Pros and Cons | Pennsylvania Realtor Commission | How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House By Owner? | How to Sell a House By Owner in Pennsylvania | Paperwork for FSBO in Pennsylvania | Pennsylvania FSBO Real Estate Laws | Alternatives
About 7% of 2020 home sales 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.
It’s hard to put a definitive price tag on FSBO in Pennsylvania, because you’ll spend a lot more time and effort if you sell a home by owner, 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 Pennsylvania, how Pennsylvania realtor commissions work, other costs of selling a house by owner in the state, state real estate laws you need to consider, and how to list your home for sale in Pennsylvania.
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!
Pros and Cons of Selling Without a Realtor in Pennsylvania
How Pennsylvania Realtor Commission Works
Homeowners in Pennsylvania typically pay 5.53% of the home sale price in total realtor commissions. For the typical home in Pennsylvania ($266,883 on average), this would be around $14,759.
Selling without an agent means you’ll only pay the buyer’s agent commission — typically 2.72%, or $7,259. So, selling a house by owner in Pennsylvania could save you around 2.81%, or $7,499, 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.
Average Pennsylvania Realtor Commission: With vs. Without a Realtor
How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House By Owner?
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, 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 a Pennsylvania home comes in at just under $220,000, budget for $16,500 (plus many hours of work).
Here's how those costs break down:
How to Sell a House By Owner in Pennsylvania
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 unnecessary personal touches.
Here are some things to consider as you walk through your home:
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 $200 and $400 in Pennsylvania and 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
However, most FSBO sellers will need to do more. Posting your home on Facebook Marketplace will probably be insufficient if you want to compete with listings represented by local agents. FSBO sellers are on their own and have to leverage all the marketing strategies at their disposal to find a buyer.
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:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Print ads in newspapers and magazines
- Word of mouth
- Yard signs
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 Pennsylvania include:
» 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 Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania’s legal requirements for a real estate transaction. The document should include elements like the purchase price, down payment, closing date, and 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 Pennsylvania). 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
Closing is the final step in any real estate transaction. This process generally involves a title company and an escrow company.
A title company determines 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 themselves, but the buyer’s lender will require a search performed by a title report company.
Paperwork for Selling a House Without a Realtor in Pennsylvania
Documents Required for All Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales
- Affidavit of title
- Bill of sale
- Closing statement
- Pennsylvania real estate sales agreement and addendums
- Signed deed
- Two forms of ID
Pennsylvania Property Disclosure Forms
- Flood zone statement
- Lead-based paint disclosure
- Seller’s property disclosure statement
💡 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
- Closing disclosure
- Copies of relevant wills, trusts, or power of attorney letters
- HOA forms and guidelines
- Home inspection results
- Home warranty information
- Loan payoff information
- Proof of repairs or renovations
- Relevant affidavits (name affidavits, non-foreign affidavit under IRC 1445)
- Survey results or survey affidavits
Pennsylvania Real Estate Laws FSBO Sellers Should Know About
Several state and federal laws apply to the sale of real estate in Pennsylvania. These laws are in place to protect buyers, and failure to comply with them could result in legal problems for the seller.
Pennsylvania Disclosure Statute
The Pennsylvania disclosure statute requires sellers of real estate to let potential buyers know about any known material defects in the property, including issues with the structure, plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling systems, or any other defects that could affect the value or habitability of the home.
Sellers have to provide buyers with a specific property disclosure statement about whether or not they are aware of some of the most common issues occurring in their home. If you don’t do this right, the buyer can sue you for damages, so it’s important to pay attention to the details and get it done right. It might be worth hiring a professional to at least look over the paperwork for you.
Federal Title X Disclosure Requirements
If you’re selling a home built before 1978, FSBO sellers in Pennsylvania 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.
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania include:
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 Pennsylvania 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.
How much does it cost to sell a house by owner?
It typically costs about 7% 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 much it costs to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania.
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. Here’s how to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania.
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