When you sell a home using the traditional real estate agent model, you’re going to pay about 6% in commissions. Yes, “commissions” plural: you’ll pay an average of 3% to your listing agent and another 3% to the buyer’s agent. The United States’ decades-old commission structure is the highest of any industrialized nation.
If you feel that 6% is a big chunk of change to take off the top of your home’s selling price, you may want to explore options. But other than the two-agent, traditional real estate transaction, what other options do you have?
For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
FSBO may be a good option for you if you have the time to deal with buyers and aren’t on a tight timeline. FSBO is a particularly good option if the home you intend to list is in a hot market.
If you are confident that you can connect with the right professionals to get the sale done without any legal issues – perhaps you’ve sold several homes already – you might want to begin by selling on your own.
After all, selling your own home is as simple as writing “For Sale” on a sign and sticking it in your front yard, right? Not exactly. You’ll need time, patience, and education to sell your home on your own. You’ll have to decide if you want your home listed on the traditional agent- and broker-only private list of homes called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Selling a home involves many steps and tasks, including:
- Analyzing area home sales then setting a sales price
- Drafting a description that entices buyers
- Taking photos and creating a floor plan
- Decluttering, cleaning, and making repairs
- Posting your listing online and possibly paying for print ads
- Creating a flyer for potential buyers to read
- Fielding calls and emails from buyers – and agents trying to convince you to list with them
- Setting appointments at the buyers’ convenience
- Showing your home to interested buyers – and curious neighbors
- Preparing a sales contract
- Negotiating repairs after a home inspection
- Negotiating closing date
You may believe you know your home better than anyone else if you’ve lived in it. However, if you’re not a real estate professional, you may be surprised by how little it’s worth unless you make upgrades and repairs.
- Hire a home appraiser for $200 – $400 to give their professional estimate of your home’s worth in the current market environment.
- List on the MLS for a fee, between $100-$500, depending on your area.
- Hire an experienced real estate attorney, typically a couple of thousand dollars, to represent your interests and make sure you’re following all state and federal real estate laws.
- Watch online listings of homes for sale near yours to determine if you need to adjust your description or lower your price.
If you are willing to work with buyer’s agents – and pay their commission – note that in your online listing and any advertising. You have the option to set a lower commission rate to save yourself money, but don’t expect every buyer’s agent to accept that rate. An agent is most likely to agree to the lower commission if your home is pricey because they’ll still earn thousands of dollars.
Fee-Only Real Estate Agents and Brokerages
First time home sellers and other homeowners lacking the confidence to do it all on their own may want a listing agent’s expertise but not their commission structure. That’s when a fee-only real estate agent might be a good compromise.
A fee-for-service brokerage may offer an a la carte menu to help you sell your home. Others set a flat fee for a set list of services. Depending on the area where you live, you may find both or neither.
You may want to combine a flat-fee agent’s help with other professional help such as a home appraiser and home inspector you choose, with paperwork completed by your real estate attorney. Before you go that route, be sure to understand how much each pro will cost you on top of the listing agent’s fee.
Hire fee-only agents to do all or some of the following for you:
- Setting a realistic price
- Advising you how to prep and stage your home
- Arranging a professional home photoshoot
- Listing your house in the agent- and broker-only MLS
- Marketing your home online (e.g., Zillow and Trulia) and in print (newspaper or real estate magazines)
- Holding open houses
- Fielding calls from potential buyers and buyer’s agents
- Setting appointments
- Showing your home
- Networking with buyer’s agents
- Drafting purchase agreement
- Negotiating price
Their fee-only agent’s fee won’t including closing costs, so make sure you factor in those costs to your goal price.
Instant Cash Offer
When you’re in a hurry to sell – such as when you’re moving for work or divorce – you may not want to deal with a real estate agent. Perhaps grandma left you her home in another state, a home you have never visited. Grandpa died years ago and grandma didn’t keep up the maintenance. You want to be done with the sale.
No cleaning or decluttering. No repairs and upgrades. No showings scheduled last-minute to interrupt your family time. And you get to set the closing and move date that is convenient for your family.
If you want to sell your house quickly without paying a commission, we can help. As the largest cash home buyer in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, we have helped thousands of homeowners sell their house fast and on their own timeline.