, they'll likely expect you to lower the sale price even more to account for that. 

You can definitely sell yourself, but an agent will give you the needed exposure and support to make sure you can get the best offers for your listing in the shortest time. 

I'd give this more thought as you will likely lose more on your own than with with a listing agent. I've done flat fee listings for my own homes but I know the business and work my side of the deal. A buyer's agent is looking at doing extra work holding your hand and they may want to sell another home in order to avoid having to do so.

Consider these options:

Talk to some agents about a move-up program where they cut you a deal on your listing to earn your business on the buy side assuming you are buying another home locally.

There are flat fee brokerages that offer a menu approach so you only pay for the services you want.

You can negotiate with a full service listing agent to represent your side at a discounted price.

It's not rocket science but without some basic knowledge you're bound to compromise the marketability of your home and/or the pool of buyers.

i would say get a good lawyer it helps the transaction. Also the cheaper the house is for the area the less use an agent is in selling it. If you are atypical for the market agents prefer to show the expensive houses where they make more money. not saying this is you case but that was where I found this strategy was beneficial.

I miss the old days when a seller put a sign in the yard and the buyer called the seller and they met and signed a contract and the buyer took it to his bank and the bank called the title company and the buyer and seller met at the title company and papers were signed and keys and checks were exchanged. 

Those times are still here, I purchase home in Orange County and I focus on distressed property, for sale by owners wherever I can find them.

I have sold 8 homes this year 2017 all with an agent.  My guess is if you make a list of everything a good agent does for you and how importaint locking in a good agreement is, there fee is cheep.

Pay the fee and in the time you are buying with the agent go find a good deal for yourself.  


Most often when I see a FSBO advertised it is way over priced. The seller thinks they have gold. If you are going to FSBO, price it right. Overpricing will simply means it stays on the market and you will have few lookers. Even agents that overprice a property are hurting the sellers because many buyers will simply pass over an over priced property. There is nothing wrong with FSBO but it must be priced right, you must accommodate showings, be prepared to answer questions, etc. You definitely need a title company or attorney at some point. Also be prepared for buyers that want to beat you down on price, etc. One last note: beware the scammers that try and put your property under contract with 30, 60 day or longer "inspection periods", or scammers using the "subject to my partners approval" that are NOT buyers but trying to broker your house without your knowledge or consent. Just read a few posts on the unlicensed brokering forum to see how bad and dishonest many or them are.

Go look for a "discount broker".  They will charge around 4.5%, 3% buyer, 1.5% seller.  You still save money and fewer hassles.   They seem to be popping up everywhere these days as RE becomes more automatic.

92- 94% of all sales of residential properties happen through the MLS with the intervention of a buyer's agent. Straight FSBO rarely work because of this. You MUST be exposed to the MLS ... exponentially offering your property to all Realtors and all of their buyers.

Nevertheless you can skip the Listing Side of the commission by going with a local Flat Fee Broker (Check licenses in your state) and you will be fine.

Particularly in CA: get a Real Estate attorney regardless of what kind of Realtor you use. CA is a disclosure rich state and you will need guidance regardless.

@Varinder Kumar A couple of quick questions, why would a buyer's agent even contact you? You are making their job harder and less likely to close. What will you do if the appraisal comes in low? Do you know how to avoid being sued for misrepresentation or omissions? What happens if they find an error of a lien on the Title? Did you even know there is a Title? What will you do if everyone tells you your price is too high? How do you do your comps? What if it hasn't sold in 90 days? Will you take it personally when they say you painted the living room the wrong color? What will be your response if the potential buyer is with a wacky real estate agent who hasn't qualified the buyer for financing and you find out after you've accepted the offer? How will you show the house at 3:30pm on 10 minutes notice if you are at work? If a real estate agent calls to set up an appointment and you don't pick up the phone, will you call them back? What about all the investors and real estate agents that want to list your house? Are you willing to take those calls?

No, I'm not a real estate agent.  I buy and sell houses full time for a living and I haven't used an agent for the last twenty years. But, I do see the need for one if it is your first sale or if you are busy doing other things. Or, on the other side, perhaps you just like the drama and jumping into the unknown. Either way, you are a very bold man. 

Please read the fine print when dealing with flat fee discount brokers. You may spend nearly as much as you would if you hired an agent, but still do all the work and take on all the liability of FSBO, without the support and guidance of a local agent. If I got paid $100/hr for handling client phone calls...! ;-)

For me, it all depends on your situation. If you want the most efficient, quick and easy sale, I would use an agent without any question. If you don't care about the time it takes to sell, handling the paperwork and you want to stick to a set price, then by all means go with the FSBO. Remember, everything is negotiable in a sale so "not paying closing costs" can be part of any of your counter offers and would have nothing to do with it being a FSBO or not.

There has been a lot of good advice already in this thread, and I agree with @David Faulkner , if you're asking these questions you should probably get an agent.

If you get a good agent working for you, it is worth every penny you pay them.  More than likely you will have to pay a buyer agent for bringing a buyer, so it is worth it to have your own agent working for you. I don't list many properties as I mostly am an investor and a developer, but on the listings I have sold I can tell you I work my tail off for my client.

A listing agent will be able to provide you with answers to all of your questions, take care of nearly all the paperwork involved in the transactions, schedule all inspections, answer phone calls and schedule showings, etc needed in the transaction. A lot of people think an agent throws your property on the MLS and collects a big check at closing. If you get an agent who is good at their job this is the farthest thing from the truth.

Ultimately it's up to you but if nothing else, you could always find a great Realtor and schedule a meeting and see what they have to offer. 

Even though I am an agent I just listed one through a different agent. Why? There are closer to the property, have done me favors (take care of people that take care of you), and have time to deal with it. I don't. Since you want to FSBO your house and live there, not a bad idea. But hiring an agent makes sense sometimes.

With FSBO there are a few things to keep in mind. First the stats show that 80-90% of FSBO fail to end with a sale and the owner will eventually list with a agent. There are many reasons but primarily owners over value their homes listing too high and the vast majority of FSBO buyers are bargain hunters. This combination is the reason most FSBO fail.

It can be done but sellers must realise that success is very difficult to achieve when marketing a home that is not a distressed sale.

9 times in 10 a realtor will get a higher price for your home making their commission a non issue.

you can sell on a napkin if you want

all boiler plate forms are available on line

the catch

make sure you do correct tittle company for the closing of the transaction

with a little research you could take out money at closing

remember when you list the property make sure your comps are in the right ballpark

another avenue is rent to own- this gets you 5k up front with income every month plus when they default you make another 5k to start the process over again

you have a lot of options selling your own property and it depends on your time frame and what you want to do with the property


Average time it takes for a FSBO to hire an agent = 17 days.

Your post and your sentiments and obvious ill-will toward real estate professionals is sad.

I'm curious about what happened to you by/from previous agents that make you feel this way?

Find a good agent, pay them correctly for their services and you will have a less-stress sale, and universally net more money than you would on your own. The statistics in this matter do not lie. You are setting yourself up to make less money on your sale, and completely drive yourself crazy in the process, especially since you've asked the questions you've asked here. Good luck man.

We are in the process of selling our house ourselves, but we are selling it to the person who has rented it for the last five years.  We are using a lawyer to do all the paperwork, title, closing, ect.  It's been a little more of a headache than selling using a real estate agent, but it has been a big cost saver.  

When you make your contract for selling, you can specify who pays what.  Our buyer is paying closing costs and inspection costs.  We've bought houses before where we have asked the seller to pay closing costs, or paid a little higher in order to get the closing costs included.  So that will be negotiable.

I would recommend getting a real estate lawyer for sure to handle the paperwork.