The Best Ways to Sell a House in Today's Market

These days, sellers have plenty of options

For sale sign in front of house
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Getty Images/Philip Spears

Not long ago, if you wanted to sell your home, you called a real estate agent. Now, thanks to technology and the ever-evolving state of the real estate industry, sellers have a range of options. You can stick with the tried-and-true method of using an agent, or try out brand-new methods like iBuyers and trade-in programs, which promise to save you money, time, or hassle—or all three. 


Each method of selling your home comes with advantages, as well as downsides. The right choice for you depends on your personal real estate know-how, how much you’re hoping to get for your property, and more. The following will help you sort through the options.

Option 1: A Traditional Real Estate Agent

The most common way to sell a home is to use a local real estate agent. The agent will list the home, market it, and coordinate showings with other agents and potential buyers. They will also help you evaluate offers, negotiate terms with the buyer, and ensure the deal goes through. They may even attend your closing appointment with you.


Traditional real estate agents typically operate on a commission-based fee model. The seller’s agent is compensated a percentage of the final sales price (usually around 6%), which they then split with the buyer’s agent. On a $200,000 home, that works out to a $12,000 fee.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Real Estate Agents

Pros

  • Lots of help and hand-holding throughout the process

  • Access to agent marketing tools and listing services

  • Assistance with negotiations and contracts

  • Connections to local vendors and industry partners (e.g, inspectors and contractors)

  • Less work on your part

Cons

  • Costly (about 6% of the sales price)

  • Less control over pricing and marketing strategies

  • Requires cleaning, staging, and photographing your home

  • Requires showings and open house events


Using a real estate agent is best if you:

  • Want help and guidance during the sales process
  • Aren’t well-versed in real estate
  • Want to ensure your home sells for top-dollar

Option 2: A Flat-Fee or Discount Agent

Some real estate agencies, such as Redfin, Clever, and Reali, provide agents that work on a flat-fee or discounted-fee structure. These agents typically help you list your home, but may not offer the same amount of hands-on help a full-service agent does. Discount agent fees vary by provider, but are sometimes as low as 1%.


Pros and Cons of Flat-Fee or Discount Agents

Pros

  • Cheaper than traditional agents

  • Access to agent marketing tools and listing services

  • Offers some assistance with negotiations and contracts

Cons

  • May come with limited services

  • Often requires you to do more of the legwork

  • Requires cleaning, staging, and photographing your home

  • Requires showings and open house events

Using a flat-fee agent is best if you:

  • Want some help, but are willing to do some of the work on your own
  • Are somewhat familiar with the process of selling a home
  • Want to save on agent commissions 

Option 3: An iBuyer

iBuyers, a fairly new option for home sellers, are online companies that purchase homes directly from their owners, usually via a cash offer. You enter information about your property on an iBuyer website, and you’ll get an offer, either instantly or within a few days. If you choose to accept it, you can select a closing date and collect your money. If you don’t, you are free to solicit other offers or list your home on the open market. 

Popular iBuyer companies include Opendoor, Offerpad, Redfin Now, and Zillow Instant Offers.

iBuyer Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can sell online without meeting an agent in person

  • No staging or showing the home

  • Fast (often instant) sales

  • No commissions or agent fees

Cons

  • Sale prices are typically lower than on the open market

  • Must be able to provide tons of details about your home

  • Not available in all markets 

  • Not available on all types of properties


An iBuyer is best if you:

  • Want to close quickly and collect your cash
  • Want to avoid staging and showing your home
  • Are fairly technologically savvy

Option 4: Sell the home yourself

You always have the option to sell your home yourself, known as a FSBO (“for sale by owner”). To do this, you’ll need to market your house, possibly by listing it on Zillow or an FSBO-focused website, and coordinate showings with buyers and their agents. You’ll also need to handle the negotiations, contracts, and other details of the sale on your own, or enlist a real estate attorney for help.

Pros and Cons of Selling Your Own Home

What We Like

  • Total control over the pricing, marketing, and showing of your home

  • Flexibility in timing

  • No commissions or agent fees

What We Don't Like

  • No access to marketing tools or listing services

  • Lots of legwork on your part

  • May take longer to sell

  • May get a lower sales price

  • May require a real estate attorney or some level of personal real estate knowledge 

FSBO is best if you:

  • Are very familiar with the home selling process
  • Are comfortable pricing and marketing your home
  • Are not in a huge rush to sell

Option 5: Trade it in

If you already own a home but are looking to sell it and buy a new home, one option is to work with a company that will let you “trade in” your property in exchange for your next one. A few examples include Opendoor and Knock.com. In both cases, the companies will buy your existing home, sell it on your behalf, and use that money to help you fund your new property. 

Pros and Cons of Trading in Your Home

Pros

Cons

  • Only available in certain markets and with certain builders

  • May not earn as much profit as much as on the open market

Trading in is best if you:

  • Already own a home and want to sell it and buy another
  • Don’t want to deal with the hassles of listing, showing, and closing on your old home
  • Live in one of the select markets where these programs are offered

Making the Choice

Overwhelmed by the options? You don’t have to make a hard and fast decision right away. Instead, talk to a few agents, get quotes from several iBuyers, scope out your local market, and think hard about how much time and knowledge you bring to the table before deciding which pathway to take.

Article Sources

  1. Kaplan: Just What Does a Real Estate Agent Do? https://www.kapre.com/resources/real-estate/just-what-does-a-real-estate-agent-do/


  2. Realtor.com: Real Estate Agent Fees: Who Pays the Bill?

    https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/realtor-fees-closing-costs/


  3. McKissock Learning: Traditional Vs. Discount Real Estate Brokers: The Battle Rages On

    https://www.mckissock.com/blog/real-estate/real-estate-career/traditional-vs-discount-real-estate-brokers/


  4. Iman.com: The Essential Guide to iBuyers https://www.inman.com/2018/12/10/the-essential-guide-to-ibuyers/


  5. Realtor.com: What Is 'FSBO'? What 'For Sale by Owner' Means for Home Buyers

    https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-fsbo-for-sale-by-owner/


  6. Opendoor: Product Page https://www.opendoor.com/w/builder/lennar


  7. Knock.com: How it Works https://www.knock.com/how-it-works