Selling without Realtor

51 Replies

Hey! Currently flipping a property (blast podcast all day every day haha) but we are finishing up here ourselves and we would like to try selling without an agent, legalities aside (we have attorneys and everything for the process) but my question would be more about the marketing. I don't want to put a generic FSBO sign outside, I'd like to show the house myself etc. Anyone have success with this without current interested buyers? Are there any issues/legalities regarding not being a licensed agent/broker?

Thanks! :)


Issues and legalities will be very specific to your location which you have not mentioned. One of the issues I see FSBO's run into in my area is not understanding how to make the proper disclosures on the property. (Also it is something I see inexperienced agents in my market have problems with). Some of the issues we need to disclose in my market, if not disclosed can cost the seller up to $30k in liability, and Ive seen that surprise come up at the closing table for some sellers, the same issue, with both a FSBO and inexperienced listing agent.

No legal issues, just practical ones.

If you don't get in on the mls, and all the sites it generates to, even with a flat fee broker, 90% or so of the buyers in your market will never know about it.

Hi @Whitney Henderson

I've sold FSBO before being licensed, and in a hotter market it's a much easier task. If your market is cooler, you may not be able to sell so quickly.

As long as you own the house, you can sell it by yourself. A local sign company like Fast Signs can make a sign for you that looks better than your typical, generic FSBO sign. (This is what I did)

Another option for selling is the flat fee agent that lists your home for a one-time fee. You save money on the commissions to the agent, but are still on the MLS, which is where almost everyone starts their home search.

If you truly want to go the FSBO route, get a website (I always used the property address, so and post as many pictures as you possibly can. Great, amazing pictures. Create a list of upgrades so people know what's new and why you're asking (presumably) more than you paid for it.

Oh hey, I think BiggerPockets has a book on this subject, How to Sell Your Home...

Mindy hit on many of the points I used to sell our house a couple months ago. I’m sure that had something to do with listening to the BP podcast for advice and the episode where she laid out specific items to be careful of when selling.

We bought an image on Etsy for the sign customized with my name and number, then had a sign company print and mail them to us. Looked great IMO. Threw a lock box on the house, and had “fun” saying no to dozens if not hundreds of listing agents. 5 days later we had a contract for over-list and closed in under 20 days.

This was without it being on the MLS. We tried to get a flat fee broker but had a contract by the time we made it that far. Might have cut down on the number of listing agent calls. I’d have three back to back having to hang up on one to answer the next.

@Christopher Beene that's funny, I actually sold 6 houses FSBO using a flat fee agency. I never got one realtor asking to list it for me (maybe because it was on the MLS already). I can imagine the frustration!

I had very smooth and easy transactions selling myself, so I say give it a shot. I highly recommend flat fee and getting it on the MLS though. I've done Facebook, Zillow and others as well as the MLS and only one person out of probably 100 came from Facebook (wasn't the end buyer).

There are countless issues you could run into - but you might breeze through it no problem.  

One common mistake that I see FSBO sellers make very often is accepting offers from unqualified buyers - then 13 days and 23 hours into a 14 day DD period, the buyers end up cancelling, only to find out EMD was never deposited in the first place. Another common problem is the FSBO seller usually sells to an unrepresented and inexperienced buyer - so you've got the blind leading the blind. Real Estate is simple but the process can get fairly complicated depending on loan programs or property condition / hoa rules, city regulations and ordinances, etc...

Your attorney might help you with paperwork, but they will likely NOT help you navigate inspections, appraisals, negotiations, or municipality  / community requirements etc...

Buying and selling a home is very often the largest and most expensive transaction anybody will do - it makes sense to spend some money to make sure it's done properly.

Sorry about location, my first discussion, This property is in Minot North Dakota (U.S)

The market here is pretty neutral, good for both buying and selling. We are right in the tumultuous Oil market , but also have a popular University and Airforce Base. Oil boom brought tons of business and developers but the crash left a lot of newly developed neighborhoods without buyers. We have tons of flip ready flooded homes from 2011 that many are too hesitant to buy or fix up because it's the second time the area has been flooded (first time in 60s, and City has bought out with new plans and prevention, but buyers still weary of mold/foundations etc)

It's a very option versatile house/market, i would love to rent it but hard cash and we're Young with current mortgage on our home with HE credit lines out this last year or so to get our Corp and everything setup and our subscriptions/dues etc for our accountant/attorney packages,education, marketing, and expanding our tools/equipment for the contractor work we do ourselves.

In addition to the ideas mentioned (flat fee mls listing, custom sign, etc), always get high quality photos and offer a fair buyer agent commission.

Also look into getting a transaction coordinator (TC). They are cost effective and will make sure everything is being done correctly.

We have inspectors/contacts/Realtors and everything we already utilize for Properties we look at buying; like I said, was just looking for tips/issues I could run into as far as advertising and doing open house/showings on my own. I'm well aware of market conditions and area (actually my hometown) and our accountant/attorneys are real estate professionals we signed with through Elite Legacy, so we're new but have also spent the last year in education and setting up our contacts... Colorado just blew up so we decided to try our home state.
The City is relatively small and throughout the state communities are so tight knit that just a for sale sign/social media can do wonders by word of mouth. 
We like to work with local business as well so we have local contacts we go to for our signs and advertising.

I sold a home FSBO before I was a licensed realtor. Here are some things that worked for me. (I am also from ND and have family in Minot and Bismarck so I know a little about the market there.)

1. Advertise and offer a buyer broker commission ...3% is good. To compete with mls listed properties you will have to offer at least 2.7. Why would an agent have any motivation to work with you if they won't get paid? Otherwise you might only end up with shoppers that don't have agents making your pool of buyers very small. The buyers agent will also write the purchase agreement, can hold the earnest money in their brokerage's trust account, and can help work thru issues that might come up before closing so that is helpful. Here we have limited inventory so I often look for FSBO's that might be a fit for my buyers...and will definitely reach out if they show they want to work with buyer's agents. If you don't offer the buyer's agent commission that means the buyer will likely have to pay for it.

2. Professional photos are a must as they are the key to any marketing pieces. Also I made nice flyer. I bought a template from and created a nice flyer that was easy to email to people and post on social media. If you don't have photoshop or indesign find a friend to help. Then turn the flyer into a pdf or jpeg to make sure you can easily email and post. If you offer a buyers agent commission, I would also email the flyer directly to realtors. A good realtor will reach out if the home is a good fit for any of their buyers. 

3. Zillow - add a 'for sale by owner' listing. 

4. Facebook ads - Use your personal page to create a post about the home and then create an ad from that. Inexpensive and you can create a very targeted ad.  Include people categorized as first time homebuyers, looking for first home etc. Make sure you stay within Fair Housing laws or Facebook will not approve your ad. Also post to For Sale Facebook Groups. Free but time consuming. You need your ad to get in front of as many people as possible. You can also post an open house event this way too. 

5. the Finder. Here in Minneapolis craigslist is big but you might have luck with the Finder or if Minot has something similar to BisManOnline. Craigslist doesn't seem to be as popular in ND. 

6. Nextdoor. Not sure if this is popular in Minot but it has been getting more use here in the Twin Cities. Another free way to get your home in front of people. 

7. Print fliers and post at the base if you can, local coffeeshops etc. Think about who would be the perfect buyer for your home and where they might hang out. 

One side note. Avoid online for sale by owner websites. Like I made the mistake of putting a post there and received zero leads...but constantly get calls now .... 3 years later! Thank goodness I used a google voice number so my personal cell is not bombarded. Actually that is a great tip...use a google voice number on your advertising as then the calls are screened for you and you can avoid realtors only looking to list the home. 

Hope something in my post is useful for you. Feel free to reach out directly if you have other questions. Good luck!


I sold a property fsbo. Paid a broker to get it on the mls.  

It was professionally done.  Staging, looked great, smelled great, on a lockbox etc. 

Thats not enough though. Realtors will discriminate against you because you are fsbo. Its like a union thing. They’ll show their buyers other properties and put yours last on their list.  

We sold that property but it took twice as long as normal for that market.  I also don’t know if a realtor could have got us enough money to make up for their commission

6 pct of that transaction was like 25k

We paid 3 pct anyway for a buyers agent commission

So the issue was could a realtor have got us another 13k. Probably. 

no need to have one or the other 

Flat fee list for $79

Offer 4% to selling agent

The extra 33% commission has seemed to be a big incentive for agents to show my houses

.  And as Cody Brazil says up above you avoid problems such as not supplying the seller disclosure etc 

The selling agent makes sure these things are done 

I kind of laugh when I see comments that realtors won't show a property unless they get maximum commission.  It's shows where their allegiance is.  Not to their buyer for sure.  LOL

I listed a property with my realtor recently  with a 2.5% buyers commission and had realtors upset because as they put it- it's .2% less than traditional splits.  It had multiple offers on the 1st day.  Get over the old time commission rates since those were when you actually had info/power that the buyer/seller didn't have.  All the info is available now.  Also, 20 years ago, realtors drove 80% of what homes people saw, now 60-70% of homes to be seen are driven by the buyer.  I'd like to see a legitimate reason why a realtor would refuse to show a place to a buyer without saying, I'm not making enough for my time on this place.  Not saying there isn't some value add but not $10-$15,000 when you essentially write up the offer and give some advice.  The title company really does all the work.

There are many large public brokerage asking just 1% listing fee. It is better have someone represent you to give you more leverage unless you want to meet the all low ball hagglers in town.

First let’s look at the fact that the buyer’s commission is coming off the seller’s end either way. You are selling and you will need to pay it or the buyer will pay it and reduce the amount they will pay for the house.

With that said if I cannot get you more money than the 2-3% that I take as a listing agent I am probably not doing my job.
We do this everyday and know when staging is a waste of money and when staging is essential, know how to make the transaction smooth and easy, how to negotiate, knowing to not get excited over a full price offer when the buyer hasn’t walked through or isn’t prequalified, when putting 5 potted evergreens in front of a house for $100 will increase your traffic and number of offers, getting right photo angles, lighting and drone photos if needed, and when selling rental properties the number of things that we help with to ensure maximum value can go up exponentially.

We don’t discriminate against fsbo we get paid either way from our buyers, they just decrease the price they are willing to pay to cover our commission. Honesty it takes more work to find them, and when we do it is a hassle to set up a showing time and sometimes difficult going through the paperwork and getting to the closing process with a fsbo.

I would say that you definitely can sell yourself successfully, but wouldn’t you much rather spend the hours doing what you do everyday to make a living and have us take care of the headaches, and make sure you do get the maximum price and the transaction goes smoothly?

Originally posted by @Bruce Runn :

I kind of laugh when I see comments that realtors won't show a property unless they get maximum commission.  It's shows where their allegiance is.  Not to their buyer for sure.  LOL

I listed a property with my realtor recently  with a 2.5% buyers commission and had realtors upset because as they put it- it's .2% less than traditional splits.  It had multiple offers on the 1st day.  Get over the old time commission rates since those were when you actually had info/power that the buyer/seller didn't have.  All the info is available now.  Also, 20 years ago, realtors drove 80% of what homes people saw, now 60-70% of homes to be seen are driven by the buyer.  I'd like to see a legitimate reason why a realtor would refuse to show a place to a buyer without saying, I'm not making enough for my time on this place.  Not saying there isn't some value add but not $10-$15,000 when you essentially write up the offer and give some advice.  The title company really does all the work.

In my case you are 100% correct.

When I listed a house for sale on beycome ($79 flat fee MLS listing, I received a call from a realtor who stated there is no way they would show my house for 1% commission. I told them I must have hit 1 instead of the 4 key as I intended to offer 4% commission to selling agent.

They told me when they saw it updated on the MLS they would schedule a showing. Sure enough 3 hours later they called back and scheduled a showing.

And actually sold it.


BUT 3 weeks later, AFTER the inspection period they sent an email stating their buyer wanted out because they didn't know it was a mobile home.  LOL   I knew it was a lie but I signed the release of funds for the earnest money for the $1,000.   Sad thing is she is actually the manager of the office.

@Amber Gonion

In this Minneapolis market, no buyer is reducing their offer price by 1-3% due to commissions.  This is a unique multiple offer time due to the lack of supply severity and they are looking at what it takes to buy that beautiful house they know 3-8 people will also be bidding on.  I'm also not diminishing what a good realtor can add to the equation for people that really need help and guidance.  The value is just less than it used to be.  You actually have to say you are going to deliver more than 6% of the sales price to be relevant since that's the reduction in their proceeds.  

If you are priced right in Minneapolis, with a good quality house in a desirable area, even a realtor who doesn't know what they are doing can post it up on MLS to get dozens of hits and multiple offers. I saw a property the other day that was listed with an open house the same day as the listing and there had to be 50 people walking through and almost all of these were without their agent- the listing agent said they had 5 offers over asking price the first day and ended up with 19 offers in that weekend.

I'm also knowledgeable enough to know more than 3/4 of realtors.  I personally bought/sold 10 transactions last year and have 4 in the hopper already this year and there are lots of realtors that don't complete that many transactions in a full year but you'd be hard pressed to find a realtor who can't convince themselves and their clients they deserve that full commission no matter how much or little they do.

I'm selling/closing on a duplex in Uptown this Friday that was off market.  There was no discussion about anything but the price I was willing to take - but it was a good deal as well since I'm passing the 5% commission savings onto them so I got full ask and they saved $20,000.  They were more elated with that arrangement.

Based on what I've seen you post, you obviously add a lot to the equation for both buyers and sellers but a lot of realtors just know how to fill out paperwork and think that's worth $10,000.  

I'm just putting a different perspective out there.

@Bruce Runn with the number of of transactions you do a year you are more knowledgeable than the average agent, I agree I have met some great people and some just awful ones too.

I do disagree that buyers are reducing the price by 1-3% we tell our investors forget about what the asking price is, it’s not relevant. We all do spreadsheets and factor in the costs (one of those may be commission) and them put our best offer in based on the numbers.

Good timing for the post as I'll be listing a duplex for sale FSBO and plan to pay buyers agent no more than 1.5-2% which will net them around $12,000. I sold a Fourplex less than one year ago and also paid 2% - multiple offers over asking price and sold in less than 24 hours. I agree with @Bruce Runn writing an offer and then having title company do all the work for more than 2% is absurd. I would stop working with an agent if they told me “sorry I can’t show you this duplex you really want because there’s not enough commission for me in this”. 

I trust commission dollars to motivate agents to sell houses, more than I trust agents ethical claims to represent the best interest of their buyers. I have great faith in parties to act in their own financial interest before their fiduciary duties. At the end of the day FSBO, discount broker or full service broker matters less than Co-op commission motivation. If that commission mmotivationis less than it will hurt the sale price. Serious buyers usually ignore FSBOS, unless an agent with a commission motivation steers them toward it.

hot market maybe  or like some posted  yes.. but in a neutral market I would think it will be almost sheer luck

or you will put in a ton of time and energy doing this.. and if you have the time and energy then for sure go for it.

what many dont figure into the equation is FSBO many times ( unless one of those hot markets) can take forever to sell and your holding cost eat up whatever savings you had.. ( on an owner occ ) cash flowing rental does not matter.

Marketing will be your biggest hurtle after legalities. Do yourself a solid, find a flat fee brokerage that will give you a sign and put it on the MLS. Also, hire a professional photographer. Photos will make or break your house, if you take bad photos and it will cost you dearly.

After that, the next issue is negotiating a deal. Careful what you disclose, you need to disclose EVERYTHING that will effect a buyer’s decision to purchase your house but DO NOT give up your negotiating position. Negotiations are where RE Agents save their clients thousands. The more an agent knows about your situation with your house, the less leverage you will have when they put in an offer. They’re working in their client’s best interest not yours.

Be proactive and get a home inspection if it’s required in your state. Even though you rehabbed, it will save you a migraine to have an inspector point out potential issues prior to a buyers home inspection. (Look back at the section on negotiations if you need further explanation) Check with your state to see if there are contingencies for a home inspection. It’s a buyer’s quick way out if they don’t like the amount of work that they would need to do. (Future reference)

There is so much you’ll need to know but don’t give up. If you can do it you’ll save a lot of money. But you will be spending a lot of time trying to sell your house. It will be well worth it. Good luck.

Listing soon with a 5% co-op, property off busy streets, hopefully a bigger commission will help move it. 

21/2  is 90 plus% of listings, so betting on a much bigger  commission making a difference.

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