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How To Sell Your House “By Owner” – By Yourself, Without A Realtor

If you want to sell your house without an agent, you'll need to know exactly what you're doing in order to get the money you deserve. Here are 5 steps to sell your home on your own.

There’s no doubt about it, it’s a challenge to sell your house yourself. But thousands of people do it every month. And once you know the process, it’s actually very doable. You basically need a strategy, and that’s what we’re providing here.

But let’s lead off with the most basic issue…

Why you might want to sell your house yourself

The single most obvious reason to sell your house yourself– is to avoid having to pay the real estate commission.

In most markets, the typical real estate commission is 6% of the sale price. That means that if you are selling a house for $400,000, you will have to pay a commission of $24,000 ($400,000 times 6%).

That may not seem like a lot of money on a $400,000 sale. But this is where it’s important to remember that though the commission is based on the sale price of the property, it’s actually paid out of your home equity.

For example, let’s say that although your home may be worth $400,000, you have a $250,000 mortgage on it. That means that you have net equity of $150,000. But if you’re paying a real estate commission, you’ll have to reduce that by $24,000. That will give you a net of $126,000 at the closing table.

It’s likely that there will also be other seller paid closing costs. Collectively, they may reduce your net equity further, down to $120,000 or less.

That’s why home sellers often attempt to sell their homes without a real estate agent. It’s simply a matter of cost.

With that fact in mind, let’s look at five steps involved to sell your house yourself.

Step 1: determine the fair market value of your home

You must get this step right. Price the house too low, and you’ll walk away with less cash on the sale than you should. But price it too high, and the house can sit for months without selling. Your only strategy at that point will be to cut the price down to where it should’ve been in the first place.

There are three primary ways to determine the value of your property:

Use online real estate valuation sites

There are many website you can use to sell your home. Check with sites like (search using Zestimate) and Trulia. These sources will give you the value of your property quickly and for free. However, they’re estimates at best, and could be off by many thousands of dollars.

Get a competitive market analysis from a real estate agent

This is where a real estate agent does a detailed analysis of your home, based on sales of comparable properties in the area. This service is also generally free and the estimate will be pretty reliable.

However, since the agent is doing the analysis in the hope of listing your property, you’ll get a sales pitch along the way. The agent also may give a high estimate on the property, to encourage you to list with him or her.

Still, it’s worthwhile.

You can find an agent to connect with in a matter of minutes on sites such as HomeLight. Answer a few fast questions and you’ll be offered a list of highly-rated agents in your area, specifically.

Hire a licensed appraiser

This will give you the most accurate estimate of the value of your property. You can also use the appraisal as a basis of valuation when negotiating the sale price with the buyers.

The only downside of an appraisal is the cost. Most appraisers will charge somewhere between $300 and $500 to do a report. And since you are ordering the appraisal yourself, it will not be acceptable as an appraisal for the mortgage application by the buyers.

Step 2: prepare the home for sale

This step starts with slowly walking through your house, and viewing it through the eyes of a buyer. Ask yourself, If I were buying this house, what about it won’t I like?

You’re starting with a negative, but that’s the point. When the buyer looks at your home, they’re s keenly aware that every flaw in the property will become their problem after closing. They’re also looking at the general appearance. Does it have good curb appeal? Is there a good flow? Does it feel right?

This is hard to do, since you own the home. But you must be objective. If you can’t, it would be best to get an outsider’s opinion. If you do, you can’t be offended at what that person will reveal. Their observations will be absolutely critical in the successful sale of your home.

Unless you maintain your home in showroom condition under ordinary circumstances, here are some of the improvements you might want to make:

  • Make any minor repairs necessary. That includes leaky faucets, loose door handles, windows that stick, or electrical switches and lights that don’t work properly. If you have a garage door opener, make sure that it works flawlessly.
  • Touch-up or repaint any rooms in the home that are looking tired. Always favor neutral colors, because buyers do.
  • Declutter the entire home. That includes closets, the attic, the basement, and the garage. Also, minimize the number of furnishings and other appointments you have in each room. This will help to improve the perception of flow.
  • Make sure the entire home is clean and fresh smelling.

If you don’t have time to complete all those improvements, or you’re not sure how, look into a home staging agency. They can handle it all for you – for a fee.

Step 3: market the home for sale

There’s no single way to sell a house yourself, but here are some basic strategies.

Start with a good yard sign

You’ve seen these in front of virtually every home you’ve ever seen offered for sale. You’ll need to do the same. You can usually buy them in office supply stores. It’s best to spend a little bit more money, and get a better one.

Create sales flyers or brochures

You’ll need to have supply available to give to people who look at your home, as well as to anyone you meet who expresses interest. You can create these using a Word document, but some attractive graphics won’t hurt either. You should also be prepared to add several photos, of both the interior and exterior of the property.

The flyer should also indicate the property address and who to contact, with both a phone number and email address. It should also list property specifics, including the sale price, the room count, and any qualitative sales pitches, such as a description of the local neighborhood and school district.

Advertise the home online

There a number of popular websites where you can do this. Once again, is one such site, and they even have a dedicated For Sale By Owner page. Another popular site is You should also try listing your property for sale on Facebook and on Craigslist.

Although you can absolutely go through the legwork of selling your home completely on your own via one of these marketplaces, Roofstock is another solution that could save you time and money. With Roofstock, you can list single-family homes that are rental properties. 

Roofstock allows you to list your home and get on the radar of the international platform. With a 3% commission fee, which is half of the traditional 6% fee, you’ll be able to save money. Plus, Roofstock handles the busy work for you. That means you can enjoy the best of both worlds by selling your property with an affordable commission without costing yourself any time. 

Host an open house

This is where you literally open your house to the public. It’s best done on a Saturday or Sunday, and tends to work best on good weather days.

You should start advertising your open house at least a week before the event, then set up signs on major roads near your home or subdivision to lead people in.

Step 4: negotiate the sale

Since you are not using a real estate agent, you’ll have to negotiate directly with any buying prospects. It’s a give-and-take situation, which you have to accept from the beginning. The buyer will almost certainly come in with an offer that’s below your asking price. They may even include some tough conditions, such as having you pay the closing costs.

If the initial offer is not acceptable, you’ll have to go back and forth. Hopefully, as you come down on the price, and the buyer comes up. You’ll have to decide exactly how low you’re willing to go.

The initial negotiations will probably be verbal, but once you agree on the basics, the buyer will have to submit a written offer. For that purpose, you may want to have a small supply of real estate contracts specific to your state. You can find these by doing a web search.

The contract must spell out every detail of the sale, including the purchase price, closing concessions, items that will be included in the sale, the closing date, and the location of the closing.

There will also have to be contingencies written in the contract. For example, the buyer may insist on having a home inspection. And you must insist on getting a copy of the buyer’s mortgage approval within several days of accepting the offer.

The closing will usually take place in the offices of an attorney or a title company, depending on what the custom is in your state. Both you and the buyer must agree on that location.

Step 5: handle the closing

The closing on a house is an entirely legal affair. That means there is a specific process, and it will be handled either by closing attorney or the title agent. Once you decide who this party will be, they will provide you with the required procedures.

Most of the closing work will be done by the closing agent. But you may be called upon to provide certain documentation along the way. Be sure that you do provide it as quickly as possible.

You should also be sure that you maintain contact with buyers between the time of contract acceptance and the closing. There will be points of contention, but good communication can bring you through them.

The biggest closing obstacle in most real estate transactions is the buyer’s mortgage. Even if you have a copy of their mortgage approval, do your best to stay on top of related developments. Most mortgage approvals have conditions that must be satisfied between the time of approval and closing. Some of those conditions aren’t so minor. If the buyer is unable to meet even one, the loan approval can be withdrawn.

To the degree possible, try to involve the mortgage closing agent in the back and forth details. A nervous buyer will often provide more information to a closing agent than to you as a seller.


Selling your house yourself is more complicated than using a real estate agent. But if you can make it happen, you can save tens of thousands of dollars. And that’s why people try to do it all the time. You can too.

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