You Don't Need A Realtor To Sell Your Home
Realtors also, of course, handle all the paperwork, provide legally binding contracts that account for local disclosure ordinances and know which lender to direct your low credit score-buyers to when their financing goes sour.
Finally, because they are exposed to a wider audience of potential buyers, some would argue agents may be able to obtain a higher sales price for your home, which can offset some or all of their commission.
A 2008 survey by NAR found the median price for sellers who used an agent was $211,000, while homes sold directly by the owners fetched closer to $153,000.
(Molony notes, however, the significant price spread in the most recent survey was partly due to the fact that FSBO properties were more likely to be in rural areas, and more likely to be manufactured or mobile homes. That suggests the homes might be worth less to begin with, he said.)
A smaller survey by Northwestern University of all homes sold in Madison, Wisc. between 1998 and 2004 found those who joined a for-sale-by-owner Web site got as least as much for their homes as sellers who either used an agent or the MLS.
The study shows that FSBO sellers ended up with a "significantly enhanced net sale price because they didn’t have to pay the brokerage commission that real estate agents charge sellers, generally 6 percent of a house’s sale price," the summary report said.
It did find, however, that homes sold through the MLS were more likely to sell faster—20 days faster on average. (And that was during the real estate boom.) It also found that over 20 percent of FSBO listings did not sell by owner, and ultimately had to list anew on the MLS.
The increased time to sell can be tough to swallow for homeowners who are carrying two mortgages at once.
If your home sits too many extra months on the market, of course, it would have been cheaper to simply hire an agent and cough up the commission.
Yet, despite the potential drawbacks, the cost benefit of selling your home on your own makes it worth considering if you can afford to wait for a buyer, are prepared to market your home effectively and aren’t afraid to do the legwork yourself.
(Editor's note: This story has been updated since first being published in March, 2009.)