How To Decide: Listing With a Realtor vs. For Sale by Owner

It can be an exciting but daunting process if you’re in the market for a new home. Selling your current home can be one of the most significant financial transactions of your life. Considering all options before deciding how to proceed with your home sale is important.

If you’re stuck deciding between hiring a realtor or listing your home yourself, here are 3 things you’ll want to think about:


1. Market Conditions

Selling your home can be a breeze if it’s a strong seller’s market where homes fly off the market in a matter of weeks or even days.

At the end of 2023, the U.S. saw a 3.2-month supply of homes nationwide. Anything less than 6 months of inventory is typically considered a seller’s market.

With 2024’s current market conditions, you could expect your home to sell relatively quickly whether you choose to list with an agent or sell it yourself. But in a buyer’s market, you might face a longer time on the market. That means you may have to get more creative with the marketing of your home. That’s where hiring a real estate agent with expertise in your local market can be beneficial.

Realtors are in the trenches every day, showing and selling homes. If you decide to hire an agent, you’ll want to find someone with a deep knowledge of your neighborhood, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics to maximize exposure.

When the real estate market is more favorable to sellers, selling your home is easier. But when things shift to favor buyers, you must price your home at, or even below, market value. Buyers will be very price-sensitive. Being overpriced by $5,000 to $10,000 can significantly impact how long your home is on the market and how many showings you get.

2. Commissions and Net Proceeds

Saving money is one of the biggest reasons you might consider selling your home FSBO.

Listing agents typically charge the seller a percentage of the sale price. Real estate commissions might cost you 4-7% of the sale price depending on where you live and how much your home is worth.

In other words, for every $100,000 of your home’s sale price, you could spend $4,000 to $7,000 on commission.

The real estate industry could see significant changes in the coming years due to the latest verdict in the lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors. For the time being, the commission-based model is the most common way realtors get paid. 

It’s important to know that selling FSBO doesn’t mean you’ll owe $0 to real estate agents. Many owners who sell their own homes still offer 2-3% to incentivize buyer’s agents.

Keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay for closing costs like title work (or attorney fees, depending on your state’s law) and any repairs negotiated between you and the buyers.

3. Time and Availability

Time is one of the biggest hidden costs when selling a home.

It usually takes 30-45 days to close once a contract is signed and executed, not to mention the time invested in preparing your home for the market.

Before even putting your home on the market, it could take several weeks to do repairs, declutter, and maximize curb appeal.

Once your home is on the market, scheduling showings could take several weeks until you get the right buyer ready to write an offer.

If you plan on selling your home yourself, be prepared to do everything a realtor would. You’ll need to be available to do things like:

  • Respond to inquiries from buyers
  • Coordinate showings
  • Host an open house
  • Negotiate price and selling terms
  • Handle paperwork
  • Communicate with the buyer’s agent and lender

Between work, life, and family commitments, you might not have the time to sell your own home. Hiring an experienced real estate agent can greatly reduce the time commitment and hassle of selling your home.

Listing with an agent can be great if you don’t have the time to handle things yourself, but you’ll still need to make time to:

  • Leave the home during showings
  • Negotiate price and selling terms
  • Sign and review paperwork

How Should You Sell Your Home?

Whether you hire a realtor or sell your home FSBO, there is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on how quickly you want to sell, how much money you want to make, and your availability to handle everything involved in the sale.

A real estate agent can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marketing, local expertise, and negotiating the sale of your home. But whether the cost of a realtor is worth it depends on your own situation and how much you value time versus money.


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