Selling a house For Sale by Owner (FSBO) in Maine can save you 2.6% to 5.7% in realtor commissions. But prepare for a lot of work, including filing the required paperwork and learning about your local market to make the most from your sale.
In Maine, the average commission rate is 4.9% to 5.7%. If you sell a house worth $260,000 — the median home value in Maine — that’s up to $14,800, which is a huge chunk of your potential profits.
Selling without a real estate agent, known as listing For Sale By Owner (FSBO), is a viable option for experienced home sellers who are willing to put in the time and effort.
Key Benefits of Selling FSBO
However, selling FSBO has risks. Research shows that FSBO homes typically sell for about 6% less than those listed with agents. In addition, FSBO homes often take longer to sell, and are more likely to fall out of contract after accepting an offer — unless the homeowner is experienced and knowledgeable about the process.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to successfully sell your house without a realtor: the ins and outs of Maine realtor fees, paperwork, and tips to walk away with more from your sale.
JUMP TO SECTION
What FSBO Sellers in Maine Need to Know
Real estate laws, processes, and trends vary greatly across the country. Understanding the details of your market and getting accurate information can make a FSBO sale complicated.
We'll go into more details about what you need to do in Maine, but here's an overview of the state's laws and regulations.
Maine FSBO Overview
Additionally, you'll need to know and understand all of your responsibilities as a FSBO seller, which include:
- Preparing your home by making necessary repairs, cleaning, and staging your home.
- Accurately and competitively pricing your home.
- Marketing your home by writing a listing description, taking high-quality photos, posting the listing on different sites (free and/or paid), and promoting your home on social media, in print ads, and via word of mouth.
- Vetting buyers to ensure they're qualified, from a financial perspective. Accepting an offer from an unqualified buyer will cause your sale to fall through and in Maine, 16% of mortgage applications are rejected.
- Negotiating the final price, contingencies, repair concessions, and other aspects of the purchase agreement.
- Properly filling out all necessary paperwork for a real estate transaction in Maine.
Note: Maine is one of several states that require sellers to hire a real estate attorney. While they will assist you with the paperwork and legal aspects of the transaction, they will not help you find a buyer or negotiate a great deal.
>> LEARN the steps of a FSBO sale
How to Price Your Home
Pricing strategy is often make-or-break for FSBO sellers. 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.
To get an accurate idea of what your house is worth, look at comparable listings in your area.
For example, if you live in Portland and think your house is worth about $442,000, search Zillow for active listings that are about $50,000 more and less than that. Analyze details about the houses 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.
From there, be realistic about what pricing strategy will lead to higher offers. Here are some key pricing metrics that will help you decide the best listing price for your home and market:
State of the Maine Real Estate Market
Median Home Value*
Median Listing Price⁺
Listing Price per sqft⁺
% of Homes with Price Reduction⁺
Pricing Advice for FSBO Sellers
Property values are holding steady in your area. Research what houses recently sold for in your neighborhood to give you a realistic idea of what buyers will be prepared to offer you.
How to List Your Maine Home for Sale by Owner
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 and attract more interest.
Top Buyer Priorities in Maine
Maine Buyer Priorities
Advice for FSBO Sellers
1. Listing Price
Be honest about your list price. Look at recent sales data in your area on Zillow or other real estate sites to find an accurate price point for homes of comparable size and condition to yours. Many real estate companies will also conduct an analysis for little to no charge.
2. School Districts
Include appealing information about school districts in your listing description, such as its Greatschools rating, graduation rates, parental reviews, or state accolades.
3. Recent Renovations
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. This will give buyers peace of mind that they won't have to worry about big issues any time soon
Based on a 2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents
When it comes to advertising and posting your listing, you have several options as a FSBO seller. Each choice has its own pros and cons as well as costs:
- For Sale By Owner yard sign: You can buy a sign from most hardware stores or online for $20-$50. Be sure to choose one that allows you to add your phone numbers 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 Maine page, find your city, and create a "real estate — by owner" listing.
- FSBO websites: There are multiple FSBO listing websites that allow you to post your home for free or a few hundred dollars. But each differs in how many photos you can include, how long the listing is live, and the changes you can make — do your research before choosing a for sale by owner site.
- Flat-Fee MLS companies: Flat-fee MLS services will list your house on your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for significantly less than a realtor. However, they provide few additional services unless you opt for their most expensive packages, which often cost more than using a discount brokerage.
If you choose to use a flat-fee MLS company, you'll have to offer a buyer's agent commission. The MLS is how real estate agents find homes for their clients, and typically a buyer's agent commission is included to incentivize these realtors to show the house to their clients.
List with a top agent for just $3,000 or 1%.
Sell your home for top dollar and save on commission.
How Realtor Commissions Work In Maine
Traditionally, both the buyer's agent and the listing agent are paid a commission by the homeowner. When sellers work with a realtor, they negotiate a commission as part of the listing agreement.
Based on the average commission rates in Maine, this typically ranges from 2.6% to 3.0% of the sale price.
In a typical sale, the seller also agrees to a commission rate for the realtor who brings the buyer to the table, which runs between 2.3% to 2.7%.
Average Range in Maine*
2.6% to 3.0%
$6,760 to $7,800
Buyer Agent's Commission
2.3% to 2.7%
$5,980 to $7,020
*Based on the average commission rates from a 2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents
⁺Based on typical home value in Maine (Zillow Data Center, October 2020)
As a FSBO seller, you automatically avoid paying a listing commission. However, there is a solid argument for offering a buyer's agent commission.
A buyer’s agent's commission is an incentive for realtors to show your house to their clients. If you don't offer a commission that is competitive compared to similar homes in your area, then your home could be shown less. Agents may prioritize taking buyers to homes with a commission.
The best way to avoid paying any commission fees is to sell to an unrepresented buyer. However, know that 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.
>> LEARN how real estate commissions work
How Commission Costs Break Down in Maine
FSBO w/ a Represented Buyer
FSBO w/ an Unrepresented Buyer
Listing w/ an Agent
Listing w/ a Discount Agent
*Based on median home value in Maine (Zillow Data Center, October 2020) and that FSBO homes sell for 6% less (Collateral Analytics, 2017)
⁺Based on the average commission rates in Maine (2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents)
Paperwork to Sell a House by Owner In Maine
Once you find a buyer for your house, it's time to start the closing process. 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.
This process varies by state — here’s a quick breakdown of Maine’s requirements.
Required for All Maine Real Estate Sales
2 Forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Maine-issued ID.
Copy of Purchase Agreement and Any Addendums
Copy of the original, signed sales 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.
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, that you are not simultaneously selling the home to someone else, etc.
Possible 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 HOA's Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions, financial history, required fees, approval process, etc.
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 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 the buyer 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 any 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, etc.)
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
In the event 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 if need be.
Maine Disclosure Forms
Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
The seller disclosure statement details any known issues with your home and its major appliances and systems.
Flood Zone Statement
With some mortgages (like federally backed ones), your buyer's lender might require information of the property's flood risk.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
Federal law requires that if your home was built before 1978, you disclose information about the dangers of lead-based paint to your buyer.
Many closing documents are legally binding agreements. Any errors can derail your sale and cost you thousands in fees or in costs to re-list your house.
To avoid an expensive mistake, consider hiring a real estate attorney. While this can cost $500-$5,000, an experienced lawyer can answer any questions you have along the way.
FSBO Pros and Cons
Before deciding to sell your home by owner, weigh all the pros and cons to make the right choice for your situation.
- More control: As a FSBO seller, you can decide the price, listing timeframe, showing schedule, marketing strategy, negotiation tactics, and more.
- No competition with other clients: Some agents take on more clients than they can handle, which could mean not getting the attention you need to meet your home-selling goals.
- Lower commission: As a FSBO seller, you could sell your home without paying any commissions. Based on Maine's average commission rates, that could leave 2.6% to 5.7% of your sale price in your pocket. Even if your buyer has an agent, you'll still avoid paying 2.6% to 3.0% in listing commissions.
- No MLS access: Unless you pay for a flat-fee MLS service, your home won't be on the local MLS. Most agents use MLSes (not Zillow and Trulia) to find properties for their clients and most buyers work with a realtor. So if you're not on the MLS, fewer buyers will see your listing.
- Risks of inaccurate pricing: Many FSBO sellers find it difficult to be objective when pricing their house and list for too much. If you make this mistake, you won't attract buyers and the listing will become stale. Eventually, you could be forced to accept a low offer or take your home off the market and relist with an agent.
- Safety issues: As a FSBO seller, it will be your responsibility to show your home to prospective buyers. Not everyone is comfortable being alone with strangers in their homes since incidents such as theft or harassment can occur. Make sure to gauge your own comfort levels before deciding to sell FSBO.
- More work and stress: Selling a home is a full-time job. Trying to cram all the steps and responsibilities into your schedule is a hassle many FSBO sellers aren't prepared for.
FSBO Alternatives to Consider
If saving money is your main reason for selling your home by owner, there are alternatives. Consider the following lower-cost options (listed from least expensive to most):
Flat-Fee MLS Services in Maine
As mentioned before, a flat-fee MLS service will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In Maine, this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.
Here are some Maine flat-fee MLS companies to compare:
Free to $499+
Number of Photos
2 months up to until sold
- Landfall Properties in a licensed broker in CT, MA, ME, NH, and VT that specializes in flat-fee MLS listing services
- Free, unlimited changes
- Listings go live in 24 hours
- Set buyer’s agent commission of 2% (pay nothing if you find the buyer)
- Buyer and agent inquiries forwarded directly to you
- Cancel anytime
|Free - Level One||1% at closing- Level Three|
- Free MLS listing package (+2% buyer’s agent commission)
- Work directly with the broker, not a referral service
- Free, unlimited changes, including listing/delisting/relisting (Level Two and Three packages)
- Home buyer rebate if you also buy with Landfall Properties
- No built-in comparative market analysis (CMA) (except with Level Three package)
- Set buyer’s agent commission of 2% (unless you find a buyer)
As of August 12, 2020, Landfall Properties’ principal broker, Paul Marino, has an average rating of 5/5 based on 29 reviews on Zillow.
Number of Photos
- Entry Only is a real estate brokerage licensed in CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT that specializes in flat-fee MLS services
- You set the buyers commission (1% minimum) and pay no commission if you find the buyer
- Buyer and agent inquiries forwarded to you
- Free cancelation anytime
- Free, unlimited photo edits
- A variety of a-la-carte services like additional photos, longer listing contracts, listing on a second MLS, custom yard sign, lockbox, custom domain name, and more
|$399 - Basic||$699 - Enhanced|
$999 - Premium
Available a-la-carte services include: more photos, longer listing contract, listing on a second MLS, custom yard sign, lockbox, custom domain name, and more
- Work directly with a local broker, not a referral service
- Free cancelation anytime
- 24/7 receptionist
- Double money back guarantee if you decide to sell with a realtor Entry Only refers you to (up to $999)
- No built-in home valuation or CMA
As of August 5, 2020, Entry Only has an average rating of 4.9/5 based on 529 reviews across Trustpilot, Google, and Facebook.
Number of Photos
6 months up to until sold
- Discount Realty is a flat-fee MLS service operated by Maine’s Listing Solution, a licensed brokerage in Maine
- Listings go live within 72 hours
- Your contact information included in the MLS listing
- You choose the buyer’s agent commission (must be at least 1%)
- Pay no commission if you find an unrepresented buyer
- Free cancelation anytime
$299 + $700 at closing
Discount Realty also offers a discounted, full-service package for 3.5% (2% buyer’s agent commission and 1% listing commission). See website for details
- Free cancelation anytime
- Work directly with a local broker, not a referral service
- No home valuation or CMA
As of August 4, 2020, Discount Realty has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau.
>> LEARN about flat-fee MLS services in Maine
Clever Real Estate
Clever is a nationwide real estate service that connects sellers with top, local agents. You pay Clever nothing and only pay your full-service agent $3,000 (or 1% on homes over $350,000) if and when your home sells.
1% (minimum $3,000)
Up to 1%
Avg. Customer Rating
4.8/5 (386 reviews)
- Clever Real Estate is a nationwide, online concierge and agent matching service for sellers and buyers — learn more
- Buyers and sellers are matched with multiple highly rated agents from major brands, such as Keller Williams, Century 21, Compass, RE/MAX, and more
- Sellers choose a full-service agent and pay a flat, $3,000 fee — or just 1% for homes more than $350,000
- Buyers may be eligible for up to 1% back at closing (in qualifying locations)
Clever has pre-negotiated lower commission rates with top agents in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico
As of May 20, 2020, Clever's average customer rating is 4.8/5 based on 386 reviews on Trustpilot.
>> LEARN more about Clever Real Estate
Discount Real Estate Services in Maine
While pricing and services vary, discount real estate companies will help you sell your house for less than a traditional realtor. In most cases, you'll still need to offer a competitive buyer's agent commission, but you'll save on listing fees.
>> LEARN about discount real estate services
iBuyers will buy qualifying homes for cash, meaning you avoid realtor fees — and the stress of listing on the open market entirely. While these companies make fair-market offers, they will deduct any required repairs after an on-site visit. They also charge a service fee typically ranging between 6-14%.
>> LEARN about iBuyers
5 Tips for Selling Your Home Without a Realtor in Maine
Pulling off a FSBO sale successfully is a difficult feat to accomplish. Here are some helpful tips from Clever CEO and real estate investor Ben Mizes, who has experience listing homes without an agent.
1. Make Minor Repairs
Small upgrades and repairs can do a lot to sway potential buyers. The key is knowing how and where 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 where the line is between necessary and 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," said Mizes. "But spending money on high-end features to take it from good to extravagant will be a waste."
Also consider how valuable specific repairs are to buyers in your area. Focus on upgrades that have a higher cost recuperation in your region.
Home Repairs with Highest Resale Value in Maine
Avg. Repair Cost
Avg. Resale Value
Garage Door Replacement
Manufactured Stone Veneer
Siding Replacement (Vinyl)
Based on regional data from Remodeling (2020)
2. Price Your Maine Home Competitively
Want to sell your home quickly? You’ll have to price it right. That's easier said than done, however. It's not easy to determine what a home should sell for.
Before you settle on a price, you need to do your homework. That means getting up-to-the-date statistics and market analysis for Maine. As noted above, property values are currently going down across the state. Price your home too high, and buyers will focus on cheaper competitors, but price it too low, and they may suspect you’re trying to conceal flaws. Finding the middle ground gives you the highest chance of selling your home for the best price.
Bonus Tip: A pre-sale appraisal house gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home.
Based on our research, in Maine, appraisals average a couple hundred dollars, but help you walk away with thousands more once your home is sold.
3. Stage and Market Your Home
The first place a prospective buyer will likely see your house is in the online listing. As your own marketing team, you will want to write powerful copy for your listing, making sure to highlight your home's unique features to catch the reader's interest.
Images are equally important - high quality photos can make your home appear spacious and inviting. Consider hiring a professional photographer, who will often be able to supplement standard photos with virtual tours or aerial shots that truly make your home stand out.
Once you’ve hooked buyers’ attention, focus on perfecting the open house experience. Arrange furniture in a minimalist way, making the home appear lived-in but also encouraging visitors to image themselves in the space. A professional stager may be a smart investment - though they may cost hundreds of dollars a month, they’re experts at arranging a space to showcase positive aspects and downplay negatives.
Bonus Tip: Hiring a professional stager can help alleviate some of the stress FSBO sellers go through. They know your local market and ensure your home is ready to impress, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Shop around to find out which local stagers offer reasonable rates and have a proven record of getting homes ready for sale.
4. Prepare for Showings
Organization is key when showing your home to potential buyers. You'll need a good system for scheduling showings and saving 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 around with a vacuum after a buyer calls for a last-minute showing.
Also, focus on creating a homey atmosphere for buyers. You want to make a great first impression on as many buyers as possible, so add little touches that speak to most people.
"Bake cookies or light scented candles before a showing," advises Mizes. "Smell plays a huge part in how buyers will perceive and remember your house. Use comforting scents to your advantage so they feel at home the moment they walk through the door."
5. Negotiate for the Best Possible Price
Negotiations are about deciding 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.
The most popular concessions vary from market to market. Knowing what works with buyers in your area will help you strengthen your offer.
For example, a 2020 Clever survey of over 500 real estate professionals found that in Maine, sellers often cover 1.4% to 1.9% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median value, that equates to $3,640 to $4,940, but can help you close the deal sooner and for more money.
You should also consider offering these popular seller concessions:
Most Common Seller Concessions in Maine
Benefits of Offering Concession
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.
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).
Mortgage Discount Points
While the cost varies between lenders, mortgage points lower a buyer's interest rate and can save them thousands over the years. If you offer to buy mortgage discount points, it can seal the deal for some buyers — especially with buyers who don't plan to move again for several years.
Conclusion: Is FSBO Right for You?
FSBO isn't a perfect fit for everyone. But now that you know what awaits, if you're feeling confident about all the steps and possible challenges, you might be ready to sell without a realtor.
Remember, to succeed at selling a house by owner you'll need to:
- Make a plan: From getting photos of your property to lining up the correct paperwork, there’ll be a lot on your FSBO to-do list. Work out a schedule for when you need to accomplish everything 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 your time fielding calls from prospective buyers, handling showings, hosting open houses, and more.
- Make smart investments: Even though your main goal as a FSBO seller is saving money, spending some money on small upgrades or repairs can lead to higher offers and a faster sale. Also, consider paying for a flat-fee MLS service 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 issues 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 all your choices.
If you'd like some professional guidance with no strings attached, Clever can help. Fill out your basic info below to connect with a top, local realtor for a no-obligation consultation.
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