What are the advantages?
The number one reason to sell your home yourself is to save money—lots of it. Why hire a real estate agent if you can do it yourself? An agent is going to charge you a commission 5–7% of the sale price. On a $200,000 home that could be as much as $14,000. That's your equity we're talking about. It can make the difference between a more substantial down payment on your next home, lower interest rates, and lower payments over the life of the mortgage. In short, it can save you much more than the simple real estate commission.
Real estate agents are trained professionals, but finding an agent that is as interested in your bottom line as you are can be as difficult as finding the ideal family doctor. If you've worked with an agent in the past, you may have left the bargaining table wondering if you made the best deal you could. And unless your last name is Trump, your agent may not be willing to get you the money you deserve. Why? Simple. They are human too, and if they have to spend extra time and money on your house that exceeds what they will earn, their motivation will be low.
If you've used real estate agents in the past you are already aware of a few of the issues. Though they may not require a contract for buyers, they do for sellers. That locks you into an agreement to rely on them exclusively to advertise and show your house. With the agent acting as a go between, you hear progress reports on negotiations and buyer issues, but have no direct contact with the purchaser yourself.
Who knows your home better than you? It makes sense, then, that you are the best person to sell your home. By removing the agent, you deal directly with prospective buyers. If you've done your work, you'll be sitting on a home that is move-in ready and reasonably priced. That is an extremely attractive package to motivated buyers and a formula that can move your home from "for sale" to "sold" in record time.
Selling your home is not brain surgery. Most of it is common sense and not much different than selling or buying a used car. There are several concerns sellers might have getting into it.
The first concern is that selling a home is complicated. It's not if you're willing to do a little research ahead of time and line up a few critical resources. You'll want to research escrow or title companies that will assist you and the purchaser in making sure the contract terms are completely satisfied before the property and money change hands. You and the buyer will want to agree on the escrow company together. A real estate attorney can be vital if the transaction is more complicated.
Other services you might wish to use include a building inspection and real estate appraisal. The first can help pinpoint home condition issues that can stop a sale cold and the second can provide justification for pricing. Neither service is expensive and together they can be valuable sales tools that support the property's condition and value.
It will be up to you to advertise, prepare flyers, and post signage. You'll also be the point of contact for the buyer. You will have complete control of the sale from start to finish. Ultimately, the deal is between you and the buyer. By negotiating directly, you'll arrive more quickly at a price and terms.
Though there is more front end work for you, the process is simpler because the communications are more direct and that means there's much less chance of misunderstanding.
If you work with an agent, you'll be subject to phone calls warning you to leave so the house can be shown. There will be open houses with people coming into your home. You'll have to leave and trust the agent that nothing goes awry in your absence.
If you are selling your home yourself, you'll be able to schedule showings when it is convenient for you, the kids, and the dog. You'll be able to answer questions accurately and directly and will naturally emphasize your home's assets. No matter how capable the agent, there are questions buyers will ask that they simply must say, "I'll get back to you on that." If a buyer asks you the same question, and you've organized your records, you'll be able to provide all the information immediately.
Some homeowners want to hand over all the "work" of selling the house to an agent. And there are many instances that this is the right thing to do. If it's worth it to you to wash your hands of the whole thing and just concentrate on packing, an agent can be a wonderful resource.