How to Sell Your House Without an Agent

Consider hiring a real estate attorney instead

By Doug Mentes, Esq. | Last updated on January 27, 2023

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Many home sellers hire a real estate agent for their home sale, and it may be the safest and easiest route for some. But selling a home isn’t complicated for all sellers. And if it isn’t for you, you can protect yourself by working with an attorney at a cost that is often much less than an agent’s commission fee.

Why Sell Your Home Yourself?

Sellers can save up to 6 percent of the sale price. Even if a seller offers a 3 percent commission to the buyer’s agent, a seller still stands to save significant money.
  • $300,000 home: A homeowner can save approximately $18,000—or $9,000 if offering a commission to the buyer’s agent
  • $200,000 home: A for sale by owner (FSBO) seller can save approximately $12,000—or $6,000 if offering a commission to the buyer’s agent
Most potential buyers are likely to be represented by a real estate broker or listing agent. Sellers may wish to offer a commission to the buyer’s agent to assure they get the most traffic.

It’s Not for Everyone

It will be more work to sell your home on your own. However, it’s a lot of work for a FSBO home, regardless of whether or not they hire an agent. A seller’s agent can quickly draw on his or her experience to determine your options when various issues arise during the selling process or sale. If an owner is short on time, or feels unable to handle this very large transaction, then hiring an agent may be best.

Tasks the Seller Can Perform

First, you must determine the home selling price—for which location is likely the most important factor. Find out what nearby properties have recently sold for, as well as the list prices for nearby active listings. Adjust your home value based on important details, including:
  • Size of home and land
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Condition of the home and significant improvements that have been done
Next, determine where to list your home. Free or low-fee For Sale by Owner (FSBO) websites don’t have nearly the exposure of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS listing). For a few hundred dollars, online brokers offer access to the MLS.

Work With an Attorney on the Legal Issues

Meet with an experienced Minnesota real estate attorney before listing. You can turn to the attorney as much or as little as you need during the sale process. He or she will be able to give advice regarding:
  • Filling out the seller’s disclosure
  • Reviewing and advising on purchase offers
  • Obligations for the contingencies
  • Reviewing or drafting documents for closing
  • Title company work, closing costs and recording the sale
Sellers are required to provide the home buyers a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement to prospective buyers. A seller who fails to disclose a known defect could be liable to the buyer for damages—so involving the attorney here is important.

What To Do About Offers

The seller will likely want to review initial offers with the attorney. Buyers will use the Minnesota Standard Residential purchase agreement (or similar realtor form) when making an offer. The seller must understand their obligations under the various sale contingencies, especially in regards to financing and inspection. An attorney will be able to provide advice on the risks of the mandatory arbitration clause typically contained in purchase agreements. Many sellers don’t realize that it may be advisable to exclude mandatory arbitration at the sale because they can always agree to arbitrate in the future if a dispute arises. Sellers may only need between five and 10 hours of attorney time to negotiate and close their sale. Many attorneys provide this service for a flat fee. Attorneys can also provide legal advice while real estate agents cannot, and said advice should come at a cost much less than the agent’s commission. For more information on this area, check out our overview of real estate laws.

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