Have you ever wondered if you can sell your house yourself without paying the 3% fee to a real estate agent?
I have. Now I am actually doing it! Below I will share with you what steps I have done so far and what the results have been.
For every $100,000 in house value you are selling, you will lose $3,000 to a real estate agent. For example, a $500,000 home would mean you pay an agent $15,000. If you can figure this out yourself, you can save a LOT of money.
I have always been a Do It Yourself type of guy, and also a save as much money as I can type of guy. I hated the idea of giving away many thousands of dollars to a person to sell something I own.
Why do most people use real estate agents? 1 reason – only real estate agents have access to the Multiple Listings Service (MLS), which is where almost all real estate agents representing buyers go to find houses. The MLS is also the data source for Zillow and Redfin. If you want your house to be found, you have to get on the MLS!
Individual homeowners are not allowed to directly list their home on the MLS… however, you CAN list your home through a flat fee real estate service. I personally used FSBO.com. They are pretty expensive at $400, but Redfin said they were one of the only two options that would get your house on Redfin. The way FSBO.com works is they take your money, then subcontract to a flat fee real estate agent who actually submits your paperwork. FSBO has a clunky web interface to upload your information, then the real estate agent (in my case this was Congress Realty) emails you a form to fill out that is REALLY clunky. But if you spend a couple of hours, you can get through it and save yourself thousands of dollars.
Before you try submitting to the MLS though, you will want all of your other marketing work done, here is my checklist:
- Repair your house and any issues. If you have landscaping, make sure to update it with fresh flowers and have it looking clean and trim.
- Clean your house incredibly thoroughly and make sure it is “staged” and looks really nice for tours.
- Hire a professional photographer (don’t do it yourself!) to come out and take really brightly lit wide angle photos of the exterior and interior of your house. Expect to spend $150-300 on this.
- Hire a professional 360 tour person (might be the same as your photographer) to bring a 360 tour camera and create a tour of your house. 3d and Matterport are not very good… do a 360 tour. Make sure your photographer uses a high end camera. Be sure to look at their work samples to make sure you like the tour. I paid $250 for this, but most vendors quoted $400-600.
- Hire a sign company to put a real estate sign in your yard ($45 for me to rent for 6 months), and pay a designer to make a nice big sign ($68 for a 2 foot by 3 foot aluminum nice sign for me), and pay to have nice heavy weight paper flyers printed ($100 for 200 flyers for me, just used a Microsoft Word flyer template to design it).
- Write a really nice description of your property. Use keywords that people are looking for (gourmet kitchen, island, viking stoves, etc).
My total costs to sell my house myself. Keep in mind this is a very high end home, so if you are selling a less expensive home, you can save a lot of costs by doing things yourself:
- FSBO.com – $400
- Photos – used photos from last seller since I moved in so free, but standard is $250
- 360 tour – $250
- Sign out front with flyers – $220
- 2 professional cleaners for 7 hours each – $350
- My landscaper to buy and plant fresh flowers for the walkway in and replant some of the other plants – $400
- Total – $1870 – I think the cleaner and landscaping could be done yourself, so you could reduce this to $1120.
On a $500k house, you would pay $15k to a real estate agent… I think this is a fantastic deal and it’s pretty easy to do yourself.
Be sure to verify your house is showing up on Zillow, Redfin, and the other real estate sites – this is how almost all buyers will find you. Also, if you have a friend that is a real estate agent, have them check that it appears on the MLS.
You should be very flexible and willing to show your house anytime someone wants to come see it. You should not personally conduct the tour, let people show themselves around unless they ask. I usually just go outside and sit at the picnic table. When the folks come outside, I will answer questions if they have them. Give them privacy and space to discuss your house without you hovering.
A few dangers to watch out for:
- Predatory real estate agents who want your listing to sell will call you and try to convince you to use them instead of selling by owner. I have had probably 5 calls like this so far. I just tell them I have an agent I will use if it doesn’t sell, which is true.
- If a real estate agent says they want to come alone without a buyer, say no. They are just going to try to corner you in your house and force you into using them instead of selling it yourself. Always ask if the real estate agent will be bringing a buyer. Tell them buyers only.
My house went on the market two days ago and I have already done three showings. One of the people in the showings called back and said they want to come again today and are serious about making an offer. I will update this to let you know if it all works out or not!