How to Sell a House By Owner in Illinois in 8 Simple Steps

By Lindsay Stefan

Posted on September 27th, 2022

Pros and Cons | Illinois Realtor Commission | How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House By Owner? | How to Sell a House By Owner in Illinois | Paperwork for FSBO in Illinois | Illinois FSBO Real Estate Laws | Alternatives

Photo of an Illinois neighborhood

Can I sell my house without a realtor in Illinois? 🤔

Yes, you can sell your house without a realtor in Illinois. Selling a house by owner is a great option if you’re real estate savvy enough to determine listing price and negotiate with buyers on your own.


You can save a lot by not paying the seller’s agent commission, but keep in mind that selling a house without professional help is hard work. Plus, homes sold by a real estate agent tend to sell for higher prices — up to 26% more.

About 7% of 2020 home sales nationwide didn’t involve a realtor, according to the National Association of Realtors. Selling a house by owner (also known as FSBO) is great for homeowners who are willing to put in the work and take some risks in order to save money over a traditional realtor and retain more control over the sale.

Despite recent mortgage rate increases, the Illinois housing market is still going strong, with prices increasing over 3% year over year. While listings are sitting on the market a little longer than they were in 2021 (45 days on average compared to 19 days last year), houses are still selling at a decent pace.

With homes selling this fast, and for this much, it’s understandable that a lot of Illinois sellers see an opportunity to sell their home without an agent.

It’s hard to put a definitive price tag on selling FSBO in Illinois, because you’ll spend a lot more time and effort, and you might not get as much for your house as an expert could.

We'll walk you through the pros and cons of selling FSBO in Illinois, how Illinois realtor commissions work, other costs of selling a house by owner in the state, Illinois real estate laws you need to consider, and how to list your home for sale in Illinois.

If saving money on realtor fees is your primary reason for selling your house by owner, it's worth exploring all of your options before attempting a solo home sale.

Our friends at Clever Real Estate negotiate with the best real estate agents near you so you can get amazing service AND save thousands. Clever's free agent matching service will introduce you to top-performing agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and other leading brokers. You can meet as many agents as you'd like until you find the best match!

If you do find an agent through Clever, you'll pay just 1% in listing fees — a fraction of the typical 3% you'd usually pay a listing agent. The average seller who lists with Clever saves $9,000!

💰 Save BIG with Clever!

Pros and Cons of Selling Without a Realtor in Illinois

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

No seller's agent commission

You’ll still have to pay the buyer's agent commission

Total control over the sale

Setting the right price is difficult and risky

Can still get on the MLS with a flat fee listing service

Your home might sell for less than it would with a realtor

Can show the house on your own terms

You’ll have to negotiate with buyers on your own

No risk of getting a bad agent

LOTS of paperwork to handle

You can use your intimate knowledge of your home to your advantage

Limited marketing resources

How Illinois Realtor Commission Works

Home sellers in Illinois typically pay 5.24% of the home sale price in total realtor commissions. For the typical home in Illinois ($267,677 on average), the seller would pay around $14,026.

Selling without an agent means you’ll only pay the buyer’s agent commission — typically 2.56%, or $6,852. So, selling a house by owner in Illinois could save you around 2.68%, or $7,174, on commissions.

While it’s typical for both the listing agent and buyer’s agent to split the real estate commission, it’s not required. Some agents may negotiate a different arrangement with their clients.

These are far from the only options, though. Other alternatives, like Clever Real Estate, allow you to save on realtor commissions while still working with a real estate professional.

👉Jump to: The BEST Alternatives to Selling By Owner in Illinois

Average Illinois Realtor Commission: With vs. Without a Realtor


Selling Without a Realtor

Selling With a Realtor

Selling With Clever Real Estate

Seller’s Agent Commission

0%

2.68%

1%

Buyer’s Agent Commission

2.56%


2.56%

2.56%


Total Commission

2.56%

5.24%

3.56%

Do I have to pay buyer’s agent commission? 💰


You're not legally required to offer a buyer’s agent commission when selling your home by owner — but we highly recommend it.


Refusing to pay a buyer's agent commission means realtors won’t have any incentive to show your home to their buyer clients. Your home will likely take longer to sell and may not fetch as high a price.


If you want to sell quickly and for top dollar, include a competitive buyer’s agent commission in your listing to let them know you’re serious about attracting buyers.


» Read: Can a Seller Refuse to Pay a Buyer's Agent? Learn Why It's a HUGE Mistake

How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House By Owner in Illinois?

If you don't want to work with a realtor, you must cover all the costs to list and market your home and prepare the legal disclosures and documents yourself.

The cost to sell a house by owner can vary widely depending on the home and its owner. However, using pricing provided by HomeAdvisor and survey data from the Clever Data Center, we found that the average cost to sell a house by owner is about 7.5% of the sales price – compared to about 10% to sell with a real estate agent.

Considering the median sale price of an Illinois home comes in at $267,677, budget for $20,076 (plus many hours of work).

Here's how those costs break down:

Service

Cost

Pre-Appraisal

Pre-Inspection

Professional Photography

$65–200 per hour

Flat Fee MLS Listing

$200–400

Other Marketing Costs

Varies

Real Estate Attorney

$150–350 per hour

Closing Costs

2.89% of sale price

How to Sell a House By Owner in Illinois

Step 1: Get Your House Ready to List

Start preparing your house by making it more desirable to a wide array of buyers. Think like a buyer and take a walk through your home, taking note of potential updates, deferred maintenance, and personal touches that should be removed.

Here are some things to consider as you walk through your home:

Issue

Why It Matters

🏠 Damaged siding

Unsightly siding can reduce curb appeal and alter a buyer’s view of the home before they even enter. Patch or upgrade your siding to make your home look more inviting from the get-go.

Mold

Mold is generally identified and addressed during the due diligence period, but it’s best to handle it up front so potential buyers don’t use it to negotiate a lower sale price.

🎨 Paint

If you’ve personalized your home with bright paint colors, paint walls a neutral color to appeal to more buyers.

🛌 Furniture

Remove excess furniture to make the space feel larger.

🌻 Personal Items

Remove items that might make it difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Limit the number of personal items like photographs, collectibles, and other items that make the space feel smaller.

Step 2: Photograph Your Home

Once your home is in the best shape possible, take high-quality photos to include in listings and other marketing materials.

A few tips for taking listing photos:

  • Take time to clean the house, including light fixtures and other reflective surfaces.

  • Make sure toilet seats are down, TVs are turned off, and other distracting items are neutralized and photo-ready.

  • Avoid excessive props and staging to keep the house from looking too busy.

  • Center the frame of the photos evenly between the floor and ceiling to avoid dead space in photo composition.

  • Do not use a wide-angle lens if it will lead buyers to think the space is much larger than it actually is.

  • Leave some areas to the imagination so buyers are more likely to schedule a tour.

If you want your photos to really stand out, consider hiring a professional photographer. A real estate photographer will cost you around $100 per hour. Otherwise, photos taken on a smartphone with the right lighting and angles will also work well.

Step 3: Set a Listing Price

Before setting a listing price, determine your goals:

  • If you need to sell the home quickly, choose a competitive price that will attract buyers.

  • If you want to maximize profit, evaluate your mortgage payoff amount and choose a price that puts cash in your pocket while aligning with comparable properties in your area.

That said, pricing your home too high can make it difficult to sell and result in a stale listing. Even if a buyer agrees to your high list price, your home appraisal could still come in low, giving the buyer an opportunity to back out of the sale.

If you’re committed to selling your home yourself but don’t know where to begin with pricing, have your home appraised by a professional. This generally costs between $310 and $420 in Illinois, but can give you a starting point and more confidence going into negotiations.

If you're on a budget, the best alternatives to an appraisal include contacting local realtors or using a trustworthy home value estimator.

Most reputable real estate agents offer a free comparative market analysis (CMA) — a report that evaluates how your property stacks up against comparable homes in your neighborhood.

A home value estimator uses publicly available data to assess how your home compares, based on information you provide.

Our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a free home value estimator that will help you discover your home's true value. And if you want a local realtor's opinion, Clever can also connect you with top-performing real estate agents who know exactly how homes like yours are currently selling.

💰 How Much Is Your Home Worth?

Before listing your home, find out how it compares to others in your local market.

Step 4: Officially List and Market Your Home

Depending on your market, it may be possible to sell your house yourself quickly by posting it on Zillow or Craigslist.

However, most FSBO homeowners need to do more. Posting your home on Facebook Marketplace likely won’t be sufficient if you want to compete with listings represented by local agents. FSBO sellers are on their own and will have to leverage all the marketing strategies at their disposal to find a buyer.

💡Expert Tip: How to Write a Compelling Listing Description


Write a listing description that appeals to buyers in the area by targeting local priorities. These are some of the major features buyers are looking for in Illinois to highlight in your description.

  • Electric range

  • Fenced-in yard

  • Fire pit

  • Large deck

  • New carpet

  • Stainless steel appliances

  • Tiled backsplash

  • White cabinetry

To have the best chance of a successful FSBO sale, we recommend setting a marketing budget, planning a strategy early, and always complying with your state's regulations.

Traditional ideas for marketing your home include:

Some of these services are free (with purchased upgrades), while others charge a fee for a set period of time to list or advertise.

Additionally, you'll need to list your home on your local MLS.

The MLS is an exclusive tool for real estate agents to share information about listed properties and find potential homes for their buyer clients. It also pushes listings to hundreds of other real estate listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, which get millions of visitors.

For a single fee, you can list your home on your local MLS with a flat fee MLS company. Fees can range from $89 to $1,000 depending on the package you choose, but most cost between $200 and $400.

Flat fee MLS services available in Illinois include:

Flat Fee MLS Company

Cost

$79–325

$99–599

$199+

$145–495

$299–399

$295–795

$299–999

» Learn More: How to List on the MLS in 2022 (And Save!)

Step 5: Schedule Open Houses and Showings

If you’ve priced your home competitively and marketed it effectively, you’ll need to schedule several showings so prospective buyers can see the property in person. If it’s part of your marketing strategy, schedule open houses so interested shoppers can quickly visit the home without a private showing.

Either way, you’ll need a calendar or scheduling system to keep your appointments in order — especially in a hot market with several interested buyers. This can become even more complex and time-consuming if you receive multiple offers and need to schedule second showings.

Not surprisingly, this is an area in which a dedicated real estate agent can be a game-changer. Not only do agents manage showings and open houses, they also follow up with interested buyers to build — and capitalize on — excitement around the property.

Step 6: Negotiate a Price and Accept an Offer

It can be easy to dig your heels in on price when you’re trying to sell your home for a profit, but it’s important to keep an open mind regarding negotiation.

If you’re not getting offers in line with your list price, it may be a sign that your home is priced too high. This is even more common with FSBO listings because accurate pricing is more difficult for homeowners who don’t have the local expertise of realtors.

Feeling nervous about navigating negotiations on your own? You’re not the only one. A recent survey by the Clever Data Center found that 46% of sellers don’t feel comfortable negotiating with buyers without a real estate agent.

Licensed real estate agents are experts in negotiating sales for the highest price possible, and hiring one can get you more profit on your sale — even when you factor in realtor commission.

💰 Incredible savings, none of the DIY

Selling a house by yourself is HARD. That's why we've partnered with Clever Real Estate, a free service that matches you with trusted agents AND helps you save thousands. You'll get full service for just 1% in listing fees, meaning you'd save $8,000 on a $400,000 home sale.


Learn how much you can save today!

Step 7: Draft and Sign a Purchase Agreement

Once the buyer and seller come to an agreement, the seller’s real estate agent typically provides the contract. If you opt for a FSBO sale in Illinois, you’ll have to hire a real estate attorney or draft a contract yourself.

To do so, obtain a contract template that meets all of Illinois’s legal requirements for a real estate transaction. The document should include elements like the purchase price, down payment, closing date, payment plan, as well as disclosures and contingencies.

You can find examples online, but even templates can be difficult to use, so we recommend working with a real estate attorney (even though you’re not technically required to in Illinois). Legal mistakes can be costly and lead to litigation down the road. Hiring an attorney can also simplify the closing process.

Step 8: Close the Deal

The final step in any real estate transaction is closing. This process generally involves a title company and an escrow company.

The role of a title company is to determine whether there are issues like unpaid property taxes or liens against the property that may limit the seller’s legal right to transfer the property. It also requires title insurance to protect the buyer and lender in case there are claims against the property that did not show up in the title search.

An escrow company, on the other hand, facilitates the sale by holding the buyer’s funds and the seller’s deed until the transaction is complete. Once all of the escrow conditions are met, the escrow company transfers the funds to the seller — or their mortgage lender — and the buyer receives the deed for recording.

Sellers can conduct a title search of public records, but the buyer’s lender will require a search performed by a title report company.

Paperwork for Selling a House Without a Realtor in Illinois

Documents Required for All Illinois

  • Affidavit of title: A notarized document stating that you own the home, aren’t reselling it, and aren’t aware of any liens on it

  • Bill of sale: A document of the sale, listing the identity of buyer and seller, as well as the final sale price

  • Closing statement: A list of all costs associated with the sale, and who’s responsible for paying them

  • Illinois real estate sales agreement and addendums: A copy of the original signed sales agreement, including all changes

  • Signed deed: A document legally transferring the property from seller to buyer

  • Two forms of ID: Government-issued photo IDs, such as a driver’s license or a valid passport

Illinois Property Disclosure Forms

💡 Tip: Experts recommend including your property disclosures in your listing. Although some states don't require disclosures until after you accept an offer, it’s wise to be up front about any significant issues with your home so buyers can’t negotiate on them or back out later on.

» Learn More: The BEST Time to Provide a Property Disclosure

Other Documents That May Apply To Your Sale

  • Correction statement and agreement: A document that specifies who is responsible for replacing or fixing any lost or erroneous documents that may be discovered

  • Closing disclosure: Documentation proving the buyer’s lender approved all concessions during closing

  • Copies of relevant wills, trusts, or power of attorney letters: Documentation that home ownership has passed to you

  • HOA rules and guidelines: All the HOA covenants, codes, restrictions, fees, and governing regulations

  • Home inspection report: Any results from a pre-sale inspection or the buyer’s home inspection

  • Home warranty information: Details about the home warranty policy

  • Loan payoff information: A document stating how much you still owe on the mortgage (if any), plus any payoff fees

  • Proof of repairs or renovations: Documentation of the repairs you and the buyer agreed would be done (if any), and provides the buyer with contractor information if the repairs prove to be flawed

  • Relevant affidavits

  • Survey results or affidavits: Documentation denoting exactly where the property lines are

Illinois Real Estate Laws FSBO Sellers Should Know About

Several state and federal laws apply to the sale of real estate in Illinois. These laws are in place to protect buyers, and failure to comply with them could result in legal problems for the seller.

Illinois Disclosure Statute

The Illinois state disclosure law requires sellers of real estate to let buyers know about any known material defects in the property on the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Residential Real Property Disclosure form.

It covers “material matters relating to the physical condition of the property,” including:

  • Appliances

  • Boundary line encroachments or disputes

  • Defects in the water, electrical, plumbing, drainage, and other systems

  • Homeowners’ association rules and fees

  • Other known material defects

  • Underground storage tanks, and hazardous materials like radon and asbestos

  • Wood-destroying insects such as termites

  • Zoning or code violations

Illinois sellers should promptly and carefully fill out this disclosure form and give it to the buyer, even if the buyer is tearing the property down or buying as is. It might be worth hiring a professional to look over the paperwork for you.

Illinois Radon Awareness Act

This Illinois law requires sellers to give sellers a pair of pamphlets about radon hazards. While this law doesn’t actually require sellers to test for radon, it’s recommended that they do.

Federal Title X Disclosure Requirements

If you’re selling a home built before 1978, you will have to comply with federal Title X disclosure regulations in addition to the state disclosure requirements. These regulations require that sellers disclose any known lead-based paint or asbestos-containing materials in the home.

The law requires sellers to give buyers an information pamphlet about these materials and allow them time to inspect for the hazards before purchasing the home.

⚖️ Do I need a real estate attorney to sell my house privately in Illinois? ⚖️


Illinois law does not require homeowners to use a real estate attorney when selling their homes privately. However, the closing process can be highly complicated. When selling FSBO, we recommend hiring an attorney to prepare and review the contract, draft other legal documents, and otherwise help with the closing.

Alternatives to Selling a House By Owner

Best Option: Clever Real Estate

If you want to save on commissions but you're not interested in the hassle of selling your home by owner, your best option is to work with our partners at Clever Real Estate. Clever connects sellers with experienced, local real estate professionals who handle every aspect of the sale for a pre-negotiated listing fee of just 1%.

Clever’s price may be higher than selling FSBO, but working with a realtor typically reaps higher offers, so you’ll probably make a lot more on the sale — ending up with more money in your pocket than you would selling your home FSBO.

Plus, Clever can help you avoid the headache of doing everything on your own. Its network of agents can determine the right price for your home, market it effectively, and negotiate with buyers to maximize profit.

Realtors also take care of all the paperwork and logistics involved in the sale so you don't have to juggle legal documents and Illinois disclosure requirements.

Meet trusted real estate agents with Clever 🤝

Looking for an agent? Clever Real Estate's licensed concierge team can introduce you to pre-vetted agents near you! You'll choose between top-rated agents from major brokerages like Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and more.

Best of all, you'll save thousands, thanks to Clever's affordable 1% listing fees. Buyers in 41 states and Washington D.C. can also receive 0.5% cash back after closing!

Discount Real Estate Companies

If you're not interested in working with a traditional real estate agent, consider listing with a discount real estate company.

Discount agents typically provide some assistance with marketing and negotiations for a lower commission than full-service agents.

Although discount real estate companies typically provide more hands-on support than flat fee MLS companies, some discount agents may not offer as much as others. Make sure you review the contract thoroughly before signing to make sure you’re getting everything you need.

Discount real estate companies that operate in Illinois include:

Cash Home Buyers

If you need to sell your home quickly and don't mind giving up some equity, consider working with a cash home buyer. Cash buyers are typically individual investors or companies looking to buy homes below market value to fix them up and resell them for a profit.

Because cash home buyers are usually looking for a bargain, they typically offer less than what your home is worth. However, if you need to sell quickly and don't mind taking a lower price, working with a cash buyer can be a good option.

Cash buyers that offer to buy homes in Illinois include:

  • Personal Property Managers

  • We Buy Houses

  • We Buy Ugly Houses

  • Express Homebuyers

Curious about how much a cash buyer would offer for your home? Our friends at Clever Real Estate can help you compare offers from top cash buyers to the offers you may receive from listing on the open market.

💰Find out how to get a cash offer today!

Recommended Reading

FAQs About Selling By Owner in Illinois

Do you need an attorney to sell a house in Illinois?

Illinois law does not require homeowners to use a real estate attorney when selling their homes privately. However, the closing process can be highly complicated. When selling FSBO, we recommend hiring an attorney to prepare and review the contract, draft other legal documents, and otherwise help with the closing. Learn more about legal requirements for selling a house by owner in Illinois.

Do you have to disclose a death in a house in Illinois?

No, you do not have to disclose a death in a house in Illinois, according to Illinois law. Because death doesn’t fall under the category of a material defect within the house, the seller does not have to let the buyer know. Learn how to sell a house by owner in Illinois.

How much does it cost to sell a house by owner?

It typically costs about 7.5% of the sale price to sell a house by owner, but this varies based on the location and the home’s sale price. Learn how to sell a house by owner in Illinois.

Can I sell my house without a realtor?

Yes, you can sell a house without a realtor. Selling a house by owner is a lot of work, but if you’re real estate savvy enough to handle it yourself, you can save money on the listing agent’s commission. Learn how to sell a house by owner in Illinois.

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Posted in For Sale By Owner, Selling a House