Want to know how to sell your house fast without a realtor in California?

Selling your house can quickly become a very expensive process. You have lists of unexpected and expected costs that all cut into your profit.

Thankfully, there is more than one way to sell a house. Knowing how to sell your home without a realtor in California, can save you time, money and most important – your sanity.

Use this guide to help determine if selling your home without a realtor is the right option for you.

selling a house without a realtor in california

10 Steps for Selling a House without a Realtor in California

If you decide that selling your house without a realtor is your best option, follow these ten steps to prepare and sell your home quickly and with the least number of issues during the home sale process.

Some of these steps overlap or may come in different orders depending on how paperwork is processed in each scenario.

Step 1: Determine Your House’s Value

When working with a real estate agent, you set your price based on comparative marketing analysis.

They create this report through a tool that considers your home’s size, location, features, age, and other factors. It then compares it to similar homes on the market to offer different comparable pricing options.

You’ll need to manually pull this information to create your own report on comparable homes without a tool to perform this task. An appraisal is one of the most reliable methods for determining your home’s value.

However, it isn’t your only option. You should also look at the current market in your area. Real estate websites like Zillow can show you how many other houses in your neighborhood are selling and what the median purchase price is.

Understanding what buyers are willing to pay and pricing your house accordingly will help your home sell faster and attract more offers.

When choosing a list price, consider your ideal price and how low you would be willing to go in a negotiation. There are other factors you should account for when determining your ideal cost.

For example, if a fast close is more valuable than cash, you might be willing to accept a lower offer from a cash buyer in exchange for a faster sale.

Step 2: Prepare Your Home

Preparing your home for viewings ensures it looks its best. This step includes taking care of any repairs necessary before listing your home so you don’t have to deal with them during the closing, which can cause unwanted delays.

Getting a pre-inspection will tell you what your potential buyers will look for and what might dissuade a buyer from making an offer. Home inspections in California range between $350 and $500, depending on your home’s size and complexity.

While this is more money from your pocket, you can use it in your negotiations to ask for more from the buyer, as it’s one less task on their plate and reduces costs from their closing fees. You might consider performing minor home improvements to boost your home’s value.

For example, replacing old carpets or outdated appliances might increase your home’s worth more than the cost of replacing those features. Therefore, investing in those improvements is worth the extra effort and cost.

Other minor and cost-effective home improvements that go a long way in boosting your home’s appearance include:

  • Repainting walls, doors, and cabinets
  • Replacing tarnished hardware like cabinet handles
  • Replacing dull light fixtures
  • Buying new shower curtains
  • Re-caulking the bathroom

Step 3: Staging Your Home

Staging your home isn’t a requirement for selling a house but can significantly improve your impression on potential buyers.

Staging includes adding furniture inside so that it appeals to buyers. In addition, it can give viewers an idea of how furniture fits in your house, makes it feel more like a home, and improves how well the house looks.

If you’re actively living in your house, you won’t need to add any new furniture. Instead, you should find ways to minimize clutter and distracting elements from the house.

For example, you might want to remove personal items like family portraits so that viewers can picture themselves in the home and feel comfortable while moving about instead of feeling like they are invading someone else’s home.

Stage your existing furniture so viewers can easily move through the home and access some of the most impressive features like a fireplace or built-in bookshelves.

Your storage areas are one of the top places viewers look, so de-cluttering your closet so prospects can examine the full extent of your storage is essential. When placing furniture, think about how buyers might use your space.

For instance, many people work partially or entirely from home. Showing how a quiet office space fits into your house can make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

While staging your house, invest time in your curb appeal, as that’s your buyer’s first impression of the property. Planting flowers and mowing your lawn are cost-effective ways to improve your house’s appearance.

Also, consider repainting your front door and cleaning your windows.

Step 4: Start Marketing Your Home

Once your house is in top shape, you’re ready to get the word out about its availability. Traditionally, many realtors post houses on directories.

However, those often require a realtor license to access.

If you still want to use those avenues, you must work with an MLS service. The benefit of investing in directories is your house will appear in realtor searches, which increases the number of potential buyers who will see it.

However, housing directories and realtor websites aren’t the only places for marketing your home. In today’s market, buyers are always looking for new houses.

By posting on other sites outside of directories, you might seem more appealing to buyers since they will see the house as having less competition since fewer people know about it.

Some methods you can use to market your house include:

  • Social media posts
  • Yard signs
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Open houses
  • Classified ads

Yard signs and word-of-mouth are the top two strategies for marketing FSBO homes.

fsbo marketing strategies

Step 5: Schedule Tours

As the primary point of contact, you are responsible for scheduling tours and home viewings. To keep yourself organized, create a calendar dedicated to tours so you can avoid double booking.

Scheduled tours include placing a spare set of keys where the buyer’s agent can access them and making sure your utilities are running.

After the tour, follow up with your potential buyers. Even if they aren’t planning on making an offer, you should still ask for feedback.

Feedback will help you identify potential issues, like broken appliances or chipped paint you didn’t notice previously. Then, you can quickly repair those items to create a better experience for the next viewer.

Step 6: Begin Negotiations

As offers come in, you don’t have to accept the first ones you receive. This is the point that knowing your goals and values matters most.

For example, if your goal is to sell fast, then accepting the offer most likely to go through quickly is your best option even if it’s lower than the other offers. However, if your goal is to sell your house for the maximum value, you must also be willing to wait for better offers.

Offers are only a starting point.

If there is a prospective buyer who offers close to your goal, consider negotiating a better offer to save yourself time in waiting for a similar offer. When you enter into negotiations, know what power you have.

For example, if you have a pre-inspection, you can use that to negotiate a higher offer as they won’t have to include inspections in their closing costs.

Some signs you have the upper hand in negotiations include:

  • Multiple offers
  • Few other options on the market
  • Updated features or marketable location

Some signs that the buyer has the advantage include:

  • Your house has been on the market for a while
  • You have a complicated sale (like existing liens)
  • You don’t have many offers

On average, FSBO houses sell for 5.5- 26% less than homes sold by an agent.

This often occurs because 73% of buyers’ agents think they have greater odds of negotiating a better price in an FSBO sale than one by an agent. If negotiations aren’t going your way, you have several options rather than accepting lower than you hoped.

First, you can wait longer and hope your offers improve. However, the longer you wait also puts your negotiations more in the buyer’s favor. The other option is to work with a home buyer that accepts your house as-is and on your terms.

This can save you costs in repairs, staging, appraisals, photography, videography, and real estate commissions.

Step 7: Sign the Necessary Documents

Once you accept an offer, you can move forward with the sale. This process will last several weeks as the buyer goes through the mortgage approval process.

Be sure to remain available and quickly respond to any tasks the buyer’s agent sends you so the process can move forward swiftly and seamlessly.

As you progress on the sale, consult with a legal team to ensure you understand the purchase agreement and your rights under it.

You should also understand what disclosures are required.

Some examples of disclosures include:

  • Deaths in the home
  • Neighborhood nuisances
  • Hazards
  • HOA information
  • Known damages

Step 8: Schedule Inspections

Several key people will need access to your house during the purchase process. You are responsible for organizing visits to the house.

For example, you want to ensure the home inspector and appraiser have access to the house and necessary documents for an accurate assessment. If issues arise during these inspections, you will need to schedule repairs and a re-inspection.

Step 9: Collect the Necessary Paperwork

Some of the other paperwork you’ll need to gather and process at some point during the sale include:

  • Title (that shows there are no liens on the property)
  • Two forms of ID
  • Copy of purchase agreement and addendums
  • HOA information
  • Closing statement
  • Signed Deed
  • Signed Deed
  • Homeowners association covenants
  • Mortgage payoff amounts
  • Tax record

If applicable, you might also need paperwork showing proof of repairs, copies of wills or trusts, and home inspection results.

Step 10: Close on the Property

Once all the papers are in order, and the buyer has obtained the necessary funds, you can move into closing when you finalize the sale by signing a sales contract and other closing paperwork.

At closing, the funds are transferred, and the sale is complete. For closing, you might work with a title company, an escrow agent, or both depending on where you live in California.

Typically, in Northern California, your title company can also perform escrow tasks. However, many places in Southern California use both an escrow agent and title company for transferring the title and taxes.

What Are the Benefits of Selling Your House without a Realtor?

Despite the pros of selling with a realtor, skipping the realtor in your selling process has several benefits.

1. Lower Costs

Real estate agents receive a commission of your total home sales. The commission is often around 6% of your sale price, which is split between the buyer and seller’s agents.

For example, if you sold a home for $300,000, the commission is $18,000. About $9,000 of that goes directly to your realtor.

In California, the average realtor commission is 4.91% of your home sale price. Since the median home price in California is $800,000, the average seller will spend $39,280 on realtor fees.

So, without a realtor, you could save at least $19,640.

2. More Control

There are many channels of communication occurring simultaneously during a home sale.

For example, you have the seller’s agent, buyer’s agent, lenders, appraisers, inspectors, and a legal team all sending emails and messages back and forth.

You’ll sometimes not hear about updates or changes immediately. However, you can communicate with each channel directly when you don’t work with a realtor.

This gives you more control over decisions, ensures you receive updates on the latest changes, and gives you more power for negotiation when questions arise.

3. Faster Sale

While a seller’s agent can help you speed up a traditional sale, there are alternative options for selling a house without a seller’s agent that are much faster.

For example, you can skip regular marketing processes and sell your house directly to a home buyer for cash and close within a week or two. If you were to list your house, the average time houses spent on the market in 2022 was 18 days.

Even though the market time is down, closing averages are the same, with the average closing time taking 48 days.

Altogether, you can sell a house in 2.2 months or less, depending on if you go the traditional route or opt for a faster cash sale.

california selling property without a realtor

What Are the Cons of Selling Your House without a Realtor?

You will face a few challenges if you sell your home without a realtor. Consider these challenges and how you will address them before deciding, to ensure you are fully prepared for your sale.

For Sale by Owner Tend to Sell for Less

Real estate agents are trained and experienced negotiators. Their job entails getting the best prices for the seller. They are further motivated by a commission that directly reflects the sale price.

However, when you sell a house by yourself, you might not have as much knowledge or experience to navigate real estate negotiations. Researching what negotiable factors your home includes will give you an advantage in negotiations.

For example, you can leverage a pre-inspection in your price negotiations to make your house more appealing. Alternatively, you can skip negotiations entirely by selling your house as-is to a cash buyer – and completely skip this entire process.

Even if a cash home buyer offers slightly lower than other potential offers, this is often outweighed by not having to pay commissions, fees and repairs. You can make close to the same profit since you won’t be subtracting added expenses.

You Have a Greater Workload

Real estate agents work a very demanding job. If you take on their duties, you also must be prepared for the more significant workload.

If you have the time and resources to perform those additional duties, then you can save on commission costs by acting as a realtor, listing agent, and seller.

However, if you don’t have the time, you can lessen your workload by selling through streamlined processes, like a home buyer or working with MLS services.

Errors Can Lead to Legal Issues

Selling a house is legally complex, especially when dealing with special circumstances or existing mortgages.

Therefore, you want to ensure you dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s. Missing a signature or not filing paperwork correctly can delay the purchase process or cause it to fall through.

When you hire a real estate attorney or work with a real estate service provider, you receive legal advice and can prevent issues from occurring without costing as much as working with a real estate agent.

Do the Pro’s Outweigh the Con’s?

Each situation is different. What is best for one seller won’t necessarily be best for your case. To establish whether you should work with your own agent, start by understanding your goals.

Some examples of your sales goals can include:

  • Selling the house as fast as possible
  • Minimizing extra costs
  • Maximizing your sales profit

In addition to your goals, you should also understand the housing market.

For example, if the housing market is slow and you want a fast sale, you should consider selling directly to a home buyer. If your house has a long list of repairs you need to perform to make it marketable, selling it on traditional markets can result in high repair costs in addition to your real estate commission costs.

Avoiding traditional markets through alternative home selling channels can reduce those costs, allowing you to sell your house as-is, on your own time and schedule.

If your home is in fairly good condition however, you’re not in a hurry, have time to wait and don’t mind added expenses, a Realtor is likely to be your best option.

Your Options for Selling a Home without a Realtor

Explore the options you can use when selling your home other than working with a high-priced realtor.

1. For Sale by Owner

In 2020, 7% of home sales were for sale by owner (FSBO). These are homes the owner sells directly instead of going through a realtor.

On average, most FSBO homes are sold for less than those sold through a realtor.

For example, the average FSBO home sold for $260,000 compared to $318,000 for homes sold through an agent.

2. Flat Fee MLS Service

An alternative or companion option to FSBO is working with a flat fee MLS company. These companies have a real estate license and their team of real estate professionals perform tasks only realtors can perform.

However, because they work on a flat fee rate, you pay one standardized cost depending on your service versus a commission.

Therefore, their prices are much lower.

Typical MLS service company costs range from $300 to $3,000.

 Some of the services you receive include:

  • MLS listing
  • Real estate agent advice
  • Assistance with paperwork
  • Negotiation help

3. Cash Buyers

A cash offer is any buyer who can pay the house’s final sale price with funds from their account. Because you aren’t dealing with financing, the process is much faster and costs less money.

You can often skip lengthy and expensive steps like home appraisals and inspections. In addition, you reduce the risk of the sale falling through because your buyer couldn’t qualify for the needed funds from a mortgage lender.

Cash offers often accept homes in as-is condition, which means you have no repairs or upgrade costs to add to your sales costs.

About 20-40% of single-home and condo sales are cash offers.

sell house in california without a realtor

What Costs Should You Expect if Selling a House without a Realtor?

While you can save on realtor costs by choosing the FSBO route, you will still have several other fees to consider and save for.

Valuing Your Home

To receive the best price on your home, you should start by assessing its value. Real estate agents can perform market research and use their tools to assess your home’s value.

However, you’re responsible for researching this data if you aren’t working with an agent, which can cost you a couple hundred dollars. The most reliable way to understand your home’s value is to order a professional appraisal.

Many lenders use appraisals to value homes before agreeing to finance a mortgage, so it gets you one step ahead of your buyers by understanding what they will look at and whether your home qualifies for the potential buyer’s offer.

The average appraisal costs between $313 and $420.

The appraisal considers your home’s size, location, land value, and upgrades, so be sure to tell the appraisal any renovations you performed and other relevant information that might influence your home’s value.

Photographing Your Home

Real estate photography starts between $160 and $200 an hour. You’ll use these professional photos in your listings and ads to attract buyers. A professional photographer understands the best angles for taking pictures that show your house in the best light.

In addition to professional photos, you can improve your marketing appeal by offering a video walk-through of the house. This can be especially attractive to out-of-state buyers who might not have a chance to see the home in person before buying.

A professional real estate video starts at around $200.

However, your price can quickly jump into the thousands if you want a longer video, have a larger property or prefer unique shots like an aerial view.

Marketing Your Home

Marketing your home is the task you perform to increase its visibility.

For example, you might pay MLS fees for listing your house on a popular platform like Realtor.com. They can also perform other marketing and advisory tasks, which in turn increases their fees.

How SoCal Home Buyers Makes Selling Simple

Explore the following list that summarizes the article and offers additional insights into selling homes without a realtor.

SoCal Home Buyers is a family owned company in Southern California. Our real estate investment company understands how complex and painful selling a house can be. You often feel like you’re drowning in endless piles of paperwork and tasks.

The whole time, you’re constantly paying commissions, repairs, and other fees. You deserve to take more of your house’s sale price. That’s why we offer home buyer services for people who want a fair value with none of the hassle.

 In just three steps, you can receive a fair all cash quote and have your home sold in as little as 7 days. Forego the inspections, repairs, and other tedious tasks.

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Click Here to learn More – How to Sell Your House in as Little as 7 Days

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions?

You can sell your house without a realtor by performing all the realtor tasks yourself. These include pricing, marketing, negotiating, and closing on the home.

While you can do all those tasks, sometimes you might need some help. For example, you can’t list your home on MLS sites without a realtor license. You might also need legal advice to ensure you submit the correct documents.

Selling your house yourself is much more complicated than selling through an agent because you have more responsibilities and might not always have the experience or knowledge to perform all the tasks.

However, you can always hire help from an MLS service provider at a fraction of the cost of a real estate agent. You can also sell to a cash buyer and avoid steps like marketing, negotiating, and repairing your home.

Unless you have a real estate license, you will be limited in where you can list your property without the help of an MLS service.

However, there are several sites you can use.

The top ten sites for selling by owner instead of through a real estate agent are:

  • socalhomebuyers.com
  • Homecoin.com
  • Clever.com
  • Zillow.com
  • Fizber.com
  • FSBO.com
  • LoopNet.com
  • ForSaleByOwner.com
  • LandFlip.com
  • Facebook Marketplace

Your real estate agent is paid based on commission, which you can negotiate when finding the best agent.

On average, you will spend 5-6% of the home’s purchase price on realtor commissions. Typically, the seller and buyer’s agent split the realtor commissions.

In addition to both agents, the real estate broker might take some of the commissions. For example, the agent might receive 95% of the commission while the broker gets 5%.

The first step sellers usually take is finding a reliable real estate agent. However, if you’re working without a real estate agent, your first step is establishing your goals. Your goals should include:

-When you want to sell your house by

-What is the minimum you wish to receive from your home sales

-How much you’re willing to invest in repairs and upgrades

Establishing your goals requires research to understand the current market and your options. Then, use your goals to make the best decision for selling your home without an agent.

The most significant fee for home sales is the real estate agent commission. Without a realtor, FSBO sellers will have considerably lower costs. In addition, plan for 2-4% of the home’s price to pay for other expenses associated with the sale of your home.

These costs include:

  • Attorney fees
  • Transfer taxes
  • Marketing costs
  • Closing costs (if applicable)
  • Repairs

You can shop around for many of these costs to save money, like discounts on marketing and repairs. However, if you want to reduce as many costs as possible, the most cost-efficient way to sell your home without a realtor is to sell to a cash buyer who accepts your house in any condition and circumstance.

For sale by owner homes sell faster than other homes because you have more control over the process and reduce the number of mediators.

In 2020, 77% of FSBO homes sold within two weeks. One of the main reasons is that the sellers use word-of-mouth to sell to people they know, which speeds up the process.

The fastest way to sell your home isn’t FSBO. Instead, it’s to sell to a cash buyer like SoCal Home Buyers, who will give you a cash quote in a few hours. Through SoCal Home Buyers, you can sell your home in a week and save money.

The top mistake of FSBO sellers is not pricing their homes correctly. Without an agent to help you find a fair listing price using their real estate tools, you’re left to do your own research to determine your house’s value.

This can lead to either overpricing your home because you see it as more valuable than it is or underpricing because you don’t understand how to leverage your assets.

Another mistake FSBO sellers make is not marketing correctly. You must get your house where buyers will see it, like on popular listing sites and social media.

Hiring a realtor is a common part of selling your house but not a necessity.

They’re here to make the process smoother and ensure you meet all the legal requirements for selling a home. They also have a network of partners you can use for other services in the home selling process.

However, in exchange for those services, they require a percentage commission from your sale price. To avoid this loss in Capital, some sellers consider going around realtors and selling the house themselves or directly to a cash home buyer.

While a realtor isn’t needed, the tasks they perform are still necessary.

When you sell your home without a realtor, you also accept the responsibility of fulfilling all the realtor’s job duties.

Some of the duties of a realtor include:

  • Getting to know the house and its value
  • Gathering necessary documents like tax information, mortgage information, and county records
  • Listing and marketing your home
  • Scheduling viewings and open houses
  • Negotiating with buyers
  • Advising the seller on the best options and presenting offers
  • Attending closing

This list only covers their primary tasks. What they do is much longer and requires a more significant time commitment. However, most of the duties are items you can complete independently.

 In addition, you can hire third parties to assist with the tasks you can’t perform due to time restraints or limited experience.