UrbanTurf Reader Asks: Should I Sell My Home on My Own?

by Mark Wellborn

At the peak of the real estate market back in 2005, most people wouldn’t think twice about having an agent sell their home. However, declining property values have led many sellers to save money by selling their home themselves. In this week’s installment of “UrbanTurf Reader Asks,” a reader inquires if going this route is a good idea.

“I’m considering selling my place on my own, but have no idea if it would be worth the trouble in this economy. We’re not in a rush to sell, but we’d like to do it in 2009.  A realtor told us it could take six months to sell anyway.

I was going to go the standard realtor route, but paying people to sell my house would mean that they would get most or all of any profit made in the sale, since I’ve only owned for 2 years. It also means I have to jack up the price on the house so everyone can make some money.

If we were in a more desirable neighborhood, I’d be more inclined to try FSBO, but we’re in the H Street Corridor. Thoughts?”

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for “UrbanTurf Reader Asks,” send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_should_i_sell_my_home_on_my_own/974


  1. Eric said at 1:11 pm on Tuesday June 2, 2009:

    Before going under contract, we put offers in on houses with listing agents and FSBOs. Frankly, it depends on the house.  If it’s a great house, done well, with good size and maybe parking, it will sell and sell quickly, regardless of who the agent is.

    If it needs work, isn’t clean or you intend to follow people around during an open house trying to talk to them about how much you love your house, it won’t.

    Just make sure you pay for a listing service, so it shows up everywhere, and take good pictures for your listing.

  1. Fabiola said at 4:13 pm on Tuesday June 2, 2009:

    Another alternative is Redfin. They charge a flat fee to sell your house, and depending on the price of your home it may be 1 to 1.5% as opposed to the 3% most realtors charge. The fee includes a professional photographer, posting your listing on all the websites, and full representation during negotiations and settlement. I think it is a pretty good deal.

    Finally, in the current economy you should not be afraid of negotiating with a traditional realtor. Appearantly, it is quite common in DC to offer only 2.5% as opposed to 3% commission, and even more common in MD. I feel like that is a well-kept secret of the trade.

  1. James said at 4:48 pm on Wednesday June 3, 2009:

    WOW, where do I begin?  Would you represent yourself in a law suit?  Operate on yourself?  Why would you NOT have a professional Realtor assist you with the largest Sale of your life?  I assume you work full time. SO DO REALTORS, to sell your home! We have the time to market your home full-time, take the calls full-time, show the home full-time, negotiate for you, and get you the MOST money in the SHORTEST amount of time. Do you know all of the legal requirements of a Sale? You need to. “Not knowing” will NOT stand up if a buyer sues you.

    “Eric” commented: “we put offers in on houses with listing agents” Hmmm… as a BUYER does anyone else see why negotiating DIRECTLY with the Realtor representing the SELLER may NOT be the best way to go?!?!  Buyers, always have a Buyers agent represent you and negotiate for you. Its FREE TO YOU! 

    “Eric” also said, ” Frankly, it depends on the house.  If it’s a great house, done well, with good size and maybe parking, it will sell and sell quickly, regardless of who the agent is.”  Hmmm….. what about PRICE?  Pricing your home CORRECTLY is one the BIGGEST items an experienced Realtor can assist you determining.

    “Fabiola” said   “Another alternative is Redfin. They charge a flat fee to sell your house, and depending on the price of your home it may be 1 to 1.5% as opposed to the 3% most realtors charge.”  Hmmm…...What about Showing of the property, calls on the home, networking with current buyer clients looking for that type of home, networking in your neighborhood for possible buyers, Open Houses, Brokers Opens, networking with other Realtors about your property?  They charge 1.5% and they should.  Remember, you get what you pay for.

    In this economy where your home is up against Short Sales and foreclosures, you need to stand out in a sea of great deals out there to a precious few qualified buyers ready to buy.  The MOST crucial time in a sale is the first three weeks.  Can you afford to price your home incorrectly or market it inadequately, then becoming stigmatized after sitting.  Also, don’t be fooled by a 2.5% commission.  Would you do your job for 2/3 of your salary?  NEITHER would a Realtor!  If your home offered a 3% commission, and a comparable home offered a 2.5% commission which one do you think will get shown more and sold faster.  Its not rocket science, but it is experience only a professional can impart helping you sell faster for more money.  For more information about the complex selling and buying process made MUCH EASIER, please go to JAMESANDREWSANDS.com.

  1. Michael said at 9:45 am on Thursday June 4, 2009:

    As a Realtor for many years, representing buyers as well as sellers, I fully endorse the numerous important points made by James, and would like to add a few of my own.

    First, when working with buyers in the current market, I generally find an abundance of properties available which meet my clients’ criteria, and are comparably priced.  Whether the buyer decides to buy one property or another, the amount of time and energy I will have to expend will be more or less the same.  As a result, when deciding which properties to recommend or show, I select, first, the listings which offer the highest compensation for my efforts, followed by those offering progressively lower commissions.  With so many properties available, I virtually never need to resort to showing properties offering “discounted” commissions.  Further, I will always choose a property listed with another Realtor over one which has “limited representation” (what you get when you pay a listing service), or is a FSBO (for sale by owner), since in the latter two cases, I will likely have to do all the legwork and paperwork for the buyer and seller, and/or have to advise and inform the seller, and/or have to work with the seller’s attorney, who typically is not a real-estate attorney and therefore wastes my time, and the seller’s money, reinventing the wheel.  In contrast, when the property has been listed with a Realtor, that listing agent will be able to do what is required on the seller’s end, and the added responsibility will not fall on me.  So, if you decide to just pay a listing service, good luck—you will get what you pay for.  And, should you decide to list with a Realtor but haggle over the compensation, make certain—if you do find one who will accept a lower commission—that only the listing agent’s commission is reduced, and that the buyer’s agent will still be offered a commission that will provide an adequate incentive to show your property (the higher the commission, the more often ot will be shown).  If you fail to do so, then don’t complain when your property—appealing and well priced as it may be—languishes and grows stale, without anyone coming to see it!

    Second, sellers often seem to believe that the toughest obstacle to overcome is finding a buyer and agreeing on the price and terms of the sale (executing the contract).  What most fail to understand, to their detriment, is that it is often more difficult to get the deal from contract to closing than it is to find the buyer.  There are almost always contingencies to a sale—financing, inspections, association aprovals, seller’s disclosures, title defects, and a whole host of legal, state and local compliance issues, to name just a few.  And there are often complex issues which arise with these contingencies which can delay, or worse yet, completely scuttle, the sale, so it is wise to have an experienced Realtor representing you, who has the resources and network necessary to address and overcome these obstacles and ensure a smooth closing.

    Finally, I will add a personal anecdote for the benefit of intending sellers.  Having sold my own home several years ago, the buyer—an attorney—filed suit against me on the very last day permitted by the statute of limitations.  He made countless allegations, including breach of contract, misrepresentation, failure to disclose defects, and more, seeking undisclosed punitive and compensatory damages.  However, since I knew there were defects with the home, I not only disclosed them, but strongly cautioned—in writing, on the disclosure document—that the buyer conduct very thorough inspections of the entire property, and all its systems, to determine the exact nature and extent of the defects.  He signed my disclosure, as well as another hand-written document stating that he had had the opportunity to conduct thorough inspections and familiarize himself with the condition of the property, and agreed to accept it, and proceed with his purchase, despite the numerous defects.  As a result, the case was ultimately thrown out, but not before it had cost me several thousands in attorney’s fees and court costs to defend it, and it had inhibited my ability to obtain credit at the most favorable interest rates for the three years before the judge dismissed it, during which I had to disclose that a lawsuit had been filed against me.  Having a Realtor to represent you will help you avoid liability for issues you may not even know you can be held liable for!

    My advice: buyer beware, and seller, too!

  1. johny said at 12:24 am on Monday June 8, 2009:

    Sorry, there is no way that I would pay 3% for the service of a realtor.  If you are comfortable with business transactions and able to objectively look at your home price in the relation to the market, you could do it on your own.  Sales contracts and contingency language are fairly standardized, and you can find almost all pricing information on the internet. I’m not saying realtors don’t provide any service.  But the service you are going to get from the vast majority of realtors is definitely not worth 3% IMHO. 

    One of the commentators asked if you would consider being your own lawyer.  If I could pass the bar with only 2-4 weeks of law school, then hell yes I would.

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