If you’re wondering whether you need a Realtor to buy a home, the short answer is no. You can certainly buy a house without one. However, think about your reasoning: Most homebuyers who hesitate to work with a real estate agent don’t want to be saddled with Realtor fees, but the fact is, buyers typically don’t pay an agent’s commission — sellers do. And a Realtor can be a huge help in guiding you through the complicated buying process. So, before deciding whether or not to work with one when you buy a home, consider these pros and cons.

Buying a home with a Realtor’s help

All real estate agents are licensed professionals; those who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) may also be called Realtors. Most sellers have a real estate agent working on their side of the deal (typically called a listing agent because they’re handling the listing), so it’s smart to have someone on your side, too. A buyer’s agent will have your back in negotiations and can help you understand how to make an offer on a home.

A buyer’s agent can help homebuyers in a host of other areas, as well. Here are some of the tasks you’d have to do yourself if you were to buy a home without a Realtor:

  • Find homes that match your budget and needs. Real estate search sites give you a sampling of what’s available, but determining whether asking prices are justified takes research. Your Realtor can do this for you, based on comparable home sales in the area, saving you time and offering the benefit of their professional expertise.
  • Dig up facts on a neighborhood, including ones that a seller might not disclose that could be important to you. Your Realtor can share insight you might not have thought to ask about, too.
  • Negotiate an offer, including the price and other clauses and contingencies in the purchase agreement.
  • Navigate the home inspection, and negotiate repairs or credits with the seller.
  • Decipher paperwork that could be filled with complex jargon and terms you don’t understand.
  • Request and review seller disclosures. You might not know what to ask for, or what sellers in your state are required to disclose, but Realtors do.

Unless you’ve been through the process of buying a home before and are very confident in your knowledge, it’s often better to go with a Realtor than not. “There are too many legal loopholes and fancy terms that can get overwhelming and confusing for someone who’s not well-versed in the real estate business,” says Laurie Blank, a Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis.

Choosing not to work with a Realtor

The majority of homebuyers do work with a Realtor — 86 percent in 2022, according to NAR data — but buying a home without one can be a viable option for some, especially if you’re familiar with enough with the market that you know the property’s worth. Or if you’re familiar with the seller: If you’re buying from a family member, for example, it might seem silly to hire an outsider to negotiate on your behalf. In fact, not working with a buyer’s agent on “an intra-family transaction is fairly common,” according to Massachusetts attorney Pamela Linskey, founder of Linskey Law, which specializes in real estate, estate planning and probate.

There are a few other reasons why you might choose not to work with a Realtor, such as:

  • You’re working with an experienced real estate attorney to walk you through the paperwork and offer legal advice.
  • You’ve purchased multiple properties in the past and understand the process very well.
  • The seller isn’t willing to pay the commission for a buyer’s agent, and you don’t want to pay it either.
  • You’re hoping to save money.

Does buying without an agent actually save you money?

Most buyers considering not working with an agent are looking to save money — a goal that can be misguided, given the way Realtor commissions are typically structured. The commission is usually about 5 to 6 percent of the home’s purchase price and is split between the listing agent and buyer’s agent. But sellers pay this fee, not buyers: “The seller pays the brokerage fee for the listing agent and any buyer agent, so there’s really no benefit to the buyer for going it alone,” Linskey says.

However, sellers often build this fee into the asking price of their home ahead of time. They might be open to a lower-priced offer if they know they won’t have to pay a buyer’s agent. If you’re buying without an agent, you could ask the seller to lower the purchase price based on the commission savings on their end — but of course, they don’t have to agree. 


Without a real estate agent, won’t have access to their pro level of market knowledge and negotiation experience, and you’ll have to take on a lot of research and paperwork yourself. In addition, you could actually end up paying more for a home instead of less. That’s because one of a Realtor’s key tasks is to evaluate the prices of homes currently on the market, along with those that have sold in recent months, to determine whether a seller’s asking price is in line with fair market values. If you’re inexperienced in doing this type of analysis yourself, you could unknowingly overpay.

You could also wind up with a home that has serious issues, having to sink money into repairs without help from the seller because you didn’t negotiate well or didn’t have the right contingencies in place — or, worse yet, skipped the inspection altogether. “I’ve heard stories where buyers worked out terms for a contract and found multiple, serious problems after they moved into the home,” Blank says, adding that the contract left those buyers with no recourse to get their money back or require the seller to pay for repairs.

Mark B. Huntley, a former real estate attorney who now runs a personal finance blog in San Diego, relays a similar story of a buyer who purchased a home without an agent. The buyer relied on his own inspection to justify why he wanted to forgo contingencies, which didn’t end well. “Turns out, the house was riddled with termites, and the buyer had no legal way to get out of the contract, so he lost his $5,000 deposit,” Huntley says.

How to buy a home without a Realtor: 5 key steps

If you’ve carefully considered the downsides and decide to move forward in the homebuying process without a Realtor, here’s how to make it happen and what to expect at the closing.

1. Negotiate with the listing agent

You might be able to negotiate the price of the home with the listing agent, since you’re saving the seller from having to pay your agent’s commission. Even though the seller pays the commission, the buyer’s agent’s commission is often baked into the purchase price — but, if there’s no buyer’s agent, then the seller might be able to knock that fee off the purchase price.

Negotiating on a home purchase, of course, takes skill. But if the seller lowers the purchase price to reflect the lack of agent fees, that means a smaller mortgage and lower monthly payments for you.

2. Review the closing disclosure and ask questions

The closing disclosure is an important document that includes information about the terms of your mortgage and closing costs. Be sure to read this document carefully and compare everything to your original loan estimate from your lender. If you notice any discrepancies, now is the time to ask questions. Take special note of the interest rate, number of payments, whether there’s a prepayment penalty and any significant changes to closing costs, including the lender fees and title services fees.

It might also be wise to submit a request for final bills to be delivered on closing day. This will show that all of the seller’s outstanding bills, such as utilities, have been paid. In addition, you may need to prorate or give credit for real estate taxes, service contracts and homeowners insurance.

3. Have a professional review the paperwork

At the very least, hire a real estate attorney early on to review the purchase agreement and closing documents. Buying a home is a large commitment, and the documents can be complicated. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you and have language incorporated into the purchase and sale agreement to protect your interests.

Remember that issues can come up at any time in the sale, as well, so a real estate lawyer can be a resource and ally throughout the process. “Forget waiting until the closing to get an attorney,” Linskey says.

4. Bring a cashier’s check, proof of insurance and your IDs

There are a few important items you’ll need to bring to the closing. Have these items ready well in advance so you don’t run into any issues on the big day:

  • Certified or cashier’s checkYou should be notified in advance of the checks you’ll need to bring to the closing, including who they should be made payable to and the exact amount. Personal checks are usually not accepted, so you’ll need to go to your bank for an official check. Be very cautious if you get an email asking you to wire the funds instead this can be a sign of a scam. As a practice, always confirm payment instructions with the title or settlement company directly.
  • Proof of homeowners insurance: You’ll need to show proof that you have secured a policy to insure your home on the day of the closing that is good for at least one year.
  • Government-issued photo ID: Make sure you have a current driver’s license or passport on you. If you’re buying a home with a partner or spouse, you’ll both need ID.

5. Sign all the documents and get the keys

At the closing, plan to spend one to two hours reviewing and signing two sets of documents: One set contains the agreement between you and your mortgage lender, and the other set contains the agreement between you and the seller. Take your time and read everything — and, if possible, have an attorney present. You don’t want to add your signature to a legal document you don’t understand.

Bottom line

There are a lot of moving parts that go into buying a home, and working with a Realtor can save you time and money and stave off potential headaches. If you’re concerned about being able to afford a Realtor’s commission, know that the buyer’s agent’s fees are typically paid for by the seller, not the buyer — although it’s often worked into list price of the home, so the buyer may technically be “paying” it, anyway. Still, most homebuyers partner with a Realtor. If you’ve decided to buy a home without one, it’s best to hire a real estate attorney to help guide you through the more complex parts of the transaction.

Summary: Can you buy a house without a Realtor?

Additional reporting by Diane Costagliola