Sell Your Home Without a Realtor (FSBO)

Are You Allowed To Sell Without a Realtor? 

Yes, selling without a real estate agent in California is legal. It is also known as listing for sale by owner (FSBO). Selling a home is a big undertaking and there can be many reasons why you may want to sell your home yourself. We’ll explore the pros and cons of selling without a realtor and the many moving pieces that you’ll need to juggle. 

What Are the Pros of Selling Without a Realtor? 

Lower Commissions 

The average commission for a home sold in California is over $20,000. Saving that amount of money is a huge pro for many people, especially if you’re selling your home to a known buyer and aren’t concerned about having to market your property and facilitate showings and negotiations.

Cut Out the Middle Man

Shopping for a realtor to represent you can be a task in and of itself, and you may waste valuable time finding one that is right for you. You may also desire more control over the process and having an intermediary may hinder your ability to determine how your home is represented, understand where you are in the process, and receive timely information. 

Sell Faster

Properties that the owner sells tend to sell faster. Part of this is because you’re able to focus on your single property vs a realtor focusing on many properties and clients simultaneously. You can also choose to expedite the process by selling to a known buyer or selling to a cash buyer like Haven Homebuyers. 

What Are the Cons of Selling Without a Realtor?

Lower Sale Price

The median price of homes sold by owners was about 35% lower than homes sold with an agent, according to NAR data. Additionally, owners will still need to offer an attractive commission for the buyer’s agent (typically between 2.5-3%

Lack of Experience 

Most homeowners have not gone through the process of selling a home, and lack the experience of a seasoned agent. This can make the complicated process of selling a home stressful as homeowners navigate listing, marketing, and closing procedures. They’re also less likely to understand the local market and have a network of buyers. 


Selling a home comes with several legal responsibilities, from proper disclosures to purchase agreements and closing statements. It can be a lot of paperwork for someone not familiar with the process. It is typically recommended that you have a lawyer review the paperwork for accuracy as you can be on the hook for any paperwork that isn’t properly completed. 


Marketing your home can be a difficult task if you’re doing it alone. Homeowners don’t have access to list on MLS and need to find other ways to market their property. This has been made easier with sites like Zillow and, which will let you create a FSBO listing. 

Additionally, realtors already have access to a database of professionals to assist with the sale process such as inspectors, contractors, lawyers and banking representatives, while you’ll likely need to source assistance along the way. 

How to Sell to A Cash Buyer 

Selling to a cash buyer is the easiest and fastest way to sell your home. Haven Homebuyers offers a no-stress process to get a fair cash offer. 

  1. Request Your Offer. You can request an offer by giving us a call at 714-515-6515 or clicking the button below.
  2. Receive Your Cash Offer. Get your no-strings-attached offer. If you’re comfortable with it, we’d like to do a 5-minute walkthrough. If not, we understand and will request a few pictures instead. 
  3. Choose Your Closing Date. After you accept our offer, you can choose a closing date that best suits your needs. 

How to Sell To a Known Buyer

Selling to a known buyer is one of the more straightforward ways to sell your home without an agent. However, it’s advisable to treat the process as if it were a regular sale. This includes following all the regular processes such as conducting a home inspection, negotiating based on local comparables, and ensuring all the necessary paperwork is filed. 

While you can file much of the paperwork yourself, hiring a real estate attorney helps streamline the process, removes stress, and ensures that your interests are being represented. An attorney can also help you make sure that everything is documented, including negotiated items like discounts, repairs, and furniture. Depending on the relationship with the buyer, it may be advisable for you each to have your attorney. 

If you do offer a discount on your home then you’ll need to consider whether the discount is great enough to trigger tax implications. In some cases, discounts can be seen by the IRS as a gift which needs to be declared on your tax returns and deducted from your lifetime gift exemption. It is advisable to consult a tax advisor to ensure that you are filing appropriately. 

How to Handle The Sale via For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

Prepare Home for Sale

Preparing your home for sale can be an overwhelming process. In general, you will want to do the following: 

  • Obtain a home inspection report. This will not only help you identify repairs you may need to make to the home, but can also help speed up the sale process as buyers may opt not to get their own inspection if one is provided. 
  • Repair or update the home. This can include repairs identified in the inspection, but can also include minor updates like patching and repainting to make the home more attractive to potential buyers. 
  • Clean and declutter the space. A clean space will appear more attractive in listing images and for showings. You may also choose to stage your home to make it appear more attractive. 
  • Don’t forget the outside! In addition to cleaning and staging, you may also choose to update the outside of your home to improve the curb appeal. This includes removing clutter and cleaning up the landscape to appear more attractive. 

Decide on a Sale Price

Once your home is ready to list, you’ll need to decide on a sale price. There are several ways to determine the listing price of your home including: 

  • Getting a home appraisal. A home appraisal in California starts at $250, but can go as high as $1,200, with the average cost between $335-$450
  • Getting a broker to provide a broker price opinion (BPO). Many agents provide a paid service to help you determine the value of your home, even if you’re not using them to sell your home. The cost of a BPO is usually around $150. 
  • Do your own research. Public information can be found on Redfin or Zillow on active listings in your local area that can help you price your own home. This method is less reliable if you’re unable to find properties that are comparable to yours (number of bedrooms/bathrooms, age of home, proximity to amenities, renovations etc). 

Create a Listing 

Homeowners will not have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a private list of listings maintained by real estate brokers to more easily find and market properties. Instead, FSBO sellers in California have a few other options 

  • Social Media listings are free to users. In addition to your personal social media account, you should also look for local FSBO and community groups. 
  • FSBO sites in California such as Zillow, and allow owners to create listings directly. Some sites even have the option to publish to the MLS, though those listings tend to cost more. While some listings are free, you may need to pay $500 or more on some sites. 
  • Signage is an easy and cost-effective way to market your property. It will be limited to people in the area, but this can work well if you’re in a high-visibility area. Be sure to include your contact information. 

Listings should include key information such as home size, age of home,  number and sizes of rooms, recent renovations etc. Additionally, it can be appealing to add information about the neighborhood like local amenities, parks and schools. The best listings will also feature photos of the home. While you can take these pictures of yourself, professional photos can make your listing look more put-together and appealing. You can expect to pay between $100-$500 for a professional photographer. 

Offer a Buyer Agent’s Commission

The agent's fees on a typical home sale are split between the buyer and seller’s agents and it’s advisable to offer a buyer’s agent's fee to attract a greater number of buyers. Not offering this commission will limit you to buyers not represented by an agent as agents won’t have any benefit of showing your home. 

Schedule Showings

Scheduling showings for potential buyers is a key step in selling your home. The benefit of FSBO is that you have greater control over this process and timing. Additionally, you can respond to inquiries faster as you’re not depending on an agent as an intermediary for scheduling. However, it does require you to be organized and available to buyers which can be a time-consuming endeavor. 

In addition to the actual showing, you will want to block off time to clean and stage your home prior to the showings so your home can look its best. 

Negotiate With Buyers

You have the opportunity to negotiate directly with the buyer. In addition to the price, you may also need to negotiate: 

  • Subjects to the sale such as inspection & financing
  • Repairs that may be needed 
  • Closing costs 
  • Closing date 
  • Attorney fees 

Keep negotiations professional, especially as you’re more likely to be emotionally attached to your home. Hiring a lawyer is a great way to make sure your interests are being represented fairly and professionally. Additionally, it can help ensure that you’re ticking all the legal boxes when it comes time to close the sale. 

Close the Sale

Disclosure laws

You will need to keep in mind that California requires the completion of a ten-page buyer and seller advisory form. This form outlines the rights and responsibilities of the buyer, seller and broker as well as a list of items that the sellers must disclose to buyers before the sale is completed. This includes 

  • Natural and environmental hazards 
  • Zoning and code compliance 
  • Deaths on property
  • Mold
  • Asbestos 
  • Megan’s Law Database Disclosure
  • Noise sources 
  • Fire damage 
  • Water damage 

Transactional paperwork 

Once negotiations and disclosures are completed, you can move forward with the transitional paperwork and exchange of funds. Final paperwork includes the following and is advisable to be completed by a real estate attorney. 

  • Closing statement
  • Sales agreement 
  • Bill of Sale
  • Notarized Affidavit of title
  • Executed Deed 

It’s typical in Southern California to use a title company and escrow agent to conduct the closing. Typically sellers pay for the title insurance and county transfer tax and then split the escrow fee with the buyer, but this can be negotiated. As always, we recommend that a real estate attorney assist with the closing process and paperwork as you’ll be liable legally and financially for any mistakes made. 

Generally speaking, you’ll need the following paperwork to close a sale: 

  • Title
  • Personal ID
  • HOA information
  • Mortgage Payoff Amount
  • Tax Records 
  • Home Inspection (proof of repairs) 
  • Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement 
  • Purchase Agreement and Addendums 
  • Closing Statement 

What is the Easiest Way to Sell My Home?

While you can list your home FSBO and sell it yourself, it’s often not worth the financial and legal risks associated with it. And while it does speed up the process, it’s still a stressful time for the seller. If you want to control the sale of your home without the hassle and risk of FSBO, then Haven Homebuyers may be a great option for you. We’ll offer cash for your home and allow you to choose the closing date. Close your home in as little as five days. 

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