Money blog: How to sell your home without an estate agent - and save thousands (2024)

By Ollie Cooper, Money team

Estate agent fees are one of the big expenses in selling a house - but rule changes and the rise of private sale websites has made it more common for people to go it alone.

But how easy is it - and what do you need to know? We spoke to industry experts to find out.

Firstly, what do estate agents do for their money?

An estate agent will typically charge in the range of 1%-3.5% of the sale price.

That means for the average house price (£284,691, from December) you could pay anywhere from £2,846 to as much as £9,964 in commission fees.

"When you use an estate agent, their fee includes taking professional photographs, advertising your home, conducting property viewings, and negotiating a price on your behalf," says Jack Smithson, from the home ownership

In addition, an estate agent will compile comprehensive details of your house, including room sizes and descriptions of fixtures and fittings.

"They will also provide a concise write-up about the local area, highlighting amenities, schools, and transportation links," Jack adds.

And they'll conduct checks on buyers for you (more on this later).

It sounds like a lot, but...

"Selling your home yourself can be a manageable process with a few key steps," Jack says.


You should begin by thoroughly researching house prices in your area, using websites like Rightmove and Zoopla - but seek free valuations from local estate agents to ensure you have a realistic asking price in mind.

Next, you want to take high-quality photos of your house.

Jack advises using tutorials on YouTube to learn new shooting and editing techniques that can take you to the next level.

You then want to write down what makes your home unique.

"While browsing other listings for inspiration, take it a step further by emphasising what you love about living in your home and the surrounding area," Jack suggests.

"Whether it's the refreshing scent of the coastline or the tranquil sounds of village life, incorporating these details can help potential buyers visualise living there," he advises.

Like using YouTube for photography tips, you can use free tools such as ChatGPT and Grammarly if you need help with your writing, Jack says.


This is probably the biggest perk of going through an established estate agent - your home is much more likely to be viewed because they will have an established audience and a market. But it's very possible to do it alone.

"When it comes to advertising your home, explore a variety of avenues including local newspapers and social media," Jack says.

"Consider using websites like Strike, which allow individuals to list their properties for free on platforms like Rightmove," he suggests.


Once you've secured some viewings, you've got the opportunity to make it a bit more personal than estate agents ever could - a real advantage.

"Explain the reasons behind your decision to purchase the property, highlight its unique features, and share the aspects of your neighbourhood that make it a desirable place to live," Jack says.

The small things matter when showing people round - so try to take an objective look around before you bring anyone in.

Do the things you'd do normally - make sure it smells nice, it's clean, tidy etc.

"Lastly, it's worth knowing that you must legally provide potential buyers with a free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)."

The sale itself

Perhaps the most daunting aspect is the physical exchange of contracts and money.

An estate agent would typically oversee the process of the initial offer acceptance to the transfer of keys to the new owner.

However, if you go alone, you'll need to become the central point of contact - bridging the gap between your solicitor or conveyancer and the buyer and their legal representative.

"Once you've accepted an offer on your property, your first task is to draft what's called a memorandum of sale," Jack says.

This document is a written confirmation of your acceptance of the offer and details the agreed price along with any specific conditions you've both agreed to.

"It's then recommended to engage the services of a solicitor or conveyancer to ensure all legal obligations are met," Jack says (of course, you'll need to do this even if you have an estate agent).

The cost of hiring one typically ranges from a few hundred to over £1,000, depending on factors such as fixed fees, hourly rates, the complexity of the sale and additional costs like property searches or land registry fees.

"In the absence of an estate agent, you'll be responsible for keeping your buyer informed about the progress of the sale. This involves regular updates on the status of legal procedures and any relevant developments," Jack says, before adding that this can actually be a good thing.

"By taking on these responsibilities independently, you'll have greater control over the sale process. However, it will require you to be exceptionally organised, and you'll need to be very good at communicating too."

Any risks to be aware of?

Rita Patel, legal director at law firmBrowne Jacobson,tells us the biggest risk for people selling their properties without an estate agent is the lack of a vetting and verification process of the potential buyer.

Estate agents will verify the buyer's identity and check the buyer's proof and source of funds - without this, there's no way to assess the buyer is legitimate and can afford to buy.

"Whilst this process is something lawyers can help with, this is often at an additional cost, and you'll need to start from square one if there is an issue with a potential buyer's identification and/or financial eligibility," Rita says.

More generally, selling without an agent can extend the time it takes to sell.

"Zoopla suggests this timeframe is normally around 17-34 weeks, but with no-one on hand to consistently promote and drive the property sale at all stages, going solo drags this process out," Rita says.

"Agents can also help mediate any potential breakdowns in communication between the buyer and seller - reducing the likelihood of having to go back to market and start again."

The advantages

Laura Owen-Brown, a PR manager from Gloucestershire, tells us she is set to sell her house without an estate agent in the near future.

"My disappointment with estate agents stems from their lack of familiarity with the properties they attempted to sell me when I was buying my current house," she says.

"They couldn't tell me about the details that truly matter, like the optimal times for sunlight in the garden, how much council tax I'd pay, what the roof was made of, the places I could walk my dog off lead or the impact of post-football match traffic on Sundays.

"These types of details can shape the experience of living in a house for years and are just as important as the square footage, EPC rating or how many bedrooms a property has," she added.

She says the current "transactional" approach to selling houses feels "impersonal and outdated" to her.

"Yes, I'll have to handle more admin, but the savings in both money and time will make it worthwhile. Liaising with buyers and solicitors directly without a third party slowing everything down will mean I can be in control and have transparency throughout the process, especially during negotiations," she says.

All in all...

As Laura says, it's very much a case of whether you can stomach the admin and are happy to take the risks on background financial checks.

If you are aware of all the above and willing to take on the organisational burden, you could save yourself a serious chunk of cash.

Money blog: How to sell your home without an estate agent - and save thousands (2024)


How much do you save by not using a Realtor? ›

How much can I save selling without a realtor? California FSBO sellers typically save an average of $20,584 by not paying a listing agent realtor commission. FSBO sellers in the state can save up to $39,102 on total realtor commission if they also don't pay the buyer's agent commission.

What are the pros and cons of selling your house without a Realtor? ›

The Pros and Cons of Selling a Home For Sale By Owner
  • Pro: Lower Commission Fees‍ ...
  • Con: No Pricing Strategy‍ ...
  • ‍Pro: More Control Over the Sale‍ ...
  • Con: A Biased Opinion‍ ...
  • Pro: Insider Knowledge‍ ...
  • Con: Inaccessibility to Marketing Channels‍ ...
  • Pro: Full Dedication to Selling Your Home‍ ...
  • ‍Con: Lack of Real Estate Knowledge‍
Apr 15, 2019

How to sell your house quickly tips? ›

6 Tips on How to Sell a House Faster in CA
  1. Pick the Right Time to Sell. It's important to choose the right time to get your house sold faster. ...
  2. Hire a Professional Home Stager. ...
  3. Improve Curb Appeal. ...
  4. Offer to Pay Repair Costs. ...
  5. Offer Seller Credit. ...
  6. Offer Flexible Move-in and Move-out Dates.
Feb 15, 2024

Can you sell a house without spending money? ›

Yes, you can sell your house as is for cash in California. You can list on a cash buyer marketplaces like Houzeo and Sundae. You can also sell your home to institutional cash buyers like HomeVestors or We Buy Houses.

Is selling your home by yourself a good idea? ›

Yes, but perhaps not as much as you think. By selling your house without a Realtor, you can save the typical seller's agent commission, which is around 2.5 to 3 percent of the home's sale price. On a median-priced $859,800 California home, 3 percent comes to more than $25,000, a significant savings.

What is the 20 rule in real estate? ›

What is the 80/20 Rule exactly? It's the idea that 80% of outcomes are driven from 20% of the input or effort in any given situation. What does this mean for a real estate professional? Making more money in real estate is directly tied to focusing your personal energy on the most high value areas of your business.

What are the disadvantages of having a real estate agent? ›

One of the biggest drawbacks of working with a real estate agent is the cost. Agent commissions can be a significant expense for sellers, as they typically take a percentage of the sale price of the home. Buyers may also face additional costs, such as closing costs and other fees.

What are the pros and cons of selling a home as is? ›

Pros and cons of selling a house as-is
  • Pros. Fewer costs: Avoiding expensive repairs helps you avoid potential financial strain. ...
  • Cons. ...
  • Be upfront about the home's condition. ...
  • Remember seller's disclosures. ...
  • Keep things as tidy as possible. ...
  • Know how low you can go. ...
  • Find a trusted real estate agent.
Dec 21, 2023

When purchasing a home, the buyer can expect to pay closing costs such as? ›

Closing costs typically range from 2 to 5 percent of the total loan amount, and they include fees for the appraisal, title insurance and origination and underwriting of the loan. You may be able to negotiate your closing costs depending on seller concessions.

What is the secret to a fast sale of a property? ›

One of the most effective ways to sell your home fast is to price it competitively. If you price it too high, you detract prospective buyers and price out potential bidders. In addition, it may take longer to settle the negotiation process if prospective buyers want your price to come down.

Is it better to show a house empty? ›

Do Houses Show Better Empty? While an empty house may show more available space, it can raise doubts for some potential buyers. For example, they may not be able to eyeball whether their California King bed will fit in the master bedroom. That's why staged properties tend to sell more quickly.

What happens financially when you sell a house? ›

Your loan is repaid to your mortgage lender. Any additional loans (like a HELOC or home equity loan) are paid off. Closing costs are paid (including agent commission, taxes, escrow fees and prorated HOA expenses). The remaining profit is transferred to you, the seller.

Is it more difficult to sell an empty house? ›

By far the biggest obstacle to vacant home sales is the buyer's perspective. The majority of homebuyers already struggle to envision an occupied home as their own--it's even more difficult when they can't grasp the room's layout or feel without furniture.

How much do sellers usually come down on a house? ›

The amount you may want to reduce your home's asking price depends on many factors, including the median price in your area, what comparable homes nearby are selling for and the length of time the home has been on the market. According to a Zillow study, the average price cut is 2.9 percent of the list price.

Why is there a 70% rule in real estate? ›

The 70% rule helps home flippers determine the maximum price they should pay for an investment property. Basically, they should spend no more than 70% of the home's after-repair value minus the costs of renovating the property.

Should you always counter offer real estate? ›

The major benefit of a counter-offer for buyers is the potential to secure the home for less money and on better terms. However, if you really want the house, it's not a great idea to go back and forth too many times with counter-offers.

Can you buy a house in California without a Realtor? ›

No, you don't have to have an agent. However, at the very least, you should hire a lawyer to help you with the paperwork. It's not an easy thing to do right now, buy a home in CA.


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