Want to sell your house on your own? It’s a worthy endeavor. You could keep more of the profits by not paying a real estate agent. But there’s a lot of paperwork for selling a house without a realtor.
Agents typically handle the forms and contracts. All of the paperwork becomes your responsibility without an agent on your side. While the legal requirements and documents you need can vary, this guide will help you understand the paperwork for selling a house by owner at each step of the home sale.
Gather These Documents Before Listing Your House for Sale
Before you list your house for sale by owner, make sure you have all the essential documents in place:
- Original sales contract
- Mortgage statement (to calculate your home sale proceeds)
- Homeowners insurance policy
- HOA documents (if applicable)
- Repair and maintenance records
- Past utility bills
- Water/sewer inspection
You’ll also need to do a Competitive Market Analysis to determine your listing price. Often called “comps,” it’s an essential service that real estate agents provide.
When doing comps yourself, you can start with a home value estimator. It gives you a ballpark starting point, but your price should also consider your home’s location, age, construction, materials, and condition. Getting the price wrong can either stall your sale or make you miss out on thousands of dollars in profit. A real estate agent is used to dealing with the complex data analysis involved and can usually do this task much faster than the average home seller.
Essential Paperwork for Selling a Home Without a Realtor
Selling your home without a realtor puts you in charge of completing the legal documentation. Depending on your state, you will need the listing agreement, title review, and disclosure forms at a minimum.
You could end up in legal trouble if you aren’t familiar with the disclosure laws where you live. If you’re uncertain you can navigate the legal requirements yourself, we recommend our friends at Clever to help you sell your home. For a low 1.5% commission, your Clever agent keeps your fees low while making sure your legal ducks are in a row.
A listing agreement puts your home on the multiple listing service (MLS). The MLS is crucial to getting the word out about your house for sale. Without it, marketing your home and finding buyers can be an uphill battle.
Typically, a listing agent does this for you. You can do it yourself by paying a flat fee when doing a for sale by owner (FSBO) .
Next, get a preliminary report from a title insurance company. The title insurance report verifies that you have the right to sell your home by making sure old claims and deeds are taken care of legally. You can expect to pay around $75 to $200 for the report.
Finally, home sellers must provide disclosure forms regarding specific circumstances. Usually, real estate agents guide sellers about what to disclose. When selling your home FSBO, you must figure this out yourself.
Most states legally require homeowners to disclose issues, such as:
- Water damage or mold
- Lead-based paint
- Hazardous conditions (wildfires, earthquakes, floods)
- Termite or other pest damage
- Repairs and insurance claims
Note that requirements depend on your state and may include more items than those listed above. For example, California is one of the strictest states for seller disclosures. The paperwork for selling a house without a realtor in California requires you to disclose neighborhood noise and nuisances, military bases nearby, and sex offenders in the area.
Failing to disclose important information about your home to its new owner can make you liable to pay a settlement or to fix the problem. Instead, you can save yourself months or years of legal headaches by listing your home with an experienced real estate agent from our friends at Clever.
Paperwork After You Get an Offer
Getting an offer on your home is so exciting! But before you put your feet up, there’s another set of legal requirements waiting for your attention.
Offer and Counteroffer Forms
A buyer presents a written offer for your home, which you can accept or counter with a different offer. The form includes the buyer’s offer, a brief property description, and a listing overview.
You can usually get free paperwork for selling a house by owner, including offer and counteroffer forms — but it pays to have a real estate attorney look them over to make sure it’s in your best interest.
The purchase agreement is a contract that spells out the details of the property sale. For example, as part of the paperwork for selling a house without a realtor in Texas, the purchase agreement would include property identification (like address and features), price, earnest money, and a proposed closing date.
A purchase agreement also details how much the seller pays for the buyer’s agent commission. Although the FSBO seller does not have to pay a listing agent’s commission, it’s typically your responsibility as the seller to pay the buyer’s agent commission.
Home Inspection Report
Typically, home sales are contingent upon the inspection report. A home inspection report could reveal surprises that the buyer will ask you to fix before the deal continues.
As the seller, you don’t automatically receive a report copy — but you can ask the buyer to share it with you.
Banks and mortgage lenders almost always require a professional appraisal of the home. They arrange for the appraiser to confirm the house is worth at least the amount the buyer wants to borrow.
Paperwork Before You Close
The period between signing the sales contract and closing can feel overwhelming. So, here’s what paperwork you’ll need to be prepared.
If the buyer or seller needs to change something in the purchase agreement, they fill out an amendment form. Contract amendments are not always necessary, but it’s convenient for FSBO sellers to have blank copies on hand just in case.
After the home inspection is complete, the buyer may request repairs before moving forward. The inspection responses document the property repair negotiations between you and the buyer.
HOA Covenants and Restrictions
Some states legally require sellers to provide copies of the HOA covenants and restrictions since many neighborhoods have specific requirements. If you don’t provide this information, the buyer’s offer may be void and you will have to start the process over.
Even if your state does not require it, consider including it for the buyer so they’re aware of fees and restrictions associated with your property. You can contact an HOA officer for a copy of the bylaws.
In most states, sellers must provide a title affidavit proving that they are the homeowner and there are no liens, unpaid taxes, or other legal concerns involving the property. The buyer can request the seller remove or resolve any outstanding issues prior to closing.
The closing statement lists how much money you can expect to receive after taxes, closing costs, and other expenses. Usually, a title company or closing agent generates this statement after both parties determine the final sale terms.
You’ll need to sign the property deed, which officially transfers the home’s ownership to the buyer. Do not sign this until your actual closing, as you’ll likely need a witness or notary present.
Providing property tax statements helps buyers estimate taxes at closing. In addition, the closing company usually requests a tax statement because it’s part of the buyer’s closing costs.
You can request a copy of your property tax information from the county or parish government.
Next Steps for Selling Your House Without a Realtor
Although you may save money by selling your house on your own, a FSBO can be very time-consuming and comes with many financial and legal risks.
When selling your house without an agent, you might lose out on a higher selling price. In addition, disclosures and negotiations are difficult, and facing off with an experienced buyer’s agent can put you at a disadvantage.
An excellent alternative is to use a discount real estate agent. You pay a lower listing fee and get all the support you’d expect from start to finish.
If you are concerned about the risk of filling out paperwork for selling a house without a realtor, hiring an agent through Clever for 1.5% listing fees may make the most sense.
What paperwork do you need to sell a house without a realtor?
Between listing your home and getting to the closing table, you’ll have to navigate more than 20 legal and financial documents. Most home sellers have their real estate agent or attorney handle paperwork. But if you’re selling for sale by owner, you’ll have to take on this responsibility yourself. Learn what paperwork to expect!
What required disclosures do home sellers need to provide?
In general, home sellers are required to disclose water damage or mold, termites, previous repairs, and other essential information — but the specifics vary by state. Federal law also requires home sellers to disclose lead-based paint. Learn what disclosures are normally required, and when you should let prospective buyers know!