How to Sell a Home Without a Traditional Agent

Selling a home with a traditional real estate agent isn't cheap: Most agents take a commission of 5 percent to 6 percent of your home's final sale price. That means if your home sells for $200,000, you'll pay your agent between $10,000 to $12,000 from the proceeds of the sale.

That commission can take a serious bite out of your profits. If you don't have much equity in your home, your agent's commission might even eat up most of the money you're making on your sale.

Sellers can avoid all or much of this commission by either selling their homes on their own, or working with a discount broker. In both arrangements, sellers will keep a greater share of the profits that they make when selling their home.

For sale by owner

The most common way to sell a home without a traditional agent is to go the for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, route.

You will not have to pay anyone a commission, but marketing your home on your own can be tricky. When you list with a traditional real estate agent, that agent places your home's information on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Once your home is listed on the MLS, it'll also show up on, one of the most popular sites people use to search for homes for sale.

The MLS does not allow FSBO listings. This means that you also won't be able to get your listing on, severely limiting the number of homebuyers who will see it online. You can, however, list your FSBO property on other real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia. You can also put an FSBO sign in your front yard.

Real estate agents do a lot of work to earn their commissions. If you're going full-scale FSBO, you'll have to do that work on your own. This includes setting the right price for your home — which you can do by checking out recent comparable sales in your neighborhood on — staging your home so it looks its best, scheduling showings of your home, and negotiating a final sale price with potential buyers. You'll also have to handle the paperwork involved in closing a sale and work with home inspectors and appraisers.

Even if you choose not to work with a real estate agent, you might consider hiring a real estate lawyer to help you with the documents you'll need to close your home's sale.

Flat-fee brokerages

If you want some help selling your home, but you want to avoid the 5 percent to 6 percent commission, you might consider working with a flat-free brokerage. These companies will list your home with the MLS, market it to potential buyers, schedule showings, and negotiate on your behalf with potential buyers. They'll just do it while charging a flat fee instead of taking a percentage commission.

The brokerages that offer this service will charge varying rates. You might find a flat-fee brokerage that charges $2,500 for its services. Another might charge less, another more.

Just make sure you understand what you are getting for the fee. The flat-fee brokerage with which you work should list its services and prices clearly. You don't want to spend a flat fee of $2,000, for instance, if the brokerage won't list your home on the MLS or won't schedule showings — two of the most important factors in selling a home.

Discount brokers

Discount brokers are similar to flat-fee brokerages in that they charge less to help you sell your home — but their payments are based on the traditional commission structure. They just charge smaller commissions.

A good example is Redfin. This brokerage charges a listing fee of just 1.5 percent of your home's sale price. Be aware, though, that this isn't all that you'll pay. Typically, the agent representing a home's seller and the agent representing its buyer split a total commission of 5 percent to 6 percent of a residence's final sale price. In a Redfin transaction, sellers pay their listing agent just 1.5 percent of the home's final sale price instead of 2.5 percent or 3 percent.

These sellers will still have to pay an additional commission to the agent representing their home's buyers, out of the profits of their home sale.

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How to Sell a Home Without a Traditional Agent

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