Selling a home independently through for sale by owner (FSBO) is a route some homeowners consider to avoid realtor commission fees, aiming to maximize their profits. However, the statistics tell a compelling story that merits attention.
Key FSBO vs. realtor statistics
- Lower sales prices. FSBO homes, on average, sell for about $100,000 less compared to those sold with a realtor's help. This significant difference highlights the potential cost of bypassing professional assistance.
- A shrinking FSBO market. The FSBO market share hit an all-time low of 7% in 2023, suggesting a declining preference or success rate for this selling method.
- Buyer familiarity matters. FSBO does have its place, particularly when sellers already have a buyer in mind. In fact, around half of all FSBO sellers had a buyer lined up in 2023.
Despite some cases where FSBO makes sense, the overall evidence suggests that working with a real estate agent more often leads to higher sale prices, quicker sales, and smoother transactions.
The takeaway is clear: While FSBO might seem appealing as a way to save on commission fees, it's crucial to weigh the evidence and consider all options. Real estate agents not only help achieve better financial outcomes but their expertise could essentially cover the cost of their services through a higher sale price.
Also, the rise of low commission realtors offers a middle ground, potentially saving sellers money while still providing professional support.
What are the biggest regrets FSBO sellers have?
|75% of FSBO sellers still pay commissions to the buyer's agent.
|Lower sales price
|FSBO homes often sell for $100,000 less, leading sellers to accept lower offers.
|FSBO sellers tend to offer more costly incentives to buyers, such as repair credits.
|Switching to agents
|About 10% of FSBO sellers eventually hire an agent.
|FSBO sellers might not know they can use services like Clever to hire experienced agents for a 1.5% fee.
The most significant regrets FSBO sellers encounter stem from the challenges and oversights during the selling process. Key statistics shed light on the primary issues faced by those who choose to sell their homes independently, revealing common pitfalls and disadvantages:
1. Most FSBO sellers still pay commission
One of the key advantages for FSBO sellers is avoiding the listing agent's commission. However, the reality is that most still end up paying a commission to the buyer's agent.
In 2023, 75% of all sellers, regardless of whether they sold FSBO or used an agent, reported compensating the buyer's agent.
Despite this, many sellers are uncomfortable with the idea of paying real estate commissions, with a Clever study revealing that around 55% of sellers believe they shouldn't have to bear this expense.
Do sellers really need to pay the buyer's agent?
Choosing not to offer a commission to the buyer's agent can significantly limit an FSBO seller's market reach. Buyer's agents are compensated through these commissions, and by not offering one, FSBO sellers may inadvertently exclude a vast pool of potential buyers represented by these agents.
Most sellers factor realtor commissions into the home’s asking price, so buyers may balk at a seller who asks them to pay an additional 2.5-3% in commission upfront — especially because buyers already pay the down payment and closing costs out of pocket.
For sellers who have already identified a buyer, enlisting a real estate lawyer for the transaction might be more cost-effective than engaging agents. However, it's noteworthy that half of the FSBO sellers do not have a buyer at the outset, indicating that many are likely offering competitive commissions (around 2.5-3%) to attract buyers through agents.
2. FSBO sellers are far less likely to get more than their asking price
Homes sold by owner are also far less likely to sell for more than their asking price. The typical FSBO home sells for close to $100,000 less than a sale through a realtor.
Another study by Clever found that homes sold with a realtor earned their owners an average profit of $189,127 — or $46,603 more than homes sold without an agent ($142,524).
Finally, sellers who use a realtor often sell homes for the full asking price (or higher), contrasting with FSBO sellers who frequently have to lower their initial asking price.
3. 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.
Twenty percent of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers, with the most popular incentives being home warranty policies, assistance with closing costs, and credit toward remodeling or repairs.
However, FSBO sellers who don't know the buyer are twice as likely as agent-represented sellers to offer credits toward repairs and remodeling, which can be up to 6% of a home's sale price. In contrast, the most popular buyer incentive agent-assisted sellers offer is a home warranty policy, which often costs just hundreds.
While 9% of agent-assisted sellers offer home warranty policies instead of repair credits, less than 1% of FSBO sellers do.
By offering to cover repair costs instead of a home warranty, you’re potentially agreeing to spend thousands more on buyer incentives than an agent-assisted seller typically would!
4. Many FSBO sellers still end up with a real estate agent
Sometimes FSBO sellers struggle to handle the paperwork and amount of work involved in selling on their own. About 10% of all home sellers try to sell on their own but eventually hire a real estate agent.
FSBO sellers who give up and get an agent list a few reasons for doing so:
- Selling with an agent is easier and less stressful. More than half of sellers find the process of selling stressful, while 47% of recent sellers say they cried at some point in the home-selling process. Meanwhile, over half of all FSBO sellers felt overwhelmed with the process due to not having an agent's help.
- FSBO paperwork is too complicated. More than one-third (36%) of sellers acknowledge making legal mistakes due to the absence of an agent.
Also, FSBO sellers who switch to an agent often have the worst outcomes with home sale price and incentives. This is possibly because their listing has been on the market too long and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to sell their home.
FSBO sellers who eventually list with an agent get an average of 96% of their asking price, compared to 100% for all other sellers.
5. You can save thousands on commission and get an experienced realtor
Many FSBO sellers overlook not only the expertise and value a real estate agent brings but also the possibility of engaging a full-service, experienced agent without the burden of the standard 6% commission fee.
Platforms like Clever offer an alternative by pairing sellers with top-rated, location-savvy agents at a fraction of the cost. Unlike the conventional listing agent commission, which can vary, Clever proposes a more economical model where agents list your home for a mere 1.5% of the sale price – compared to the average listing agent commission of 2.83%.
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.
✅ You'll only pay 1.5% 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!
Who do sellers choose FSBO vs. a realtor?
|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. Wanted help finding a buyer
With all the difficulties of selling FSBO, 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.
6. 85% of sellers would use the same agent again
The notion that poor experiences with real estate agents are widespread is a misconception. In fact, the overwhelming majority of sellers report positive dealings with their agents, a fact that contributes to the relatively small percentage of FSBO sales in the overall market.
According to NAR, 63% of recent home sellers chose their agent based on referrals or because they were returning to an agent they had previously worked with. This figure rises to 76% among Older Millennial sellers, indicating a high level of satisfaction and trust in their agents' abilities.
Sellers also reported positive experiences with their agent, as 85% percent said that they would definitely (73%) or probably (12%) recommend their agent for future services.
This fact suggests many FSBO sellers are putting themselves through what could be a difficult selling process when they could have a much more positive experience working with an agent.
7. 28% of FSBO sellers want to save money
Contrary to popular belief, the primary motivation for sellers choosing FSBO is not always to save on realtor commissions. A study by Clever highlights that 31% of FSBO sellers are driven by the desire for a quicker sale or an immediate need for cash, slightly outweighing the 28% who aim to save on commission.
Clever's research indicates that for sellers in a rush to close a deal — specifically those wanting to sell their home within a week — opting out of a realtor's services seems to offer a slight edge. About 20% of these urgent sales are successfully completed within a week without a realtor, compared to 16% of homes sold with the assistance of a real estate agent.
However, the apparent financial benefits of avoiding commission fees are often offset by lower sale prices and additional costs incurred during the FSBO process. Various studies consistently show that homes sold without an agent fetch lower prices on average than those sold through a seller's 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.
8. FSBO sales are fading - down more than 60% from 1985
While FSBO might seem like a popular alternative to hiring an agent, FSBO sales only make up 7% of all home sales in the US, down sharply from 21% of all home sales in 1985.
Most sellers are still turning to agents for their expertise and professional sales skills.
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.
9. 83% of sellers choose an agent who provides a broad range of services
Selling FSBO requires a lot of extra time and energy. Time limitations and assistance with the complex process of selling are two important reasons some sellers choose to work with an agent, with 83% of sellers selecting an agent who provides a broad range of services.
Sellers were particularly looking for help with:
- Pricing their home competitively (23%)
- Marketing to prospective buyers (23%)
- Selling their home within a set time frame (13%)
- Help finding a buyer for the home (13%)
While saving time and energy may not be 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.
10. Only 49% of FSBO sellers who don't know the buyer 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 49% of FSBO sellers who don't know the buyer say they either very urgently or somewhat urgently needed to sell, compared to 50% of agent-assisted sellers.
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).
11. FSBO homes sell for 30% less
FSBO sales have a median sale price of just $310,000 versus $405,000 for homes listed by an agent. That’s a difference of $95,000 — or about 30% — that you could potentially lose by trying to sell FSBO.
The lower sale price may be because FSBO homes are more likely to be mobile homes or in rural areas. But other studies suggest that FSBO homes sell for 6% less even when compared to similar homes.
Most sellers choose FSBO instead of a realtor in order to save money on realtor commissions. But if your house could sell for 6% less, then you might not actually save money by avoiding a listing agent fee — which averages 2.83%, based on Clever's rate survey of more than 600 realtors nationwide, but can be less with a discount brokerage. Find discount brokers near you to see how much you can save on commissions.
Listing agents often more than pay for themselves. At a minimum, you'll probably net a little more money by hiring a realtor. And you'll also avoid a ton of work trying to price and market your home, negotiate, and figure out paperwork.
12. Only 11% of FSBO sellers succeed
FSBO initially sounds like a good idea to a lot of sellers, but most eventually realize how hard it is and give up. In fact, 36% of sellers try FSBO, but only 11% actually succeed.
Those who don’t succeed either take their homes off the market or 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.
13. 7 in 10 sellers think realtors are worth their commission
About 72% say a good realtor is worth every penny of their commission. Most sellers (71%) who used an agent spent 5% or more on commission, with a national average of 5.49%.
However, the national average also factors in discount brokers, who tend to charge 1.5-2% on listing agent fees, for a total estimated commission cost of 4-4.5%.
How do FSBO sellers find buyers?
|Top marketing methods FSBO sellers use
|Top methods buyers use to find homes
|Real estate agent (68%)
|Friends, family members, and neighbors (28%)
|Online search (60%)
|Yard sign (20%)
|Online video site (25%)
|Third-party aggregator, like Zillow (19%)
|Yard sign (14%)
|Social media (17%)
|Open house (10%)
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.
14. Over half of FSBO sellers already know a buyer
FSBO sellers often skip an agent's help because they already have a buyer, such as a friend or family member. In fact, just over half of FSBO sellers report knowing their home's buyer.
If a seller already has a buyer, some realtor services are unnecessary. This includes services like holding open houses and listing the home on the MLS.
However, FSBO sellers still tend to struggle with paperwork that's involved when selling, as well as negotiating with their potential buyer.
For relatively simple jobs where a seller already has a buyer, many agents are willing to work for a reduced rate. A real estate agent can still draw up the sales contract and ensure you price the home appropriately.
15. Only 3% of FSBO sellers list on the MLS
About 86% of homes for sale are listed on a multiple listing service (MLS). But only 3% of FSBO sellers market their homes with an MLS listing, even though most buyers find their homes through the MLS.
Major sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com pull their listings from the MLS, and buyer's agents rely on the MLS to find showings for their clients.
If FSBO sellers don't list on the MLS, they miss out on a lot of exposure. Buyer's agents may not know the home is even on the market and may never show it to their clients.
For FSBO sellers who want more exposure, there's a workaround. A flat fee MLS service will list your home for a few hundred dollars. This type of service is legally a brokerage, which is why they can list on the MLS. But they don’t do any other work an agent does, like stage the home, host showings, or negotiate.
16. 28% rely on friends, relatives, and neighbors
When marketing their homes, a notable 28% of FSBO sellers turn to word of mouth, utilizing friends, relatives, and neighbors as their primary strategy. This approach is the most common among FSBO sellers, slightly ahead of yard signs, which account for 20%, and online platforms like Zillow and Redfin, at 19%.
On the flip side, data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates that the majority of home buyers discover their future homes through the internet (51%) or via real estate agents (21%).
This data suggests that while FSBO sellers, often aiming to save on costs, might favor less expensive marketing tactics, these methods may not be as effective. This is because a large portion of buyers do not typically find their homes through these traditional or less contemporary means.
17. 3 in 10 FSBO sellers report home pricing issues
Approximately 30% sellers who opt for the FSBO route encounter difficulties in setting the right price for their homes. This challenge stems from the complexity of accurately pricing a home without the expertise of a realtor.
FSBO sellers often lean heavily on online home value estimators, like Zillow's Zestimate, to guide their pricing decisions. In contrast, realtors utilize comparative market analysis (CMA) reports. These reports benchmark the sale prices of similar homes in the area, using data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) — the most reliable source for home sale information.
Realtors' advantage also lies in their extensive experience and knowledge in valuing homes, including the ability to assess the worth of unique features or upgrades accurately.
18. 19% of buyers don't know how to find FSBO homes
In our survey of 1,000 home buyers, 70% said they'd consider buying a FSBO home. But 19% said they had no idea where to find these listings.
That makes sense considering that most buyers are looking for listings on the major MLS-fueled sites. And unless the seller springs for a flat fee MLS package, buyers won't find FSBO listings on them.
Top real estate websites by monthly page views
19. 81% of FSBO sellers offer no buyer incentives
Another way to find buyers? Incentives. But, 81% of FSBO sellers offer no buyer incentives, compared to 79% of agent-assisted sellers who offer no incentives.
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.
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.
20. Pricing the home is the hardest part for 16% of sellers
Pricing a home correctly is a significant challenge for FSBO sellers, with 16% acknowledging it as the most difficult task. This figure rises to 22% among sellers who already know their buyer, indicating the universal challenge of pricing irrespective of seller-buyer familiarity.
A striking insight from a more recent Clever survey reveals that over half of the sellers (53%) said they had to reduce their asking price, and an equal number regretted their initial pricing strategy.
Despite the complexity of pricing, 70% of sellers seek professional evaluations to ascertain their home's value, a step most FSBO sellers bypass. Instead, they often set their price based on the selling prices of nearby homes, neglecting the unique attributes of their own home, such as upgrades or necessary repairs, which could significantly influence the final sale price.
🔍 Why the right list price is so important
The importance of accurate pricing cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the seller's ability to maximize returns without deterring potential buyers with an inflated price. Also, the emotional connection of sellers to their homes can cloud objectivity, further complicating the pricing process.
This pricing dilemma contributes to FSBO homes selling for an average of 30% less than those sold with the assistance of a real estate agent. For a home valued at $400,000, this discrepancy can equate to a loss of $120,000—far exceeding the cost of realtor fees.
The most effective strategy to navigate these challenges is to get a CMA from an experienced realtor. This approach ensures a more accurate listing price, potentially safeguarding sellers from the pitfalls of underpricing or overpricing their homes.
21. Preparing and understanding paperwork is the toughest job for 13% of FSBO sellers
Understanding and preparing paperwork is the second hardest task for all FSBO sellers, with 13% ranking it as the toughest part.
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.
22. 10% of sellers struggle to sell on time
For 10% of FSBO sellers, selling their home within their desired time range is the hardest part of the process.
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. 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.
23. Prepping the home is the toughest job for 6% of FSBO sellers
For 6% of FSBO sellers, the hardest part is getting the home ready for sale.
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.
24. 1% 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.
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.
25. FSBO sellers are more likely to be satisfied with the process when they already know the buyer
Among FSBO sellers, 80% are likely to be satisfied with the process when they already know the buyer, compared to 69% of FSBO sellers who don't know the buyer.
Moreover, 13% of FSBO sellers without a buyer are dissatisfied with the process, compared to 9% of sellers overall and just 3% of FSBO sellers who already have a buyer in mind.
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 wondering how to find a real estate agent who can help you save on realtor fees, Clever can help.
Clever's 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.
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Does selling FSBO really work?
It can, but most who try it eventually give up. Only 10% of homeowners actually sell FSBO successfully. This is likely because FSBO homes sell for about 35% 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.