How to Sell a House By Owner in California (2023 Update)

Jaime Dunaway-Seale

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Jaime Dunaway-Seale

January 19th, 2023
Updated January 19th, 2023

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Why trust us: To create this guide, we surveyed and interviewed California real estate agents, studied California real estate law, and researched more than 20 FBSO companies and alternatives. Learn more about why you can trust our advice.

Selling your house without a realtor in California (also known as for sale by owner or FSBO) is typically a way to save money. As a seller, hiring a listing agent in California will cost you an average of 2.5% of your home’s sale price. On the average California home price of $769,400, that’s over $19,000 you could pocket by selling without a realtor.

But listing your home for sale by owner isn’t always easy – and it comes with risks. There’s a reason only 10% of home sales are made without a realtor. Selling FSBO is a lot of work, from setting the right price and handling showings to negotiating with buyers and getting paperwork in order. And, for all of that work, FSBO homes sell for an average of 35% less – often outweighing the money you save by doing it all on your own.

That’s why it’s generally only recommended for experienced and savvy sellers who know how to make it work in their favor.

This guide will help you decide if selling without a realtor is right for you, and how to do it if it seems like the right fit.

Who should sell a house by owner?

Selling without a realtor isn’t recommended for everyone, and it comes with its own set of pros and cons. FSBO sellers must do the work of a trained real estate professional, so it requires ample time and a high level of expertise.

Selling by owner in California might make sense for you if:

  • You’ve sold more than one property with or without a realtor. You understand the selling process in-depth. (Even better if you were a licensed real estate agent at one point.)

  • You have a real estate expert in your corner. Even if you’re not an expert in selling, you might be able to gather enough help and guidance from your realtor friend to make it work.

  • You have some free time on your hands. If you work multiple jobs or have a big family to take care of, you might struggle to find the time it takes to market and close on your home.

  • You know the person you intend to sell to. If you already have a friend or family member lined up to buy your house, you can forgo any marketing required to sell it.

  • You want more control over your home sale. You’d prefer to be hands-on when it comes to how you market your home, how you price your home, and how you negotiate – rather than entrusting a real estate agent to do it.

If you don’t meet at least a few of these criteria, selling without a realtor in California may not be right for you.

If saving money on realtor commission is what you’re after, it’s worth looking into real estate agents who’ll work at a lower-than-typical commission. Clever Real Estate matches sellers in California with experienced, local agents who offer traditional service for just 1.5%. You can save money and the headache of doing it all on your own.

In addition to looking into FSBO, reach out to Clever to connect with multiple agents in your area. You can interview agents and get a free home valuation so you’ll know you’ve explored all of your options.

Connect with top, local agents in California!

How to sell a house by owner in California

As a FSBO seller, you need to know and understand all your responsibilities, which include preparing your home for sale, pricing your home accurately, finding buyers, negotiating, and filing the necessary paperwork required by state law.

Real estate laws vary across the country. For example, some states don't allow sellers to put a FSBO sign in their yard if they list on the multiple listing service (MLS) using a flat fee company. And note that there may be some small differences depending on exactly where you are, such as San Francisco vs. Los Angeles.

Here's an overview of what laws you need to know in California.

California FSBO facts
Real estate attorney required?
No
FSBO yard sign allowed?
Yes
  • California Transfer Disclosure Statement
  • Megan's Law Disclosure
  • Natural Hazard Disclosure Report/Statement
  • Statewide Buyer & Seller Advisory

Although selling your home without a listing agent may seem like a great way to save on realtor fees, it’s trickier than many people expect. If it becomes overwhelming, you can hire a listing agent at any time.

Working with a low-commission real estate company may be a better option for those who don’t have time to sell FSBO. You'll avoid the hassle of a FSBO sale and walk away with the most money possible. Clever saves sellers thousands, and they get offers 2.8x faster than the national average.

👋 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 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!

Step 1: Prepare your home for sale

Commit to some small upgrades and repairs for your California house. The key is knowing how to spend your money to get higher offers. Simple DIY projects like a fresh coat of paint or new cabinet pulls have a high return on investment, whereas pricier improvements like adding a new bedroom may not.

Home repairs with the highest resale value in California:

Top upgrades
Average repair cost
Average resale value
Cost recouped
Garage Door Replacement
$4,190
$3,986
95.1%
A new garage door adds functionality and beauty to your home while enhancing curb appeal.
Manufactured Stone Veneer
$11,867
$11,000
92.7%
Artificial stone looks like expensive material but is cheaper, durable, and made to last. It's also lighter, placing less stress on your foundation.
Minor Kitchen Remodel | Midrange
$31,413
$24,464
77.9%
Most buyers want a move-in ready home, including a modern kitchen with quartz or granite countertops.
A resale value of more than 100% indicates a profitable repair. Based on regional data from Remodeling

» LEARN: Best Paint Colors to Sell a House

Photograph and stage your home

You'll need professional photos for your listing, and you'll want to showcase a clean and furnished home for potential buyers to see. Often, a listing agent will organize staging and photography before listing your house on the multiple listing service.

In California, local buyers will want to see:

  • A backyard staged with patio furniture for outdoor entertaining
  • Flex spaces staged as a home office, gym, or playroom
  • Lots of space, so consider moving extra furniture to storage
  • Lots of light, so open or remove curtains that might darken a room
  • Plants that give your home a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere

Bonus tip: Hire a professional stager who knows your local market and can ensure your home is ready to impress, giving you one less thing to worry about. Staging a home in California costs $3,455 on average. This will get you 60–90 days of a fully designed living room, kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, and bathrooms. Prices vary from city to city, so be sure to give local companies a call for specific estimates.

» LEARN: How to Stage a House to Sell

Step 2: Set a price

Pricing strategy can make or break a FSBO sale. List your home for too little, and you leave money on the table. Price it too high, and the listing goes stale, forcing a price drop that could make buyers wary of the home.

🙋🏻‍♀️ Ask a realtor: "Homes definitely need to be priced right depending on the season," said Shane Cabrera, a real estate agent of 13 years in Santa Clarita. "For example, the spike of buyers submitting offers will be a lot greater at the end of January than it will be a month earlier around Christmas. You can’t list a property and then just hope and pray it will sell. You’ve got to know what you’re doing."

To get an accurate idea of what your house in California is worth, look at comparable listings online in your area. For example, if you think your house is worth about $300,000, search Zillow, Redfin, or other listing sites for properties that are about $50,000 more or less than that target. Analyze details about the homes and how they compare to yours.

A pre-listing appraisal can give you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home. In California, appraisals average $300 to $400 but help you walk away with thousands more once your home is sold.

Bonus tip: Ask an agent to perform a comparative market analysis (CMA) examining comparable properties that have sold recently in your neighborhood. Many realtors will do this for free in the hopes of gaining your business if you decide to forego FSBO.

» LEARN: What is a Comparative Market Analysis?

State of the California real estate market

Determining the right price for your home depends on conditions in your local market. California home prices reached their all-time peak in spring of 2022, but have been on a downward trend ever since. Home values are still up 17% over this time last year, but homes are staying on the market longer, and price drops are becoming more common.

Median home value*
$769,405
Median listing price+
$715,000
Listing price per square foot+
$428
Percent of homes with price reduction+
31.6%
*Based on data from Zillow (August 2022)
⁺Based on data from Realtor.com (August 2022)

Market forecasts indicate that the total of California home sales will decline by 7.2% in 2023. If you’re looking to buy a new home after you sell, this is great news, as you’ll face less competition with other buyers. But as a seller, don’t expect to sell as fast or for as much as you might have in 2022.

In a weakening California real estate market, it might feel like saving money on realtor fees is the way to go. But in a rapidly changing market, it pays to have the local expertise of a real estate agent. Otherwise, you may risk pricing your home too high or too low.

Sell a Home with Clever and Save Thousands!

Enter your ZIP code to see if Clever has a partner agent in your area.

Step 3: List your California home

Once you've decided on a price, it's time to write a listing description that speaks to California buyers. Selling real estate is about knowing what makes your property special. Understanding their priorities will help you identify what property features to highlight in your listing. Here are some of the top buyer priorities in California according to real estate professionals.

California buyer priorities
Advice for FSBO sellers
Backyard amenities
With mild winters and year-round warm temperatures, Californians spend a lot of time outside. They value shaded patios and pools to cool off in the summer, as well as outdoor kitchens and dining sets. A storage shed for tools and boats is a bonus.
Sprinkler system
As California’s wildfires have become more destructive, many homeowners are installing interior and exterior sprinkler systems to protect their homes.
Car-charging station
With or without Tesla, California has more electric cars than any other state. If your house in California already has an at-home charging station, include that in your listing. If not, let potential buyers know if your electrical box is capable of supporting one.
Energy efficiency
California summers are sweltering, especially in southern parts of the state. As temperatures rise, so does energy use. If you've sprayed additional insulation in your home or installed energy-efficient windows or appliances, mention that in your listing. Consider including a recent utility bill.
A spectacular view
Buyers are willing to pay more for a view of California's natural beauty, whether it's a beach, a lake, or a mountain. Promote the view on your listing and highlight nearby recreational activities.
Open floor plan
California homeowners love open floor plans because they allow more light, make a home feel bigger, and facilitate a seamless flow from room to room.
Garage
In some cities where parking is expensive or hard to find, many buyers will want a free place to park their car.

Where to list your home

The best place to market your home is on the MLS. MLS listings populate onto real estate websites like Zillow, increasing your home's online presence. That's important because 51% of buyers found the homes they purchased via the internet.

However, agents are the only ones who can list on the MLS. You can work with an agent and still maintain control of your sale by using a flat fee MLS company that charges a one-time payment to list your home on the MLS. Otherwise, you need to use other real estate websites, some of which may include a small listing fee.

A flat fee MLS service usually costs a few hundred dollars and includes a property description, up to 25 photos, and a listing lasting no more than 12 months. Additional services, such as a virtual tour, downloadable contracts, and free changes to your listing, are often bundled into more expensive packages — but they're still typically cheaper than paying a listing agent's 3% commission fee. Find the best flat fee MLS companies in California to get MLS access and save money.

As a FSBO seller, you also have several free or low-cost options.

  • For sale by owner websites in California: There are several well-established and recognized for sale by owner sitesthat cater specifically to people wanting to buy or sell FSBO homes.
  • Social media: Post your home listing to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor. Sharing is free, and you can reach a lot of people where they’re already spending time. This is an ideal option if you want to sell your house in California and also save money.
  • For sale by owner yard sign: You can buy a FSBO sign from most hardware stores or online for $20–50. Choose one that allows you to add your phone number so interested buyers can contact you for property information and showings.
  • Craigslist: Posting your home on Craigslist is free and simple. Just go to the California page, find your city, and create a FSBO listing.

» MORE INFO: Learn How to Sell a House on Craigslist

Step 4: Show your home

It’s time for open houses and scheduled showings. Organization is key when trying to sell FSBO. When showing your home to potential buyers, you'll need a good scheduling system and a spreadsheet to save buyers' and buyer's agents’ contact information. You'll want to be flexible and try to show your house at buyers’ convenience.

Keep the home clean and decluttered at all times. The last thing you want is to scramble with a vacuum after a potential buyer calls for a last-minute showing. A house in California could move fast (particularly if the market is hot), but there are a lot of things that can potentially kill a buyer's interest.

🙋🏾Ask a realtor: "If you want to sell for top dollar on that first weekend, you need to have that home-look shine," Cabrera said. "You need to have great marketing."

Step 5: Negotiate for the best possible price

Negotiations are about more than the final sale price. You and the buyer (or the buyer's agent) will also have to agree upon contract contingencies, how closing costs are divided, the timeline, and more. Usually, you'd have an agent and a real estate broker on your side. When you sell FSBO, it's all you.

To gain the upper hand, get creative with the seller concessions you offer. While they might cost you a little more at closing, concessions sweeten the deal for buyers and could lead to a higher final sale price. Concessions can include things like escrow fees, transfer tax, buyer's agents commission, or just repair credits.

Knowing what's important to buyers in your area will help you strengthen your offer. A Clever survey of local real estate professionals found that in California, sellers often cover 0.90% to 1.50% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median market value, that will cost an additional $6,925 to $11,541.

Most common seller concessions in California:

Concession
Benefits
Home warranty
If your home has major appliances or systems that are on their last leg, a home warranty can give buyers peace of mind. A warranty will cover possible problems and is typically less expensive than paying for the repairs (or accepting a lower offer from a wary buyer).
Repair credits
Repair credits are a win-win for buyers and sellers. You'll credit the buyer a set amount to cover the cost of repairs. Once the deal closes, buyers can oversee the project to their liking, and you don't have to worry about repairs going over budget.
Property taxes
You often have to share past tax information about a property before closing. Many first-time home buyers are shocked by how much property taxes actually cost. By covering some of those costs, you can offer these buyers some financial relief.

Who draws up the contract in a for-sale-by-owner transaction in California?

In a traditional home sale, the seller's agent draws up the contract (also called a purchase and sale agreement). If you forego an agent, you'll have to create the contract yourself or hire a California real estate attorney to help. The prospective buyer does not create the contract. When transferring a house in California, it's advisable to have an attorney look over all the details to protect all parties involved.

Writing a contract yourself can be difficult. You'll need to purchase a contract template online and fill it out with a comprehensive description of the terms, including the purchase price, down payment, closing date, payment plan, disclosures, and contingencies.

Mistakes, ambiguities, or the absence of key information may lead to legal disputes or cause you to lose money from the sale.

If you don't feel comfortable writing the contract yourself, you can hire a lawyer. California law doesn't require FSBO sellers to use an attorney, but they can help ensure your contract is free of loopholes, secures the best terms for you, and protects you against a breach of contract. Otherwise, there could be major issues with your purchase agreement that could haunt you later.

🤔 How much are real estate attorney fees in California?

Real estate attorneys usually work for an upfront flat fee or an hourly rate. In California, the average hourly rate is $247, but the cost will vary depending on your location. On the high end of the spectrum, attorney fees cost $395 in San Jose, compared to $238 in San Diego. Give local companies a call for specific estimates.

The buyer's agent can also take care of the paperwork for the seller as a dual agent. Dual agency is legal in California, but agents are required to get written consent as soon as possible. This will cost less than getting your own real estate agent, but can introduce other problems.

» LEARN: Everything You Need to Know About Dual Agency

Step 6: Close

Closing is the final step. Even if you’re trying to sell FSBO, you still need to use a title company or an escrow agent to facilitate a smooth closing.

In Northern California, you'll likely just need a title company. Title companies in this area also perform escrow procedures and charge one fee for both services. Sellers may split the cost evenly with the buyer or agree to pay a certain percentage.

In Southern California, it's customary to use separate escrow and title companies, each charging different fees. Sellers usually pay for title insurance and the county transfer tax and split the escrow fee with the buyer.

What a title company does

The title company's primary job is to research a title to verify that the seller has the legal right to sell the property without any challenges. It also provides title insurance that protects buyers and lenders of any claims against the property that weren't revealed during the search.

👉 Property title searches in California

A title company researches legal documents to identify anything that might prevent the seller from transferring ownership, such as unpaid property taxes, liens against the property, or clerical errors related to the title. To search for a property title yourself, visit the county clerk's office where the property is located or search the address on its website. Most of the information is free to the public, but you may have to pay a small fee for copies.

What an escrow company does

The escrow company holds and manages documents and funds required for the transaction. It ensures sellers have the right documents, gathers signatures, collects and distributes closing costs, and files documents with relevant agencies.

🤔 How long is the escrow process in California?

The length of escrow is agreed upon by the buyer and seller. It usually takes between 30–60 days. It can be delayed if the buyer has trouble getting financing, documents aren't signed on time, or there are disputes.

» READ: How Much are Closing Costs for Sellers in California?

Paperwork to sell a house by owner in California

In a typical transaction, your agent will make sure you fill out all the necessary documents and forms. When you sell FSBO, you'll have to navigate the paperwork by yourself. Here’s a quick breakdown of California’s requirements.

Want to save this list for later? Download our FSBO paperwork checklist to help you prepare for your sale.

Required for all California real estate sales

Two forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of California-issued ID.
Copy of purchase agreement and addendums
Copy of the original, signed sales agreement, as well as any agreed upon changes.
Closing statement
A detailed list of all the costs associated with the sale and who pays them. This is often prepared by your escrow agent or title company.
Signed deed
To legally transfer your property, you'll need the deed that proves you're the rightful owner. At closing, you'll sign the deed over to the buyer.
Bill of sale
This is basically a receipt that includes both your information and the buyer's. It will also list the final price of the home and what was included in the sale.
Affidavit of title
A notarized document that states you own the home, that there are no liens on the property, and that you are not simultaneously selling the home to someone else.

You should also get a preliminary title report before this.

Additional documents

Loan payoff information
If you have a mortgage on your home, you'll need documentation of exactly how much you still owe and any payoff fees. If you've already paid your mortgage in full, you'll need documentation proving that.
HOA forms and guidelines
If your home is part of an HOA, you'll need to give the buyer documentation on the covenants, codes, restrictions, financial history, required fees, and approval process.
Survey results or survey affidavits
A survey or an affidavit verifying a previous survey proves exactly where the property lines are.
Home inspection results
If you had a pre-sale inspection, you'll want the results to compare to the buyer's inspection. If having a buyer's inspection was part of the sales agreement, you should receive a copy of the results before closing.
Proof of repairs or renovations
Documentation proving any major repairs or changes to the house help verify its value. These receipts also provide buyers with information about who to contact if they discover issues with the repairs in the future.
Home warranty information
The home warranty service agreement will explain what is covered, for how long, and costs associated with the policy.
Copies of relevant wills, trusts or power of attorney letters
If you are selling an inherited property, you'll need copies of all legal documents that passed ownership to you.
Relevant affidavits (name affidavits, non-foreign affidavit under IRC 1445)
You may need additional affidavits like a name affidavit, which lists all of your or the buyer's previous names, or an affidavit proving you are not a foreign citizen and, therefore, exempt from certain property sales taxes.
Closing disclosure
If your buyer is taking out a mortgage and you agreed to certain seller's concessions, you may need a copy of their closing disclosure to verify the lender approved your concessions.
Correction statement and agreement
If forms are lost or errors are discovered in the future, a correction statement and agreement requires you, the buyer, or their lender to replace or fix those documents.

California disclosure forms

Details any known problems with your home and its major appliances and systems.
You and the buyer will need to sign a form that explains it's the buyer's responsibility to research local sex offender databases to see if any live in the area. The document also explains how buyers can access the database.
Discloses if the property is near a mapped area where natural hazards — such as earthquakes, flooding, or wildfires — occur.

You need to provide a natural hazard disclosure statement if you are aware of any potential hazards. Sellers typically enlist a real estate agent or natural hazard disclosure company to help with or complete this report.

Explains the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved with the sale, including you, the buyer, and any agents.

» LEARN: Disclosure Requirements for Selling California Real Estate

Where to find documents

The California Association of Realtors provides most of the forms used in a typical real estate transaction, but they can only be downloaded by the association's members. However, they may be written in other legal formats if you choose to hire an attorney to help with the paperwork.

You can also find free downloadable forms online through LawDepot or eForms. Some services, such as US Legal, combine the most popular state-specific real estate forms into a package that FSBO sellers can purchase for a small monthly subscription.

When you're looking for other documents, such as tax records, property surveys, and deeds, check state or local government offices, such as your tax assessor’s office or department of revenue.

Just remember, many closing documents are legally binding agreements. Errors can result in an unenforceable contract that could derail your sale and cost you thousands in fees. To avoid an expensive mistake, consider working with a low-commission realtor.

💰 Incredible savings, none of the DIY

Selling your home is time-consuming, and fraught with potential legal issues.

There's a better option. Clever pre-negotiates lower listing fees with top agents in your area. You still save on commission, while getting the support of a full-service agent.

  • Clever partner agents offer full-service support for half the typical cost: a pre-negotiated 1.5% listing fee
  • Clever sellers save an average of $7,000 on commission AND they get offers 2.8x faster than the national average

Ready to find real estate agents who can help you save thousands on your sale? Enter your zip code below to get started!

FSBO alternatives

If saving money is your main reason for selling FSBO, there are alternatives.

Clever Real Estate

Clever is a nationwide real estate service that connects California home sellers with top, local agents. You pay Clever nothing. You'll only pay your full-service agent 1.5% of your home sale price, saving up to 50% on listing fees.

Clever Real Estate

Clever Real Estate

Get Started

💲 Listing Fee

1.5% ($3,000 min.)

💰 Buyer Savings

Cash back after closing

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

4.9/5 (1,995 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Clever is a quick, easy, and free way to find a top-rated local agent. And, unlike many similar companies, Clever pre-negotiates big discounts on your behalf, so you can save thousands without sacrificing on service.


Try Clever for free — save thousands on commission

  • Free, nationwide agent-matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX
  • Provides multiple agent matches so you can interview, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit
  • Pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf — you get full service for just a 1.5% listing fee ($3,000 minimum)
  • If you buy with Clever, you can get cash back to help pay for your move
  • You may not get matched with an agent from your preferred real estate brokerage.
  • Agents may not provide premium services like drone photography and professional home staging.

As of 10/21/2022, Clever has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 1,844 reviews.


Read reviews from real Clever customers here.

Clever has pre-negotiated low commission rates with top agents in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

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Discount real estate services in California

Discount real estate companies can help you sell your house for less than a traditional realtor, although pricing and services vary. In most cases, you'll still need to offer a competitive buyer's agent commission, but you'll save on listing fees.

💲 Listing Fee

1.5% (min. fees vary)

💰 Avg. Savings

$5,550

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

3.7/5 (301 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Redfin offers real savings and is a proven brand. But sellers could compromise on service — especially agent experience and availability.


Read the full Redfin review.

  • If you buy and sell with Redfin, you'll get a 0.5% listing fee discount.
  • Redfin gives its listings premium placement in its popular home search app.
  • If finding the right agent is a top priority, you'll have limited options Redfin only has a few agents in each of its markets.
  • Redfin agents handle more customers at once than the average realtor, so they may not be able to provide as much personalized service.

Redfin has a 3.7 out of 5 rating (301 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Yelp.


Read reviews from real Redfin customers here.

Redfin is available in 80+ U.S. markets (see all locations).

SHOW MORE
Prevu Real Estate

Prevu Real Estate

Full Review

💲 Listing Fee

1.5% (min. fees vary)

💰 Avg. Savings

$2,450

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

5.0/5 (449 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Prevu offers solid commission savings for buyers and sellers. But at certain price points, other discount brands may offer better value.


Read the full Prevu review.

  • Prevu's 1.5% listing fee saves sellers an average of $2,450 compared to a standard 3% commission rate
  • Eligible buyers get a commission rebate worth up to 2% of the home price
  • High minimum fees may limit your savings if you're selling a lower-priced home
  • Prevu has a small team, which limits your options if you don't hit it off with the first agent it sends you

Prevu has a 5.0 out of 5 rating (449 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Yelp.


Read reviews from real Yelp customers here.

Prevu is available in the following areas: CA, CT, MA, NY, PA.

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» COMPARE: Discount Real Estate Brokers: Who's the BEST in 2021?

Flat fee MLS companies in California

A flat fee MLS company will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In California, this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.

Congress Realty

Congress Realty

Congress Realty

Best For

Sellers who want a lot of a-la-carte options

Price Range

$299

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Congress Realty has a phone system that forwards any phone calls about your listing directly to you.
  • You can request a free Comparative Marketing Analysis if you want a better idea of what homes in your area have sold for recently.

Cons:

  • Congress Realty costs a lot more than competitors with similar MLS packages.
  • You have to pay an extra $50 if you want more than four photos in your listing.
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MLS Town

MLS Town

MLS Town

Best For

Budget-conscious sellers who only need a basic listing

Price Range

$95-895

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • You can add on listing support and offer negotiation for an hourly fee.
  • The basic listing comes with eight photos. Many listing packages under $100 include less than five photos.

Cons:

  • The basic listing is only a three-month listing term. If you need more time, you have to upgrade to the Annual plan for a 12-month listing.
  • You can't make changes to your listing or add open houses with the basic plan.
  • This broker is currently only available in Northern California.
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HomeListers.House

HomeListers.House

HomeListers.House

Best For

Sellers who don't mind paying for extra guidance from the listing broker.

Price Range

$1,295

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • You don't have to pay upfront. Instead, you'll pay the flat fee when at closing.
  • You'll get help preparing offers, counter-offers, and disclosures from the broker.

Cons:

  • There's only one listing option and it's fairly expensive — although you do get a lot of broker support. This isn't a great option for sellers on a tight budget.
  • HomeListers.House is currently only available in 10 Southern California markets.
SHOW MORE

» FIND: 6 Best California Flat Fee MLS Companies in 2021

👋 Need a great agent on your side?

Connect with top local agents who can help you get a great deal on a new home. Eligible buyers also earn cash back after closing.

FAQs: How to sell your house without a realtor in California

There are many legal documents required to sell a house in California (see the Paperwork to sell a house by owner in California section in the guide above for details). You don't necessarily need a real estate agent to collect these documents; you can also use a California real estate attorney. It can be dangerous to try to produce all these documents on your own, as even a small error could have devastating consequences when selling your California home.

Traditionally, the homeowner pays commission to the buyer's agent and listing agent. As a FSBO seller, you don't have to pay the buyer's agent, but it's a good incentive for realtors to show your house to their clients. If you don't offer a competitive commission, agents may prioritize other homes whose owners offer a commission.

Only agents can list on the MLS. You can work with an agent and still maintain control of your sale by using a flat fee company that charges a one-time payment to list your home on the MLS. It usually costs a few hundred dollars and includes a property description, up to 25 photos, and a listing lasting no more than 12 months. Find the best flat fee MLS companies in California.

The length of escrow is agreed upon by the buyer and seller. It usually takes between 30–60 days. It can be delayed if the buyer has trouble getting financing, documents aren't signed on time, or there are disputes.

In Northern California, title companies perform escrow procedures and charge one fee for both services. Sellers may split the cost evenly with the buyer or agree to pay a certain percentage. In Southern California, it's customary to use separate escrow and title companies, each charging different fees. Sellers usually pay for title insurance and the county transfer tax and split the escrow fee with the buyer.

Selling a California home without a real estate agent is the same core process, you just need to do it yourself. You will need to prepare your house for sale, set a price, and either list your property online or pay a flat fee for a flat fee MLS service. Once you have an offer in hand, you can open the escrow process with an escrow account and move to close.

There are quite a few risks when you sell FSBO. You could underprice your house or make a mistake during the closing that could cost you a significant amount of money. You could get scammed during the selling process if you don't work with escrow agents, or you could write a real estate contract that is ultimately void. Without MLS access, it may simply take you a long time to sell your house.

Additional resources for California home sellers

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