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Should I Sell My Own Home or Use a Realtor?

Deciding whether or not to use a realtor when selling your home is a big decision. A realtor’s job is to make the process of selling a home as simple as possible. Realtors act as the seller’s guide, making sure all of the boxes get checked and help them find the right buyer for their home. These services come at a cost, which leads some homeowners to consider doing it themselves to save money. Learn what exactly a realtor does for a client to decide if you should sell your own home or enlist a realtor.

What Does a Realtor Do?

Realtors working for sellers are called listing agents, while the realtors on the buyer’s side are called buyer’s agents. Realtors specialize in a certain geographic area, analyzing the market and following local trends. They know the local laws and handle the paperwork involved with selling a house.

Setting a Competitive Listing Price

Deciding what price to list your house at can be confusing and stressful. A realtor knows the market and what other homes in the area are listed and selling for. Price your house too low and you can lose money. A listing price that is too high can turn away potential buyers. The house is left sitting without an offer for too long, making other potential buyers wary if you decide to lower the price later on.

Attracting Potential Buyers

Marketing your home for sale involves more than putting a “for sale” sign in the driveway. Prospective buyers and agents often look online when searching for potential homes. An MLS (multiple listing service) is a large online database of homes for sale in an area. Only licensed agents and brokers can access the MLS. A realtor can also advertise for open houses and network with other realtors and local buying agents. Private sellers can list their home on for sale by owner (FSBO) sites like Zillow or Trulia or through a broker or agent for an upfront fee.

Home Improvements

A real estate agent wants their clients to get top dollar for their home. Before selling your home, a realtor will typically have a home inspector go through your house and see what improvements need to be made. The inspector is looking for any issues with pest control, roofing, water, sewage, pool etc. that will need to be fixed for the buyer. An agent will help you decide whether it will be more cost effective to make the repairs and improvements first or sell the home “as is.” If you decide to make repairs, the agent will help with the process of finding contractors to complete the project.

Interested buyers will use a home inspector also before making an offer. The inspectors will estimate the cost of any issues and subtract it from the home’s value to make a lower offer. Having your home inspected before listing it can save you money, especially if you can do the repairs yourself.

Staging and Showing

Once the home is listed and ready, the next step is showing it to prospective buyers. A listing agent can manage open houses and schedule showings. They can help stage the home to give a good first impression to potential buyers. Realtors know how to maximize space and remove clutter to make each room look more attractive. Homeowners looking to sell privately can also hire professional stagers to rearrange their house before taking pictures and showing the home.


Realtors act as a middleman, handling the negotiations between the buyer and the seller. The listing agent and buying agent speak on behalf of their clients, coming to an agreed upon amount for the sale of the home. It can be hard to negotiate without experience and homeowners can be less objective when selling their own home.

How Much Does a Realtor Cost?

A listing agent is paid a commission when the house is sold. The commission is often an agreed upon percentage of the sale, fueling their motivation to sell your home for the highest price possible. The average commission is around 6 percent of the home price but it can vary.

Realtors help the buyers and sellers navigate the process of homeownership. You can choose to list your house as for sale by owner or use a realtor. Realtors charge a commission fee, which can seem high at first, but they often save homeowners money in the sale through negotiations, staging, marketing, and competitive pricing. Some homeowners decide to skip the commission fee and sell their home privately, but it requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Deciding whether or not to forgo using a realtor depends on your experience and time you can spend on the process.

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