Key takeaways

  • It's not mandatory to use a real estate agent when selling a home in Virginia, but opting to go without one will require a significant amount of effort on your part.
  • Choosing the "for sale by owner" route eliminates the need to pay a listing agent’s commission fee.
  • If you sell without a Realtor, it’s smart to have a local real estate attorney look over the contract and other paperwork.

Want to sell your home in the Old Dominion state without a real estate agent? There’s no law that says you can’t, and doing so will save you from having to pay a commission fee to a listing agent. Just be ready to put in a time-consuming amount of work: Embarking on this journey solo means taking on all tasks typically handled by an agent, which can be demanding and even risky if you’re not up on local laws and regulations. You’ll be responsible for pricing strategies, marketing, handling showings, negotiating terms and more. Here’s how to sell by owner in Virginia.

How to sell your house without a Realtor in Virginia

A for sale by owner (FSBO) transaction in Virginia, or any other state, involves tackling a variety of tasks, including determining the appropriate price, capturing appealing visuals, marketing effectively, coordinating showings, managing offers and negotiating terms. There are three essential stages to this process: creating a listing, finding a buyer and closing.

Crafting the listing

When creating your home’s listing, it’s crucial to develop an engaging description that highlights its key attributes. This should include basic details such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, year built and lot size. You’ll also want to include special features or recent upgrades, such as a new high-end kitchen, a swimming pool or horse stables. Information about the neighborhood, school district and nearby amenities are important as well, and if the property is part of a homeowners association, extensive details on that should be included.

Pairing your listing description with high-quality photos, and possibly videos, is equally vital. Most homebuyers heavily rely on online listings, and boring or badly lit photos can mean they scroll right past your listing. Investing in professional photography can significantly enhance the attractiveness of your property and draw in more potential buyers.

But the most important element of your home listing is price: Research comparable properties (often called “comps”) in your area to see what similar houses have been selling for. Compare your home to the comps as objectively as you can: Overpricing your listing can put you in a situation where it lingers on the market for so long you have to resort to a price cut, which is often a turnoff for buyers.

Promoting your property

Once your listing is created, the next step is to market the property in order to attract buyers. Typically, a seller’s agent would place the listing on the local MLS (short for multiple listing service), which compiles all for-sale homes in the area. FSBO sellers in Virginia can opt to pay one of several online platforms, like Houzeo, Homecoin or Virginia Flat Fee MLS, to list their home on the MLS for a fee. Many of these companies provide tiers of service for different price points, which can include things like photography, yard signs and more. Some might even coordinate showings or host open houses for you — but, of course, the more services they provide, the more they charge, which eats into your commission savings.

Social media platforms and sites like Nextdoor and Craigslist can can also help expand the visibility of your listing. However, be cautious about the information you share online, especially if you’re still living in the home while you’re trying to sell it. When you show the home to strangers, take care not to put yourself into a potentially dangerous situation.

Closing the deal

When you get an offer, or maybe even more than one, negotiating terms may be necessary, so it’s crucial to assess your comfort level with this aspect. Another thing to consider: How confident are you in your ability to draw up a sale contract? For FSBO sellers, involving a real estate attorney can prove immensely beneficial.

A meticulously prepared contract is fundamental for a successful sale, and there is a lot of additional paperwork involved in a home sale, too. Professional legal advice ensures that you are properly safeguarded throughout the transaction. A lawyer can be very helpful in navigating closing procedures as well.

Required disclosures for Virginia home sellers

When you sell your home without a Realtor, you’ll need a good understanding of local laws regarding seller disclosures. The state of Virginia requires sellers to fill out a residential property disclosure statement outlining the condition of the property and any identified defects. There may also be other forms, such as a flood risk statement, a lead-based paint disclosure and a radon testing disclosure. As the seller, you bear the responsibility of completing these disclosure forms accurately.

In addition, if the property is part of a homeowners association, you’ll have to turn over financial documents and bylaws relating to your HOA.

Do I need a lawyer to sell my house in Virginia?

Virginia law does not require home sellers to hire an attorney, whether a Realtor is part of the process or not. However, legal counsel is useful for all sellers and especially important for FSBO sellers. Real estate transactions are complex, and this is likely to be one of the biggest financial deals of your life. Mistakes can have significant consequences, so it’s worth enlisting the services of a lawyer to ensure your interests are fully protected.

Pros and cons of selling a house by owner in Virginia

FSBO transactions can work well for individuals experienced in selling homes who feel confident in their grasp of the process. However, there can be significant downsides, particularly for newcomers.

Pros

  • Commission savings: The real estate commissions on a home sale, which are paid by the seller, typically total somewhere between 5 and 6 percent of the purchase price. So not using a listing agent would save you half that amount, or 2.5 to 3 percent of the price.
  • Autonomy: Selling independently provides you complete control over decision-making, without external influence or pressure. Sellers have the freedom to dictate proceedings and carry out tasks according to their preferences.
  • Streamlined process: Realtors often handle multiple clients simultaneously, which can lead to scheduling delays and extended response times. By removing an agent from the equation, FSBO sellers can potentially expedite the timeline of their transaction.

Cons

  • No professional expertise: Real estate agents are licensed pros with specialized knowledge of their local markets. Without an agent’s guidance, sellers must independently determine their home’s value, develop effective marketing strategies and navigate the complexities of the process.
  • Limited buyer pool: Agents actively promote the properties they represent, to each other as well as to buyers. FSBO listings may receive limited exposure without such assistance, potentially resulting in fewer interested parties.
  • Potentially lower profit: Agents know their market well, and they will have a good idea of the fair market value of your home. Those who sell without a pro’s expertise run the risk of leaving money on the table: A November 2023 survey by Clever Real Estate found that sellers who used an agent made an average of $46,603 more on the sale than those who did not.

FAQs

  • Yes. You’re not obligated to hire a real estate agent to sell your home in Virginia, and many homeowners pursue “for sale by owner” transactions. However, if you opt to sell on your own, you should be prepared to handle all the tasks an agent would typically do, including listing, marketing, showing and negotiating the contract yourself.
  • No, it’s not mandatory to hire an attorney to sell a home in Virginia. Nevertheless, if you plan to sell your property without the assistance of a real estate agent, it’s advisable to engage a lawyer to ensure that your interests are protected and that essential legal documents and other paperwork are managed correctly.