Selling a House Privately (Without a Real Estate Agent)

WOWA Trusted and Transparent

Selling a house privately means doing it without a real estate agent, and is usually called For Sale By Owner, or FSBO. This can be a great option for homeowners that are particularly savvy about the home selling process and already know the ins-and-outs of selling a home by themselves. Selling a home without a real estate agent means that you can save money by not having to pay a listing agent any real estate commissions, but there can be downsides to not working with an agent. This page will take a look at how to sell your house privately, the benefits and challenges of FSBO, and services and platforms that can help FSBO listings.

What You Should Know

  • Selling a house privately is also known as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO
  • You won’t have to pay real estate commissions for a listing agent but you will still need to pay the buyer’s agent commission
  • You can list your home on a MLS by paying a flat-fee to a discount brokerage
  • Selling a home without a real estate agent means that all of the work is put on you, including negotiating offers, communicating with buyers, and coordinating services

How to Sell your House Privately

There are a lot of moving parts involved in selling a home. Many of these steps are usually taken care of by a real estate agent. If you’re planning on doing a FSBO listing, here are the general steps to selling your home privately in Canada.

Step 1: Research

Research is very important and should always be done before you even start thinking about putting your home up for sale. To start off the process, you should be looking for information to help you value your home and to know what options are available to you.

To get a general idea of the value of your home, take a look at other comparable homes in your neighbourhood and what they are listed for. Known as a comparative market analysis (CMA), taking a look at what other homes in your area have been listed for and sold for can give you a rough range for your own home. You can do a comparative yourself or you can enlist the help of a local real estate agent. For example, some agents may provide a free personalized CMA report as a consultation, but you can expect them to throw in a sales pitch as well.

You also should do research to see how your local real estate market is doing to look at overall trends. This also includes looking at all of your options. What’s the average time that it takes for a home to be sold in your area? Should I sell my home, or should I rent it out instead? Will renovations be worth it and significantly increase the value of my home? Having the answers to these questions and planning it all out in advance is key to maximizing the value of your home and to ensuring a successful and smooth sales process without any surprises.

Step 2: Preparations for Sale

You have done your research and you decide that you want to go ahead with selling your home. The next step is getting your home ready for sale. You will want your home to look presentable to buyers to make your listing attractive and appealing. This includes decluttering by putting any excess furniture into storage, removing personal belongings that are out in the open, and opening up space so that buyers can see a blank canvas for them to envision their future home. If your home needs any touching up, such as a fresh coat of paint, redoing landscaping, or repairs around the house, it's a good time to do it now. You may also want to consider things that may negatively impact your home’s price. That’s why getting a home inspection done can help uncover things and fix them up. This gives one less reason for buyers to give a lower offer.

Sometimes home renovations can help increase the value of your home and be worth the cost. For example, if your kitchen is outdated and poses a risk of scaring away potential buyers, a kitchen remodel might be worth it to breathe some life back into the home. Small home improvements can also be done to update your home, such as replacing light fixtures and light bulbs, installing a smart thermostat, or adding more insulation.

One way you can get through this step with less work is by hiring a home stager and getting your home staged. Home staging can be worth the cost as it helps to get your home sold faster and for more money. Getting professional photography done can also be a worthwhile investment.

Step 3: Decide on a Listing Price

Now that your home is in tip-top shape and ready for sale, you’ll need to decide on a listing price. The listing price is also referred to as the asking price. Your listing price can be any number, but it’s important to remember that just because you’re asking for a certain price doesn’t mean that a buyer will be willing to pay that price. Likewise, buyers can always offer more than your listing price as well.

Your home’s listing price is essential as it’s one of the main things that a buyer will look at first. It’s a good idea to get a home appraisal in order to find the real value for your home. Your listing price can then be set near this value.

Step 4: Listing Your Home

This is probably the step that you have been waiting for the most, actually listing your home for sale. Did you know that you can list your home on the MLS without a real estate agent? Instead, you can use discount real estate brokerages to list your home on the MLS. This service is called flat fee MLS listings, or mere postings.

With a flat fee MLS listing, a real estate agent from the discount brokerage will list your home on the MLS, but they won't provide any other services such as helping with offers or finding buyers for your listing. Instead, all they will do is list your home and make any changes to the listing if you request for it. When the home is sold, you won’t be charged any real estate commissions either. Instead, the flat fee paid is the only cost to listing a FSBO on the MLS.

You can also list your home outside of the traditional MLS, or do a combination of both. There are free property listing websites and classifieds that let you list a FSBO listing for free. You may make a posting on traditional classifieds, such as Craigslist or Kijiji. You may even list your FSBO home on eBay or on social media platforms. You won’t necessarily be limited in where you can list your home, but you will still need to be able to keep on top of all of your listings so that you don’t miss out on communicating with your potential buyers.

Step 5: Marketing

You can’t just expect to have your home listed on MLS or on a classifieds website and have buyers lined up with offers. Marketing is important to bringing in buyers and getting attention for your listing. Real estate advertising can range from knocking on doors and cold calling to digital marketing and online ads.

During this time, you'll also want to hold home viewings and open houses. Usually hosted by a real estate agent, you can show buyers your home yourself and become your own salesperson. This can involve managing appointments and scheduling home showings.

Step 6: Negotiating

Hopefully you’ve received offers from buyers. Without a listing agent to negotiate offers on your behalf, you’ll need to become your own advocate. You should have offers in writing. Getting a real estate lawyer is a must, and can help you out with the real estate contract, contingencies, and conditions.

Step 7: Closing

Closing involves a lot of paperwork, which is why a lawyer is needed. They will handle all of the documents needed to sell your home privately, and coordinate with other professionals when necessary. If you sold your home to a buyer that was represented by a buyer’s agent, you’ll still need to pay the buyer’s agent real estate commission. In most cases, this is usually only half of what you would normally pay if you also had a listing agent. That’s because real estate commissions are often split 50/50 between the buyer and seller agents. With one agent out of the way, you can save the rest. If your buyer was also unrepresented, you’ll save even more money.

Should I Sell My House Privately?

Selling your home without a real estate agent puts a lot of work on you. In order to not only be able to sell your home by yourself, but to sell your home for the best possible price, you’ll need to be able to do the following:

  • Value your home
  • Coordinate with other professionals, such as buyer’s agents, home stagers, photographers, lawyers, notaries, mortgage lenders, home appraisers, and home inspectors
  • Marketing and communicating with buyers
  • Negotiating and handling offers

If you’re able to handle all of this, and you have the time and motivation in order to do so, there are still some drawbacks to a FSBO listing. Here are some pros and cons of selling a house privately in Canada.

Pros and Cons of Selling a House Privately

ProsCons
  • Keep more of your money by saving on real estate commissions
  • Full control over the sale
  • Requires time and attention to deal with buyers
  • Will need to handle marketing, negotiating, and communication
  • WIll need to do your own research, rather than have someone guide you
  • Can leave money on the table
  • Lack of training and experience

If you’re able to take over the tasks that a real estate agent does, then selling a house by yourself can be a great way to save money while also having full control over every little detail of the sale. However, if you’re not up to the task, you might risk leaving money on the table just to save money on commissions. Selling a home takes a lot of work, and some owners might not have enough free time to sell their home effectively. You’ll also need to be skilled with negotiating and marketing, which isn’t something that comes easily to people not familiar with it.

You will also most likely still need to pay for the commission of a buyer’s agent. These are agents that bring buyers to your listing. If they purchase your home, the buyer’s agent will need to be compensated. If you don’t offer any compensation for buyer’s agents in your listing, then agents might be less willing to bring buyers to your listing. On a $500,000 home, you can save upwards of $10,000 in real estate commissions on the part of the listing agent alone. Whether the hassle of selling your home by yourself is worth $10,000 depends on your own skills and knowledge. Making a mistake, such as mispricing your home or not being able to negotiate effectively, may cost you more than you’ll save in commissions. That’s why it may be worth it to work with a local real estate agent instead.

Where Can I List My FSBO Home?

There are many FSBO listing services online that not only are places that you can list your FSBO home, but they can also offer assistance and services to help you in your private home sale. These FSBO services usually cost a flat fee.

One example is PropertyGuys.com. It's one of the largest FSBO listing websites in Canada and provides a mix of consultants and specialists to help you along the way. Calls and home bookings are also handled through PropertyGuys. Buyers on the website can also find your FSBO through the website’s search feature.

There are also brokerages that can list your FSBO directly onto MLS or Realtor.ca. One example is Easy List Realty, which lists your home on MLS, Realtor.ca, and your local real estate board for a flat fee of $499. You can also purchase for sale lawn signs and posts from $100. Another example is FSBO Realty, which also has a flat fee of $499 with a free for sale sign. You can have your FSBO listed in as little as 12 hours. Another example is duProprio, with flat fees starting from as low as $700.

Besides these paid listing services, you can list outside of MLS and Realtor.ca. Free options include Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook, and

What Other Ways Can I Save on Commissions?

Besides selling your home by yourself, you can still save on commissions by choosing to work with discount real estate brokerages and agents. You’ll have all the support and services of a real estate agent, but the commissions are lower, letting you save money.

One example of this is Purplebricks. You will get all the services of a traditional full-service listing agent, but you will only be charged a flat fee of $3,999 for the listing agent's commission. You’ll still need to pay for the buyer’s agent commission.

Another example is discount brokerages, such as One Percent Realty. As the name suggests, they only charge a 1% commission for the listing agent. You’ll still need to pay for the buyer’s agent commission as well.

One way to easily find low commission real estate agents is with WOWA.ca. To learn more, visit our page about low commission real estate agents.

Selling a House Privately in Ontario

You don’t need to be a licensed real estate agent in order to sell your own home in Ontario, but you will still need to work with a real estate lawyer. If you want to list your home on MLS, your listing will also need to be checked by your listing brokerage, whether it be a flat-fee discount brokerage or a listing agent. That’s brought about by the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s (RECO) code of ethics.

Selling a House Privately in Quebec

Just like other provinces, you can sell your property by yourself in Quebec. However, you won’t be protected by Quebec’s Real Estate Brokerage Act if you don’t work with a licensed real estate agent. You also can’t have your listing on a MLS without the deal being supervised by a Quebec real estate broker.

Selling a House Privately in British Columbia

If you’re looking to sell your house privately in BC, there are many FSBO services that you can use. An example is OneFlatFee, which is the largest flat-fee MLS service in Western Canada. You can list your home for as little as $499.

Selling a House Privately in Alberta

If you’re selling a house privately in Alberta, you’ll still need to follow Alberta laws, such as the required Real Property Report. This report includes a land title search and a land survey. Otherwise, FSBO listings in Alberta are just like any other province.

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.