The different ways to list your home

a woman doing online business

Sellers have a few different options for listing their home. Which one you pick depends on what your goals and needs are. Most sellers want to sell quickly and for as much as possible. But there are other details in the listing process to consider. This guide will cover the various ways to get your house on the market and what sets each one apart.  .

Key takeaways:

  • While there are several ways to sell your home, 90% of sellers use real estate agents to list
  • Most buyers also use agents
  • While iBuyers are convenient and fast, they don’t necessarily provide the highest offer for your home.
  • For sale by owner (FSBO) offers freedom and flexibility without the agent fees if you’re willing to put in the work
  • Every option for listing your home on the market comes with pros and cons

1. Traditional real estate agent

While there are many new ways to sell a home online, the National Association of REALTORS® says 90% of home sellers still work with a real estate agent to sell. That’s because selling a home requires a lot of work that many sellers decide to pay an expert to do.

A real estate agent is an invaluable support and guide through the often long and confusing process of transferring ownership of your home to someone else. Plus, marketing a home and setting a list price requires a good amount of real estate expertise that many individuals don’t have.

But, you’ll need to pay for an agent. It’s the first thing people often think about when they consider listing with an agent: their commission rate. An agent’s commission fee is typically around 6%. Is it worth it?

The answer depends on an agent’s experience, familiarity with the local market, and commitment to helping you truly get the price you want. Ultimately, you have to do your homework to ensure that you’ll get your money’s worth with an agent.

With a good agent by your side, you’ll be able to leverage their experience for savvy marketing opportunities and to receive better offers. In addition, that 6% agent commission will be worth it if you’re able to sell your house sooner instead of letting it sit on the market for several months.

Pros:

  • You have someone walking you through the process
  • You get professional marketing tools and listing support
  • Your agent will be on top of contracts and closing negotiations
  • Your agent will ensure you’re not missing key deadlines that can void your contract when missed
  • Your agent can refer you to inspectors, contractors, lenders, and more
  • You will save yourself from many hours of work

Cons:

  • You’ll pay a commission fee
  • You may feel like you aren’t in control of the situation
  • Choosing the wrong agent could leave your home on the market longer than necessary
person holding pencil near laptop computer
A real estate agent may cost more money in commission than the other options but their expertise and knowledge is often required to get the highest offers

2. iBuyers

The option of selling to an online real estate company has been growing in popularity in recent years. The trend exploded during 2020 because homeowners wanted a way to sell without the pressure of an open house, in-person tours, or consultations with real estate agents. How does selling your house with an iBuyer work?

An iBuyer is an online real estate company that uses algorithms to estimate your property value to make a direct offer. The process is meant to be quick and easy because you’re getting a hassle-free offer without staging a home, hosting an open house, or dealing with a middleman. You simply provide some information about your home to collect an offer.

Most sellers who work with iBuyers receive offers anywhere from a few hours to a few days after initial contact. Once you accept an offer, you can simply schedule a closing date. While some owners have success with iBuyers, others find that this option doesn’t provide the best opportunity to make money.

Going with an iBuyer can be a good choice if you’re in a rush to close. You may also be more interested in avoiding staging and showings than you are with getting the highest offer possible. While you don’t need a real estate agent when doing a direct sale with an iBuyer, it still doesn’t hurt to have a lawyer glance over the offer to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to if you sell your home online.

Pros:

  • You can sell your house completely virtually without meeting anyone in person
  • Most offers are cash offers
  • No agent fees
  • The process is usually quick

Cons:

  • iBuyers notoriously provide offers that are lower than what you’d get on the open market
  • You have to be careful about reading the fine print
  • There is no opportunity for a bidding war on your property

3. For sale by owner (FSBO)

If you absolutely want to avoid paying an agent commission but want the opportunity to review multiple offers, consider selling the home all by yourself. While you’ll save money when it comes to fees, FSBO requires you put in lots of time. All of the preparation and marketing work that includes accurately pricing your home, listing your home, hosting showings, planning an open house, creating contracts, processing contracts, and managing legal transactions will land squarely on your shoulders. The first step to listing on your own is getting your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for your geographic area to get your property seen by buyers.

Plenty of homeowners have success stories with FSBO. It’s a viable option as long as you feel comfortable about pricing your home. You should also have a basic grasp of how the selling process works. When an agent isn’t involved, consider only entertaining offers from a cash buyer to make it simpler to confirm your buyer is pre-approved. Finally, FSBO can be good as long as you’re not in a major rush to sell because doing the work yourself will likely take a little more time than with an experienced agent.

Pros:

  • No agent fees or commissions
  • You get to set the price you think is appropriate
  • You have control over how your home is marketed and staged
  • No need to coordinate with an agent about showings or buyer meetings because you’re in charge
  • No worries about getting talked into an offer you don’t think is the best option
  • No external pressure about selling decisions

Cons:

  • No access to listing services
  • No access to marketing tools, leads, professional photographs, and other tools of the trade that are built into agent services
  • You’re managing all buyer interactions on your own
  • You may end up spending what you save on agent fees and commission on fees for a real estate attorney if you need help with contracts
  • Skipping your agent commission doesn’t spare you from paying commission for the buyer’s agent
person holding silver key
It’s possible for individual to sell their home on their own but this option is best for people who aren’t in a hurry and have the time to put in the work

4. A flat-fee agent

Many people don’t realize that a traditional commission-based real estate agent isn’t the only option when using an agent to help sell your home. Flat-fee real estate agents charge you an upfront rate that you agree to pay upon your home’s closing. Most sellers end up paying between 1 and 3% of a home’s sale price instead of the typical 6% that’s charged through a commission-based agent.

A flat-fee agent will get your home on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) marketplace. However, what’s offered beyond that will vary by agent. Flat-fee agents tend to take more of a hands-off approach compared to commission-based agents. You can usually expect to handle tasks like home staging on your own when you’re going with a fee-based agent.

A flat-fee real estate can feel like a happy medium between paying full agent commission and listing on your own. The hands-off approach may actually be desirable if you feel comfortable with doing some of the work that goes into preparing your home for a sale. Flat-fee agents can also be great in hot markets where your home is likely to sell quicker and easier because you don’t actually need to pay for more than basic listing and closing help.

Pros:

  • Dramatic savings compared to standard real estate fees and commission
  • You generally call more of the shots
  • You still get support from an expert when it comes to negotiations and contracts
  • Listing and marketing tools are included

Cons:

  • Services are usually limited
  • You’ll need to devote time to preparing your home without much guidance

5. Final thoughts on the best way to list your home

Should you be thinking outside the box when it comes to something as serious as selling your home? It comes down to your confidence level. The truth is that the agent commission isn’t necessarily all that bad if you’re in a rush to sell, you want to get higher offers, and you lack any experience with home sales. However, someone with more flexibility than urgency might want to consider one of the alternative methods of selling a home.

FAQs

What is the best way to sell my house?

With 90% of sellers using real estate agents to sell their homes, this is considered the safest option. However, selling options like for sale by owner, iBuyers, and flat-fee agents can be advantageous if you have flexibility. Using an option that will get cash in your hand quickly may be the priority if you’re buying a new home before selling.

How can I protect my house while selling?

Before you sell, tuck away all valuables before taking pictures that will be attached to your online listing. Thieves can prowl real estate sites to virtually peek inside homes. Valuables should also be tucked away during open houses and showings. You can also consider removing any family photos that reveal your children. Consider installing wireless surveillance around your home.

How can I make my house more sellable?

First, make sure your home is priced based on a comparative market analysis. This is something that your real estate agent will be able to provide. If you are doing a for sale by owner, use comps from identical homes recently sold in your neighborhood within the past three months to find your ideal price. You can also focus on boosting curb appeal using landscaping, fresh paint, and any minor repairs make your home appear fresher.

About the author: As the son of a construction contractor and a former property manager, Scott Dylan Westerlund knows how to keep the lights on and the water running. In addition to Flyhomes, he has written for Angi, HomeLight and HomeAdvisor. His hobbies include fixing things around the house, baking things up in the kitchen, and spending quality time with his wife and daughter just about everywhere.

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