Comparing Selling Your Home by Owner vs a Realtor

Selling a home is a significant event, both financially and emotionally. It’s a process that can be both exciting and daunting, particularly when deciding how to handle the sale. Should you embark on a DIY journey and sell it yourself? Or should you hand the reins over to a professional, such as a realtor or an agency? Each of these paths offers a distinct set of benefits and challenges, and your choice could have substantial implications on the success of the sale and your overall satisfaction with the process.

Your home is likely one of your most valuable assets, and the method you choose to sell it can significantly impact not only the final selling price but also the complexity of the transaction, the time it takes to close the deal, and ultimately, your peace of mind. In this article, we will break down the different ways to sell a home: by yourself, through a realtor, or via an agency. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of each approach to help you make an informed decision that best aligns with your circumstances and goals. Selling your home doesn’t have to be a daunting process, and with the right information at your fingertips, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges.

For Sale By Owner

If you’re confident in your sales ability and are up for a challenge, you might be considering the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route. FSBO means you’re selling your home without a real estate agent. The appeal? It offers the potential for higher profit since you’re not forking over a commission to an agent, and it gives you complete control over the process.

Pros of FSBO:

  1. Potential for higher profit: Without an agent’s commission, you may keep more profit from the sale. Commissions typically range from 5-6% of the sale price, which can be a significant chunk of change.
  2. Complete control: You control every aspect of the sale, including setting the price, scheduling showings, and negotiating offers.
  3. Don’t Pay A Commission: You will still need to budget in the buyer’s realtor commission, as the buyer has no incentive to not use one.

Cons of FSBO:

  1. Time-consuming: Selling a home is a significant undertaking. Preparing the home for sale, marketing the property, coordinating showings, and handling paperwork can eat into your time.
  2. Legal complexities: Real estate transactions involve legal paperwork that can be complex. Without a realtor, you’ll need to handle this yourself or hire a lawyer.
  3. Pricing challenges: Setting the right price requires a deep understanding of the local market. Price too high and your home may languish on the market; price too low and you could leave money on the table.
Pros of FSBOCons of FSBO
Time vs MoneyPotential for higher profitTime-consuming
Control vs ConvenienceComplete controlLegal complexities
You get what you pay forReduce CommissionsPricing challenges

FSBO can be ideal in a seller’s market, where demand is high, and homes are selling quickly. It can also be a good fit if you’re selling to a friend, relative, or neighbor, as many of the challenges of FSBO (marketing, negotiations) may be lessened. However, be prepared to devote substantial time and effort to the process, and make sure you’re comfortable handling any legal complexities that arise.

Hiring A Realtor

Selling a home through a realtor is perhaps the most common approach when it comes to real estate transactions. Realtors are licensed professionals who represent buyers or sellers in real estate deals. They are equipped with a deep knowledge of the market, negotiation skills, and access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database of homes for sale in your area.

Pros of Hiring a Realtor:

  1. Access to MLS: Realtors can list your home on the MLS, exposing it to a wide audience of potential buyers. They can also utilize their networks to market your home effectively.
  2. Negotiation skills: Realtors handle negotiations on your behalf. Their experience and expertise can often result in a better selling price.
  3. Handling paperwork: Realtors are familiar with the complex legal paperwork involved in selling a home, which can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Cons of Hiring a Realtor:

  1. Commission fees: Realtors typically charge a commission of 5-6% of the home’s selling price. While this cost gets split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents, it can still represent a significant sum.
  2. Potential for miscommunication: Since the realtor is acting as an intermediary between you and potential buyers, there can be instances of miscommunication or misaligned interests.
Pros of RealtorCons of Realtor
1Access to MLSCommission fees
2Negotiation skillsPotential for miscommunication
3Handling paperwork

Hiring a realtor can be an ideal choice for many sellers. Particularly, if you’re busy and do not have the time to dedicate to selling a home, or if you’re uncomfortable handling the negotiation and legal aspects of the sale. A realtor’s expertise can also be invaluable if you’re selling a high-end home, where negotiation can make a significant difference in the final sales price.

Using An Agency

Selling a home through an agency is another popular method. This process usually involves listing your home with a traditional real estate agency or utilizing the services of newer tech-savvy solutions such as iBuyers (Instant Buyers). iBuyers are companies that use technology to make an offer on your home instantly, simplifying the process considerably.

Pros of Selling Through an Agency:

  1. Fast Sales Process: Especially with iBuyers, you can receive an offer almost instantly, and the process is usually faster than selling through a Realtor or by yourself.
  2. Professional Marketing: Real estate agencies have teams dedicated to marketing homes effectively, using professional photography, staging, and advertising tactics.
  3. Market Knowledge: Agencies have a deep understanding of local market conditions and pricing strategies to get the most from your sale.

Cons of Selling Through an Agency:

  1. Fees and Service Charges: While agencies might charge a similar commission to Realtors, iBuyers often have additional service fees. It’s important to understand all the costs upfront.
  2. Lack of Personal Control: When you sell through an agency, you relinquish a lot of the control over the selling process, including negotiations with buyers.
Pros of AgencyCons of Agency
1Fast Sales ProcessFees and Service Charges
2Professional MarketingLack of Personal Control
3Market Knowledge

Selling through an agency can be an excellent option for those who want to sell their home quickly without dealing with showings and negotiations. iBuyers, in particular, can be an attractive option if you’re in a rush to move and are willing to pay a little extra for the convenience. However, they might not be ideal if you’re aiming for the highest possible profit from your sale, as the quick and easy service often comes with a higher cost.

The decision of whether to sell your home yourself, through a Realtor, or via an agency is not one-size-fits-all, and the best option for you depends on your personal situation, financial circumstances, and the current housing market conditions.

Here’s a quick recap of each option:

  • For Sale By Owner (FSBO) might be the right choice for you if you’re experienced in real estate transactions, have ample time to dedicate to the sales process, and want to save on commission fees. However, it could be more challenging if you’re not familiar with legal requirements and market trends.
  • Selling through a Realtor often provides a more hands-off experience and the benefits of professional expertise. A Realtor can help you negotiate better deals, handle paperwork, and provide visibility through MLS listings. However, they do charge a commission fee, which is usually a percentage of the sale price.
  • Selling through an agency can offer the quickest sales process, particularly with tech-savvy iBuyers. They handle everything, from professional marketing to handling paperwork, but they often come with higher service charges, and you’ll have less control over the process.

When deciding among these options, consider factors such as your knowledge of the real estate market, comfort with negotiation, available time, financial goals, and how quickly you need to sell.

Remember, there’s no “best” way to sell a house — only the best way for you. Take your time to evaluate these options and choose the one that suits your needs and goals the best. After all, selling a home is a major financial event, and it’s essential to navigate the process with confidence and clarity. Good luck on your home selling journey!


  • Lily Kensington

    Lily Kensington is a financial psychologist, a proud member of the ANZA Psychological Society, and a passionate advocate for financial wellness. A former high school English teacher and psychology graduate, Lily brings a unique perspective to her writing that blends the intricacies of psychology with the world of finance.Over the past decade, Lily has dedicated her life to helping individuals and couples navigate their emotional relationship with money. Her empathetic and intuitive approach, honed through her counselling practice, breaks down complex financial concepts into relatable and practical advice. Lily's writing often reflects her personal journey as a single mother, providing valuable insights and support for fellow single parents navigating the world of personal finance.In addition to her numerous contributions to wellness and personal development blogs, Lily is the author of the book "The Heart of Money: A Psychological Guide to Financial Wellness."In front of the camera or behind the pen, Lily's mission remains the same: to help others achieve financial peace by understanding the psychology of money.

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