Tips to sell your home without paying commissions

December 05, 2022 | By Chuck Shaver

Are you leery of throwing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in the trash just to sell your home? You know that it isn’t THAT hard to do. All you need to do is get people to see the home, right? I get it. You’d be a fool to not at least CONSIDER selling your home without a Realtor®. Commissions are a massive expense, and you CAN sell your home without the use of a Realtor®. Today, I’m going to address three tips to help you sell your home without paying commissions AND address a few pitfalls towards the end, so be sure to stick around, because these pitfalls can be even more vital to your success than the tips themselves.

I’m a local Realtor® with Keller Williams Heritage Realty here in Central Florida. You’re probably wondering why I’d write something like this. I mean, don’t I make a living helping people sell their homes? Don’t I want you to list your home with ME? Of course I do! The reason is simple –  it’s the elephant in the room. We all know that it IS POSSIBLE to sell your home without a Realtor®. Denying that is complete silliness. The reality is that most people DO consider selling their homes without paying commissions and, if you aren’t going to use a licensed professional, then I at least don’t want you to get hurt in the process. For those few that try it and it isn’t for them, I’ll be here. If you have real estate questions or are thinking about selling your home here in Central Florida, just give me a call.

1. Put that baby on Zillow! Although I’ve heard people question the credibility of some of the data on Zillow, I don’t know of anyone that believes that buyers don’t LOOK at Zillow. There are a TON of other sites out there that claim to do what Zillow does, but I don’t know of any that carry the weight of Zillow. It’s important to know, that For Sale By Owners don’t get the same viewership as other homes AND that many buyers will still contact their Realtor® to see the home, so this is by no means the silver bullet. Although most homes that are sold in our area are sold with the help of a licensed Realtor®, occasionally buyers will share with their Realtor® a home they found in Zillow. As such, if you’re thinking of trying to sell your home without paying commissions, this is a biggie.

2. Hire an attorney. Unless you are an attorney or a licensed Realtor®, you’re going to need help obtaining AND filling out those documents. Then, you have to be sure they’re properly filled out. Deals can die in a hurry if the contracts aren’t properly completed, and lawsuits could follow. As such, don’t mess around here. If your top goal is saving money, you don’t want to end up spending tens of thousands of dollars or more on attorney’s fees.

3. Disclose, disclose, disclose. In an attempt to avoid paying commissions, you may end up without some legal protections that having a licensed Realtor® or an attorney may afford you. Now, it’s important to know that I am not an attorney, and do not provide any legal advice; however, as I’m working with buyers or sellers, I’m using documents that have been prepared BY attorneys. This is done with the consumer’s protection in mind. The last thing you need is to save a few thousand bucks in commissions and to end up in court because the guy you bought your home from allegedly sold you on some false premises.

Of course, there are other tips to sell your home without paying commissions, but I believe these are the big ones. Now, let’s get on to those pitfalls, because they may be more important than these tips.

1. Trusting online valuations. There are a bunch of websites that offer online valuations for most homes. Much like porridge, some are too low, some are too high, and some are just right. There’s no real way to know without data. You need to know all of the homes that sold in your area. One way to find this data is to check public records to ensure that you are aware of all of the sold homes that matter to you.

Trusting a computer algorithm from some company in California to determine the true value, considering all of the nuances of your home AND your neighborhood is risky business. I’ve actually heard sellers brag of how much money they saved by not paying commissions, only to be well aware that they threw away twice that much by underpricing their home. I was truly saddened, but I didn’t bother telling them and spoiling their joy.

2. Not using a professional real estate photographer. Many people think the quality of the photos doesn’t matter, but I think otherwise, and I bet that if you think of homes you’ve looked at online you may, too! Bad lighting, poor use of space or blurry images can cost a seller thousands of dollars. When I have photos taken for my listings, I want potential buyers salivating for the home before they every hit the driveway. It’s my professional photographer’s job to ensure that happens!

3. Not being willing to pay a Realtor® if they bring you a buyer. Sometimes, a Realtor®’s buyer will ask their Realtor® about a home that is being sold by owner. If so, the Realtor® may reach out and offer to help connect the buyer and the seller for a fee, which is usually a small percentage of the sale price. This option could cost you just half of the typical commissions and get you at least some of those legal protections.

4. Getting sued. Yes, that can happen, and this is definitely a pitfall to avoid. If you sell your home without the help of a licensed Realtor®, be sure to disclose, disclose, disclose. Be sure that everything that is stated, is stated in writing. You and the buyer may be BFFs, but trust me, a couple hundred thousand dollars will make Giselle leave Tom…wait, that already happened!

5. NOT considering ALL of your options. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience, or are just overwhelmed by all of it, but there is a reason that Realtor®’s get paid for helping homeowners sell their homes. What if that Realtor® could get you the same, or MORE money for your home than you could get on your own? They provide a vast array of marketing tools that most people just can’t do, getting thousands more views that those opting to do it by themselves just can’t get.

Experience plays a role, too. You can spend thousands of dollars because some company tells you they can get your home in front of thousands of people. I’ve fallen for that and I’m sure that many sellers that are trying to sell their homes without paying commissions have as well.

However, experience goes well beyond that. It tells us when to proceed with a potential buyer and when to walk. How to vet an offer, a lender, or another Realtor® for that matter. How to handle the difficulties WHEN, not IF, they arise can save you thousands of dollars. Typically, a licensed Realtor®, with their marketing and the increased number of buyers will offset commissions that you may have to pay. And Realtors must follow a strict code of ethics. This MAY be something worth considering, especially when recalling some of the aforementioned pitfalls.




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