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- Selling a home without a Realtor in Texas is possible, but it's a lot of work.
- While the "for sale by owner" (or FSBO) option saves you from having to pay the commission fee of a seller's agent, you will still have to pay the buyer's agent.
- If you're not using an agent, it's smart to enlist the services of a local real estate attorney to make sure the deal is legally sound.
If you’re curious about selling your home in the Lone Star State without the help of a real estate agent, it is possible. But, as is the case in any state, it’s complicated.
A Texas seller going it alone won’t have to pay a commission for a seller’s agent, on the one hand — but on the other hand, when you choose this route you’ll have to do all the work yourself, without the guidance of a licensed professional. Selling a home without a Realtor also requires understanding local laws and regulations, marketing and negotiation tactics and more. Here’s what to consider before taking the FSBO plunge in Texas.
How to sell a house by owner in Texas
Anyone who opts for a FSBO sale in Texas (or any state) will have to do everything from creating their home’s listing to setting the price, photographing and marketing it, coordinating showings, fielding offers, negotiating on price and more.
Create a listing
Crafting a listing for your home involves writing a compelling description of the home and property to draw buyers in. Be sure to hit all the basics, such as age, square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as special features, such as a swimming pool or barn. If you have unique views, mention those, and information about the neighborhood and school district is useful too. For a rural or ranch property, waste disposal, acreage and water availability or rights are important, and be sure to indicate if you have sub-surface rights as well. In Texas these rights can be parsed and sold or held seperately.
The listing description must be accompanied by listing photos. These are crucial, as most homebuyers these days look at online listings — 96 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) — and browsers will skip over a photo that doesn’t catch their eye. Consider paying a pro for the most high-quality photos and videos to attract the most potential buyers.
The most important part of your listing is choosing a competitive asking price. How much is your home worth? The statewide median sale price in the second quarter of 2023 was $345,000, according to data from Texas Realtors. But prices vary widely based on where in Texas you live. In the Austin area, for example, the median was a much higher $470,000, while in El Paso it was just $255,000. You can do some of the research that a Realtor would do by checking comps in your market to see how much similar nearby homes have sold for recently. When pricing your house, be honest with yourself. Assess homes that are direct competitors in terms of desirability as compared to yours. Look at the houses that are lingering on the market or failed to sell — their asking prices should put a limit on your expectations.
Market your property
Once you have a listing created, you’ll have to get it seen by house-hunters. FSBO sellers in Texas can use a service to have their home listed on their local MLS, often for a flat fee. Websites like Houzeo, FSBO and Texas MLS Broker offer MLS packages for owners selling without an agent. Some packages come with yard signs, and they can often be purchased at hardware stores too.
Another way to market your home is via social media and platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor. Just be very careful about what you disclose on these online platforms, as they can attract scammers (or worse).
Close the deal
Next comes showing the home to buyers, either with an open house or by appointment, and — hopefully — fielding offers. You may have to negotiate to come to an agreement, so if you’re not comfortable haggling, that’s something to consider. And always exercise common-sense cautions when escorting strangers into your home.
FSBO sellers can benefit greatly from hiring a real estate attorney, especially when it comes to drawing up the purchase contract and managing the closing process. Having a good contract is critical to a successful sale, and there will be lots of other paperwork to sign off on as well. It’s worth the cost to make sure you’re legally protected.
Required disclosures for Texas home sellers
When selling a house in Texas without a Realtor, it’s important to complete the necessary paperwork and know your local laws. The state of Texas requires sellers to provide a number of documents to potential buyers.
The seller must give the buyer a seller’s disclosure notice describing the condition of the property and any known defects, as well as a flood zone statement and, if the home was built before 1978, a lead-based paint disclosure. (There are a couple exceptions to the disclosure rules, such as if you are selling to a family member, but exceptions are relatively rare.) The seller is responsible for accurately completing the disclosure form.
Do I need a lawyer to sell a house by owner in Texas?
The state of Texas does not require home sellers to be represented by a lawyer, whether a Realtor is involved or not. However, when you’re selling without a professional agent, it’s very much worth considering. Local laws, contracts and disclosure forms can be complex, and when there’s this much money at stake, the consequences of a misstep can be big. A lawyer will provide expertise and help ensure that the deal is sound and that your interests are protected.
Pros and cons of selling a house in Texas without a Realtor
FSBO sales have their benefits, especially for people who are experienced home sellers and feel confident in their knowledge of the process. But there are definite drawbacks as well, and the risk level can be high for newbies.
- Save on commission: The typical commission for a seller’s real estate agent is between 2 and 3 percent of the home’s sale price, which can be a significant amount. On a median-priced $345,000 Texas home, for example, 3 percent comes to more than $10,000. By selling on your own, you save that money and keep a bigger chunk of the profit. Keep in mind, though, that you will still have to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission.
- You’re the boss: When you sell by owner, there’s no one else telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. You call the shots and do everything your way.
- Move faster: Realtors typically have more than one client at any given time, which means you’re not the only one they’re trying to schedule for and answer questions from. With no Realtor, you don’t have to wait on their schedule, which can help speed up your sale process.
- No professional guidance: Real estate agents are licensed professionals who know their local markets very well. Without their expertise, you must assess the value of your home, develop a competitive marketing plan and more all on your own. If you’re not a seasoned seller, it can be both stressful and time-consuming.
- Limited pool of potential buyers: Real estate agents also actively promote properties, and many buyers rely on an agent to help them find the right house. Without that kind of help, fewer people may see your listing. In fact, NAR data shows that half of FSBO sellers in 2022 already knew the buyer of their home.
- Potentially lower sale price: Data from NAR also shows that homes sold by owners tend to sell for a lower price than those sold by agents. In 2022, the typical agent-assisted home sale brought in $345,000 — the exact median in Texas, coincidentally — while the typical FSBO home went for $225,000. That’s a much bigger loss than the $10K you could save on commissions.
By selling your house without a Realtor, you can save the 3 percent commission typically paid to a seller’s agent. The median home price in the state is $345,000, so 3 percent of that is $10,350. However, homes sold by their owners tend to bring in significantly lower prices than those sold by agents, according to the National Association of Realtors, so the money lost on sale price may outweigh the money saved in commission.
When selling a house in Texas, sellers must provide a number of documents to buyers. This includes a seller’s disclosure notice, a flood zone statement and a lead-based paint disclosure (if the home was built before 1978) — not to mention the sale contract itself. Sellers who are not using a professional Realtor should seriously consider hiring a local real estate lawyer, to be sure the deal adheres to local laws and is otherwise legally sound.