There have been numerous "for sale by owner" signs appearing recently. This seems like a convenient way to reduce the commission charged by Real Estate agents but I have heard that this is still a "closed" market unless one already has a buyer lined up (like a friend or family member). What are the advantages and disadvantages?


I won't discuss the current market as much as I will address the title question. Is selling your house without an agent worth the hassle?

It depends on who you are. Take a good hard look at yourself and ask yourself - do I know anything about houses? the market? the paperwork involved in a sale? do I like talking with people I don't know? am I comfortable sharing my opinions, advising others, negotiating? does anyone ever say I could sell ice to an Eskimo? am I familiar with other neighbourhoods, features, benefits, nearby amenities, comparable homes, design elements, etc? Am I available, do I have time to do showings, can I handle the communication, appointments, etc necessary to show the home? What is a reasonable asking price? How did I arrive at it? How will I justify it to a buyer?

There is a great deal more involved with selling a home than many people think. If you read through the above list and think, I don't even know where I would start to talk about any of this, chances are you either need an agent, or assistance from someone you trust who can help you in these areas.

I watched a neighbour sell his home privately a year or two ago. He wrote up a great ad with a popular company that supports private sellers. The home had undergone many upgrades, the ad raved about them and all other related info, the price was realistic in the market at the time, and he was a gregarious, confident guy who worked in sales. He had no problem taking calls, answering questions, and had enough handyman experience and reno background that he could speak confidently about the condition of the home. He got a great price, over asking, in about 20 days.

Contrast this to another person I watched list her home privately. She was quiet, a teacher, with an unassuming, though lovely personality. The home needed some upgrading but was solid and attractive, the ad was more generic, the photos were flat and unexciting. Same great neighbourhood, but you'd never guess it from the ad. Same website. Similar market timing. She reduced, then reduced again. I think it took six months before it finally sold. I couldn't have imagined her selling anything, much less a house. Or negotiating. Some people just don't have that sales personality.

Of course it's much, much cheaper to do it on your own. But first ask yourself, are you up for the challenge?

  • Good answer - also to the point. If you intend to get a sales agent many of the requirements you described above are important in picking a good sales rep. I have seen people who chose poorly and end up not selling in a "hot" market.
    – Zephyr
    Dec 2 '09 at 14:47

The benefits of having an agent are that they have the resources, know-how, connections, networking skills and time that are required to sell a house effectively. If you have all of the above, then by all means go ahead and get rid of the middleman.

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