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Do you need a real estate agent to sell a home?

If you're getting ready to sell your home, you may be trying to decide the best way to go about it. And not only do you need to figure out how to sell your current home, you might also be trying to buy your next one.

Almost 90% of buyers and sellers work with a real estate agent or broker, but doing so isn't for everyone. Here's a look at your options, so you can decide the right fit for you.

Ways to sell your home

With today's technology, you have choices for how you want to sell your home. You could opt for an iBuyer or even sell it yourself rather than choose to work with an agent. Here's a look at the advantages and disadvantages to each.

  Pros Cons
Real estate agent • Can help with paperwork and negotiations
• Connected to networks with serious buyers
• Home may sell for more money

• Must pay commission

• May take time to find the right realtor

iBuyer • Can receive an all-cash offer
• No need to list the home
• Can sell in as little as 24 hours

• May sell for less money than a traditional listing

• Must pay fees

For sale by owner • No need to pay commission
• Fewer middlemen

• Involves the most amount of DIY

• Homes tend to sell for less than with an agent

Working with an agent

A real estate agent can help you more easily navigate the selling process, not to mention the paperwork. Your agent will work to bring buyers through your door and help with both open houses and private showings. Plus, they can negotiate on your behalf with potential buyers.

Before the National Association of Realtors settled a lawsuit in March 2024, you could expect to pay  5% to 6% of a home's sale price in commissions, which was split between the buyer's and seller's agents. Starting in July, sellers will be able to negotiate buyer-agent commissions or choose to not cover them at all and leave the cost to the buyer.

A real estate agent can help you more easily navigate the process, not to mention the paperwork.

The iBuyer option

iBuyers, or "instant buyers," are a relatively new choice — you may have heard of some such as Opendoor or Offerpad. These companies use technology and algorithms to quickly buy homes using cash offers. You might consider selling your home to an iBuyer if you are looking to close ASAP — possibly 24 hours or less.

Tip: Need a mortgage commitment letter in 24 hours? Ally Home offers One Day Mortgage™ for eligible buyers.

If you want to sell to an iBuyer, you don't have to list your home. Submit some basic information about your property and the iBuyer will give it an estimate and potentially make an offer.

Using this service isn't free. Sellers typically pay the costs of getting the home move-in ready, as well as potential agent fees (depending on the iBuyer company). All in all, fees usually add up to about 6% to 8%.

For sale by owner

If you're looking to save on commission fees or sell your home quickly, then you might consider going the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) route.

FSBO homes tend to sell faster than agent-assisted homes — often because sellers know the buyer. But if you don't already know a potential buyer, you'll need to get the word out about your house to the right people. That means signage, web listings, flyers, open house setups and more. Be prepared to pay out of pocket for most of those expenses, too.

You'll also need to price your house and work directly with buyers or their agents to negotiate and close on the home. And keep in mind, FSBO homes tend to sell for less. In 2023, the average FSBO home sold for $310,000 compared to $405,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

Buying your next home

If you're planning to move into a new home, you do have these same options at your disposal.

You could work with a real estate agent to help you search through listings, research properties and negotiate the price for you. You can use an iBuyer company's website or app to find homes and schedule tours. Or, you could go through the homebuying process by yourself. It's important to note it takes buyers without agents about 10 weeks and viewing a median of seven homes, on average, to find the right one.

Tip: With Ally Home , you can choose to be connected with a real estate agent during the pre-approval process.

You can start looking for your new place with ComeHome , which lets you narrow down your search by price, year built, days on market and much more.

Moving on

Selling a house is a big deal, and a major moment in your financial journey. No matter which route you go for selling and buying, be sure to do your research so that you can rest easy that you made the right choice.

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