24 FSBO vs Realtor Facts and Statistics to Know in 2021

Michael Warford

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Michael Warford

August 18th, 2021
Updated August 18th, 2021

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FSBO statistics about key challenges | Biggest regrets about FSBO | FSBO vs. realtor statistics | FSBO success statistics | FSBO buyer statistics | FAQs

Many people think they can save time and money by selling their homes without a realtor. But did you know that FSBO sales bring in less money on average than agent-involved sales? We’ve compiled this and 23 other FSBO facts that sellers should know.

These FSBO stats show that, while you can save some money on realtor fees, you’ll also face a ton of challenges. For example, only 11% of sellers actually succeed at selling FSBO. And if they do? Those FSBO homes sell for about 26% less on average than agented properties, which often negates any savings![1]

A better option for many sellers who don't have the time or legal know-how to sell FSBO is to work with a low commission company like Clever. Clever pre-negotiates low listing fees so you'll pay just 1% (or a flat $3,000) for a listing agent, but get the full-service support you need to sell your home for top-dollar, fast.

» SAVE: Sell with a top local agent for just $3,000 or 1%!

What do FSBO sellers find most difficult?

Selling a house is tough and many FSBO sellers find the job a lot harder than they expect. Check out these FSBO facts about what sellers found to be the hardest parts about selling a house without a realtor.

1. Prepping the home is the toughest job for 12% of sellers

Wondering what the hardest part of selling FSBO is? Over 12% of FSBO sellers said it was getting the home ready for sale, more than any other task.[1]

If you’re selling FSBO, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do, such as staging your home the right way, keeping the home clean for showings, taking care of repairs and touch ups, and maintaining your lawn and garden.

While many of these are tasks you’ll have to do even if you have an agent, an agent can give you direction about what work is the most important to attract buyers.

2. 10% of FSBO sellers hate the paperwork

The second hardest part of selling FSBO is completing the paperwork. This was ranked the toughest part of the job by 10% of FSBO sellers.[1]

Completing the paperwork involved with a sale is an incredibly difficult process that most FSBO sellers struggle with. Even if you price your home correctly and find a willing buyer on your own, as a FSBO seller, you'll handle a lot of the paperwork that goes along with a sale.

While you can hire a real estate attorney to handle some of the paperwork, including the sales contract, this will cost you extra money out of pocket. And an attorney won’t provide you with the advantages that a realtor offers, such as knowing how to price your home or offer the most enticing buyer incentives for your market.

» MORE: The Main FSBO Paperwork You'll Face, By State

3. 6% of sellers struggle to sell on time

About 6% of FSBO sellers said selling their home within their desired time range was the hardest part of the work.[1] Non-realtors simply don’t have the marketing skills or the network of interested buyers that an agent brings to the table — and which help get a property sold fast.

Not surprisingly, selling within a desired time frame was also the top reason people did choose a realtor, according to 36% of agent-assisted sellers.[2] That suggests selling fast is one of the top benefits that a realtor brings to the table compared to going it alone.

If you’re looking to sell fast, your safest bet is to get an agent to help with your sale.

4. 5% wish they had more time to focus on selling

FSBO is so much work that a lot of people struggle to find the time for it. 5% of FSBO sellers say finding enough time to devote to selling was the toughest task for them.[1]

Not only do you need to focus on getting your home ready for sale (which is the number one difficulty that FSBO sellers encounter), but you also need to focus on finding buyers by marketing, holding showings, and negotiating with potential buyers.

And when you have an offer, you’ll have to do even more of the work that a realtor would typically do, like draw up a sales contract . And after all that work, there’s a good chance that you’ll still end up with less money than if you just hired an agent in the first place.

5. Only 6% of FSBO sellers list on the MLS

About 91% of all homes for sale are listed on a multiple listing service (MLS), but only 6% of FSBO sellers market their homes with an MLS listing.[1]

Only licensed realtors and brokerages can list on an MLS — but it’s how the majority of buyers and buyer’s agents find homes for sale. This leaves FSBO sellers missing out on a lot of exposure. Buyers’ agents may not know your home is even on the market and never show it to their clients!

There is a work-around. A flat-fee MLS service will list your home for a couple hundred dollars. A flat-fee MLS service is legally a brokerage, which is why they can list on the MLS — but aside from that, they won’t do any of the other work that an agent would, like showings, staging, negotiating, or photography.

» MORE: Flat-Fee MLS Listings: Find the BEST Services Near You

6. Pricing the home is the hardest part for 9% of sellers

Pricing the home correctly was the most difficult task for 9% of FSBO sellers.[1] Most FSBO sellers simply look at what other homes are selling for in their area and choose a similar price. But that fails to take into account unique aspects of the home — such as upgrades, features, or repair work — that could affect your final sales price.

Pricing your home is one of the most important parts of selling a home. Sellers need to find the sweet spot of not losing money by pricing too low and not losing prospective buyers by pricing too high. It's also hard for people who have lived in a house to price it objectively.

As we'll discuss in later FSBO stats, problems with pricing are part of the reason why FSBO homes sell for over 25% less on average than agented properties. On a $400,000 home, that could mean losing over $100,000 on your sale — way more than you'd pay in realtor fees!

Still want to save thousands in commission without going it alone? A company like Clever can help.

💰 Incredible savings, NONE of the DIY

If you're looking to walk away from your sale with the most money possible, selling your house by owner may not be the right fit.

Data shows that FSBO homes often sell for less — after all that hard work sellers put in, they end up with less profit, on average, than if they'd paid standard commission rates!

A better option for most sellers is hiring a low commission realtor. Clever pre-negotiates 1% listing fees (or $3,000 under $350,000) with agents at top companies like Coldwell Banker and RE/MAX.

You'll avoid the hassle of a FSBO sale, and walk away from your sale with the most money possible. With Clever, sellers save an average of $9,000 per transaction and get offers 2.8x faster than the national average.

It pays to consider your options! Clever's agent matching service is free, and there's ZERO obligation — you can walk away at any time.

What are the biggest regrets FSBO sellers have?

All of the difficulties involved with selling FSBO inevitably lead to a few regrets. From having to pay surprise agent fees to selling for less than expected, these FSBO statistics show what sellers wish they’d done differently — or what they wish they knew beforehand.

7. Many FSBO sellers still pay commission

The majority of FSBO sellers still have to pay 3% in real estate commission. Successful FSBO sellers save themselves a fee for their listing agent, but most still have to pay the agent who brought in a willing buyer.

In fact, 77% of all sellers (FSBO or not) offer a buyer’s agent commission.[3] Since this commission is how the buyer's agent gets paid, failing to offer one potentially shuts you off to a huge pool of potential buyers.

After all, a buyer’s agent won’t want to show their clients a property if they’re not going to get paid. (And if your home isn't on the MLS, buyers with agents won't find it anyway.)

If you already have a buyer, it may make sense to hire a real estate lawyer to help with the paperwork, rather than using real estate agents. But most FSBO sellers don't know the buyer — meaning they're probably offering a competitive buyer's agent's commission of around 3% to find a buyer.

» MORE: Why Do Sellers Pay Buyer’s Agent Commission? (Learn the Truth)

8. FSBO sellers often reduce their listing price

Even after reducing their price more often than other sellers, FSBO sellers who eventually give up and list with an agent then only receive 98% on that already lower price.[1]

Having a buyer lined up also won’t shield you from having to drop your price. In fact, sellers who already knew a potential buyer had to reduce their listing price more often than sellers who didn’t have a buyer lined up![1]

9. They often pay thousands more in buyer incentives

Many FSBO sellers offer buyer incentives that end up costing them more than what agent-assisted sellers offer.

For example, the most common buyer incentive FSBO sellers offer is assistance with closing which can cost thousands. In contrast, the most popular buyer incentive agent-assisted sellers offer is a home warranty policy… which often costs just hundreds.

The National Association of Realtors found that 18% of agent-assisted sellers offered home warranty policies, but just 5% of FSBO sellers offered them.[1]

Average closing costs are over $6,000 nationally[4], whereas the average home warranty policy costs just $600[5]. By offering to cover closing costs instead of a home warranty, you’re potentially agreeing to spend ten times as much on buyer incentives than an agent-assisted seller typically would!

This is a clear example of where a real estate agent can provide real value. An experienced agent will know that a home warranty policy can tip the scales for a seller, while also costing the seller a small amount compared to the overall sale price of their home.

10. Many FSBO sellers still end up with an agent

Paperwork and the amount of work involved are more than a lot of would-be FSBO sellers can handle. About 10% of all homesellers start off trying to sell on their own, but eventually end up with a real estate agent.

FSBO sellers who give up and get an agent list three main reasons for doing so:[6]

  • Selling with an agent is easier
  • It takes too long to sell without one
  • FSBO paperwork is too complicated

These reasons reflect some of the most common difficulties we discussed above — namely, that selling a house on your own is time-consuming work that is often better left to an experienced professional.

11. You can save thousands on commission and get an experienced realtor

Many FSBO sellers aren’t just missing out on the value and experience that a real estate agent brings to the table — they’re also often unaware that they can work with a full-service, experienced listing agent without paying the full 6% commission.

For example, Clever matches you with top-rated agents who are experts in their locations. But, instead of the full 3% commission most listing agents charge, Clever connects you with agents who will sell your home for a flat fee of just $3,000 (or 1% of the sale price if the final sale price is more than $350,000).

👋 Skip the DIY: Get a better agent AND bigger savings

Why do all the work of selling FSBO only to end up with less money than you would have with an agent? Clever offers you bigger savings without sacrificing the service you expect from a traditional realtor.

With Clever:

✅ You'll only pay $3,000 or 1% to list your home

✅ You'll work with a full-service realtor from a top broker

✅ It's free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time

Saving on realtor fees doesn't have to mean sacrificing service. Find a top local agent today!

FSBO vs. realtor stats: The low-down

Top 5 reasons sellers choose FSBO
Top 5 reasons sellers choose realtors
1. Wanted to avoid paying a realtor commission fee
1. Wanted to sell within specific time frame
2. Sold it to a family member, friend, or neighbor
2. Needed help pricing the home competitively
3. Interested buyer contacted the seller directly
3. Wanted help marketing the home to buyers
4. Did not want to work with an agent
4. Wanted help figuring out repairs to increase listing price
5. Other
5. Wanted help finding a buyer

With all the difficulties and occasional regrets, you may wonder why some people choose to sell without an agent. Here are the most revealing facts about FSBO sellers’ motivations compared to what sellers are looking for when they turn to a realtor.

If you're on the fence between selling on your own, or selling with an agent, these FSBO vs. realtor stats may help you make your decision.

12. 89% of sellers would use the same agent again

It’s worth nothing that bad real estate agents are the exception, not the rule. Which is partly why FSBO sellers represent only a small fraction of overall home sales.

According to the NAR, 89% of sellers who work with an agent say that they’d definitely or probably use the same agent again if they had to buy another property or sell their current one.[3] That’s a pretty high number, and it indicates that the majority of sellers are happy with the experience that they have working with a real estate agent.

This fact suggests many FSBO sellers are putting themselves through what could be a difficult process when they could have a much more positive experience working with an agent.

13. 41% of FSBO sellers want to save money

Saving money on realtor fees was the most popular reason sellers chose FSBO instead of an agent. 41% of FSBO sellers decided not to use an agent because they did not want to pay real estate agent commission.[1]

However, what FSBO sellers save on commission they often lose in terms of a lower sales price and other costs. FSBO homes sell for about 26% less, on average, than those that are sold with the help of an agent.

If you’re looking to save money, you may ultimately be better off going with a low commission agent rather than taking on the big task of selling your own home — and potentially for less.

» MORE: How to Save on Realtor Commission Fees (Without Sacrificing Service)

14. 34% of FSBO sellers already know a buyer

That being said, FSBO sellers often have a buyer lined up when they decide to sell, such as a friend or family member. In fact, 34% of FSBO sellers say they didn’t use a real estate agent because they already had a potential buyer.[2]

If you already have a buyer ready, some of the things that a real estate agent does — like holding open houses and listing the home on the MLS — are unnecessary.

However, a real estate agent can still help draw up the sales contract and ensure that you're pricing the home appropriately.

For relatively simple jobs where a seller already has a buyer, many agents are also willing to work for a reduced rate.

15. FSBO sales have dropped by nearly 50% since 1981

While FSBO might seem like a popular alternative to hiring an agent, FSBO sales only make up 8% of all home sales in the U.S.[1] Most sellers are still turning to agents for their expertise and professional sales skills.

And the share of sellers who are relying on realtors is only growing. FSBO sales made up 15% of all home sales in 1981, but have dropped to almost half that today.

Put simply, selling a house is a complicated process. With new real estate regulations, better ways to save when you sell, and access to a larger pool of buyers, there's a reason that the vast majority of sellers choose to use a real estate agent.

16. 28% of sellers choose an agent to save time and energy

Time limitations are one important reason why some sellers choose to work with an agent. Selling FSBO requires a lot of extra time and energy, so 28% of sellers decided that hiring an agent is a better choice.[1]

While this isn’t the number one reason for choosing an agent, it’s an important consideration if you’re already busy or don’t feel prepared to do all of the legwork yourself.

As we’ve already seen, not having enough time to dedicate to selling a home is one of the top five difficulties that FSBO sellers face. For many, hiring an agent solves this problem instantly.

17. Only 42% of FSBO sellers are in a rush to sell

FSBO sellers tend to be in less of a hurry to sell than sellers who are represented by an agent. Just 42% of FSBO sellers say they either very urgently or somewhat urgently needed to sell, compared to 55% of agent-assisted sellers.[1]

This lack of urgency has its upsides and downsides.

While many FSBO sellers can patiently wait around for a good offer, the facts suggest that — because FSBO homes sell for less than agent-assisted ones — those good offers fail to materialize.

How successful are FSBO sellers vs. real estate agents?

The success rate of selling without a realtor is a mixed bag and largely depends on what your definition of “success” is. These FSBO statistics reveal how successful sellers who ditch the agent are (or aren’t).

18. FSBO homes sell for 26% less

FSBO sales have a median sale price of just $217,900 versus $295,000 for homes listed by an agent.[1] That’s a difference of over $77,000 — or about 26% — that you could potentially lose by trying to sell FSBO.

Given that most sellers choose FSBO in order to save money, $77,000 is much higher than the real estate commission you’d pay on a $295,000 home. In fact, that equals the real estate commission on a home that sells for more than $1.28 million!

With Clever, on a $295,000 home you’d only pay a $3,000 listing fee plus the buyer’s agent commission of 2.5-3%, for a total of $7,675-$9,150. In other words, by going FSBO you’re losing over $77,000 on average compared to the less than $10,000 in fees you’d pay with a company like Clever.

💰 Incredible savings — none of the risk

Selling your home FSBO is challenging. Add in a lower selling price and out-of-pocket expenses, and you'll save WAY less than you planned — but still be stuck with most of the work.

There's a better option. Clever pre-negotiates cheaper listing fees with the top agents in your area. You pay just $3,000 or 1% in listing fees, while getting the support of a full-service agent.

19. Only 11% of FSBO sellers succeed

FSBO sounds like a good idea initially to a lot of sellers, but most eventually realize how hard it is and give up. In fact, 36 percent of sellers try FSBO, but only 11 percent actually succeed.[7]

Those who don’t succeed either take their homes off the market or they enlist the help of a real estate agent. For many, FSBO ends up being a lot of wasted time and energy.

Since most FSBO sales fail, if you’re thinking of selling on your own, why not just skip all the trouble that FSBO entails? Instead, your best option is usually to find a real estate agent who can do the work for you and still get you a sale price that will net you more in profits than you’d likely save on your own.

20. Speed to sell depends on your location

In some cities, FSBO homes are snapped up just as quickly as agented properties, but in many cities they take longer to sell than agent-listed homes.

For example, FSBO homes in Los Angeles and Houston are on the market for an average of 40 days less than agent-listed homes.[8] Not coincidentally, those are also two of the hottest housing markets in the U.S.

In Detroit, on the other hand, FSBO homes take the longest to sell — about 36 days longer than agent-listed homes. Rochester, NY, and Baton Rouge, LA, are just behind — in both cities, FSBO homes take 28 days longer to sell than agent-assisted homes.

Not surprisingly, those are also three cities that have struggled with population loss in the last decade.[9] So, unless you’re in a hot real estate market, there’s a good chance your FSBO home will take longer to sell than an agent-assisted one.

How do FSBO sellers find buyers?

Top marketing methods FSBO sellers use
Top methods buyers use to find homes
❌ None (46%)
💻 Online search (51%)
🏡 Yard sign (25%)
📎 Real estate agent (28%)
🖥 Third-party aggregator, like Zillow (24%)
🏡 Yard sign (7%)
🏘 Friends, family members, and neighbors (22%)
🏘 Friend, family member, or neighbor (5%)
💬 Social media (14%)
💵 Bought directly from seller (3%)

Sellers have more options for marketing a FSBO home today than ever before — including through FSBO websites and social media.

But FSBO statistics show that most sellers aren’t taking advantage of all the marketing tools available to them — and this causes FSBO homes to go unnoticed by many potential buyers!

21. 46% of FSBO sellers don’t market their homes

Nearly half — 46% — of FSBO sellers do nothing to market their homes.[1] That shocking fact suggests many FSBO sellers are far less actively engaged in trying to find a buyer than agent-assisted sellers are.

This is only partly explained by the fact that many FSBO sellers already have a buyer lined up and so don’t need to do any marketing. Only about a third of FSBO sellers already know their buyer, leaving a large group of sellers looking for buyers but doing nothing to find them.

22. 25% rely on yard signs

When FSBO sellers do market their homes, they rely more heavily on traditional and, some would say, ineffective marketing techniques than agent-assisted sellers do.

Among those who market their homes, putting up a yard sign is the most popular marketing method. 25% of FSBO sellers used a yard sign to market their homes.[1]

This was closely followed by third-party aggregators, like Zillow and Redfin, at 24%, and then word-of-mouth, with 22% of FSBO sellers relying on friends, relatives, and neighbors to market their properties.

It makes sense that FSBO sellers — who tend to be more cost-conscious — would prefer more affordable marketing methods. However, there’s one big problem with these methods as our next FSBO fact shows...

23. 51% of buyers find their homes online

While FSBO sellers rely heavily on yard signs and word-of-mouth to market their homes, that’s not how buyers find homes.

51% of buyers say they found the home they eventually bought online, making it the most popular way for buyers to find homes.[3] But, as we saw above, only 25% of FSBO sellers are using online aggregators to market their homes.

Using a real estate agent to find a home came in second, at 28%. That means many FSBO sellers are ignoring the two most popular methods buyers use to find a home.

In comparison, hardly any buyers found homes for sale through a yard sign — just 7% — or through friends, relatives, or neighbors — just 6%.

That suggests most FSBO homes are going completely unnoticed by home buyers. While sellers may be saving a bit of money by investing in cheap marketing strategies, the result is that they’re getting almost no exposure.

24. 85% of FSBO sellers offer no buyer incentives

Another way to find buyers? Incentives. But, 85% of FSBO sellers offer no buyer incentives, compared to 65% of agent-assisted sellers who offer no incentives.[1]

And as we mentioned above, the buyer incentives that FSBO sellers do offer tend to cost them more than the ones that agent-assisted sellers offer.

A lack of buyer incentives is likely to result in fewer offers, especially if you’re selling in a buyer’s market. While buyer incentives aren’t the most important aspect of selling a home, they can tip the scales in your favor if buyers are considering multiple similar properties.

Find your best option

Getting the latest FSBO statistics can make you better informed about which approach you want to take when selling your house. And hopefully they give you a good idea of whether FSBO is right for you.

But they'll never take the place of getting feedback from a realtor who actually knows your area.

If you’re interested in talking with an agent about the best way to sell your home — but you still want to save on real estate commission fees — Clever is worth a try. Our free, no-obligation service matches you with a local, full-service agent for less, so you can save money while still making an informed decision.

👋 Next steps: Talk to an expert

If you're weighing your options for buying or selling a house, Clever can help!

Our fully-licensed concierge team is standing by to answer questions and provide free, objective advice on getting the best outcome with your sale or purchase.

Ready to get started?

Give us a call at 1-833-2-CLEVER or enter your info below. Our concierge team will be in touch shortly to help.

Remember, this service is 100% free and there’s never any obligation.

Related links

FAQs

Does selling FSBO really work?

It can, but most who try it eventually give up. Only 8% of homeowners actually sell FSBO successfully. This is likely because FSBO homes sell for about 26% less on average than agent-assisted homes, while also requiring the homeowner to do most of the work — like showings, stagings, and paperwork — themselves.

Is it hard to sell FSBO?

Selling FSBO comes with a lot of challenges. You’ll have to prepare the house for sale, take care of a lot of the paperwork, price it properly, market it, and negotiate with interested buyers. All this work is why one of the biggest challenges FSBO sellers face is simply trying to find the time to do everything. Learn about everything you'll need to know if you sell your house for sale by owner.

ARTICLE SOURCES
[1]

National Association of Realtors. "2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers." Page(s) 137-148.

[3]

National Association of Realtors. "2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers." Page(s) 127-135.

[4]

Bankrate. "Average Closing Costs by State." Updated May 3, 2021.

[5]

Consumer Affairs. "Home warranty costs: Are home warranties worth it?." Updated July 15, 2021.

[8]

Trulia. "What to know about FSBO." Updated Sept. 7, 2017.

[9]

United States Census Bureau. "City and Town Population Totals: 2010-2020." Updated Aug. 9, 2021.

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