What FSBO sellers in Washington, D.C. need to know | Washington, D.C. FSBO paperwork | Washington, D.C. real estate commissions | How to list FSBO | FSBO pros and cons | Tips for selling without a realtor | FSBO alternatives
In Washington, D.C., the average realtor commission rate is 5.00% to 5.50%. If you sell a house worth $550,900 — the median home value in Washington, D.C. — that’s over $16,500, 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.
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.
Since FSBO homes tend to sell for less money, you may pocket more profit by working with a low commission realtor who can sell your home for top dollar. For example, Clever pre-negotiates 1% listing fees (or $3,000 for homes under $350,000) with top-rated local agents. You'll get the support of a full-service agent for a fraction of the typical price, so you can walk away from your sale with the most cash possible.
Or, keep reading to learn how to successfully sell your house without an agent. We'll explain the ins and outs of any costs, Washington, D.C. FSBO paperwork, pricing strategies, and more.
What FSBO sellers in Washington, D.C. need to know
🔑 Key benefits of selling FSBO
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 Washington, D.C., but here's an overview of the state's laws and regulations.
Washington, D.C. 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.
- 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 Washington, D.C.
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 Washington, D.C. and think your house is worth about $551,000, 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 Washington, D.C. real estate market
Median Home Value*
Median Listing Price⁺
Listing Price per sqft⁺
% of Homes with Price Reduction⁺
Pricing Advice: 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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. Buyer Priorities
Advice for FSBO Sellers
1. School Districts
Include appealing information about school districts in your listing description, such as its GreatSchools rating, graduation rates, parental reviews, or state accolades.
2. 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.
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 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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C.
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 Washington, D.C., this typically ranges from 2.50% to 3.00% 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 2.50% to 2.50%.
Average Range in Washington, D.C.*
2.50% to 3.00%
$13,773 to $16,528
Buyer Agent's Commission
2.50% to 2.50%
$13,773 to $13,773
*Based on the average commission rates from a 2022 Clever survey of 915 real estate agents
⁺Based on the median home value in Washington, D.C. (Zillow.com, April 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 2.50% in Washington, D.C.).
» LEARN: How real estate commissions work
How commission costs break down in Washington, D.C.
When you sell your home, there are four common scenarios when it comes to commissions:
- List FSBO and sell to a buyer without an agent: 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 Washington, D.C.:
*Based on the median home value in Washington, D.C. (Zillow.com, April 2022) and that FSBO homes sell for 6% less (Collateral Analytics, 2017)
+Based on the average commission rates from a 2022 Clever survey of 915 real estate agents
Paperwork to sell a house by owner in Washington, D.C.
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 Washington, D.C.’s requirements.
Required for all Washington, D.C. real estate sales
2 Forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Washington, D.C.-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.
Washington, D.C. disclosure forms
Real Estate 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 working with a low commission realtor instead.
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 Washington, D.C.'s average commission rates, that could leave 2.50% to 5.50% of your sale price in your pocket. Even if your buyer has an agent, you'll still avoid paying 2.50% to 3.00% in listing commissions.
- Less visibility with buyers: 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.
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.
💲 Listing Fee
$3,000 or 1%
💰 Buyer Savings
Up to 0.5% cash back
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.9/5 (1,512 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.
- Free, nationwide agent-matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX
- Provides multiple agent matches so you can interview, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit
- Pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf — you get full service for a flat $3,000 listing fee, or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000
- If you buy with Clever, you could get a check worth up to 0.5% of the home price
- You may not get matched with an agent from your preferred real estate brokerage.
- Agents may not provide premium services like drone photography and professional home staging.
As of March 11, 2022, Clever has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 1,512 reviews.
Clever has pre-negotiated low commission rates with top agents in all 50 states and Washington, DC.
Discount real estate services in Washington, D.C.
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
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
3.9/5 (416 reviews)
Redfin offers real savings and 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 3.9 out of 5 rating (416 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Yelp.
Redfin is available in 80+ U.S. markets (see all locations).
💲 Listing Fee
💰 Avg. Savings
⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.8/5 (1,300 reviews)
Houwzer offers true flat-fee savings — but homes near or below $500,000 can likely find better rates and less risk elsewhere.
- Huge commission savings on luxury homes
- Listing fee includes virtual home tours and other premium marketing services
- Houwzer has a small team, which limits your options if you don't hit it off with the first agent they send you
- If you're selling a lower-priced home, Houwzer may not be cheaper than selling with a traditional realtor
Houwzer has a 4.8 out of 5 rating (1,300 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 (956 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 (956 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.
» LEARN: About discount real estate services
Flat-fee MLS services in Washington, D.C.
As mentioned before, a flat-fee MLS service will post your listing on the local MLS, usually for a low, upfront fee. In Washington, D.C., this will typically cost you a couple hundred dollars.
Here are some Washington, D.C. flat-fee MLS companies to compare:
Sellers looking for a lot of a-la-carte options
- You can fill out, sign, and submit all your seller's paperwork on the Houzeo app.
- When you enter your address, Houzeo auto-fills publicly available data about your property.
- Houzeo lets you buy additional services like contract reviews, agent showings, and professional showings a la carte.
- You have to pay extra for pricing assistance — several local competitors offer this for free.
- You're limited to 10 free changes for price, status, and description in their two most popular packages. Most competitors offer unlimited free changes.
Sellers who want to work with a local broker with a national reputation
- You can set up a free FSBO web page along with your MLS listing
- In most states it's easy to switch to a full-service agent if you decide FSBO isn't for you
- Your package options and quality of service will vary based on the listing broker in your state
- As of January 6, 2021, Flat Fee Group does not have brokers in Montana, West Virginia, and Wyoming
Sellers who also want to list on a large FSBO marketplace
- Your home will appear in your local MLS and on FSBO.com. A lot of people shop directly for FSBO properties on their site.
- FSBO.com refers you to a broker in your area instead of listing your property itself. Your experience could vary greatly dependin on the broker you're matched with.
- You have to pay for seller disclosures, for sale signs, and lock boxes separately.
5 tips for selling your home without a realtor in Washington, D.C.
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 Washington, D.C.
Avg. Repair Cost
Avg. Resale Value
Manufactured Stone Veneer
Garage Door Replacement
Minor Kitchen Remodel | Midrange
Based on regional data from Remodeling
Note: A resale value of more than 100% indicates a profitable repair.
2. Price your Washington, D.C. home competitively
Getting the most money for your home begins with setting the right pricing according to market conditions. Right now, the D.C. market leans more toward the buyer's side, which might make it tough for sellers to obtain great offers on their listings.
In Washington, D.C., the median sale price is almost $69,500 lower than the median listing price. Given that discrepancy, be realistic when pricing your home.
Listing slightly lower than other homes could lead to a bidding war that lets you still sell for your target price.
Bonus tip: A pre-sale appraisal house gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home.
Based on our research, in Washington, D.C., 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 main goal of staging is to arrange the house so that potential buyers can picture themselves living in the home. They'll become more attached to the house and be more likely to make you an offer.
You'll also need to take professional-quality photos of the property, write a home description, and advertise your listing.
Pay attention to how realtors are describing nearby homes in listings on Zillow and Realtor.com. This will give you a hint about what your listing needs to say to attract local buyers.
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 Washington, D.C., sellers often cover 1.80% to 2.40% of buyers' closing costs. On a home of median value, that equates to $9,917 to $13,222, 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 Washington, D.C.
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).
Most mortgage lenders require an appraisal before finalizing a buyer's financing. This can be a costly, upfront cost for the buyer, so offering a credit for the appraisal gives the buyer funds to cover other buying costs.
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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