Paperwork for Selling a House Without a Realtor: Your Essential Guide

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|10 min read

When it is time to sell your house, you can either hire a real estate agent or represent yourself as For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that FSBO transactions accounted for 10% of home sales in 2021. While setting the right price was reported to be the biggest challenge for people who want to sell a house without a realtor, understanding and preparing the paperwork was also a major concern.  

If you are considering listing your home as FSBO, get to know the process and paperwork involved. This guide will walk you through the paperwork for selling a house without a Realtor and various other steps that can give you a leg up.

Why Do Some Sellers Avoid Working With a Realtor? 

There are multiple reasons why someone would sell a house by themselves instead of hiring a real estate agent.

First, they might already know the buyer. A parent might decide to sell a house to their child because they don’t need as much room. A homeowner might have a friend who is interested in the property.

In these cases, the seller doesn’t need to drum up excitement about the property, find potential buyers, and negotiate deals. They just need a real estate attorney to help with the paperwork. 

Other home sellers go the FSBO route because they want to save money. Most people pay about six percent commission to their realtors when selling a house (split between the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent), which can take tens of thousands of dollars out of their net proceeds. 

Even if a seller hires a discount real estate agent, they will still pay around four or five percent in real estate commissions because the buyer’s agent will expect their full three percent commission rate.  

The NAR found that the average home sold for $330,000 in 2021, while the average FSBO home sold for $225,000. This differential could be from parents and friends offering deals to loved ones buying their homes or it could be caused by homeowners undervaluing their properties to sell them quickly. If a Realtor can get more money for your home than their commission is worth, while still making a quick sale, you might be better off hiring them. 

The Importance of Paperwork When Selling a Home 

Regardless of whether you list as FSBO or hire a Realtor, paperwork is a big part of the real estate transaction. Each piece of paper you sign is a legal document stating that you agree to the terms of the sale. The buyer also signs countless estate settlement documents in order to take ownership of the property. 

Different real estate documents need to be signed throughout the home-selling process. Both parties will sign the offer form to show that they agree to the terms and conditions within. The buyer might sign documents related to a Homeowners Association (HOA) if there is one in order to acknowledge their dues and the rules. 

Without these documents, there is no way to prove that the seller willingly entered into a transaction with the buyer. The buyer would not be able to prove that they are the new rightful owners of the property. This paperwork can also be used in court if Loan Documents the buyer can prove the seller was lying or they knew information they did not share during the selling process. Basically, paperwork protects everyone – including the house. 

The Most Common Paperwork For Selling A House By Owner

When people research how to sell a house by owner, paperwork is often one of their biggest concerns. There are dozens of documents that all parties need to sign – most of which are several pages long and filled with complicated legal terms. Just reading the FSBO paperwork can get overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the real estate process.  

Here is what you need to know about FSBO documents, including the owner paperwork you need to sign and the various other forms and information sheets the buyer needs to receive – and sign proving they received them.

Residential Property Disclosure Form 

A homeowner cannot legally sell a property without disclosing all known issues related to the home and land. For example, the seller might know that the roof leaks. If they do not disclose that issue, the buyer could purchase the home thinking it has a quality roof, only to have to pay to replace it when they move in. Seller disclosure forms are an essential part of FSBO paperwork because they prove that the owner is acting honestly and ethically when selling the home. 

Property disclosure statements vary by state. You can find the right one for your area (and even read up on disclosure laws) online. There are plenty of templates that you can fill out which ask questions about your foundation, roof, electrical systems, pool, and other home elements.

Purchase Agreement 

A sales contract is drawn up when a seller accepts an offer from a buyer. It is also called a purchase agreement and reviews the terms of the deal. The purchase agreement will discuss the property itself (the address, size, property type, etc.) along with the terms of the sale (price, closing date, and any contingencies). Even if a buyer and seller agree to a price for the home, they will negotiate the other terms of the sale until they have a final contract. 

You might have the original sales contract from when you bought your home that can be used as a template or you can ask a real estate attorney for a sample document. This FSBO paperwork is needed as soon as you accept an offer, so it’s useful to have a purchase agreement on-hand that you can fill out quickly.

Title Reports and Deed 

It’s okay if you don’t have any title reports and deed information on hand before you sell your house. Oftentimes, the title company holds on to these documents until the seller needs them. 

Even without a Realtor, you will still need to work with a title agent. They will run a title search to make sure you are authorized to sell the house as the owner. They will also prepare the property deed to be transferred from one party to the next. The title company will have paperwork for both parties to sign – along with fees to cover their costs. 

If you are selling FSBO, you might be able to work with the buyer’s agent to navigate the title paperwork. 

Loan Documents 

If you still owe money on the home, pull out your mortgage statement so you can start communicating with your bank. You will need to contact your mortgage lender to receive a payoff quote – a document that lists exactly how much you owe the bank and how you can pay that amount and close the account.

This paperwork is actually meant to help you complete the home sale so you can step away from the property. You don’t want to keep paying for a house you no longer own.

Latest Utility and Property Tax Bills

There are multiple reasons to pull up past utility bills and property tax records during a FSBO sale. First, mortgage lenders might ask about property taxes to make sure the buyer can afford the home. The loan, interest, taxes, and insurance can contribute to the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. 

Next, the buyer will also want to set a budget for their own monthly expenses. While everyone uses water and electricity differently, utility bills can provide an estimate of what the monthly costs will be. 

Finally, you can use these bills to cancel your accounts so you don’t keep paying for water and electricity you didn’t use. The property tax records might also be added to the closing paperwork in the name of transparency.

Homeowners Association Agreements and Rules

Joining the HOA isn’t always optional. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, your buyer will have to agree to follow the rules and pay the monthly dues.  

HOA agreements can be several pages (and even chapters) long. The buyer will need to sign a document stating they read all of these rules. If you paid ahead in your HOA fees, you will likely get the money back. This will be a line item in your closing statement.

Plans and Permits

Make sure you include any property surveys, permits, blueprints, and other legal documents related to the improvement of the house. This is particularly important if the layout of the property is different from when you bought the house from the previous owner. Unpermitted work is illegal and dangerous, which means you need to prove that any improvements are authorized and inspected for safety. 

Unpermitted work needs to be mentioned in the seller disclosures, otherwise, the buyer could file a lawsuit against you for a misleading and dangerous home sale. 

Receipts and Warranties

Not all paperwork for selling a house without a Realtor is legally binding. There are times when you might add documents that can help out the buyer in their new home. For example, you can add receipts for appliances you recently bought and include warranties on various items (if they are transferable to the buyer). This way if a brand new washer breaks as soon as the buyer moves in, they know who to call to repair it.

Paperwork Checklist for Sellers

If this is your first home sale on your own, you need a FSBO checklist to walk you through all the paperwork. Fortunately, we have just the thing you use. Our team at FastExpert turned to the hivemind of our top real estate agents to gather a list of documents you need. Use this selling a house without a Realtor checklist to breeze through the sale.

  • Seller disclosure documents 
  • Sales contract
  • Title reports
  • Deed
  • Loan documents
  • Local tax data
  • Past bills (water, electric, gas, internet, sewer, trash)
  • Blueprints and plans
  • Permits
  • Receipts and warranties

Paperwork Exceptions

Many real estate agents draft additional documents to help the seller better understand the entire process. For example, the seller’s net sheet reviews the home sale price minus the closing costs, fees, and other expenses. This gives the seller a concrete idea of how much money they are making on the sale. This is free paperwork that makes the transaction easier to understand but isn’t required for the FSBO sale. You can decide whether you want to draft these documents for your own records or to make paying taxes easier in the coming year. 

If you feel confident creating and signing legally-binding documents, it is possible to sell your house without a Realtor. However, you will also be responsible for the marketing, negotiating, and transitioning of the property from one owner to the next. You might not have access to the multiple listing service (MLS) which promotes houses across sites like Zillow. Selling a house without a Realtor might be cheaper, but it is also much harder. Know what you are getting into before you take this step. 

>>DISCOVER: Why Isn’t My Home Selling?

Buyers Will Still Want to Complete the Inspection Process

Just because you want to skip hiring a listing agent doesn’t mean that your buyer is also on-board with completing the purchase without representation. Expert your buyer to want to hire a home inspector and an appraiser before agreeing to the sale. 

A home appraisal report highlights the value of the property to ensure the sale is fair. The appraiser will complete a competitive market analysis that evaluates your home against similar properties in the area that recently sold. This is often a requirement for mortgage approval. 

The home inspection report details the status of the house. The inspector checks on the foundation, roof, water heater, and other elements to make sure they are in good condition. This is also usually required to get a mortgage. 

In appraisal and inspection and common aspects of any real estate sale. Know that your buyer will likely include these elements in their purchase agreement.

The Bottom Line

Once you gather all of the paperwork for selling a home, you can move forward with listing your house as FSBO. From the initial purchase agreement to the final closing statement, there’s a lot to remember – but each document is important and contributes to the transparency and ethics of the home sale. 

If you are struggling with the paperwork for selling a house without a Realtor, let FastExpert help! We connect you with top-rated real estate agents who can manage the entire process for you, removing the stress and hassle. Reach out to us today to find out more.

Amanda Dodge

Amanda Dodge is a real estate writer and expert. She has worked in the field for more than eight years. She spends her time writing and researching trends in real estate, finance, and business. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communications from Florida State University.

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