Risks And Rewards Of Selling Your Home Without A Realtor

Home seller tips

Written by

Andrei Geist

Published date:

Updated: Feb 23, 2024 by

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From the perspective of a home buyer, the position of a real estate agent can seem unjustified in its existence. Why in the world would you pay someone 6% commission on the total sale price of your home, just so that they can set up a couple signs in the yard and do some paperwork? On the face of it, it seems utterly preposterous; why not just sell your home without a realtor?


As anyone who’s ever sold a home before probably knows already, hiring a realtor makes a lot more sense once you look into it than it may at first glance. There’s a lot more to selling a home than most people realize at first, and real estate professionals such as realtors and real estate agents make the process move a lot more smoothly than it would if you went it alone.


Then again, figuring out how to sell your own home presents a unique challenge that some will enjoy; if you’ve got the time and like acquiring new skills, you might actually enjoy selling your home without a realtor. It won’t be easy, but with some perseverance and luck you might meet or even exceed the accomplishments of a professional.


This may leave you with the question “which of these options are right for me?” More specifically you may be wondering about the risks and potential rewards of selling your home without a realtor. If you’ve arrived on this page with this question in mind, then we’ve got some good news. Today’s article is going to be an in-depth exploration of this question and the various aspects that affect it. Let’s get started! 


How to sell your house by yourself

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Considering how prohibitively complicated the home buying/selling process can be, it’s no wonder that so few people are willing to undergo the effort and education necessary to do it alone. Without the aid of a realtor or real estate agent, you’re effectively swimming with the sharks, susceptible to any number of common pitfalls that befall naive first-timers.


As you can imagine, selling your home without a realtor is not exactly an easy proposition. If you’re going to be successful in this venture, you’re going to need to be of a certain caliber and disposition. You’ll need a strong, results-oriented mindset, rigorous attention to detail and the ability to learn new skills quickly.


Finally, you’ll need to be familiar with and comfortable facing the many risks that this proposition presents. You’ll probably want to be familiar with the potential rewards too, but that will come in time. In the following sections, we’ll take you through the various examples of both risks and rewards in an easy-to-follow fashion. Let’s get into it! 


Risk: lowballing yourself

One of the most common pitfalls you can expect to face if you choose to sell your home without a realtor is self-inflicted lowballing. Realtors and real estate agents are useful in many ways, but one of the most crucial is reading the market. Without an expert eye, it’s easy to misread the factors present in your local market and price your home below what you can easily secure for yourself from a willing buyer.


When it comes to pricing, the less experience you have, the more likely you are to misevaluate the value of your home. This is one of the ways in which realtors have an advantage over private home sellers; with the benefit of years or even decades of experience, they’re better suited to setting a price than you are, in all likelihood.


Even if you manage to set the right price, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to secure the posted list price for the sale of your home. As we’ll detail later, real estate agents aren’t just good at setting the right price; they’re also skilled in actually securing that price from the buyer. If your negotiation skills aren’t up to snuff, there’s a good chance you’ll be talked down from your original ask. 

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Reward: evading realtor commission

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Considering how onerous many home sellers consider real estate agent commissions to be, this is probably the most compelling reason to read up on how to sell your home yourself. When selling your home without a realtor, you’ll be escaping the 6% or so commission commonly charged by realtors when selling a home.


While it may not seem like much at first, this commission is often quite substantial. If you own a home that is worth $290,000, for example, you can expect to pay at least $17,500 in real estate agent or realtor commissions. When you look at it this way, it’s quite obvious why you as a homeowner might decide on learning how to sell your home yourself.


There are also a number of other fees that you might avoid when selling your home without a realtor, although this varies from state to state. Depending on which brokerage you look at, you could be evading a number of supplementary costs that are often tacked onto the bill after the fact. Some brokerages are more on the up-and-up than others, but you run the risk of encountering this type of grift regardless. 


Risk: getting scammed

While there are few realtors and real estate agents here and there who care little about their reputation and will swindle you out of as much money as they can at the first opportunity, realtors like these are quite rare these days. One thing that is not rare, however, are swindlers. These misanthropic opportunists are a lot more common than you might think, and they’ve got plenty of experience pulling the wool over people’s eyes.


When working with an experienced realtor or real estate agent, you gain two distinct advantages that protect you from individuals such as these to a great extent. First, realtors have a vested interest in making sure you don’t get scammed or defrauded, as their commission is contingent on a successful sale. Second, most experienced realtors are familiar with the most common types of scams and schemes employed, easily spotting them and helping you avoid them.


When selling your home without a realtor, you’ll be exceptionally vulnerable to scams, fraud and other unsavory forms of deceit. As far as scammers are concerned, a “for sale by owner” sign in front of a home might as well be an open invitation. If you want to avoid falling prey to schemes such as these and you’re not sure how, the best option is probably just to hire a realtor. 


Reward: more control over the conditions of the sale

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While it will likely be easier to sell your home with the aid of a realtor, the actual conditions of the sale will be further from your control. Realtors aren’t known for their attentiveness to every need and request from the seller or the buyer; in general, they’re just there to get the job done as quickly as possible, finish all the paperwork and get out with their commission.


Sure, you might be able to find a real estate agent who puts more care and attention into their work, but with a real estate market that’s as busy as the one we see today, realtors can hardly afford to spend time fawning over every client. Every second they’re going above and beyond is a second they’re not selling real estate. This isn’t a slight against real estate professionals; it’s just a cold, hard fact.


If you want to be in on every single minute and painful detail of the proceedings, you’re probably going to figure out how to sell your home yourself. Unless you personally know a good real estate agent whom you can trust to keep you in the loop on every little detail, you should probably just sell your home without a realtor. 


Risk: you might never actually sell your home

When it comes down to it, you’re going to have to face one unforgiving reality: real estate professionals know what they’re doing, and you probably don’t. This isn’t any fault of yours, of course. The system in place to facilitate the purchase and sale of homes is far more complicated and confusing than it needs to be, largely intended as a way to force you to use a realtor or real estate agent.


Be this as it may, knowing about it doesn’t change much. It’s unfair, but there’s a good chance you’ll never be able to sell your home without a realtor. How are you supposed to know which of the hundreds of different types of documents are essential, or how to navigate the hopelessly obtuse world of financing and banking? How are you supposed to find a buyer, or how to make sure you’re not being swindled? You aren’t; that’s the point.


All this being the case, there’s a good chance that you’ll never actually end up selling your home. Instead, the lettering on the for sale sign in the yard will gradually begin to fade, gradually becoming stained by layer after layer of gray mildew. Your ads in the paper and online may generate more interest, but they might not; you simply can’t be sure. 



It’s no secret that many homebuyers think ill of real estate agents and realtors because of the flawed system of which they are a part. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that most realtors and real estate agents are just regular people doing the best that they can to provide for themselves and their families. It isn’t too difficult to find one who will treat you well and do right by you!

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