How To Sell A House By Owner In 6 Steps

13 Min Read
Updated Dec. 14, 2023
Written By
Victoria Araj
Woman taking photo of living room to sell home.

some determined sellers, this path is paved by listing their homes for sale by owner (FSBO). By selling without a real estate agent, you can get some valuable benefits – including saving on agent commissions.

Navigating the home sale process can be challenging – confusing real estate terms and legal paperwork may be intimidating. But as with anything, a little studying can help build your confidence. If you’re wondering how to sell your house yourself, this guide demystifies the FSBO process.

Can You Sell Your Own House Without A Real Estate Agent?

If you’d like to sell your home yourself without a real estate agent, you can. There are no laws requiring home sellers or buyers to use agents. Since there are technical steps involved in real estate transactions – like legal paperwork – many sellers use an agent to make things easier. But not all sellers use an agent. And for some, selling their house “for sale by owner” (or FSBO) pays off.

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What Do You Need To Do Legally To Sell Your House?

When selling your home, most of what you’ll need to do legally involves paperwork. The proper paperwork protects you and the buyer throughout the sale process. Incorrect or incorrectly completed paperwork can lead to problems, delays or derail the deal.

Real estate attorneys aren’t required in every state, but you may decide you want one anyway to make sure everything’s squared away. With or without an attorney, here’s the legal paperwork you’ll need to sell your house:

  • Mortgage loan documentation: You must provide information on your current mortgage, like account details or the payoff amount. You can request this documentation from your lender.
  • Seller Disclosure: The laws that govern what you must disclose about a home varies by state. It’s wise to disclose any known issues to avoid renegotiation if the home inspection finds undisclosed problems. Lead-based paint disclosure is a mandatory disclosure requirement across the U.S.
  • Deed: You’ll need the original deed you received when you purchased the home. If you can’t find it, request a copy at your local recorder’s office.
  • Property tax documentation: Buyers can use this documentation to help estimate how much they may pay in annual property taxes.
  • Identification: You’ll need to verify your identity to close on the home sale. You will need to provide an official photo ID during closing.
  • Purchase and sale agreement: After negotiating an offer, the final contract outlines everything associated with the sale, including the earnest money deposit, contingencies, deadlines and more.

With all the appropriate paperwork, your home sale should go off without a hitch.

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The Pros And Cons Of Selling A House By Owner

Selling your house without a listing agent can be advantageous for many reasons. But the potential downsides of being a FSBO home seller are also worth considering.

Pros Of Selling A House By Owner

  • Lower commission fees: In typical real estate transactions, 5% – 6% of the total sale price goes to agent commissions – half to the buyer’s agent and half to the seller’s agent. In FSBO transactions, the commission is only paid to the buyer’s agent because the seller isn’t working with an agent. Selling without an agent can cut fees in half.
  • Total control: When selling your house yourself, you have the last say on everything. You decide who to let into your home – and when – what renovations to make and whose offer to accept.
  • Insider knowledge: Buyers usually want insider information like what the neighborhood is like or where the best restaurants are. As a neighborhood resident, you can share details with potential buyers that a seller’s agent may not

Cons Of Selling A House By Owner

  • Limited pricing data: Agents have access to market data the general public doesn’t see. They can also see what comparable homes are selling for in real time. Without access to accurate pricing data, it can be challenging to set an accurate market price for your home.
  • Lack of knowledge: From staging tips and tricks to completing legal paperwork, the technical aspects of real estate transactions can be hard to navigate without the appropriate knowledge.
  • Reduced market pool: About 86% of buyers find their homes through real estate agents or brokers.1 When you market your home yourself, you may miss out on almost a third of the market pool.

How To Sell Your House Yourself In 6 Steps

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and still want to sell your home yourself, it’s time to think about the steps involved in the process. With this road map in mind, you’ll be ready to navigate the home sale process from start to finish – no agent necessary!

1. Determine The Market Value

Before you can set the right price for your house, you need to know the home’s market price. Incorrectly pricing your home can negatively impact its ability to sell. Your house may be worth more or less than you think. It’s best to consult the data to find your home’s true market value.

You can do this in a few ways:

  • Request a comparative market analysis from an agent: A comparative market analysis uses data from comparable properties and known market trends to estimate the value of a home. This service is usually free and provides a reasonably accurate estimate. But sellers beware! You may enjoy working with the agent and abandon the FSBO route.
  • Get an appraisal: Like a comparative market analysis, an appraisal is a report produced by a licensed professional who reviews comparable properties. By law, appraisals must be conducted by neutral third parties.
  • Make an educated guess: The way a home’s market value is determined is generally the same no matter who does Look at comparable properties online, consider any unique features in the home and develop an estimate. If you feel comfortable enough to tackle the responsibility of pricing your home, you can estimate the home’s value yourself.

2. Prepare Your Home To Sell

Once you know the market value of your home, you can start preparing the home to sell it. As part of the process, you’ll decide what repairs, updates or cosmetic fixes you’ll perform to prepare your home for the market.

Preparing your home for the market can be as big or small an undertaking as you’d like. To make your renovations worthwhile, make sure they will likely increase your home’s value. For instance, remodeling your basement may sound like a good investment, but it’s important to make sure you will recoup the project’s cost.

On the other hand, something as small-scale as mowing the lawn or pruning bushes can increase curb appeal. Curb appeal can increase a home’s value by up to 7%, so be sure your home’s exterior makes a good first impression on potential buyers.

3. Market Your Home Listing

Now that your home is ready for the market, it’s time to get the word out. Marketing your home is one of the most important steps in the home sale process. After all, the more potential buyers who know about your home, the more likely you get the offer you’re looking for.

Over half of buyers find their homes online, which makes online listings a savvy first step. Create listings for your home in as many online spaces as possible, such as:

Only real estate professionals can create MLS listings – but there is a workaround. You can pay participating brokerages a flat fee to create an MLS listing for you. It’s worth trying this tactic because many agents find homes to show buyers through the MLS service, and about one-third of buyers find homes through an agent. Not creating an MLS listing for your home may mean missing out on a huge pool of potential buyers.

Take great photos of your home to add to your online listings. To capture your home in its best light, you should declutter and stage it to show off its best features without visual distractions. It may take some additional time or money, but staging your home can lead to major benefits:

  • 80% of real estate agents said staging helped buyers picture themselves in the home.2
  • 23% of agents said staged homes received offers that are 1% – 5% higher than non-staged homes.2
  • Staged homes sell 33% – 50% faster than non-staged homes.3

You should also consider traditional marketing techniques to sell your home. Hosting an open house allows potential buyers to experience your home and everything it has to offer in person.

Marketing Your FSBO Listing

When you market your FSBO listing, consider how buyers typically find homes so you don’t miss out on potential leads.

Top Ways To Find Homes

Top Ways Sellers Can Market FSBO Listings


Open houses

Real estate agents

Yard signs

Friend, relative or neighbor

Friend, relative or neighbor

Home builder or their agent

MLS website

4. Adjust Your Home Listing As Needed

With your home officially on the market, the next step is making any necessary adjustments. This step requires you to think like a real estate agent. Ask yourself the following questions to see where your strategy may need to shift:

  • Has your home been on the market for too long with no offers?
  • Do you need to lower your listing price?
  • Is your marketing not turning out any leads?
  • Do you need to just wait and see what happens?
  • How are other homes in your area selling? How quickly are they selling and at what prices?

Homes that sit on the market longer tend to sell for less. So it’s important to watch your listing’s performance in the first month or so. Be quick to make necessary adjustments to prevent your listing from going stale.

5. Negotiate An Offer

Receiving your first offer can be exciting! But if you’d like to change a buyer’s terms of sale in their purchase offer, you can negotiate and respond with a counteroffer. While negotiating your offer, confirm a few key matters first:

  • Ensure the buyer is qualified (they have a preapproval letter, verification, )
  • Make sure everything is in writing
  • Ensure all documents are signed

With the basics out of the way, you can consider negotiation tactics. One of the best things you can do is find out what the buyer wants. Whether it’s a faster closing, kitchen appliances or something else – knowing what the buyer wants puts you in a powerful position. Offer them something they want and include something you want in the contract. This could mean giving them a faster close in exchange for a temporary rent back while you look for a new home.

Try not to get too emotionally involved with an offer. This can cloud your judgment and cause you to sell yourself short. The right offer will come – even if it takes some time.

6. Close On The Sale

Closing can feel stressful if you don’t know what to expect. But with the right steps, you can settle your closing costs and hand over the keys to the new owner in no time.

  1. Sign the finalized purchase agreement: After negotiating offer terms, finalize everything in a real estate purchase contract (REPC). If your buyer has an agent, they may facilitate this process. Otherwise, you can get a template from your local association of REALTORS. (A quick Google search should do the trick.)
  2. Find a title company: After the purchase contract is signed, the buyer will deposit their earnest money with the title company you select. Earnest money protects you in case the buyer backs out after the contracted deadline.
  3. Provide disclosures: You must provide any information relevant to the sale to the buyer. This includes roof damage, leaks, pests, structural issues or anything else that may affect the buyer’s decision.
  4. Make your home available for inspection: Most lenders require inspections, so your buyer will almost always need access to your home for an inspection. Make your home available so you don’t miss any deadlines that could kill the sale.
  5. Run a preliminary title report: This report verifies whether the title is clear and provides relevant information on the transfer of property ownership to the buyer. You can use the same title company you used to hold the earnest money.
  6. Sign documents at the settlement: The title company will facilitate the signing of documents to transfer ownership and record the sale with the county. And just like that, your home is sold!

Bonus Tip For How To Sell Your House Yourself: Use Websites And Apps

Most buyers find their future homes online, so a strong online presence for your home is key. But where should you post? The most convenient and quickest way to show up in as many places as possible is through an MLS listing.

FSBO sellers can pay brokerages a flat fee or use a FSBO site that offers an MLS listing option. Sites like Redfin syndicate their data from the MLS database, which means one MLS listing can turn into several listings across the internet. An MLS listing gets your home advertising on multiple syndication sites, and it gets advertising from agents.

Look through our chart comparing the most popular FSBO websites and their prices. We also indicate whether they offer MLS listings.

Which FSBO Site Should I Use?

The best FSBO site for you will depend on your preferences. Consider pricing and whether there is an option to list on the MLS, which automatically syndicates your listing on other platforms.



MLS Listing Option?






Facebook Marketplace







$0 – $395








$99 – $499 (+1% of sale price)


$99.95 – $399.95



$199 – $999


$299 – $399


Many of these sites come with mobile apps you can download to help make managing your listing easier. There are additional apps you may find useful to help you navigate different parts of the selling process:

  • Houzz: This app can help you prepare your home for market and includes helpful tips on home updates, staging and design.
  • Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius: This app is another great tool to get your home ready for its market debut. The app offers time and money-saving tips for DIY home projects.
  • MagicPlan: Create a floor plan for your listing by taking photos as you walk through your home. MagicPlan will convert the photos into a quality floor plan image.
  • Panorama 360: Want to offer a virtual tour of your home without paying a premium? This app turns your phone into a panoramic camera.
  • Evernote: There’s a lot to remember throughout the home sale process. Evernote can help you stay organized, keeping your images, ideas and notes in one place.

The Bottom Line: Selling A House By Owner Requires Time And Effort

Selling your home yourself may feel challenging. But it’s a challenge that can be conquered, especially with a comprehensive road map to guide you to closing successfully.

But don’t forget the other half of the equation: buying a new home. Use our guide to selling and buying a house at the same time to manage the process and create a well-timed plan.

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