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

Kristy Snyder

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Kristy Snyder

February 1st, 2023
Updated February 1st, 2023

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

In Michigan, the average realtor commission rate is 4.93% to 6.36%. If you sell a house worth $235,600 — the median home value in Michigan — that’s over $7,400, which is a huge chunk of your potential profits.

Selling without a realtor, 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 during the selling process.

However, selling FSBO has risks. Research shows that FSBO homes typically sell for about 6% less than those listed with agents AND you'll still usually be on the hook for offering a competitive buyer's agent commission. FSBO homes also often take longer to sell and are more likely to fall out of contract after accepting an offer.

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 Michigan 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 Michigan!

What FSBO sellers in Michigan need to know

🔑 Key benefits of selling FSBO

  • Direct control over how your home is sold, including the pricing strategy, showing schedule, and negotiation process.
  • No listing commission, which could save you 2.77%, based on the Michigan average.
  • FSBO sellers who find a buyer without a realtor, save an additional 2.88%, the average buyer's agent commission rate in Michigan.

Real estate laws, the selling process, and trends vary greatly across the country. Understanding the details of your market and getting accurate information can make a FSBO sale complicated, especially without a realtor to guide you.

We'll go into more details about what you need to do in Michigan, but here's an overview of the state's laws and regulations.

Michigan FSBO overview

Real estate attorney required?
No
Required state disclosures?
  • Seller's Property Disclosure Statement
  • Flood Zone Statement
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
FSBO yard sign allowed?
Yes
Competitive Buyer's Agent Commission
2.52% to 3.23%

Additionally, you'll need to know and understand all of your responsibilities as a FSBO seller throughout the selling process, 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.
  • Negotiating the final price, contingencies, repair concessions, and other aspects of the purchase and sale agreement without a realtor.
  • Properly filling out all necessary paperwork for a real estate transaction in Michigan.

👋 Skip the DIY: Get a better agent AND bigger savings

Why do all the work of selling FSBO only to end up with less money than you would have with an agent? Clever offers you bigger savings without sacrificing the service you expect from a traditional realtor.

With Clever:

✅ You'll only pay 1.5% to list your home

✅ You'll work with a full-service realtor from a top broker

✅ It's free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time

Saving on realtor fees doesn't have to mean sacrificing service. Find a top local agent today!

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 the fair market value of your home, look at comparable listings in your area.

For example, if you live in Grand Rapids and think your house is worth about $306,000, 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 fair market value.

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 Michigan real estate market

Median Home Value*

$235,649

Median Listing Price⁺

$264,900

Listing Price per sqft⁺

$161

% of Homes with Price Reduction⁺

28.9%

Pricing Advice: Homeowners are over estimating how much their houses will sell for. Even if buyer demand is high in your area, by setting your initial price a little lower, you'll attract more buyers and hopefully receive multiple offers.
*Based on data from Zillow (December 2022)
⁺Based on data from Realtor.com (December 2022)

How to list your Michigan 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 Michigan

Michigan 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. Architectural Style of Home
In your listing description, talk about any unique architectural features that could set your home apart. If your home was built by a known architect, has original flooring or doors, or has any historical value, be sure to mention it. Also, point out what takes your house to the next level. For example, older homes can be beautiful, but energy inefficient. Highlight upgrades you made like new windows that will save buyers hundreds in heating costs.
3. School Districts
Include appealing information about school districts in your listing description, such as its GreatSchools rating, graduation rates, parental reviews, or state accolades.
Based on a 2022 Clever survey

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 FSBO 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 Michigan 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: A flat fee MLS company 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.

How buyers find homes

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 1.5%

Sell your home for top dollar and save on commission.

How realtor commissions work in Michigan

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 Michigan, this typically ranges from 2.41% to 3.13% 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 2.52% to 3.23%.


Average Range in Michigan*
Average Amount⁺
Listing Commission
2.41% to 3.13%
$5,679 to $7,376
Buyer Agent's Commission
2.52% to 3.23%
$5,938 to $7,611
*Based on the average commission rates from a 2022 Clever survey of 630 real estate agents
⁺Based on the median home value in Michigan (Zillow.com, December 2022)

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 buyerswork with a realtor. If you decide not to offer a buyer's agent commission, you may severely restrict your pool of buyers.

Further, if you list FSBO, you'll likely receive multiple calls from agents offering to connect you with their buyers...if you pay them a competitive buyer's agent commission (typically 2.88% in Michigan).

» LEARN: How real estate commissions work

How commission costs break down in Michigan

When you sell your home, there are four common scenarios when it comes to commissions:

  • List FSBO and sell to a buyer without a realtor: Pay no commission
  • List FSBO and sell to a represented buyer: Cover the buyer's agent commission
  • List with a traditional agent and sell to a represented buyer: Cover both agents' commissions
  • List with a discount agent and sell to a represented buyer: Cover the buyer's agent commission, but save on the listing commission.

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


Represented Buyer
Unrepresented Buyer
Listing Agent
Sale Price*
$221,510
$221,510
$235,649
Listing Commission⁺
$0
$0
$6,527
Buyer Commission⁺
$6,379
$0
$6,787
Total Profit
$215,131
$221,510
$222,335
*Based on the median home vallue in Michigan (Zillow.com, December 2022) and that FSBO homes sell for 6% less (Collateral Analytics, 2017)
+Based on the average commission rates from a 2022 Clever survey of 630 real estate agents

Paperwork to sell a house by owner in Michigan

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 who's selling without a realtor, you'll have to navigate the paperwork by yourself.

This process varies by state — here’s a quick breakdown of Michigan’s requirements.

Required for all Michigan real estate sales

2 Forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Michigan-issued ID.
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.
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.
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, that you are not simultaneously selling the home to someone else, etc.
You need to fill out this form for all transfers of real property.
A form you must file with the Register of Deeds for the county where your home is located.

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.
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, Residence Exemption Affidavit, 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.
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.
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.

Michigan disclosure forms

The seller disclosure statement details any 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.

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 working with a low commission realtor instead.

💰 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 1.5% listing fee instead of the typical 2.5-3%
  • Choose from the best local agents representing top regional and national brokerages, like Keller Williams and Century 21

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

FSBO alternatives to consider

If saving money is your main reason for selling your home by owner, there are alternatives.

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 1.5% if and when your home sells. It's more than you'd pay without a realtor, but the guidance and experience you'll get is more than worth it for most home sellers.

Clever Real Estate

Clever Real Estate

Learn More

💲 Listing Fee

1.5% (min. $3,000 fee)

💰 Buyer Savings

Up to $500 cash back

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

4.9/5 (1,995 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

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


Try Clever for free — save thousands on commission

  • Free, nationwide agent-matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX
  • Provides multiple agent matches so you can interview, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit
  • Pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf — you get full service for a 1.5% listing fee vs. the typical 2.5-3% rate
  • If you buy with Clever, you can get cash back rewards after closing
  • You may not get matched with an agent from your preferred real estate brokerage.
  • Agents may not provide premium services like drone photography and professional home staging.

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


Read reviews from real Clever customers here.

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

SHOW MORE

Discount real estate services in Michigan

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.

💲 Listing Fee

1.5% (min. fees vary)

💰 Avg. Savings

$5,550

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

3.7/5 (301 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

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


Read the full Redfin review.

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

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


Read reviews from real Redfin customers here.

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

SHOW MORE

» LEARN: About discount real estate services

Flat fee MLS services in Michigan

As mentioned before, a flat fee MLS service will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In Michigan, this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.

Here are some Michigan flat fee MLS companies to compare:

Flat Fee Pros

Flat Fee Pros

Flat Fee Pros

Best For

Inexperienced sellers who need extra guidance

Price Range

$349-1,499

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • You'll get a yard sign and a key lock box with every listing package. Most companies make you pay extra for those.
  • With every package except the Basic listing, you'll get a comparative market analysis to help you price your home.

Cons:

  • You have to pay extra for contracts, addendums, and disclosures.
  • The basic plan doesn't come with any phone or email support.
SHOW MORE
Kermath Realty

Kermath Realty

Kermath Realty

Best For

Experienced sellers looking for a simple MLS listing

Price Range

$299-998

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • All listings come with a color flyer than you print out for people at open houses or put in a flyer box on your yard sign.
  • If you go with the Deluxe listing package, you'll get a key lock box and access to ShowingTime, a software agents use to coordinate showings.

Cons:

  • You won't get any additional support from the broker unless you sign up for a full-service plan.
  • They aren't clear if you can make changes to your listing after it's on the MLS.
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Modern Way Realty

Modern Way Realty

Modern Way Realty

Best For

Sellers who expect their home to take longer than six months to sell

Price Range

$395-695

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The basic listing term is 12 months.
  • You'll receive and sign all your paperwork digitally so you don't have to worry about mailing, faxing, or hand delivering your documents to the agent.
  • Buyers can schedule showings and submit offers online.

Cons:

  • The basic package doesn't include a comparative market analysis or any other kind of pricing assistance.
  • You have to upgrade to full-service to be able to add open houses to your MLS listing.
SHOW MORE

» LEARN: About flat fee MLS services in Michigan

5 tips for selling your home without a realtor in Michigan

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 a realtor.

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 Michigan

Top Upgrades
Avg. Repair Cost
Avg. Resale Value
Cost Recouped
Garage Door Replacement
$4,046
$3,801
93.9%
Manufactured Stone Veneer
$11,008
$9,923
90.1%
Siding Replacement | Vinyl
$19,008
$13,096
68.9%
Based on regional data from Remodeling

Note: A resale value of more than 100% indicates a profitable repair.

2. Price your Michigan home competitively

Part of the art of selling real estate without a realtor is setting a price on the home that isn't too high or too low for the local market.

Currently, Michigan real estate is very hot. You might want to take advantage of this trend to sell your home now. But city-level trends will have a big impact on how you list your home.

For example, in Lansing, the median sales price ($96,900) is higher than the median list price ($95,000). This is a good indication that if you list slightly lower, you can attract more buyers and get multiple offers that drive up the price.

But in Grand Rapids, the median sales price is over $20,000 under the list price. Listing slightly under other homes in your area will help you stand out from other homes on the market.

Bonus tip: A pre-sale appraisal house gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home.

Based on our research, in Michigan, appraisals average $270 to $320, but help you walk away with thousands more once your home is sold.

3. Stage and market your home

It pays to do a little home staging prior to listing your home on the market. A little staging can help to make the rooms feel bigger, remove traces of personalization, and add “homey” touches that make your home stand out. The goal of home staging is to help the buyers picture themselves living in the home.

Investing in professional photography can help your home staging efforts to shine in photos. This is especially important if you plan on using popular websites like Zillow or Trulia to market your home, since listings on these sites tend to be photo-heavy.

What's in your listing is just as important as the way it looks. A powerful description not only talks about the home, but also sells a vision. Talk about your home's best features that matter to Michigan residents, like energy-efficient windows to keep out the winter cold.

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 Clever survey of local real estate professionals found that in Michigan, sellers often cover 2.00% to 2.90% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median value, that equates to $4,713 to $6,834, 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 Michigan

Concession
Benefits of Offering Concession
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.
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 issues and is typically less expensive than paying for the repairs (or accepting a lower offer from a wary buyer).
Repair Credits
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 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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Additional resources for Michigan home sellers

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