Realtor or No Realtor?

Updated on April 26, 2013
A.P. asks from Janesville, WI
20 answers

We are planning to try to sell our home this spring/summer. My husband and I have a difference of opinion about whether we should use a realtor or not. He feels like we shouldn't use a realtor....he wants to use one of those companies that for a small fee list your home on the MLS and take pictures and give you a sign, but that's it. He feels like we'll be giving away all of our profit if we have a realtor, which we could be using for a down payment on a new home. On the other hand, I feel overwhelmed by the idea of trying to do the showing/negotiating/closing all on our own.
What has been your experience with using a realtor or selling on your own? Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone-we have a realtor coming over on Monday :)

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

I know as a potential buyer I wouldn't even consider looking at a "for sale by owner" listing. It screams "cheap" and "unprofessional" and I would just expect problems, either with the property or the negotiation process.
Just my opinion!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Majority of potential buyers do NOT like to have the homeowner showing them the house. It is quite awkward and potential buyers will not feel comfortable looking at the home as they would with a realtor.

Realtors will negotiate their commission on the house you are selling IF you also let the same realtor help you find a new home.

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answers from Portland on

I would use a realtor. You won't be giving away your profit because you will have to ask less for the house. Buyers will know there is no realtor involved and will not pay as much. Why not use the realtor to do all the hard work and come out about the same-maybe even ahead. My in-laws tried to sell FSBO many years ago when the market was at it's peak. They tried to get as much money for the house as if it was listed by a realtor-got flakey, low ball offers. Not worth the headache.

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answers from Erie on

We didn't use a realtor when we bought our house. Our mortgage company provided all of our legal services and the seller used her lawyer. I don't know what she paid, but I know it was less than using a realtor. We have a PHFA loan, so the house had to be properly inspected and we had to go to credit counseling classes before we were approved for the loan.
That said, our situation was unusual since we found out about the house through word of mouth. She was willing to rent it to us until we were approved for the mortgage, since my husband hadn't been employed in his profession for two years yet. There were no surprises about the state of the house when we finally bought it.

If the down payment on a new house is jeopardized by a realtor fee, you may need to reassess if you really should move right now. You need a lawyer at least if you don't use a realtor. Either way, you have to pay someone to represent you.

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answers from Madison on

I used to be a realtor and have always recommended that you have one in your court, looking out for your best interests. You will have buyers coming through with an agent, who is working for them, not you. It's a buyer's market right now, and in my opinion, it would be well worth the commission to have a realtor marketing your property and managing showings for you.

When you are "shopping" for a realtor, make sure they are upfront about how much their commission is and how they share it with buying agents. You should not be paying more than 6% and they should split with buying agents. Otherwise, you could get stuck paying double commission - it's common practice that the seller pays the commission fees, by the way. Look over your listing contract VERY carefully and don't be afraid to question EVERYTHING.

If your husband insists on using the FSBO companies, definitely have your lawyer look over ANY contracts that come your way and be present at closing. You should probably figure out how much they will charge you for that service upfront, though. Like I mentioned, being a buyer's market, you could probably see multiple contracts come in and you could end up paying lawyer fees that end up being much more than 6% commission of sale.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It can work really well IF its a serious sellers market. It is where we live. Are there multiple bids on houses in your area? Is inventory really low? If so, then you can likely do okay selling with minimal help. That is if you are not under time constraints and deadlines to sell. And don't skip this step: pay out of pocket for your own appraisal! Not the one the loan people pay for, not the one that comes out for your insurance. Appraisers play politics. They won't rock the boat if there is a deal on the table. You need to know the value of your home before you enter into the negotiating process.

We are currently in escrow for our home that we are buying from our landlord. Everything has worked out really well (for us especially because he could have gotten a whole hell of a lot more money for this house if he had used a realtor and listed it). I think he was a little out of touch with the current market.

Also know that its hard to get loans right now. Deals fall through all the time because loans don't fund. That means you really need to know what you are looking for when you accept offers because a deal that falls through can loose you a good 30-45 days. I would say in this market the most valuable thing about the realtor is them helping you weed through the riff raff of ineligible buyers.

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answers from Philadelphia on

We tried to sell out "starter" home on our own. We had an offer but the people couldn't afford our house. Ugh! How did they not know this? Before we found this out we had another offer we rejected because we thought it was sold. Those people bought our next door neighbors house.

We listed with a realtor after this and negotiated the commission. We paid $500 + a total of 3.5% of the sale price of our home.

I would never attempt to sell on my own again.

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answers from Dallas on

We used a realtor each time we have had a transaction.

The first time, moving to TX into terriroty we were not familiar with and it was helpful.

Second, we were building our first home. The realtor cut the commission to 0 from us on the home we were selling and the builder paid her commission on our new home so we were out no extra money.

Third, worked very similar to the second. The commission was paid by the other people and the builder paid the commission for the new house we built. Of course the realtors get more $$ on the new larger homes.

I do like working with a realtor because it saves me time (time = $), the realtor is more knowledgeable of the market, the realtor can guide you when you have an offer, etc. Some people will make an offer and not be qualified for a loan yet then you have wasted time where someone who was pre-approved could have closed the deal already.

I see where your hubby is coming from but it is not worth "saving $" when it ends up costing you in the long run for not doing something properly. Plus you still have to work with a title company and pay those fees.

Good luck

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answers from Dallas on

When my husband and I sold our first home we tried to do it with no realtor. We thought we sold it too! But the guy backed out at the last minute. I believe you need an advocate. One that is knowledgeable and knows the law.
I vote with you. Yes to a realtor.

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answers from Columbus on

When we bought our house, it was for sale by owner. But the seller was an attorney, and then our realtor tried to screw us because the sale was somehow going to affect his commission. He didn't even find it for us, so he backed off, but he did help us through the process. Personally, when we sell, we will use an agent, even though my husband is also an attorney. There's too much red tape and the commission will be worth it to know our T's are crossed and i's dotted. Plus, I'd love to live where Suz lives! If you even LOOK at a real estate web site, I feel like the agents pounce on you the minute they think you're interested! Never wait even an hour for a response if you email any interest.

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answers from Chicago on

We will be using one. I think they provide a very useful service....not only do they handle all the wackos that are out there, but you can then just focus on moving. If we didn't have kids, I would do it myself, but it is a job, and I don't know about you, but I don't have the time for yet another thing......Especially if a move is going to be involved! Just keeping the house "show" ready is going to be a full-time job!

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answers from Wausau on

Do use a Realtor, and NOT one of those "we'll sell your house fast for a low fee" types.

You don't have to go with the first Realtor you talk to either. If you pick someone, start with a short-term contract, like 6 months, not a long 2 year thing. That way if they turn out to not be what you need you will be able to move on soon.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I did not use a realtor by sell my first house. But, it was a super-hot housing market before the crash in a desired neighborhood. A lot of people just drove through looking for houses for sale. We did it For Sale By Owner, and didn't even have it listed in the MLS.

But, we did pay an attorney to handle the closing and it was the best money we spent. We spend a few hundred dollars to have him look over the paperwork and sit in on the closing. He found a fee that the buyer's agent tried to put on our side that was something the buyer should pay, not the seller. We never would have known, but he did, and he more than paid for himself by insisting that they pay that fee.

We are good with computers, so it was no problem to take pictures of the house and put together a tri-fold brochure to put out fron with the sign. Every Sunday we put an 'open house' sign in the yard and let people come through. Then we used the lawyer for the initial contract and the closing.

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answers from Portland on

If you don't use a realtor you need to use an attorney to draw up the papers. Real estate law is complicated and you could lose more in the long run if the papers are challenged.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think it completely depends on the market your house is in. A year ago we moved from the oil boom of North Dakota and both of our properties sold themselves without a realtor's help--with multiple offers! We used a lawyer for the closing and to make sure all of the paperwork met ND law.
Now we live in St Paul, MN. It is a large city and realtors have clientele that are looking for specific types of properties. listing with an agent does take money out of your pocket in the end, but it may sell your home faster than you trying to sell it on your own. We would never try to sell a house on our own in this market. What is your market like? Good Luck!

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answers from Seattle on

I would suggest using a realtor to sell. They do all sorts of extra things and should bring in more money. And you'll have to do less, even if you end up not making any more money. And you can always negotiate the fee.

For buying, on the other hand, I would suggest someone like Redfin if you are already familiar with the area in which you want to buy. When we sold/bought a couple of years ago, we sold with a realtor (invaluable) but used Redfin for buying. We were buying in the same neighborhood, I'd lived in the neighborhood for 15+ years and was extra familiar with it, and I'd been reading the real estate listings for several years, so I knew the kinds of houses and what a reasonable price might be.

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answers from Lakeland on

I prefer using a realtor. They can be so helpful with the entire process and will set you up with a title company explain the laws etc. I understand not wanting to pay commission but a really good realtor will earn that money. Also the buyer will have a realtor working for them, most will not represent the buyers and sellers (they split the 6% commission). The realtor already has people looking for homes and if you pick a local realtor they should know your market best.

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answers from Washington DC on

i know how your dh feels. i've been really disappointed with the level of professionalism in the last few times we've attempted to work with realtors. who in this day and age can't return a text or email within a week's time???
but i'm afraid i'd be too wimpy to attempt a sale without a professional. there are so many legalities. much as my cheap self hates letting all that commission money flow away, it beats legal entanglements.
just interview carefully and let them know your expectations up front!

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answers from Chicago on

When the market was hot, FSBO type sites/services were good, but with such a tough housing market now, I'd definitely use an agent.

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answers from Dallas on

I would use one for sure!!!

1 mom found this helpful
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