7 Reasons Why Selling Your Home Yourself is a Challenge

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

Selling your home yourself is always tempting.  You can save six percent of the commission and use that money to start your new life!  You have time on your hands so you might as well pay yourself rather than a realtor.  You can sell your home like no one else because you know it better than anyone else. are probably as many reasons to sell your home yourself without a realtor as there are sellers who go on the market without a realtor.

However, there also are many good reasons to work with a real estate professional when selling your house. Even during challenging times like the one we face today, the right realtor can add value to your transaction and guide you safely through the process. If you're considering selling on your own, please consider the following:

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

During this pandemic, your family's safety comes first. When you offer your home yourself, you are the one who has to meet the buyers.   Who else is there to let potential buyers into your home? You have to be the one to make sure they don't touch anything and that they use hand sanitizer or wash their hands before entry.  If you list with an agent, you can shift that responsibility to the realtor, who is actually better trained to deal with the COVID-19 issues of accessibility to your home.   A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings, but your family's health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, agents are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Most buyers begin their search now on line.  With so many people working from home a quick check of new listings is a welcome break in the day!  A good realtor has a strong social media presence and knows how to find the best photographers, virtual stagers, videographers and more. A good realtor runs Facebook ads and places your home strategically in multiple places on line.  Of course you can do all these things - if you know how - but a good realtor already has a strong internet presence that will elevate your home on line.  Do you have that extra strength on line if you are only selling one house in five to seven years?

3. There Are Too Many People Involved in the Transaction Negotiating Against You

Here are just a few of the people you'll need to negotiate with if you decide to sell your home by yourself.

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer's agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.  An unrepresented seller is negotiating with all these professionals who are working against the seller and on behalf of the buyer. 

4. Your Lack of Experience May Impair Your Ability to Find a Solution to Roadblocks


Problems come up all the time in a real estate transaction.  There are conflicting interests at stake and the buyer and seller frequently each want a win-lose outcome.  The only problem is that each side wants the win to be for them! 

An experienced realtor can find solutions to problems that result in a win-win for both sides, because that realtor has seen many similar problems in the past and can work out the difficulties and move the transaction forward.  As an inexperienced seller, you may not know what options are available to solve a particular problem that protects your interests. 

How much money do you save when the deal falls apart or the compromise to save the transaction ends up costing you money that you shouldn't have had to spend?  Did you really save much money if you are getting lots of sleepless nights or your closing is delayed unnecessarily?

5. You Won't Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a for sale by owner, it's almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress that's being made toward a purchaser's mortgage commitment. Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was there yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

6. Selling Your Home By Yourself Has Become More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people selling a home by themselves has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

7. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they'll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at for sale by owners is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent's commission. The seller and buyer can't both save the commission. A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that for sale by owners don't actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a for sale by owner and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction yourself. Chances are you are going to pay the buyer's agent a commission - to argue against you.  Why do that when you can hire an agent, net the same amount of money and have a smoother less stressful transaction?  The choice is clearly yours - but are you making the best decision? Call the Lise Howe Group to find out how our experience over the last 31 years can put more money into your pocket and save you from sleepless nights!  We can be reached at 240-401-5577.



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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Lise - Tempting?  Of course and for some good reasons.  Advisable?  Well, you presented some exceptional examples where any potential cost savings may not be realized.  

May 29, 2020 11:30 AM #1
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Great post and all true, Lise. As for the safety issue... it goes beyond corona virus issue... even when there is no concern about a virus, there are safety issues when you allow strangers into your home who have not been vetted by a professional agent. Are they really buyers or just casing your home?

May 29, 2020 11:34 AM #2
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Lise,  Great blog and so true on your points.  Can I reblog this sometime.

May 29, 2020 12:00 PM #3
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Lise every FSBO I have done a mortgage for, both Buyers and Sellers in the end wished they had used a Realtor.  There is a lot more involved than Buyers and Sellers realize, and they create a lot of needless stress for themselves.

May 29, 2020 01:59 PM #4
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

My last closing was a for sale by owner and it was no picnic...

Happy Friday Lise Howe 

May 29, 2020 09:07 PM #5
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Will Hamm - I hereby give you my consent to repost anything I have ever written - or will ever write!  Thanks so much now - and forever!!

May 30, 2020 05:57 AM #6
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Home and Condo Specialists

I always wonder Lise how sellers think they can draw attention to their houses without all the online tools that we as Realtors® use to generate interest?

May 30, 2020 06:29 AM #7
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Truth be told I doubt they ever save money by selling a home themselves.  They will feel like they saved, but in reality, they likely lost more money than they saved.  Too many people let a nickel get in the way of making a dime, haha.

May 30, 2020 07:26 AM #8
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Lise Howe

Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC
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