how to sell your house without a realtor in california

How to Sell Your House Without a Realtor in California: FSBO Paperwork, Laws & More

Selling your home yourself is a challenging process, and there can be a considerable learning curve to learning how to sell your house without a realtor in California. This said, FSBO transactions can be speedier, and there are no commission fees attached, which is the most significant expense associated with traditional sales.

A better approach, however, that simplifies the process and can save you both time and money may be working with a real estate investor who pays cash for houses as they are and makes cash offers upon inspection.

Can you sell a house in California without a realtor?

Can I sell my own house without a realtor? Yes, you absolutely can. While California has no law that you can’s sell your home without a real estate agent, it’s important to know that selling a home comes with legal complications that must be carefully addressed.

Adopting the real estate agent’s role, however, is an immense task that can end up costing you in the long run. Fortunately, there are other alternatives that can save both time and expense.

Pros and cons of selling your own home in California

As with anything else, there are pros and cons to selling your California home without an agent, and better understanding these can help you make the right decisions for you. Selling your home on your own is a major undertaking, which makes knowing what you’re getting yourself into critical. 


If you’re selling a house in California without a realtor, you can expect several benefits that may make the challenging process worth considering.

Saving money

Selling your California house without a realtor can save you money. Realtors take a hefty commission for every home sale, and this is generally the priciest component of any home sale. California does not cap the percentage that realtors receive, and while agent commissions in the state average around 5 percent, they sometimes sneak up to 6 or 7 percent. This fee is split between both your listing agent and the buyer’s agent. When you bypass realtors, this expense is completely eliminated.

For example, if you home sells for $500,000, a 5 percent realtor’s commission amounts to $25,000, which comes right off the top of your profits. You might want to consider that the median list price in California’s real estate market is about $800,00 and that the average commission is 4.91 percent, which leaves you looking at $39,280 in commission costs. The bottom line is that you can save thousands by skipping the realtor and their commission.  

Maintaining greater control 

When you sell your home without a realtor, you maintain greater control over the sale. The fact is that you’ll need to keep the lines of communication open with all the following:

  • The broker who lists your house
  • The agent of the potential buyers
  • The lender
  • The appraiser
  • The inspector
  • the real estate attorney

With all of this going on, staying abreast of the most recent developments can be difficult. When you sell your house in California yourself, you’re able to communicate with all the involved parties directly, which – in turn – helps to ensure that you have more control over the process. Receiving updates in real time can make a considerable difference when it comes to your ability to successfully negotiate a fair price for your home.

Selling faster

By foregoing a real estate agent, you can sell your home more quickly, and if you consider selling to companies that buy homes as is, you can speed up the process and cut costs considerably by eliminating the need for all the following:

  • Making repairs on your home
  • Taking real estate photography 
  • Listing your home
  • Marketing and advertising your home
  • Staging your home
  • Hosting an open house
  • Showing your home
  • Closing on your home

If your goal is selling your home as quickly and painlessly as possible, you might consider selling it as is to a real estate investor. 

Focusing solely on your home

When you put your home up for sale by owner, you can focus your time and attention solely on the sale of your home. Real estate brokers, on the other hand, have many homes to sell and can’t dedicate the same level of time or attention on any one house. When you sell a home without a realtor, you can shave a significant amount of time off the selling process, and you won’t have to worry about your home getting the attention it deserves.

Having insider information

When you sell your own house, you have the inside scoop on what makes your property, your neighborhood, and your community special, which can give you a real leg up when it comes to making a sale. Nobody knows what living in your home and in your location is like better than you do, and this can be a real selling point.


Selling a home by owner in California also comes with a downside, and knowing what to expect in terms of drawbacks can help you better prepare for what lies ahead. 

Selling for less

Home sellers who bypass real estate agents tend to get lower sale prices, and you may not make up what you save on commissions by selling on your own.

Realtors are skilled negotiators, which gives them an edge when it comes to real estate deals. Without the experience and skill of a trained professional, it’s hard to negotiate a sale price that’s in the same ballpark as a realtor’s.

Another option you may want to consider is a real estate investor who buys homes as is by making cash offers that reflect their current value – letting you off the hook in terms of pricing and negotiations.

Lacking a pricing strategy

When you choose not to work with an agent, it makes pricing your home far more challenging. Without a real estate professional in your corner, you’ll have considerably less access to market data, which makes it more difficult to know which houses in your market are selling and how to price your home to sell.

For those who sell their homes themselves, pricing tends to be a sticking point. When you work with a local real estate investment company, however, you can count on them to know the market  and to make a fair offer based on your unique home just the way it is.

Lacking an unbiased opinion

You see the house you’re selling as the cosy place that you made your home, and it’s decorated in a way that appeals to you. The problem is that your view of your home’s appeal could be seriously biased, and without a real estate agent’s guidance, you may not see the light.

A realtor with a good feel for the market can provide you with the tips and tricks you need to improve your home’s marketability with as little effort as possible. A cash buyer like a real estate investor, however, will buy your home as is, which means there’s no need for you to fuss.

Increasing the risk that errors will be made

While your focus may be on how to sell my house fast in California, it’s important to realize that doing so leaves you at greater risk of making errors that could have legal consequences. If you fail to follow the rules and regulations to the letter, you can expect delays, and the deal could fall through altogether.

The legal requirements associated with selling a house are exacting, but real estate investors are well positioned to guide you smoothly through the sales process – leading to a speedy cash offer.

Facing a considerable workload

If you decide not to work with a realtor, every step in the process will fall to you, which amounts to a lot of work. Even if you have the time to commit to the process, at this time you probably lack the experience and specific knowledge necessary to make your house sale proceed as smoothly as possible. Selling your house to an investor, however, eliminates most of the steps in the sales process and can lighten your load considerably.

Having limited access to marketing channels

There is a target audience out there that is interested in your exact home in your exact neighborhood, which is great. The not-so-great part is that reaching your targeting audience – without full access to marketing channels and the finesse required to navigate them – can be hit-or-miss at best. When you sell to an investor, this isn’t an issue – they pay cash for homes outright, and there’s no need for you do do any marketing. 

How to sell your house without a realtor in California guide

So, how can you sell a house without a realtor in California? Well, it’s in your best interest to know what to expect before getting started because selling a house is a complicated endeavor, and – as discussed – there are pros and cons to foregoing a realtor.

Yes, you can save on commissions and fees, but this savings can be lost if the sale price you settle on is significantly lower than it would have been if a real estate agent had negotiated it. It’s important to know that, just because you choose not to go the traditional route by working with a realtor, does not mean you have to go solo.

There are other options out there, and an excellent choice is selling to a local real estate investor who takes care of all the details for you and leaves you with an attractive cash offer – the way we do at SoCal Home Buyers.  

Paperwork for selling a house without a realtor in California

It’s important to recognize that selling a house without a realtor comes with a lot of that dreaded paperwork we all hate, which is important to address from the outset.

Some of the primary concerns when it comes to paperwork include all the following:

  • The title, which can be obtained from the title company and is used to show that there are no liens on the property 
  • Two forms of personal ID, which generally means your driver’s license and birth certificate
  • Information related to the homeowners association, including any covenants – as applicable
  • The mortgage payoff amount
  • The related tax records
  • Receipts that serve as proof of required repairs along with the home inspection results  
  • A copy of the purchase agreement and any addendums
  • The closing statement

If the house is addressed in a will or trust, you may also need to provide copies of these legal documents. In other words, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in selling a house, and it can be daunting to have to deal with it all. 

How to sell a house by owner in California

You need to recognize that every sale follows its own unique path, but there are basic steps that almost always apply. And the better acquainted you are with these steps, the better prepared you’ll be to proceed. Let’s take a look at how to sell a house in California by owner step by step.

1. Determine the value of your home

Selling a house without a realtor in California requires you to determine the value of your home, which – as noted – can be a considerable undertaking. When you work with an agent, you have the advantage of their expertise on your side. This includes knowing the market in your area and calculating values that are based on comparative marketing analysis, which takes all the following into consideration:

  • The size of your home
  • Your home’s unique location
  • The features your home offers
  • The age of your home
  • Any additional features or issues that affect your home’s values

This analysis allows realtors to compare your home to similar properties on the market and to calculate comparable pricing options in the process.

Without a real estate agent, you’ll need to do the calculating on your own, and if your numbers are off, which isn’t uncommon, you could shortchange yourself or could price yourself out of the market. Obtaining an appraisal is a good way to establish your home’s value, but it’s by no means your only option.

For example, checking our real estate websites like Zillow can provide you with a snapshot of how many houses in your neighborhood are for sale, how many are selling, and what they’re selling for. 

The more information you’re armed with regarding your home’s value, the better prepared you’ll be to hit that sweet spot that maximizes its price while still appealing to potential buyers. When you know what homes like yours are selling for and what buyers are willing to pay, you can set your price accordingly, which can not only attract more interested buyers but can also speed up the process.

As you consider what asking price to go for, it’s important to have a strategy in mind. An excellent approach is to focus on your ideal price, which should be within the realm of possibility in relation to your home and its location. From here, you’ll need to determine how long you can – or are willing to – wait to negotiate the sale.

In other words, if selling your home quickly is more important to you than waiting out your ideal price, you’ll want to modify your asking price accordingly. If this is where you find yourself, selling to a cash buyer may be an excellent choice, and we at SoCal Home Buyers use a streamlined process that involves our in-house home inspector putting a value on your home and making you a cash offer then and there.

2. Prepare your home for sale

When it comes to selling a home, the meat of the matter is preparing the property for sale, and there is a lot to it. To begin, you’ll want to address any repairs that need to be made. Doing so prior to listing helps to ensure that you won’t be dealing with repairs while you’re attempting to close, which can lead to undesirable delays.

By having a pre-inspection done, you’ll have a better idea of what potential buyers are looking for and of what could get in the way of them making offers. While this is an additional step that requires an investment of both time and money, it also bolsters your ability to negotiate and it helps to ensure that your closing will proceed smoothly.

If you have the time and resources, making minor repairs and taking on manageable home improvements now can increase the sale price of your home by more than the cost of your updates, which may make it worth the time and expense you put in. 

Common examples of minor repairs and updates that may be worth your while include all the following:

  • Changing out worn, outdated flooring and appliances
  • Repainting walls, doors, and cabinets that are ready for a facelift
  • Replacing light fixtures that have seen better days
  • Updating shower curtains
  • Re-caulking the bathrooms 

It’s important to recognize that, when it comes to making minor repairs in preparation of listing your home, there can be a point of diminishing returns. Having a budget and sticking to it is always a good idea.

3. Stage your home

While you’re certainly not required to stage your home prior to sale, it’s an excellent way to show your place in it’s best light, which can move the needle for potential buyers. Those in the market for a house are really in the market for a home, and staging can make all the difference.

Staging is all about making your home as inviting as it can possibly be, and that involves having a keen sense of what buyers in your market are looking for and having a knack for transforming spaces.

While working with a savvy staging professional will do the trick, you can also tackle this step on your own, but it’s going to take some effort. For example, if your home is standing empty, it’s a good idea to stage it with furniture that fits the space and compliments your home.

Too many potential buyers have a difficult time re-imagining a cold, empty space as a warm, inviting home, which makes staging your place with furniture and furnishings a good plan. When it comes to furniture – whether you’re bringing it in for staging or it’s already there – think about how potential buyers will likely use the space and place the furniture accordingly.

If you’re living in your home while it’s on the market, you’ll want to take a more minimalistic approach. The idea is to reduce clutter and to remove any elements that serve no purpose other than distracting the attention of potential buyers away from what it is that makes your house special.

In the process, you may want to remove personal items like family portraits, which brand the house as yours alone – and can make it difficult for buyers to imagine themselves as the homeowners. You want potential buyers picturing themselves living in your house – instead of feeling like they’re invading it. 

As you go about staging, think about flow, which helps to ensure that those who view your home can do so comfortably. You’ll also want to highlight your home’s selling points, whatever they may be. If you have beautiful handcrafted bookcases, for example, allow them to shine. If the family room boasts a gorgeous fireplace, make it the centerpiece of the room. 

Finally, you shouldn’t take an out of sight, out of mind approach when it comes to your closets and cupboards. The fact is that storage is a top priority for most homebuyers, and they’ll be interested in taking a peak in yours. When your storage space is well organized, clutter free, and inviting, it can be a deciding factor in whether or not a potential buyer makes an offer. 

In the modern real estate market, it’s important to remember that many people are working from home at least some of the time. If you have a private, quiet office space to showcase, it can go a long way toward moving a sale along.

Finally, don’t neglect your home’s curb appeal. While you may not be prepared to invest in professional gardening or landscaping services, putting out some cheery flower pots, planting some lovely flowers, mowing your lawn, and doing a bit a weeding can all reap significant rewards. Your yard makes a first impression, and it’s difficult to deny that first impressions are important. Simply giving your front door a fresh coat of paint and washing your windows can work wonders.

4. Market your home

Once you’ve made it this far, it’s time to get your house out there. Most realtors post houses on directories, but these generally require a real estate license to access. If you plan on going this route, you’ll need to work with a multiple listing service – or MLS. The advantage of listing with a service is that your property will appear in realtor searches, which can dramatically increase the number of potential buyers you’ll reach.

You shouldn’t, however, limit yourself to MSL companies. The real estate market is diverse, and the broader and more inclusive your approach, the better represented your home will be. 

Potential buyers are out there, and they can be reached through various means. By posting your house outside of the standard directories, you may connect with potential buyers who are on the hunt for a less competitive market – who will assume that your quiet listing will get less attention. Other options include:

  • Posting your home on social media
  • Putting up a for sale by owner sign in your yard
  • Spreading the news by word of mouth
  • Hosting open houses
  • Featuring your home in the classifieds 

When it comes to selling your home, it pays to get creative with your marketing.

5. Schedule Tours

When you sell your own home, you’re the contact person – there is no middleman – which means that preparing for and scheduling home viewings and open houses will fall to you. Once you’re happy with how your place looks, it’s time to get busy scheduling, and staying organized is paramount. Creating a calendar that’s dedicated to this task can help you avoid double bookings and is a great place to start.

The tour process involves ensuring that the buyer’s agent can access a spare set of keys that is safely secured from potential intruders and making sure that your home is not only looking fine but is also up and running, which includes not having your utilities turned off. Even when a viewer isn’t interested in your home, following up with a request for feedback is an excellent resource for making the next viewing that much better.  

6. Begin the negotiation process

One you’ve determined your goals in relation to selling your home, you’ll be ready to negotiate. If you’re after the best price, you can expect the process to be more complex and to require more time, but you can take your time and attempt to negotiate a price that works for you. If, on the other hand, selling your house quickly – with less work involved – is your motivation, selling to a real estate investor may be the way to go. 

When it comes to making a deal, it’s important to recognize your bargaining power. For example, any of the following that apply are to your advantage:

  • You’ve received multiple offers.
  • There are few other options on the market like your home.
  • Your home has updated features or is in a very marketable location.

In these situations, you’re in an excellent position to negotiate and should maximize that potential.

Signs that the buyer has the bargaining advantage include:

  • Your house has been on the market for a while now.
  • Your home comes with complications, such as having a lien against it.
  • You haven’t had many offers, and none of them have been anywhere near what you’re asking for.

The truth is that FSBO homes tend to bring considerably less than homes that are sold by agents, and a primary reason for this is that listing agents are confident in their superior bargaining position in FSBO sales.

Simply giving in and accepting a lowball offer, however, is not your only option. You can sell to a real estate investor who pays cash for as-is houses and will work with you on your terms and can save you both time and money by skipping all the following steps:

  • Appraisals
  • Home repairs
  • Staging
  • Photography and videography
  • Open houses and showings
  • Real estate commissions and fees

7. Sign the necessary documents

Once you’re ready to accept an offer, you can push forward with the sale, which can take several weeks as the homebuyer moves through the mortgage approval process. During this phase, it’s important to stay in close contact with the buyer’s agent to ensure a relatively smooth process. Consulting with a legal professional at this juncture helps to ensure that you understand the purchase agreement and that your rights are well protected. 

At this stage, disclosures come into play, which include informing buyers regarding any of the following that apply:

  • A death in the home
  • HOA information
  • Any known damage
  • Any known hazards
  • Any neighborhood nuisances

8. Schedule inspections

When you sell your home on your own, you are responsible for scheduling inspections and making sure your home is accessible at the scheduled times. This includes ensuring that the appraiser and the home inspector have access to both your home and the documents necessary to make accurate assessments when they need them. Further, if issues arise, you’ll need to schedule all necessary repairs and the re-inspection.  

9. Close on your home

Once you’ve made it this far, it’s time to close on your home, which involves finalizing the matter with a signed sales contract and additional closing paperwork. The closing process generally involves both a title company and an escrow agent,. 

For sale by owner California laws

There are several important laws you should know before selling your home without an agent, including:

  • When you sell a home in California, you’re required to disclose any facts that could negatively affect the property’s desirability. 
  • When you sell a home in California, you must use a title company, and in Southern California, the buyer is generally responsible for purchasing the title insurance.
  • When you sell a home in California, you’ll likely be required to use an escrow agent to facilitate the sale.
  • When you sell a home in Southern California, you’ll likely be responsible for paying the transfer tax.

Can I sell my house without a realtor with SoCal Home Buyers?

If you are considering selling your house without an estate agent, you’re facing a challenge, but at SoCal Home Buyers, we can can give guidance on how to sell your own home in California and make things far less complex by handling all the details on your behalf and leaving you with a fair cash offer that supports your plans and whatever comes next for you. The steps forward are easy, here’s how it works:

  1. Give us a call at 951-331-3844—or fill out the short form below—to request your fair cash offer.
  2. Await our prompt response to discuss your property in greater detail and schedule a one-time inspection that allows us to offer the highest amount possible.
  3. At the time of the inspection, our in-house inspector will quote you a fair cash offer, and if you’re on board, you can consider your home sold!
  4. Choose your closing date, and leave the rest to us. You can choose payment via check or wire transfer. It simply doesn’t get any easier.
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What Is the cheapest way to sell a house in California?

The cheapest way to sell a home on your own in California is selling to a real estate investor who takes care of everything, which includes the associated costs and the outlay of time, and goes right to the cash offer, after a scheduled inspection by their in-house inspector.

How much does it cost to sell a house without a realtor?

When selling a home, the realtor’s commission is the biggest expense, and you can skip this by selling it yourself. You’ll still, however, face attorney fees, closing costs, and more. By selling to a cash buyer, you can skip all the costs and go straight to the cash offer.

How long does it take to sell a house without a realtor?

FSBO transactions can be speedier than traditional sales because owners maintain control of the process. There is, however, a faster, more streamlined approach, which is selling to a real estate investor. At SoCal Home Buyers, we can make you a fair cash quote that saves you both time and money.

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