Why trust us: To create this guide, we surveyed and interviewed Illinois real estate agents, studied Illinois 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 Illinois means you won't have to pay the average Illinois listing commission of 2.68% of your home's sale price. Based on the average sale price of an Illinois home, not using a realtor could save you about $6,297.
However, if selling a home on your own was easy, everyone would be doing it. In fact, only 10% of home sales are by owner. Listing your home for sale by owner (FSBO) means you'll need to set the price, schedule showings, and open houses, and negotiate with buyers — all on your own. Plus, you'll need to handle all of the paperwork at closing, where a minor mistake could lead to legal problems.
On top of all that, you might not even save that much. FSBO sales often sell for 35% less than sales completed using a listing agent.
FSBO is only recommended if you have experience selling and you're certain you can handle everything a real estate agent would normally do.
This guide will help you decide if sale by owner makes sense for your situation and tell you how to sell without a realtor in Illinois.
Who should sell a house by owner?
Selling without a realtor isn't recommended for everyone. Before deciding to forego an agent, look carefully at the pros and cons of FSBO. Selling a house on your own will occupy a lot of your time — it's like a part-time job.
Selling without a realtor in Illinois could be right for you if:
This isn't the first home you've sold, with or without a realtor. If you're familiar with the selling process — or if you were once a licensed real estate agent yourself — you can use your experience to guide you.
You know a real estate expert to ask for advice. If you have a relative or friend who's willing to provide occasional advice for free, you can rely on them when the unexpected happens.
You have enough time in your schedule. If you already have a lot of work, family, or school responsibilities, you might find yourself stretched thin.
You already have a buyer. A lot of the work of selling a home is marketing and showing. Already having a buyer means you can skip all of that and just focus on closing and the paperwork that comes with it.
You want more control over the selling process. If you'd rather take charge of the pricing, marketing, and negotiations instead of handing those responsibilities over to a realtor, FSBO gives you that freedom.
If at least a few of these things don't apply to you, think twice before selling without a realtor in Illinois.
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 Illinois 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 Illinois!
How to sell a house by owner in Illinois
Here are 6 steps to sell a house by owner in Illinois:
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.
Here's an overview of what laws you need to know in Illinois.
Illinois FSBO facts
Real estate attorney required?
FSBO yard sign allowed?
Required state disclosures?
Although selling your home without a real estate agent may seem like a great way to save on realtor fees, the selling process is trickier than many people expect. If it becomes overwhelming, you can hire an 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.
Step 1: Prepare your home for sale
Small upgrades and repairs can do a lot to sway potential buyers. The key is knowing how to spend your money to get higher offers.
We asked top agents in Illinois what repairs or upgrades they think help a home sell. Health and safety issues ranked high on the list, including the following items recommended by Brent Wilk, owner of Chicagoland's Brent Wilk Real Estate:
Current smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Installation of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in the appropriate rooms, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Railings installed on staircases
Globe covers installed over lightbulbs, especially in closets
Confirming there isn't any visible mold in the home (attic, closets, basements, or crawl spaces)
Given the tight housing market in the Chicago area, many buyers are putting aside their wish lists and just focusing on looking for available homes and making an offer that can be considered and accepted.
🙋🏾Ask a realtor: "The biggest thing I see buyers looking for are move-in ready properties," said Mike Saladino, Managing Broker for Keller Williams Chicago-Lakeview. "The biggest values are updated kitchen, updated bathrooms. If there is the ability to have an extra room for a workout room, a home office, a remote learning room, those are in pretty high demand right now." Saladino has also seen some sellers converting garages into studios.
» LEARN: Best Paint Colors to Sell a House
Stage and photograph 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.
A well-staged home can help you sell faster and for more money. Use these staging tips to make your home more appealing:
Make your home look more spacious by moving extra furniture to storage, especially if it's outdated.
Declutter countertops and bookshelves. There should be a combination of books, decorative items, and empty spaces on your display areas.
Add pops of warm color in the form of flowers, rugs, decorative pillows, or throw blankets.
Open or remove room-darkening curtains to let in lots of light.
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. In Illinois, expect to pay between $1,000–1,300 in staging costs. 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 the selling process. 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: “Everybody’s online, everybody can see what the values are,” Saladino noted. “So if you list a home too high, no one’s going to come see it. If you list it perfectly, you’re going to get a lot of activity. Sometimes if you underprice it, you’re going to get even more activity. But people know that it’s worth more, and you’re going to solicit offers that are at market value or above.”
Saladino added: “If a home is sitting on the market for more than two weeks, now there’s a stigma that it’s either overpriced or there’s something wrong with it.”
To get an accurate idea of your home's fair market value, 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. Compare these homes to yours by asking these questions:
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?
A pre-sale appraisal gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home. In Illinois, appraisals average between $400 and $500 (though they could run higher) but help you walk away with thousands more once your home is sold.
Bonus tip: Ask an agent to perform a comparative market analysis 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 Illinois real estate market
Unfortunately for sellers, the Illinois market has taken a downturn. As of late 2022, the number of homes sold was down by 36.1%, and home prices in Illinois were down 2.4% compared to the same time in 2021. The number of days on the market has also almost doubled from 27 in 2021 to 57 in 2022. All of this means you'll sell for less than you did a year ago, and it'll take more work to sell at all.
Median home value*
Median listing price+
Listing price per square foot+
Percent of homes with price reduction+
*Based on data from Zillow (January 2023)
⁺Based on data from Realtor.com (January 2023)
But, there are a few things working in a seller's favor in Illinois. For one, 22.8% of homes are still selling above list price. This means that homes that sold likely received more than one offer.
Also, because fewer people are selling their homes, you have less competition. Higher mortgage rates and several years of high prices have led to fewer buyers, but there are still some out there looking for a home. If you price your home correctly, you should be able to generate multiple offers and perhaps even start a bidding war.
As the market cools and prices shrink, you'll want to save on as many expenses as you can to maximize your profits. Selling without a realtor is one way to save thousands. On the other hand, without the advice of a realtor in challenging market conditions, you may end up selling for less, possibly canceling out any FSBO savings.
Enter your ZIP code to find a Clever partner agent in your area.
Step 3: List your Illinois home
Once you've decided on a price, it's time to write a listing description that speaks to local buyers. Understanding their priorities will help you identify what features of your property to highlight in your listing. Here are some of the top buyer priorities in Illinois, according to real estate professionals.
Illinois buyer priorities
Advice for FSBO sellers
You will attract a lot of interest from prospective buyers if you price a home perfectly. If you price it below fair market value, you may generate even more interest. Be careful not to overprice it, though, because your home will end up sitting on the market for more than two weeks — a sign to many buyers that either the house is overpriced or there's something wrong with it.
There is high demand for modern, move-in-ready homes with open floor plans in Illinois. Talk about any unique architectural features that could set your home apart, like if it was built by a known architect, has original flooring or doors, or has any historical value. Also, point out what takes your house to the next level. For example, highlight upgrades you made like new windows that will save buyers hundreds in heating costs.
Be specific about large updates you’ve made in the last 5 years, such as rewiring electric, putting in a new roof, or installing a new furnace. List exactly when the renovation was done, roughly how much it cost, and what its current condition is today. Health and safety features that may be worth highlighting include the installation of railings on staircases and ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in the appropriate rooms.
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, Redfin, and Realtor.com, 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.
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. 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 Illinois.
As a FSBO seller, you also have several free or low-cost options.
ForSaleByOwner.com: This well-established and recognized for-sale-by-owner site caters specifically to people wanting to buy or sell FSBO homes. It's free to advertise, but your home won't show up on the MLS or syndicate to other real estate websites. That means your listing will only be viewable to buyers who go to ForSaleByOwner.com.
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.
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 Illinois page, find your city, and create a "real estate — by owner" listing.
» MORE INFO: Learn How to Sell a House on Craigslist
Step 4: Show your home
Organization is key 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 buyer calls for a last-minute showing.
🙋🏻♀️Ask a realtor: "Cleanliness is priority," Wilk notes. "Price will be affected with a house that's cluttered."
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.
To gain the upper hand, get creative with the seller concessions you offer a buyer. 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.
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 Illinois, sellers often cover 2.10% to 3.00% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median value, that will cost an additional $5,184 to $7,406.
You should also consider offering these popular seller concessions:
Benefits of offering concession
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 issues and is typically less expensive than paying for the repairs (or accepting a lower offer from a wary buyer).
Often, you have to share past tax information about the property before closing a sale and many first-time home buyers are shocked by how much property taxes actually are. By covering some of those costs, you can offer these buyers some financial relief and make them more inclined to close on the sale.
Repair credits are win-wins for buyers and sellers. You'll credit the buyer a set amount to cover the cost of repairs. Once the deal closes, the buyer can personally oversee the project to their liking and you don't have to worry about repairs going over budget.
Who draws up the contract in a for-sale-by-owner transaction in Illinois?
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.
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 real estate lawyer. Illinois law doesn't require FSBO sellers to use an attorney, but it's customary to use one. An attorney can help ensure your contract is free of loopholes, secure the best terms for you, and protect you against a breach of contract.
🤔 How much are real estate attorney fees in Illinois?
Step 6: Close
Closing is the final step in a real estate transaction. The title of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer, and both parties pay their closing costs.
Use a title company to facilitate a smooth closing. Title companies collect and distribute closing costs, collect signatures, ensure sellers have the right documents, and file them with relevant agencies.
Title insurance protects homeowners from challenges to their legal ownership, such as unpaid property taxes, liens against the property, or clerical errors related to the property title. Typically, the seller covers the cost of an owner's policy in Illinois, but in some cases both parties negotiate who pays this closing cost.
🤔 Title insurance cost in Illinois
The average rate for an owner's title insurance policy in Illinois is 0.78%, and the average cost is $1,904 (based on a sale price of $244,494, the typical home value in Illinois).
» READ: How Much are Closing Costs for Sellers in Illinois?
Paperwork to sell a house by owner in Illinois
In a typical real estate transaction, your agent will make sure you fill out all the necessary documents and forms. As a FSBO seller, you'll have to navigate the paperwork by yourself. Here’s a quick breakdown of Illinois’ requirements.
Want to save this list for later? Download our FSBO paperwork checklist to help you prepare for your sale.
Required for all Illinois real estate sales
2 forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Illinois-issued ID.
Copy of the original, signed purchase and sale agreement, as well as any agreed-upon changes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Illinois disclosure forms
The seller disclosure statement details known issues with your home and its major appliances and systems.
With some mortgages (like federally backed ones), your buyer's lender might require information of the property's flood risk.
Federal law requires that if your home was built before 1978, you disclose information about the dangers of lead-based paint to your buyer.
Buyers must receive a pamphlet detailing the dangers of radon and how to test for it. Sellers must also disclose any information they know about the presence of radon in the home.
Where to find documents
The Illinois Association of Realtors provides most of the forms used in a typical real estate transaction, but they can only be accessed by association members.
However, documents may be written in other legal formats if you choose to write them yourself or hire an attorney to help with the paperwork.
Here's where to find forms online:
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.
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 Illinois 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.
💲 Listing Fee
1.5% ($3,000 min.)
💰 Buyer Savings
Cash back after closing
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.9/5 (1,995 reviews)
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.
- Clever is a free, nationwide agent matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX.
- You get multiple agent matches so you can interview several, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit.
- Clever 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.
Clever has pre-negotiated low commission rates with top agents in all 50 states and Washington, DC.
Discount real estate services in Illinois
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
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
3.7/5 (301 reviews)
Redfin offers real savings and is a proven brand. But sellers could compromise on service — especially agent experience and availability.
- 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.
Redfin is available in 80+ U.S. markets (see all locations).
💲 Listing Fee
$3,500 (1% above $1M)
💰 Avg. Savings
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.6/5 (300 reviews)
Redefy’s flat fee could offer big savings. But hands-off service and non-refundable upfront fees make it a hard sell over other, less risky options.
- Flat $3,500 listing fee is an excellent value for higher-priced homes
- Agents provide more in-person services than some similarly-priced low commission brands
- Redefy charges an upfront, non-refundable $500 fee (most companies don't make you pay anything until your house sells)
- Your agent will not host an open house for you
Redefy has a 4.6 out of 5 rating (300 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Zillow.
Redefy is available in the following areas: CO, FL, GA, IL, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA.
💲 Listing Fee
2.5% ($9,000 min.)
💰 Avg. Savings
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.7/5 (1,041 reviews)
REX’s promise of huge savings is misleading. Its advertising misrepresents the significant risks of its pricing model and marketing approach. And its high minimum fees mean that many sellers won't save anything.
- REX's approach is incredibly risky — but if the gamble pays off, you could save about 50% on realtor fees
- Like other full-service brokerages, REX agents provide in-person services and support
- REX's 2.5% listing fee doesn't save you much — many full-price agents charge similar rates
- REX doesn't list your home on the MLS, so up to 90% of buyers may not even know it's for sale
- This risky marketing strategy seems likely to fail, so you may not save anything on commission
REX has a 4.7 out of 5 rating (1,041 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Zillow.
REX is available in the following areas: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, MD, NV, NJ, OR, PA, TX, WA, DC.
» COMPARE: Discount Real Estate Brokers: Who's the BEST in 2023?
Flat fee MLS companies in Illinois
A flat fee MLS company will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In Illinois, this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.
Sellers who like to keep things simple
- You can add as many open houses as you want to your listing without paying an extra fee.
- The base package only includes one photo. Most other companies include at least six (if not more) in their basic listing package.
- You'll have to pay an extra $200 at closing to cover Indiana's minimum service requirements.
Inexperienced sellers who might need additional support from the listing broker
- The basic listing package allows up to 25 photos. Many flat-fee mls companies limit you to six for their basic listing.
- If you spring for the MLS Plus package ($495), a professional photographer will come take photos of your property for your listing.
- All listing packages include a yard sign with a unique phone number that automatically forwards calls to you.
- You don't have many choices for add-on options.
- Prello Realty currently covers only the Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties.
Tech-savvy sellers who want to manage their listings on an online platform
- You can upload photos, manage your listings, and receive and negotiate offers all within the online platform. Great for people who don't like to talk on the phone!
- If you need help pricing your home, you can check the two home value estimates that come with each package.
- Sellers who opt for the $199 Premium version can use the platform to automatically list their homes on popular classified sites like Craigslist, Oodle, and Listanza.
- You'll get no assistance with paperwork, even as an add-on service.
- Beycome's site doesn't make it clear that you may still have to pay a buyer's agent commission.
» FIND: 5 Best Illinois Flat Fee MLS Companies in 2023
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.
Additional resources for Illinois home sellers
FAQs on how to sell your house without a realtor in Illinois
Private home sellers aren't legally required to hire a lawyer in Illinois, but it's highly recommended. Seasoned realtors in Illinois say that almost every home seller uses a lawyer. Selling a home is a complex legal arrangement, and an attorney will help guide you through that process and ensure that you comply with all relevant laws.
Real estate attorneys usually charge a flat fee from about $500 to $700 in Illinois, but the exact cost will depend on the situation. Attorneys may charge as little as $99 or as much as $1,250. You should talk to local companies to get a specific estimate of how much you'll pay.
Home sellers in Illinois pay around 1.8% of their home's final sale price in seller closing costs, not including realtor fees. With a median home value of $244,494, sellers can expect to pay around $4,518 at closing. Closing costs include taxes (transfer stamps), title insurance, attorney costs, survey costs, and tax credits that sellers need to give to buyers in Illinois.