Why trust us: To create this guide, we surveyed and interviewed Pennsylvania real estate agents, studied Pennsylvania real estate law, and researched more than 20 FBSO companies and alternatives. Learn more about why you can trust our advice.
Choosing to sell your home without a realtor in Pennsylvania means you'll save yourself the average Pennsylvania listing commission of 2.81%. For an average-priced home in Pennsylvania, cutting out listing commission can lead to savings of $6,852.
Once you realize how much you can save, selling a home for sale by owner (FSBO) is very tempting. But remember, you'll need to do all of the work a real estate agent would normally do, including setting the price, listing the home, scheduling showings, and dealing with negotiations. You'll also be on your own during closing, which involves complicated paperwork.
If selling FSBO was easy, everyone would do it. But only 10% of home sales are for sale by owner. Even if you do save money on commission, you might not sell for as much without an agent. Sale by owner homes go for as much as 35% less than those made with an agent.
Selling without a realtor in Pennsylvania is right for some, but not everyone. This guide will help you determine if you should go FSBO and explain more about the FSBO selling process.
Who should sell a house by owner?
Selling a home without an agent isn't a decision to make lightly. Consider the pros and cons of FSBO before listing.
Selling without a realtor in Pennsylvania could be right for you if:
You have experience selling a home, with or without a real estate agent. If you've sold before, you have some idea of what to expect during the selling process.
You know a real estate expert that you can ask for advice. It can be a big advantage if you have a family member or friend who knows about real estate and they're okay with answering an occasional question.
You have time in your schedule to devote to selling your home. Acting as your own agent means being available all of the time to answer questions and schedule showings.
You've already found a buyer. If you don't need to find a buyer, much of the work is already complete. You'll still have to navigate closing on your own, though.
You want to be in charge of your home sale. If you want to have complete control over everything involved in selling your home — from the price to the final negotiations — FSBO sales allow that.
If more than two of these criteria don't sound like you, consider hiring an agent instead.
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania!
How to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania
Here are 6 steps to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania:
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 FSBO sellers to put a FSBO sign in their yard if they list on the multiple listing service (MLS) using a flat-fee MLS company.
Here's an overview of what laws you need to know in Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania FSBO facts
Real estate attorney required?
FSBO yard sign allowed?
Required state disclosures?
Although selling your home without an 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 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. 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.
Also, consider how valuable specific repairs are to buyers in your area. We asked top agents in Pennsylvania what repairs they think help a home sell. Here are some additional repairs you can make before selling:
- DRYLOCK basement walls — With so much rain and snow, water infiltration is a major problem in Pennsylvania. Left unchecked, it could cause mold and mildew and lead to cracks in the foundation from repeated freezing and thawing. Use DRYLOCK, a product to prevent water seepage, on your walls and floor.
- Unclog gutters — Overflowing gutters can cause water damage in your basement. You may be able to clear debris with your hands, a hose, and a garden trowel. Use power tools, such as a leaf blower or power washer, for stubborn clogs.
- Upgrade your bathrooms — Some older homes in Western PA have a curious feature known as the "Pittsburgh potty," an open toilet in the basement, often with no sink or privacy walls. Consider converting it into a modern restroom or replacing it with a more practical feature, such as a utility sink.
- Minimum federal property standards — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans are quite common in rural areas of Pennsylvania. To attract the most buyers, make sure your property is up to federal standards. Some of the most common repairs may include installing handrails on stairs, replacing cracked windows, and fixing a leaky faucet.
- New furnace or heat pump — Pennsylvanians don't want their heating system to stop working in January. Dispel any fears by replacing your furnace or heat pump, especially if it's 10–20 years old. If you can't afford to replace it, get a tuneup and have a service contract to show potential buyers.
- Roof repairs or replacement — Buyers may not see a leaky roof when they're walking through your home, but inspectors and appraisers will definitely notice. Get a pre-sale inspection to make sure your roof is in good working order. A roof can be expensive to replace, and you may not get a full return on your investment. But, leaving it as is could kill a sale.
🙋🏾 Ask a realtor: "A lot of first-time buyer are looking to move right in," said Christina Hoffmeier, a real estate agent of 15 years in the Pittsburgh area. "Less and less buyers are handy. Today’s millennials don’t want to gut a house when they move in, especially when they pay top dollar. Plus, contractors are booked six months out, so it’s just not feasible."
» 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. Start by decluttering, deep cleaning, and sprucing up your home's curb appeal. We asked top agents in Pennsylvania for their best additional staging tips.
- To make your home look more spacious, consider 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 Pennsylvania, expect to pay between $1,012–2,762 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.
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: "Price your home unemotionally," Hoffmeier said. "Your home is now your product. If Walmart and Target are selling the same product, buyers will go to the one that’s cheaper."
A pre-sale appraisal gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home. In Pennsylvania, appraisals average $320 to $385 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 Pennsylvania real estate market
Before you set the price for your home, you need to know what's going on with the local market. In Pennsylvania, home sales dropped by 33.1% from late 2021 to late 2022. This is happening across the U.S. as the housing market cools off after two years of fast-paced selling. But just because fewer people are selling their homes, it doesn't mean you'll have trouble selling yours.
Median home value*
Median listing price+
Listing price per square foot+
Percent of homes with price reduction+
*Based on data from Zillow (March 2023)
⁺Based on data from Realtor.com (March 2023)
However, home values vary from city to city within the same state, and determining the right price for your home will depend on your location. Here are the median home values for some of Pennsylvania's biggest cities:
Median home value
Having less competition could be a good thing. Homes are selling about as quickly as they were a year ago, with a median of 35 days on the market. You just may not earn as much as you did a year or two ago. Home prices in Pennsylvania are flattening, having increased only 1.8% in median price from a year ago.
With home prices leveling off, the savings you'd get selling without an agent can be tempting to think about. But it's also important to remember that you might not sell for nearly as much on your own, negating any savings you'd earn from FSBO.
Enter your ZIP code to find a Clever partner agent in your area.
Step 3: List your Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, according to real estate professionals.
Pennsylvania buyer priorities
Advice for FSBO sellers
Radon mitigation system
Because of the state's geology, an estimated 40% of Pennsylvania homes have radon levels above Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. If you have a radon mitigation system, it will give buyers peace of mind about their health and safety. At the very least, perform an at-home radon test and let buyers know the results.
Most buyers want move-in ready homes. Be specific about large updates you’ve made in the last five years, such as rewiring electric or installing a new furnace. List when the renovation occurred, how much it cost, and its current condition.
A dry basement
A leaky basement can cause mold, mildew, and foundation problems. If you've treated your basement for cracks or have a dehumidifier or sump pump, include that in your listing.
As temperatures drop, energy use rises. If you have a heat pump, sprayed additional insulation, or installed energy-efficient windows, mention that in your listing. Consider including a recent utility bill.
Garage or carport
No one wants to scrape 2 in. of ice off their car windshield before heading to work in the morning. Let buyers know if there's a covered area where they can park their vehicles to shield them from winter weather.
A heated driveway that prevents snow and ice accumulation allows owners to easily enter and exit their home without any shoveling.
Heated interior floors
Stepping onto cold stone, tile, or concrete can feel like walking through a frozen tundra. Heated interior floors will make Pennsylvania's cold winters much more comfortable for buyers. If your home has other luxury features, include that in your listing to make it stand out.
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 Pennsylvania.
FSBO sellers also have several free or low-cost options.
- Zillow: Listing on Zillow is free and takes just a few simple steps: create a profile, claim your home, navigate to the FSBO page, fill out your listing info, click publish, and wait for verification. Zillow listings also automatically appear on its sister site, Trulia. However, recent changes to Zillow keep FSBO listings separate from agent listings, meaning your home will be a lot less visible to buyers.
- 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 Pennsylvania 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.
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.
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 Pennsylvania, sellers often cover 2.10% to 3.00% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median value, that will cost an additional $5,121 to $7,316.
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 problems and is typically less expensive than paying for the repairs (or accepting a lower offer from a wary buyer).
You often have to share past tax information about the property before closing a sale. By covering some of those costs, you can offer buyers some financial relief and make them more inclined to close the sale.
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.
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.
🤔 Do I need a real estate attorney to sell my house in Pennsylvania?
If you use a title company, Pennsylvania doesn't require a real estate lawyer to be present at closing. But if you're selling for sale by owner, you may want one to ensure you comply with local laws and protect you from being sued.
Real estate attorneys usually work for an upfront flat fee or an hourly rate costing a few hundred dollars. Find lawyers near you by searching the state bar association, Avvo, or FindLaw.
» READ: How Much are Closing Costs for Sellers in Pennsylvania?
Paperwork to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania
In a typical real estate transaction, your agent will make sure you fill out all the necessary documents and forms. FSBO sellers have to navigate the paperwork by themselves. Here’s a quick breakdown of Pennsylvania's requirements.
Want to save this list for later? Download our FSBO paperwork checklist to help you prepare for your sale.
Required for all Pennsylvania real estate sales
Two forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Pennsylvania-issued ID.
Copy of purchase and sale agreement and addendums
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.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania disclosure forms
The seller disclosure statement details known issues with your home and its major appliances and systems.
With some federally backed mortgages, your buyer's lender might require information about the property's flood risk.
If your home was built before 1978, federal law requires that you disclose information about the dangers of lead-based paint.
» LEARN: Disclosure Requirements for Selling Pennsylvania Real Estate
Where to find documents
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, the state chapter of the National Association of Realtors, provides most of the forms used in a typical real estate transaction exclusively to its members and their clients. However, the site offers descriptions of each document that FSBO sellers can read if they need help choosing which forms to use and how to complete them.
Documents may be written in other legal formats if you choose to write them yourself or hire an attorney to help with the paperwork.
✍️ How to write a purchase agreement in Pennsylvania
You can write your own purchase agreement for free if you have access to word processing software, a printer, and legal paper. You must include all the necessary components and terms of sale. Here's what to include:
Templates for purchase agreements and disclosures can also be found online. Just make sure you download the most up-to-date version for your transaction. Updates seem to happen every six months to a year. Check the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors' standard forms page for any changes.
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 sellers with top, local agents. You pay Clever nothing. You'll only pay your full-service agent 1.5% if your home sells.
💲 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 Pennsylvania
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
1% (min. $2,500)
💰 Avg. Savings
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.8/5 (1,400 reviews)
Houwzer has very low listing fees, but you may be frustrated working with a team instead of just your realtor.
- You’ll pay a 1% listing fee, which is one of the lowest rates in the industry.
- Houwzer’s maximum listing fee of $10,000 makes it a great deal for homes over $1 million.
- Houwzer has a small team, which limits your options if you don't hit it off with the first agent it sends you.
- The company uses a team-based approach, which increases the chances of miscommunication and mistakes.
Houwzer has a 4.8 out of 5 rating (1,400 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Zillow.
Houwzer is available in the following locations: FL, MD, NJ, PA, VA, DC.
💲 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 2021?
Flat fee MLS companies in Pennsylvania
A flat fee MLS service will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In Pennsylvania, this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.
Sellers who want to manage their listing completely online
- The basic listing package includes 25 photos. Many competitors include fewer than 10 with their lowest listing tier.
- For an extra fee the listing broker will review your contract and walk you through everything included in it.
- You'll pay extra to get your contact info added to your Zillow listing.
- Simple Choice Realty doesn't cover all areas of the state. You can check with the broker to see if they take listings in your area.
Sellers who want an affordable barebones MLS listing without any extras
- You can choose to defer payment until after closing.
- The company claims it will beat any competitor's price by 10%.
- XFlatFeeMLS offers a full refund if you decide to list with one of its recommended full-service agents instead of selling FSBO.
- The deferred payment plan costs more than twice the unlimited listing.
- The website is hard to navigate and offers no way to manage your listing and leads online.
Sellers who need a longer listing term
- The base package comes with a 12-month listing term. Many companies only offer six-month options for their basic listing.
- You'll get a for sale sign with each listing package — just pay $10 for shipping.
- You won't get any pricing assistance unless you upgrade to the full-service option ($1,999).
» FIND: 5 Best Pennsylvania Flat Fee MLS Companies in 2021
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 PA home sellers
FAQs: How to sell your house without a realtor in PA
Listing on Zillow is free, and homes will automatically appear on its sister site, Trulia. However, recent changes to Zillow keep FSBO listings separate from agent listings, meaning your home will be a lot less visible to buyers.
The most common forms you need to sell a house by owner in Pennsylvania are:
- Copy of purchase agreement
- Signed deed
- Bill of sale
- Affidavit of title
- Seller's property disclosure statement
- Lead-based paint disclosure
- Flood zone statement
Pennsylvania doesn't require a real estate lawyer to be present at closing. But if you're selling for sale by owner, you may want one to ensure you comply with local laws and protect you from being sued.