FSBO vs. Realtor: How Should You Sell Your Home?

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|10 min read

One of the most important decisions you’ll make in the process of selling your home is whether or not to work with a real estate agent.

Although most homeowners hire a listing agent to help them price, promote, and ultimately sell their property, others decide to sell their homes through a process called FSBO, or “for sale by owner.”

A seller may choose FSBO over hiring an agent because they’re confident they’ll sell their home without professional help.

In many cases, an FSBO seller knows the future buyer or has a pool of interested buyers willing to compete for their property. In either case, the seller is usually looking to save money on realtor fees.

Research suggests that 36% of sellers try to sell their homes themselves at some point, but only 11% of sellers end up following through with an FSBO home sale. This is because selling a home can be incredibly challenging, especially if it’s your first time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of selling FSBO, the benefits of selling with an agent, and the FSBO statistics you should know before deciding to move forward with this type of home sale. 

Benefits of FSBO

There are several reasons why a seller may prefer FSBO over an agent-led home sale. Let’s dive into the three key benefits of an FSBO sale. 

No listing agent commissions.

Real estate agents typically receive 6% of the home sale in commissions, with 3% going to the seller’s agent and 3% to the buyer’s agent. FSBO sales cut your commission costs in half because you only need to pay the buyer’s agent commission fee, not the listing agent’s.

The real estate agent commission on a $500,000 property would be $30,000. That’s a sizeable sum for a seller to give up. By selling a home on their own, a seller would be keeping at least half of that commission for themselves.

In other words, they’d make an extra $15,000 on their property simply by not hiring an agent to help them sell their house. 

Control over the listing price, showings, and open houses.

Without an agent, you’re in charge of deciding a listing price, how many showings to have, when to host open houses, and even who to sell to.

Rushing out of your house for showings and hosting open houses every weekend can be a serious inconvenience for many sellers—not to mention the need to deep clean and organize your home before every visit!

As an FSBO seller, you decide when and how your home will be shown. In addition, you won’t have to wait for your agent to get back to you about when they’ll have buyers visiting your property. This reduces the need to communicate with a third party about your home sale and can speed up the buying process. 

Promoting your home from a personal perspective.

One of the most underrated benefits of selling your home by yourself is the ability to show it from a personal perspective. While an agent may have the professional experience needed to sell your home, they haven’t experienced your home the way you have.

Many FSBO sellers are more than happy to discuss their personal experience with the home during the selling process.

Buyers are usually interested in more than just the home itself. They want to know what the neighborhood is like, who their neighbors are, and anything that makes the location of the home, special.

Only you can truly speak to how your property fits within the community. After all, you know your home best. Successful FSBO sellers know how to use this insider knowledge to attract buyers.

Benefits of Selling with a Real Estate Agent

All that being said, the time and effort required to sell a home on your own can be significant.

If you already have a full-time job or a family to take care of, it may be hard to dedicate the necessary hours every week to sell your home.

Realtors get paid a commission because they handle a lot of the time-consuming tasks required to sell a home. Here are five areas in which they excel:

Staging and Photography

Real estate agents and brokers understand the need for buyers to envision themselves living on a property. As a result, they’ll often hire professional home and real estate photographers to present homes in the best light possible. 

If they’ve been in the real estate game for a while, agents will likely have a network of contacts they reach out to when needed. As an FSBO seller, you may not have access to this kind of professional network, making it harder for you to achieve similar staging and photographic results. 

Pricing the House

Experienced agents understand the local market well and regularly work with appraisers to determine property market values. They’ll know how to price your home in a way that is appealing to buyers but also maximizes your profit margins. 

FSBO sellers run the risk of either underpricing their homes because of their eagerness to sell or overpricing their homes due to an inflated sense of value. An agent can objectively assess your property, making it much less likely you’ll price your home incorrectly. 

Marketing Services

One of the key advantages of working with licensed real estate agents and brokerages is their ability to access the Multi Listing Service (MLS).

The MLS is the primary source of listings for buying agents, which means it’s in a seller’s best interest to have their home listed on the MLS. FSBO listings can’t be posted on MLS without a real estate license.

House Showings

The bulk of what a real estate agent does is schedule and host showings for potential buyers. Since this is their job, agents are willing to move their schedules around to accommodate buyers.

FSBO sellers often have to leave work early or find a babysitter to show their property. They may even have to miss out on showing due to conflicting schedules.

As a result, it could take much longer to find the right buyer, leaving your home on the market for months on end. 

Whether you go the FSBO route or hire an agent to help, you must file paperwork associated with the home sale. Knowledgeable agents and brokers are trained in the legal aspects of selling a home and will know how to complete the necessary paperwork.

FSBO sellers often enlist the help of a real estate attorney to help them file home sale paperwork correctly. Those who choose to file legal paperwork themselves risk filing it incorrectly, which can bring problems later on. 

FSBO vs. Realtor Statistics

As you can see from the points made above, selling with a licensed realtor comes with a wide range of tangible benefits.

However, there is a small percentage of sellers who still prefer an FSBO sale. Here are some statistics putting FSBO sales in perspective:

Only 10% of home sales in 2022 were FSBO.

The National Association of Realtors reported that 10% of all homes sold in 2022 were FSBO. This is up 7% from 2021, which indicates that FSBO popularity is strong.

Although this signals a growing desire among sellers to handle home sales independently, the vast majority of sellers prefer to work with a listing and pay them a commission. 

Half of FSBO sellers know their buyers personally. 

Another fact about sellers who choose to sell their homes themselves is that 50% of FSBO sellers already knew their buyers before they decided to put their homes up for sale. If you already have an interested buyer, you might not have to rely as heavily on a realtor’s marketing services.

You also wouldn’t need an agent’s help setting a price for your property if you’ve agreed to sell your home to a friend or family member at a discounted price. 

FSBO home sales are more common in rural areas than in suburban areas.

About 13% of homes located in rural areas are FSBO compared to just 6% of homes in suburban areas.

This could be because FSBO homes sold in rural areas often encounter less competition, lower home prices, or fewer qualified agents to lead the sale.

You may prefer to skip a realtor’s commission fees if your home isn’t in a crowded market, to begin with.

FSBO homes tend to have lower listing prices than realtor-listed homes.

One last statistic to consider before deciding whether or not selling your home on your own makes sense is that FSBO homes typically command a lower sales price than homes listed by real estate agents. 

The median price of an FSBO home sold in 2021 was $225,000, while the median price of an agent-assisted sale was $345,000.

Assuming that the home sale required a 6% commission to be paid, the average seller would have to pay about $20,600 in commission fees.

However, they would have netted $120,000 more on the sale than if they had sold their home on their own. 

Find real estate agents to help you sell your home. 

Deciding to sell FSBO or through a real estate agent is a big decision in the selling process. While FSBO offers several benefits, like saving on agent commissions, controlling listing aspects, and adding a personal touch to promotions, it also comes with its fair share of challenges.

Working with a real estate agent comes with many benefits as well, including professional staging, accurate pricing, broader marketing access through the MLS, convenient handling of showings, and expert assistance with legal paperwork. However, they do require a commission fee not all sellers are willing to pay. 

For many sellers, the expertise, resources, and convenience offered by real estate agents outweigh the commission expenses, leading to a smoother and more profitable home-selling experience. Reach out to one of the top real estate agents in your area today to find out how much FSBO homes typically sell for in your area.

Vivian Tejada

Vivian Tejada is a freelance real estate writer from Providence, RI. She writes SEO blogs for real estate, travel and hospitality companies. She's passionate about the future of work and helping Latin American freelancers achieve time, location, and financial freedom. When she’s not writing you can find her at the gym, a family cookout, or at brunch with her girls.

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