When selling your home, you undoubtedly want to get top dollar for it and sell it as quickly as possible. However, those who think the best way to do this on their own need to be prepared for how much work they will need to do.

A for sale by owner transaction ostensibly saves you the cost of paying realtor commissions and allows you to directly control costs through the entire sale process. If it were that easy though real estate agents wouldn’t exist.

The process of selling your home can actually be quite complicated, and a small percentage of those who try to sell on their own end up closing on a transaction. Most sellers have no idea how to manage inspections, disclosures, the title process, and all other requirements that may be applicable in your city or state.

Furthermore, the 6% in agent commissions you expect to be saving are offset by receiving a lower price. Through disruption and competition in the industry, there are better ways to sell your home for top dollar than trying to sell it on your own.

Working with an expert real estate agent, such as a low-cost Clever Partner Agent, has been proven to bring you the highest return for your home. A Partner Agent will manage the entire sale process for you, including recommending any renovations and repairs, arranging staging, and effectively marketing your home to the best prospective buyers.

How Real Estate Agent Commissions work in Washington

Washington follows most of the country, where typical commissions are 6% and are paid by the seller. However, commissions are negotiable and competition in the market place often sees commissions being reduced or sometimes rebated.

With median home values across Washington around $385,000, commissions would come out to $23,100. This is then split with the seller’s agent responsible for paying the buyer’s agent their portion. However, in more competitive markets, or higher value markets like Seattle where values are twice as high, commissions are often negotiated at 4-5%.

What most for sale by owners don’t realize is that they will still need to pay buyer’s agents for bringing qualified buyers to them. This still leaves them responsible for paying 2-3% of the transaction cost, or only have the 6% savings they thought they were going to receive.

4 Tips for Selling Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent in Washington

1. Price Your Washington Home Competitively

As mentioned median values are around $385,000 in Washington, but prices and market conditions vary greatly from city to city. Across the state, home values rose over 6% over the past year, but in Seattle values were on the decline in 2018.

Recent data from NAR suggests that sellers who work with agents, on average, get 33% more for their homes than those who opt to sell on their own. In the expensive Seattle market, which has a median value of $725,000 this could mean leaving over $225,000 on the table.

If you are going to sell on your own, you need to carefully compare prices in your neighborhood and see what similar homes are selling for. However, a local, real estate expert will have access to recent sales, inventory, and other listing service data to better do this for you.

Learn More: A Better Alternative to Selling for Cash

2. Stage, Market, and List Your Home to Attract Qualified Buyers

Many for sale by owner transactions fail to properly market to the correct buyers. Knowing how to prepare and market your home is crucial to not only getting top dollar, but also finding the right buyers for your home.

For example, staging your home correctly makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home and increase their offer price. Simple steps like putting up neutral paint schemes, open floor plans, and highlighting the correct features of your home are unknown to most owners.

An expert real estate agent will also have access to multiple listing services, have a network of buyer’s agents, and have an idea of renovations and repairs you should consider in your market.

Learn More: How Much Does it Cost to Stage a Home?

3. Negotiate With Buyers to Get the Best Possible Price

Every transaction has an element of negotiations to it, and many owners are unprepared or don’t understand how to properly negotiate this. At the outset owners may be too emotionally attached to their home, or not have enough market knowledge, to accurately negotiate the value of their home.

Additionally, many trying to sell on their own do not understand how inspections and contingencies work, which provide further opportunity to negotiate the final price of a home sale. Taxes, commissions, and other fees are also negotiated in the closing process and are areas many are unprepared for.

A local real estate agent will best understand local customs, common contingencies, and current market conditions to better help you negotiate and save money during the home selling process.

Learn More: Real Estate Counter Offer Etiquette (with Examples)

4. Understand Washington’s Legal Requirements & Paperwork Involved

The rules of what you need to disclose when selling Washington real estate are outlined in Section 64.06.020 of the Revised Washington Code. These include inspection requirements for water supply, property structures, sewage systems, HOA requirements, and many environmental factors.

All of these can be complicated and require multiple inspections, but you only have to disclose those issues you are aware of in Washington. You should never take a chance with disclosures. If you are unsure whether or not a potential issue is “material,” then it’s probably best that you include it anyway.

Other legal requirements and paperwork may be related to mortgage and deed filings, transfer and other property taxes, and various other local requirements that may exist. A local real estate agent will know best what these requirements are.

Learn More: How Much Paperwork is Required to Sell a Home without a Realtor?

The Pros and Cons of Selling Your Washington Home Without a Real Estate Agent

It can be difficult to calculate the hard cost-savings of working with an agent. Unless you are a seasoned real estate professional who’s extremely well-versed in home valuations, local market trends, pricing negotiations, legal documents, and tax protocols, you’re likely leaving substantial dollars on the table.

Cost-Saving Alternatives for Washington Sellers

While selling a home on your own may seem like you are saving on agent commissions, better alternatives exist. Some agents are willing to negotiate their commissions, but Clever Partner Agents provide the same full service for a flat listing fee of $3,000 or just 1% if the property sells for more than $350,000.

This not only will save you on seller’s agent commission, but will ensure that you are getting the latest guidance and service selling your home. Partner Agents have the latest market reports, know local regulations, and will expertly market your home to qualified buyers.

If you are in the Seattle area, instead of leaving $225,000 in value on the table during your home sale, let Clever save you $15,000 in commission, while getting top dollar for your home. Clever works with agents from all major brands and brokerages (Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, etc.) across Washington, who’ve agreed to provide you the same great service for a flat rate and lower commissions.