How to Sell a House By Owner in California (2022 Update)

Jaime Dunaway-Seale

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Jaime Dunaway-Seale

September 1st, 2022
Updated September 1st, 2022

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California real estate commissions | How to list FSBO in California | California FSBO paperwork | FSBO pros and cons | FSBO alternatives

In California, selling your house without a real estate agent is possible, and it could save you a lot of money in agent commission fees. The average realtor commission rate in California is 4.09% to 5.73%. If you sell a house worth $775,900 — the median home value in California — you'd pay more than $31,700 to real estate agents. That's a huge chunk out of your potential profits.

By forgoing a listing agent, you can cut commission expenses in half, and you'll have more control over the sale. But because of added responsibilities, such as setting a listing price and negotiating with buyer's agents, selling without an agent, known as for sale by owner (FSBO), is often only a viable option for experienced home sellers willing to put in the time and effort.

Plus, selling FSBO has risks. Research shows that FSBO homes typically sell for about 6% less than those listed with agents. You'll also still have to offer a competitive buyer's agent commission — usually 2.41% of the sale price in California. You'll be responsible for all the work of a trained realtor, so if you have other obligations, such as a job or a family, selling FSBO might not be for you.

You may save time and pocket more profit by working with a low-commission realtor who can sell your home for top dollar. Clever Real Estate pre-negotiates 1% listing fees or a flat fee of $3,000 for homes under $350,000 with top-rated local agents. You'll get the support of a full-service agent for a fraction of the typical price, so you can walk away from your sale with the most cash possible.

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

Keep reading to learn how to successfully sell your house without an agent in California. We'll explain the ins and outs of costs, pricing strategies, paperwork, and more.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Selling FSBO gives you direct control over how your home is sold, including the pricing strategy, showing schedule, and negotiation process.
  • Selling FSBO means you won't pay a listing commission, which could save you 2.50% based on the California average.
  • FSBO sellers who find a buyer who's also not using an agent save an additional 2.41%, the average buyer's agent commission rate in California.

How realtor commissions work in California

When you sell your home, there are four common commission scenarios.

1. List with an agent and sell to a represented buyer. Pay for both agents' commission fees.

This is the traditional model. When sellers work with a realtor, they negotiate commission as part of the listing agreement.

Based on the average commission rates in California, this typically ranges from 2.09% to 2.91% of the sale price.

The seller also agrees to a commission rate for the realtor who brings the buyer to the table, which runs between 2.00% to 2.82%.

2. List FSBO and sell to a represented buyer. Pay the buyer's agent commission.

As a FSBO seller, you automatically avoid paying a listing commission. However, there is a solid argument for offering a buyer's agent commission. It's an incentive for realtors to show your house to their clients. If you don't offer a competitive commission, agents may prioritize taking buyers to homes with a commission.

3. List FSBO and sell to a buyer without an agent. Pay no commission.

The best way to avoid paying any commission fees is to sell to an unrepresented buyer. However, nearly 87% of buyers work with a realtor. If you decide not to offer a buyer's agent commission, you may severely restrict your pool of buyers.

4. List with a discount agent and sell to a represented buyer. Pay the commission to the buyer's agent but save on the listing commission.

You'll typically find the best overall value with a traditional, full-service agent who offers discounted listing fees. For example, Clever Partner Agents work for trusted brands like RE/MAX and Keller Williams and offer a range of full-service benefits for a fraction of the cost. Use Clever's free, no-obligation service to connect with a top-performing agent near you.

The table below shows how this could break down in California:

How California realtor commissions work


Represented seller and buyer
Sell with Clever agent, represented buyer
FSBO seller, represented buyer
FSBO seller, unrepresented buyer
Listing commission
$22,600 (2.50%)
$7,800 (1%)
$0
$0
Buyer commission
$18,700 (2.41%)
$18,700 (2.41%)
$18,700 (2.41%)
$0
Total commission
$38,100
$26,500
$18,700
$0
Based on the median home sale price in California (Zillow.com) and the average commission rates from a 2022 Clever survey of 630 real estate agents

» LEARN: What is Realtor Commission?

How to sell a house by owner in California

Prepare your home for sale | Set a price | List your home | Show your home | Negotiate the best price | Close

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 $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!

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.

Overall, the most important factor is knowing what's necessary and what's over the top. You want your house to meet buyers' expectations. If your kitchen is a disaster, spending more money on a remodel to get it in solid condition will pay off in the end. But spending money on high-end features to take it from good to extravagant could be a waste.

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.

If you've moved or are in the process of moving, you might have left your home empty before the sale. Instead of leaving it vacant, you could hire a company to stage it.

A well-staged home can help you sell faster and for more money. However, this could cost you several hundred dollars a month per room to fill it with the right furnishings. You might decide to focus instead on curb appeal.

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. Ask yourself:

  • Is the school district better or worse?
  • Does it have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • Has the house been renovated more recently than yours?
  • How do the neighborhoods and nearby amenities compare?

Answering these questions honestly will help you see if your price is in the right ballpark.

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. In 2021, California had a seller's market driven by fierce demand for a limited supply of homes. The lack of homes sent prices soaring. The median home price in California is $669,716, a 17% increase from the year before.

While sky-high home prices prompted 35% of California sellers to pack up and leave the state, more than two-thirds moved to a different county within the state — causing new market booms and busts.

Median home value*
$775,876
Median listing price+
$725,000
Listing price per square foot+
$431
Percent of homes with price reduction+
29.6%
Pricing advice: Home values are rising quickly. However, that doesn't mean you should list your house for more. Be realistic and you can expect a bidding war to increase your final sale price.
*Based on data from Zillow (August 2022)
⁺Based on data from Realtor.com (August 2022)

Market forecasts indicate that California will continue to have a seller's market in 2022, but there are signs the frenzy is starting to dissipate. New-home construction is expected to grow, and more homes are being listed, especially as foreclosures resume.

Selling your home by owner in a hot seller's market might not take much legwork. Paying full price for an agent may feel like a waste of money if you can easily find an interested buyer on your own.

Still, there are many reasons not to forego an agent. It's possible you may get multiple offers on your home. A realtor can advise you which ones are worth accepting so you can make even more when selling your home.

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 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 sites that 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 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.

Focus on creating a homey atmosphere for buyers. You want to make a great first impression, so add little touches that speak to most people. Bake cookies or light scented candles before a showing. Smell plays a huge part in how buyers perceive and remember your house. Use comforting scents to your advantage so they feel at home the moment they walk through the door.

🙋🏾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 their 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 $6,983 to $11,638.

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. If you forego an agent, you'll have to create the contract yourself or hire a 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 a fraction of the traditional cost: a flat $3,000 listing fee or 1% for homes over $350,000
  • Clever sellers save an average of $9,000 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!

Pros and cons of selling FSBO

Before deciding to sell your home by owner, weigh all the pros and cons to make the right choice for your situation.

Pros
Cons
✅ Lower realtor commission: Even if your buyer has an agent, you'll still avoid paying 2–3% in listing agent commission.
❌ Less visibility with buyers: Unless you pay a flat fee MLS company, your home won't be on the local MLS, meaning fewer buyers will see your listing.
✅ More control: You can decide the listing price, showing schedule, marketing strategy, negotiation tactics, and more.
❌ Risks of inaccurate pricing: If you overprice your home, you won't attract buyers. You could be forced to accept a low offer or take your home off the market and relist with an agent.
No competition with other clients: Some agents take on more clients than they can handle, which means you may not get the attention you need.
❌ Safety issues: You're responsible for showing your home to prospective buyers. Not everyone is comfortable being alone with strangers because theft or harassment can occur.
You may sell faster: If you're selling to a family member or friend, FSBO streamlines the process.
❌ More work and stress: Trying to cram all the FSBO responsibilities, like open houses, into your schedule is a hassle many FSBO sellers aren't prepared for.

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 sellers with top, local agents. You pay Clever nothing. You'll only pay your full-service agent $3,000 or 1% on homes over $350,000 if your home sells.

Clever Real Estate

Clever Real Estate

Learn More

💲 Listing Fee

$3,000 or 1%

💰 Buyer Savings

Up to 0.5% cash back

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

4.9/5 (1,810 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 a flat $3,000 listing fee, or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000
  • If you buy with Clever, you could get a check worth up to 0.5% of the home price
  • 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 {ams_companies.clever.reviews_update_date}, Clever has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 1,710 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.

SHOW MORE

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

3.8/5 (425 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Redfin offers real savings and 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 3.8 out of 5 rating (425 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).

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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 (343 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 (343 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 service 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.
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» FIND: 6 Best California Flat Fee MLS Companies in 2021

Conclusion: Is FSBO right for you?

FSBO isn't a right for everyone. But if you're feeling confident about the steps and knowledgeable about the challenges, you might be ready to sell without a realtor in California. To succeed, you'll need to:

  • Make a plan: From taking photos of your property to filling out the correct paperwork, there will be a lot on your FSBO to-do list. Set completion goals and work out a schedule so you can find a buyer and close in a timeframe that works for you.
  • Get ready to hustle: Attracting qualified buyers is hard work. You'll need a great listing description and a killer marketing strategy to generate interest. Also, prepare to spend a considerable amount of time fielding calls from prospective buyers, scheduling showings, hosting open houses, and more.
  • Make smart investments: Even though saving money is your main goal as a FSBO seller, spending money on small upgrades or repairs can lead to higher offers and a faster sale. Also, consider paying a flat fee company to list your home on the local MLS to reach more buyers.
  • Seek some professional advice: You don't have to sign a listing contract to talk to a realtor. Professional agents understand that smart sellers weigh their options. They'll be willing to meet for a free consultation. After seeing your home and looking at comps, they might notice problems or advantages you overlooked. Once you've heard their advice, if you still want to sell by owner, you can do so confidently because you thoroughly explored your choices.

If you'd like some professional guidance with no strings attached, Clever can help. Fill out your info below to connect with a top, local realtor for a no-obligation consultation.

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Connect with top local agents who can help you get a great deal on a new home. Eligible buyers will also get 0.5% of the price back as cash in their pocket 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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