How to Sell a House by Owner in Maryland (Without Realtors)
Many sellers want to know how to sell a house by owner in Maryland without a realtor.
At Creo Home Buyers, we have successfully sold several houses without a realtor or agent assistance in MD.
In our guide we share tips on how to sell your own home. This includes 8 steps to selling yourself, pros and cons, and common mistakes.
We also explore alternative ways of selling your house in Maryland without an agent as a FSBO seller.
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information on Maryland real estate and is not personalized advice. Maryland Estates, LLC, doing business as Creo Home Buyers, and its authors are not liable for the accuracy or use of this information; consult with a trusted real estate professional or attorney for personalized guidance regarding your unique situation.
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Should You Sell Your House FSBO?
Selling property by owner is also referred to as “for sale by owner” or FSBO. A FSBO sale is one of the best ways for a homeowner to avoid paying realtor fees in Maryland.
But is it right for you?
We find that most Maryland home sellers who want to sell by owner do so for one of two reasons. The first reason being that they’ve had a bad experience listing with an agent and are looking for an alternative. The second reason is that they want to save money on realtor commissions.
Unfortunately, many homeowners give up trying to sell themselves. Many homeowners selling FSBO find that the process is too time consuming. In other words, the juice ends up not being worth the squeeze.
Other homeowners find the “For Sale By Owner in Maryland” process to be overwhelming. Not all homeowners give up on selling FSBO but it can be a challenge, and many end up hiring an agent to sell their house instead.
How to Sell a House by Owner in Maryland: 8 Step Guide
If this is your first time selling your house without a seller’s agent, you already know it requires quite a lot of research up front.
You’ll need to learn how to price a house, manage marketing, buyer negotiations, and all of the legally binding paperwork.
Here are the most common steps for how to sell property by yourself in MD to help you decide if it’s right for you:
Step 1: Determine Asking Price in MD
As a FSBO seller, pricing is one of the most important steps to get right. Of the owners who sell to us after trying FSBO they often report that they overvalued their property. Overvaluing property has been the number one problem most owners who we buy from report as to why their house was difficult to sell on their own.
You really need an accurate and competitive list price in order to attract serious potential buyers. Pricing too low will result in a significant amount of money lost. If you are on a tight selling timeline due to foreclosure or divorce, etc., pricing too high will result in a lot of wasted time.
The two most common ways to set a realistic asking price for real estate in Maryland:
1. Ask a Licensed Real Estate Agent
Given the title of this article, one of the best ways we recommend owners on how to determine an asking price for their home may surprise you. Asking an agent that is familiar with the local real estate market is really the easiest option, especially if you are inexperienced in pricing homes.
Yes, even if you decide not to list your house with an agent.
Just be prepared to have an agent request you list with them in exchange for this pricing assistance. However, most agents can at least provide a pricing estimate during a free consultation without you needing to sign a listing agreement.
This pricing assistance is known as a comparative market analysis (CMA).
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is a report that helps determine how much your house is worth. This report analyzes recent and active home sales in the area around your home. Then your agent sees how your home compares to those other properties to estimate how much your home would sell for on the open market listed with an agent.
2. Determine an Asking Price on Your Own:
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to determine how much your house could be sell for on your own without a licensed agent. You can do this by checking sale prices on popular real estate websites such as Zillow, Redfin, or Realtor.com. Just keep in mind that these sites may not always provide accurate information.
Similar to a CMA, you’ll want to look at comparable listings of active and sold prices for houses that are similar to yours in age, updates, floor plan, etc. However, if your home is particularly unique or unusual for the neighborhood you are selling in it can be challenging to determine an accurate price.
Step 2: Prep House to Sell By Owner
After deciding on an asking price, you’ll need to prepare your home to sell FSBO. Whether you are selling during probate or your own personal residence, this is the time to make necessary repairs and updates.
Making your home appeal to the largest number of buyers can lead to more interest and a higher selling price. Staging your home can go a long way to appealing to more buyers.
Step 3: Market “For Sale By Owner”
Once your home is prepared for sale, it’s time to focus on advertising and marketing your house to get the most offers.
Consider hiring a professional photographer. A photographer will take pictures you can use to showcase your home in a “for sale by owner” listing. Some even offer virtual staging options to save you money on actual staging.
Be thorough when it comes to writing your property description. Make sure you include square footage, amenities, and other things that buyers are looking for. Just make sure your listing description complies with current fair housing laws.
Consider offering owner financing in your listing. Owner financing opens your property up to a larger pool of buyers. This can also be a way to get more money for your home than selling to a traditional buyer.
Where to List
Most sellers choose to list their home on free online platforms. You can list your home for sale for free on sites like Zillow, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.
Posting on free online real estate listing platforms will help you reach more buyers than simply putting a “for sale by owner” sign in your front yard.
Though, to get the most home offers possible you’ll want to list your house on the Multiple Listing Service.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database of homes for sale that agents and buyers use to find properties available for sale.
Even without an agent, you can get your home listed on the MLS via online FSBO platforms that offer a flat-fee MLS listing option such as Houzeo.
That being said, some Maryland home sellers also choose to market their house offline. This is accomplished by using flyers, newspapers, yard signs, brochures, and word of mouth. Though this method isn’t recommended as your listing will have far fewer eyes on it than if it was listed online.
Step 4: Sign Maryland Disclosures
A real estate disclosure is a written statement provided by the seller that includes any material facts or latent defects with the property being sold. These defects are known issues with the property. These facts and defects can negatively affect the value and potential selling price of the property..
It is very important to be accurate when filling out disclosure forms. Errors or misinformation on disclosure forms can lead to legal and financial liability after your home sells.
Common disclosures needed when selling in Maryland
- Maryland Seller Disclosure
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
- Flood Risk Disclosure
- Radon disclosure
- Mold disclosure
- Septic system disclosure
- Well water disclosure
If you are selling land in Maryland, make sure you have any additional paperwork you might need. A title company or settlement agent can assist you with gathering this information.
Check with your real estate attorney or the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for more information on the exact disclosures you’ll need to sell your house.
Step 5: Showings to Sell on Your Own
As soon as your marketing is live, be prepared for requests to show your house to interested buyers.
You can schedule showings via an open house or offer individual showings.
With an open house you’ll invite potential buyers to come see your home during a set period of time on a specific day.
Open houses can help in generating interest. Buyers may offer more and faster if many other interested buyers are present as they may fear losing out on the home if they don’t act quickly.
TIP: To make your open house successful, pick a time when most future homeowners are free, like on weekends or in the evening.
An individual showing is a private appointment with a buyer or their agent during which time the buyers and/or buyer’s agent will come to view your home.
As the seller you will have to work with many different schedules when offering individual showings. Individual showings take more time and flexibility on your part, particularly when selling a house on your own.
TIP: If you leave a lockbox on your “for sale by owner” property, buyers represented by an agent can come through even when you aren’t at home.
Step 6: Negotiate Home Offers
When your home is for sale without a real estate agent you’ll be solely responsible for managing offers. This means you will be the one to review, compare, and negotiate all offers.This is one of the most challenging and stressful parts of learning how to sell real estate by yourself. This can be especially true if you are selling property during divorce.
You’ll need to read through and understand each buyer’s offer completely. Including clauses and contingencies. Then decide which one is the best for you and your home selling goals before accepting.
Review: When you receive an offer from a buyer, review it thoroughly. Consider hiring an attorney to review purchase contracts before signing.
Compare: If you receive multiple property offers, congratulations! Compare them side by side. Consider not only the offer price but also contingencies, ability to buy, and closing date.
Once you have reviewed and compared the offers, it’s time to decide whether to accept, reject, or counter any of them.
Accept: If you are happy with an offer and want to accept it, sign it and send it back to the buyer or their agent as soon as possible!
Reject: If you are not satisfied with a particular offer then it is polite to inform the buyer, or their agent rather than simply ignore it.
Did you know? You can negotiate almost any part of a home offer. This includes contingencies, closing date, and more.
Counter: Sometimes you may be interested in an offer but want to change some things. Maybe the offer price is a little too low or you want a shorter inspection period. You will need to counter it with a new verbal or written offer.
The new offer should reflect your desired terms and conditions. Then you’ll wait for a response from the buyer’s side as to whether they accept, reject, or counter your counter.
TIP: Most offers go through a negotiation process to change some of the terms before both the seller and buyer come to an agreement.
Step 7: Due Diligence When Selling
Once you’ve accepted an offer and signed the purchase contract the clock starts on the buyer’s due diligence.
Due diligence is the process of verifying the value and inspecting the condition of the property. This must be done before finalizing a home purchase.
Formal home inspections and appraisals are often completed during this time.
Be Prepared for More Negotiations!
Your buyer will probably want to negotiate further during their due diligence. So be prepared to look over and possibly change some aspects of the contract.
This is normal, so don’t be alarmed when it happens.
For example, if the appraisal comes in low, you may need to reduce the selling price. Another option might be to ask the buyer to make up the difference in cash.
Be prepared to renegotiate aspects of the contract, such as:
- Change in Price or Closing Assistance
- Additional Repairs or Seller Credits
- Additional Contingencies
- Closing Date
Consider consulting with a real estate attorney or broker for guidance on handling negotiations and reviewing contracts.
You May Need to Cancel the Sale
Unfortunately, you may not reach an agreement with the buyer during due diligence. In this case you will need to cancel the contract.
Be sure to properly cancel the contract so the buyer has no legal rights to purchase your home. This will allow you to move on and find another buyer for your house.
Step 8: Close on Your House
Next is to make preparations to move and change over or cancel your utilities.
Plan ahead and start the process of moving when selling your home as early as possible. This helps to make the transition easier once you sell.
Closing in Maryland
The final aspect of selling by owner is to close the sale and hand over the keys to the new homeowner.
Closing is where you and the buyers sign all required documents. This process will finalize the transfer of ownership. Closing usually takes place at a title company or an attorney’s office. However, if you are unable to attend closing in person, such as when selling from another state, you can hire a mobile notary.
At closing, you will bring all the required home sale documents or ensure the settle agent has them ahead of time, such as:
- Your photo ID
- A copy of the original signed contract
- All house keys and garage door openers
- Agreed upon warranties for appliances or systems
- Agreed receipts or invoices for repairs or improvements
- Any other documents requested by the title company or attorney
It’s a good idea to keep a copy of all the documents and receipts for your own records and tax purposes.
Hand Over the Keys
After closing you need to coordinate with the buyer and their agent to hand over the keys to the house. You can either provide the keys to the settlement agent or leave them in a lockbox on the property.
Most sellers elect to move out completely at least a few days before closing. If you have already moved out you can hand the keys over to the buyer at closing. If not, you can have a copy of the keys made to make things easier for you.
Pros & Cons of Selling a Home by Owner in Maryland
Selling your home FSBO can be tempting. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before trying to sell real estate yourself.
4 Benefits of Selling a House FSBO
1. Save Thousands in Commissions
One of the main reasons homeowners decide to sell themselves is to save on agent commissions.
A typical listing agent in Maryland charges 5.5% to 6% of the final selling price. According to Redfin.com, the average home in Maryland sells for over $400,000. So selling without an agent could save you over $20,000 in real estate commissions alone. Which is why people sometimes prefer to sell without agent representation.
2. Hit the Market Quickly & Sell Fast
Another benefit of selling on your own is that you can hit the market when it’s most convenient to you. Being quick to market can mean a potentially faster sale. When you don’t sell with an agent you won’t have to wait for them to prepare to list your home. You also won’t need to follow their schedule or wait for their availability.
List your home whenever you want and you’ll be able to show it to buyers as your schedule permits. You also get to respond to home offers directly rather than wait on a third party (an agent) and potentially close on your home sale sooner.
3. Have More Control Over the Process
A third pro of selling a home without a local agent is having more control over the process. Selling FSBO in Maryland means you don’t have to rely on an agent to make decisions or act on your behalf.
Set your own price, choose your own marketing strategies, and negotiate with buyers directly. You’ll get to handle all the paperwork yourself as well! Though, that may be more of a con to FSBO for most home sellers.
4. Give Your Full and Undivided Attention
When you sell by yourself you don’t have to share your time or attention with an agent who may have other clients or priorities. All of your time can be devoted to selling your own home in MD.
4 Drawbacks to Selling a Maryland Home FSBO
1. FSBO listings tend to sell for less
A 2019 report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) compared the prices for FSBO and agent-assisted homes. The median price for FSBO homes was $200,000 compared to $280,000 for agent-assisted home sales.
2. Marketing Can be Expesive and Time-Consuming
Marketing your home FSBO can be difficult and expensive. As the seller, you will have to do everything yourself. Marketing and advertising can be costly to pay for on your own. You may not have the time or availability to sell your home this way. Let alone be effective or efficient at it, especially if it’s your first time selling property in Maryland.
3. You might not be experienced
You may have some time available to manage the sale of your own home in Maryland by yourself. But Maryland real estate agents often work full-time on selling homes. They will have the experience and network to get the job done and done well.
4. Complicated Real Estate Documents
Understanding Maryland Real Estate Documents: When you sell your own house, you’ll need to understand and find a way to obtain all the necessary paperwork. This includes documenting any liens against the property, whether voluntary or involuntary. Liens will need to be paid off and released before your home sale is finalized.
Costs of Selling By Owner
The untold truth of selling FSBO
There are many costs associated with selling a house for sale by owner. You’ll have to pay for professional photography, marketing and listing. Costs can include legal fees as well. And the list of expenses goes on…
Common Maryland FSBO home selling costs to budget for:
Determine Sales Price: $0 – $700+
The process of setting the sales price for your home typically ranges from $0 to $700. If you are doing it yourself it shouldn’t cost you anything. A CMA provided by an unhired agent will run you $100-$200. While formal appraisals can be upwards of $700 or more.
Photography: $0 – $3,500+ ($250 avg)
Hiring a professional photographer might be worth it. It’s free to do it yourself. However, unless you have professional experience or are an expert with photo editing software, it’s probably worth it to hire a real estate photographer. High-quality photos and videos of your home can cost you anywhere from $100 to $500 or even more. We found that the return on our investment in hiring a photographer is worth it to get more buyers through the homes we have sold FSBO in Maryland.
Marketing: $0-$600 ($400 avg)
Marketing your home can cost you anywhere from nothing to thousands of dollars. It all depends on the methods, services, and platforms you use.
Sales Contract: $0-$500 ($250 avg)
Most buyers will submit a written contract when they put an offer in on your home. Therefore this is something you most likely won’t have to pay for yourself. However, attorneys charge to review contracts so be prepared to pay them if you want to hire one to review your legal documents when selling.
Home Warranty: $0-$600 ($250 avg)
Some FSBO sellers opt to offer a home warranty to the future homeowner. Home warranties are not a requirement but can make your home more appealing than a similar home for sale that doesn’t offer one.
Legal & Agent Fees: 0%-5.5% of sale price
A real estate attorney can be hired to help you draft a contract or provide legal advice. Such help can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 per hour or more. Some attorneys may also offer a flat fee or a percentage of what your home sells for. If you are DIYing your Maryland home sale without legal assistance, you can save some money here.
Flat Fee MLS Services Additional: $0-$2,500 ($150 avg)
Listing your home on the MLS can cost you a flat fee or a lower than typical commission, depending on the service or platform you use.
For example, some platforms charge a flat fee of $99 to $499 for listing your home on the MLS. This usually comes with some basic support as well. Some brokers charge a low commission of 1% to 2% for listing your home on the MLS but include more services in their listing.. Most brokers offer some additional marketing and selling services to assist you as well.
Professional Cleaning: $0-$500 ($350 avg)
Cleaning your house yourself won’t cost you more than supplies you may already have on hand. But springing for a professional deep home cleaning will make your house stand out from the rest.
Closing Costs: 2%-5% of sale price
The total closing costs associated with selling your own house yourself can vary. Closing costs account for between 2% to 5% of your home’s final price. Sometimes more. This will depend on your location and situation.
Hiring a settlement agent to handle the escrow process can cost you anywhere from $500 to $1500 or more.The settlement agent will hold the earnest money deposit from the buyer. The contract terms will determine when and how they will disburse it.
The settlement agent or title company also handles all the paperwork and documentation involved in the closing process, including transfer of ownership.
ALL OF YOUR TIME!
When it comes to selling your house in Maryland without a listing agent, you will be spending A LOT OF TIME managing the entire sales process. Most home sellers do not have the time or energy to effectively sell their own house so many sellers opt to explore FSBO alternatives.
5 Costly Mistakes to Avoid
It can be rewarding to sell a house in Maryland “by owner.” But selling this way is not without risks. There are many mistakes that you can make along the way that can cost you time, money, and opportunities.
- Not listing on the MLS: If you don’t list your home on the MLS, you’ll have fewer opportunities to sell for top dollar.
- No buyer agent commission: Refusing to offer a buyer’s agent commission will make fewer agents want to show your home.
- Incorrectly pricing your home: If you price your home too high, you’ll make your home difficult to sell. However, if you price your home too low you’ll leave a lot of money on the table.
- Letting house sit on the market too long: Buyers and agents may assume that there is something wrong with your home.
- Not consulting with professionals: This can result in legal or financial troubles when selling. This is especially true when selling tenant-occupied properties.
There are several alternative ways to sell apart from the traditional For Sale By Owner approach.
Here are a few options to explore:
Flat Fee MLS Listing + Add-ons
A Flat Fee MLS Listing is a service that allows you to list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for a fixed fee. That fee is typically paid upfront. Listing your house on the MLS can increase your property’s exposure to a wider audience of potential buyers, than not listing it online.
A Discount Broker is a licensed real estate professional that offers reduced commission rates compared to traditional full-service agents. The main difference between discount and full-service brokers are the services they provide. A discounted broker can mean limited marketing or minimal help with negotiations. Still, discount brokers help you with essential aspects of the selling process. All while saving you some money over hiring a full-service real estate agent.
Full Service Agent
Working with a Full Service Agent is best for Maryland sellers looking for a more comprehensive approach. These agents provide a wide range of services. Services that include marketing, showings, negotiations, and paperwork management. A full service agent can assist and guide you through the entire selling process. Agents ensure a smoother selling transaction than you might have when trying to sell on your own, and hopefully, with less stress.
Another FSBO alternative is to sell your home directly to a Cash Buyer. Cash buyers are typically real estate investors or professional house buying companies that purchase properties AS-IS. They often buy properties in their current condition, meaning you can skip repairs and avoid paying commissions. This selling option often allows for a quick and hassle-free sale. Going with a Cash Buyer bypasses the traditional selling stress of listing, negotiation, and closing.
Each alternative has its own advantages and negatives. Consider your specific needs, timeline, and budget. This will help you to determine which option aligns best with your Maryland house selling goals.
Bottomline: Is Selling Your Own House Right for You?
Selling a house FSBO in MD can be a great option for some homeowners, but it often comes with a lot of stress and risk.
If you have the time and resources, then selling by yourself may be right for you.
If a Maryland FSBO sale is not up your alley, then you may consider an alternative option mentioned above. This could be hiring an agent or . . .
Sell Your Home Yourself to Creo Home Buyers Today!
Consider selling your home to investors directly. Avoid the costs, challenges, and risks typically involved with Maryland FSBO sales.
We buy houses in any condition, without financing contingencies or formal inspections. So you can sell a home needing repairs yourself fast, for cash, AS-IS.
As a reliable Maryland cash home buying company, we can offer you a fair and fast cash offer for your home. We can have an offer to you within 1-3 days, and sometimes close on your house in as little as 7 days!
When selling to us, you get to keep 100% of the sale price of your home, minus any liens or judgments previously placed against the house.
Selling a Maryland house FSBO for cash can be a great option for homeowners who want to sell their homes quickly and easily, without much stress or hassle.
We handle the bulk of the paperwork, cover all closing costs, and there are no hidden fees associated with selling to us.
No matter why you want to sell your property in Maryland, we can offer cash for your house. Whether you are facing foreclosure, divorce or property inheritance issues or any other reason for selling, you can sell your house AS-IS to us fast and free.
Curious to see how much cash you can sell your home for?
Fill out the form below or call us at (410) 870-9228 today for your no-obligation all-cash offer for your home in Maryland!
FAQ about How to Sell FSBO in Maryland
Can I legally sell property without a realtor?
Yes, you can legally sell a house without an agent. However, selling without a realtor can sometimes lead to costly mistakes.
Is it cheaper to sell my home without an agent?
Selling a house by yourself can be cheaper than hiring a real estate agent, but only if you keep your FSBO selling costs low.
Will I need to hire a real estate attorney to sell my house by owner?
You do not need to hire an attorney in order to sell FSBO in Maryland. However, consulting with a lawyer can help ensure all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and that you are protected during the sale of your home.
Who writes the contract in a For Sale By Owner home purchase?
As the home seller you can absolutely write your own contract when selling your house yourself. However, most home buyers will provide a written purchase contract with their offer – saving you the trouble and expense of doing it yourself.
Do I have to pay state taxes when I sell my own house in Maryland?
You may be responsible for paying real estate transfer taxes at the state and county levels when you sell your property.
The state transfer tax is 0.5% of the sale price, while county transfer taxes can range from 0% to 1.5% depending on the county. However, if you’re exempt from paying capital gains taxes to the IRS, you’ll also likely be exempt from paying them to the State of Maryland.