The Hidden Costs of Selling Your Home on Your Own

The Hidden Costs of Selling Your Home on Your Own

Costs of Selling By Owner If you are like most homeowners, the decision to sell your home was probably not one made in haste. Instead, you likely spent several weeks - or even months - looking at data from your local real estate market and reading about both current and expected housing trends that could influence your sale.

But even after all this research, you may still be wondering about one of the most important aspects involved in successfully selling a home today - trying to decide if you should list your home with a real estate professional or advertise it for sale by-owner.

If you are preparing to sell your home and trying to decide whether or not to use an agent, the following facts can help you decide what is best for your situation. 

The Time Factor

In addition to the hours you have already spent or will soon spend cleaning, organizing, de-cluttering, painting and sprucing up your home to prepare it for market, you should know that choosing to sell your home by-owner will also make major demands on your time in other ways, including these:

  • taking photos, video and measurements of your home
  • preparing marketing materials such as signage, flyers and business cards with your contact information and details about your home
  • placing ads in local media, including newspapers, radio and local television
  • finding online databases, websites and classifieds where you can advertise your home for sale
  • notifying the local real estate brokerages of your home's for sale status and showing details so they can present your home to their qualified buyers
  • answering calls from interested prospective buyers 
  • scheduling viewing appointments and open houses around the demands of work and family responsibilities
  • handling document preparation 
  • scheduling appointments for inspectors and appraisers

Selling by-owner is something than can be done successfully if the seller has the time and skills to handle tasks like the ones listed above. If you do not have enough spare time to address these and other duties involved in selling your home, and/or have not had experience with selling real estate, it usually makes far more sense to hire a reputable real estate professional to handle this very involved process, instead.

The Pricing Factor

One of the hardest parts of selling by-owner is getting the price right. If the price is set too high, qualified buyers will lose interest. Likewise, if the price is too low, sellers risk leaving thousands of dollars in value on the closing table. Relying on online sites for assistance in determining the best sales price for your home can be risky because they often use data from other areas that may not truly reflect your local real estate market. 

To price a home accurately, sellers will need to source verifiable pricing information for their immediate area, including homes currently on the market and those that have recently sold or gone under contract. This information should specify details including: 

  • price at the time of listing
  • price at the time of contract
  • closed price
  • number of days the home was on the market
  • any price reductions or adjustments 
  • any credits paid to the buyers by the sellers
  • specific details about the home to use for comparison value, including: age, square footage, condition, style, features, location and any positive or negative selling points that may have influenced the sale or sale price

Homeowners can get some of this information through their local property assessor or county recorder, or they can pay for a home appraisal. But many of these details can still be difficult for individuals to easily obtain.

Real estate professionals, however, can access this data and other necessary current or historical information about most homes instantly through the multiple listing system (MLS) and other massive real estate databases at their disposal. By using these details, they will be able to do a comparative market analysis to determine the best possible price point for listing your home.

This process helps sellers price correctly to get maximum exposure to qualified buyers, so the home can sell faster and for the best possible price. Missing the mark on pricing can be devastating to a home's sale, so it is imperative it is done right the first time.


For most homeowners, the process of marketing a home for sale involves listing the home on a handful of websites, placing an ad in the local newspaper and sticking a sign in the yard. Unfortunately, this type of advertising is not likely to attract the wide variety of buyers needed to quickly sell the home at the best price. 

When a real estate professional lists a home for sale, they will already have compiled all the necessary data and created many of the marketing materials needed to find and attract quality buyers. This means that soon after signing the listing contract, sellers can expect to see their homes being marketed across the globe without any additional cost to the seller beyond the commission. Sellers who list their homes with a quality agent can expect details about their home to be instantly accessible to prospective buyers. In addition, agents worldwide will typically be able to see if your home meets the criteria for one of the buyers they are working with. 

Before making your final decision, make an appointment with a reputable, successful real estate professional in your area to discuss your individual situation and ask them what benefits they can offer. It's important to understand that, for most people, the costs (and missed revenue) involved in a do-it-yourself sale end up being greater than the commission they would have paid.


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