Pro’s and Cons: How Selling Your House To A Real Estate Investor or Cash Buyer Stacks Up Against Your Other Options
Are “We Buy Houses” a Scam?
“Should I sell my house to an investor?”
If that’s you–read on! Let’s explore the pros and cons of selling your house to an investor, versus listing it with a realtor. With so many other houses on the market, buyers need as many choices as they can get.
This brief guide will walk you through the decision process to help you decide what’s
best for you. Do you go the traditional route and work with a real estate agent, sell it
yourself (For Sale By Owner), or work with a real estate investment company?
Each of these strategies have different pros and cons and each one will help you reach
a different goal. It’s for you to really look and see what you need to accomplish with the
sale of your house… then make the decision that helps you get there.
The 3 Options For Selling Your House
Let’s dive into those 3 options a bit more below and spell out what’s great about each… the
drawbacks of each… and who each option is really going to help the most.
1) Working With A Real Estate Agent
The most popular way to sell a house today is by working with a real estate agent. The
general process of working with an agent is…
- Contact an agent and they visit with you about your house to determine what
they feel it may sell for.
- You sign a listing agreement with the agent (normally 6 months) where they
exclusively represent and sell your property.
- Agent lists property on the MLS, markets it, and takes buyers through your house
for showings (a house should show well to sell well).
- If your Seattle property sells, the agent takes care of the paperwork and negotiation with the
buyer… and the agent collects their fee… which is usually 3% for them and 3% to
the agent that brought the buyer (so up to 6% of the total purchase price of the
Agents know the market and have direct access to the MLS which is the main way
houses are listed when selling the traditional route. They can be a tremendous help innegotiating all the ins and outs of a sale
Cost: Selling agent fees are usually about 3% of the total purchase price. The “buyers”
agent usually earns 3% as well (totaling 6% in agent fees). As an example, if your
house sells for $400,000… you could expect approx. $24,000 of that to be paid to the
agents at closing.
Timeline: From 3 – 12 months (with an average of 6 months in many markets)
Pros: Agents know the market well, have access to the MLS to list your house to
expose it to a broad range of retail buyers, they’ll take care of the marketing,
showing the property, and putting together the closing documents.
Cons: It can be expensive and slow. An agent’s commission is paid out of the proceeds
of the sale at closing. Most agents tend to do “traditional” marketing which often
takes 3-12 months to sell a house (in most markets the average time on “market” when
listed with an agent is 6+ months currently). This of course means you’re responsible
for the costs of the house while it’s trying to sell. Lastly, with agents… their primary way
to get buyers is by focusing on “retail” buyers (people looking to live in the home). This
requires showings of the house and there’s always the chance that the buyer who’s
offer you accept has their financing fall through, or delay the closing date. One last
“con” is that many retail buyers will ask you as the seller to pay for part of the closing
costs… so this is an additional expense in many transactions.
Who Working With An Agent Is For:
People who: aren’t on a time crunch and can wait 6-12 months if they had to to sell,
have room in the transaction to pay the agent fees, are looking for full market value and
are willing to wait it out until a buyer comes along who is willing to pay full market value.
Here is how our company, JR Berger Properties, compares to working with a Realtor.
2) Selling Your House Yourself (FSBO)
In the last 10 years “For Sale By Owner” has become very popular. With sites like
forsalebyowner.com, craigslist.org, and others like it… it makes it easy to list a house
online… even get a “FSBO” sign for your yard… and hit the market taking control of the
sale process for yourself.
The general process of selling a house on your own is…
- You determine the value of your home. Sometimes this can be tricky… but there
are resources out there. Usually paying for an appraisal is the most accurate and
best way to find the true value of your home (or ask a real estate agent who is
willing to give you a value).
- Take pictures of the house, gather all of the details about the house (sq. footage,
etc.), and create a listing on a FSBO website. Also, put a FSBO sign up in your
- Then, you market it. Since marketing is your responsibility… you can do as much
or as little as you want. Many people list in the newspaper, online, and there are
even “flat rate” MLS services out there where you can get your house on the
MLS for under $500 (with no agent commissions).
- You handle offers, showings, and putting together the paperwork for the sale.
- You and the buyer show up at the closing table and complete the purchase.
This can be a very attractive if you’re familiar with the real estate sales process and are
a good marketer.
Cost: The only real costs are whatever fees there are to list on a FSBO site (between
$100 – $1000), if you choose to get it listed on the MLS with a flat fee agent (about $300 to $500),
any cost to fix your house up so it shows well, and potential closing costs that
you may share with the buyer. Plus, if you decide to pay a buyers agent fee (usually
about 3%) to entice agents to bring their buyers to see your house… you’ll want to figure
that into the cost. Again, on a $400,000 house… 3% is about $12,000. Plus the other
costs above and that is about $14,000 – $16,000.
Timeline: This really depends on your ability to market the property. Usually FSBO
houses stay on the market longer than with an agent… simply because agents sell
homes every day and know the tricks to sell. But, you should budget 6-12 months to
sell with this strategy in most markets (some more, some less).
Pros: You can save a big chunk of money by not paying agent fees. And, you
have control and full responsibility over the whole process.
Cons: It’s a lot of work to sell your own house, and if you’re not comfortable and
experienced in the process of selling a house, the paperwork, valuing your
house, etc… you could end up in over your head and it costing you more than working
with an agent. The largest drawback with going the FSBO route is the amount of time it
could take to sell.
Who the FSBO sale works for:
Selling your own house is really great for people who don’t need to sell quickly and who
have no urgency to get out of the house. Also, people who have a certain comfort level
with negotiations, working with offer documents, etc usually like this route. If you need
to sell quickly and/or don’t want to hassle with everything that goes with listing and
selling your house yourself… this isn’t the strategy for you.
3) Selling Your House To A Real Estate Investor:
A third option for selling your house is to work with a local real estate investor who buys
houses. In virtually every city there are independent real estate investors who buy
houses and either: fix them up and sell them, hold onto them as a rental property, or sell
them to other real estate investors who will hold them as rental properties. Every area
has reputable investors who you can contact to work with.
The general process of selling your house to a real estate investor is…
- You connect with the investor and submit your information about your house and
situation to them.
- Investor will evaluate the house, come up with a value for it, determine if any
repairs are needed, find out what your goals are, and make an offer that fits their
buying criteria and helps you reach your goals.
- You look at the offer and decide if it works for you.
- If it’s a fit, closing happens at a title company and the title company prepares the
documents… the investor buys with all cash so it’s a quick close and you get your
- The house sale is complete.
The process can take from 7-30 days (many times investors can close within 7 days if
you need it to). It is the option that many sellers go with when they need to sell their
house fast with little hassle.
Cost: The cost to sell your house to a real estate investor is very low. There are no
commissions or fees and often times the investor will actually pay for 100% of the
closing costs as well. This immediately eliminates thousands in costs that you would
have to pay when working with an agent or selling the FSBO route.
The main cost with working with a real estate investor is the fact that an investor can’t
pay full retail value for a house. They usually look to buy houses at discounts that allow
for them of course to turn a small profit on the deal… just like any other business turns a
profit. But, for many people… selling at a lower price makes sense in return for the
elimination of commissions and fee and the much faster timeline to sell your house.
What many people don’t take into consideration are the “carrying” costs when selling a
house with an agent or the FSBO route. Carrying costs are all of the costs associated
with owning and maintaining the house. The mortgage payment, taxes, insurance,
utilities, HOA fees, etc. These can really add up. If your mortgage payment (including
taxes and insurance) is $1,500… and you work with an agent and it takes them
months to sell the house at full market value… that means during the 8 months you paid
$12,000 in payments on that house (which we all know most of your mortgage payment
is interest going straight to the bank).
Plus, you’ll be paying the commissions, etc. So
in the end, you could net in your pocket less if it takes a long time to sell your house
with an agent for full retail value… versus selling very quickly to an investor at a discount
A similar situation we’re all familiar with is trading in your car to the dealership when you
buy a new one. Most people trade in their car to the dealership to eliminate hassle and
headache. We all know the dealership is paying a discounted rate and will turn around
and sell your car for a markup and make a profit. But, because of the convenience and
speed… it makes sense for you to sell it for less money in return for not having to worry
about taking it home, spending money on marketing it, and trying to sell it yourself.
Timeline: The timeline to sell your house when working with a real estate investor can
be very quick. Since investors buy with all cash (they don’t use conventional banks
which take more time)… they can close very quickly. Many times you can have an offer
on your house in less than 48 hours… and can close in less than 7 days from the time
you accept it (sometimes it may take a week or two).
Pros: It’s less headache, you can have your house sold this time next week if
you wanted to, no fees or commissions, many times the investor will pay all
closing costs as well, and the closing happens at a title company just like with an
agent… making sure it’s done correctly. In addition, most investors will buy your house
“as-is” and won’t require you to repair anything, clean anything up, or even remove
everything from the house. They’ll pay for those costs themselves after the sale is
Cons: Just like with anything, there are drawbacks. The main drawback may be
that you are selling at a discount in return for the speed and convenience that a
real estate investor is able to offer. If you’re able to work with an agent and the agent is
able to sell your house for full market value within 3 months (and you can wait 3
months)… you may be ahead going that route. But, if it takes longer than 3 months for
the agent to sell it… the “carrying” costs we mentioned earlier start to eat away at any
gains you may have working with an agent.
Who Selling To A Real Estate Investor Is For
This strategy is mainly for people who are willing to sacrifice a bit on the sales price in
exchange for a fast convenient sale with no hassles. If you need to sell quickly (days or
weeks rather than months), investors can close quickly. If you don’t want to hassle with
repairs or cleaning up the house, investors actually will take care of that for you.
Investors are able to get a good house at a fair price that leaves them room for a profit…
and you are able to get out from under the house and the payment and can move on
In the end, there’s no one-size fit’s all solution. If you have lots of time and aren’t in a
hurry to sell… seriously consider going the FSBO route first to see if you get any bites.
Then, if you still have lots of time (you don’t care if it takes longer than 6 months to sell)
you may work with an agent.
However if you need or want to sell quickly…. maybe you’re in foreclosure, or you
inherited the house and don’t want to mess with the hassle, or you’ve moving, or you
already bought a new house and can’t handle two payments anymore, or any other
situation that calls for a fast and no hassle sale… working with a local real estate
investor may be the way to go.
Just like with anything, do your research and make sure you trust the investor you’re
working with and make sure the actual closing is done at a reputable place like a title
company. The vast majority of real estate investors out there are honest and do great
business. Work with those ones, ask for references if you’d like, and trust your gut.
Good luck on the sale of your house! We hope this guide will help you make sense of
your options when selling a house and will help you move forward with what makes
sense for you and your goals. In some instances working with a reputable agent is the
best route… and in some cases working with a reputable investor is the best route.
Weigh your options… and good luck! 🙂
If you have questions about working with a real estate investor to evaluate how
much your home is worth and what an investor will pay for your house…contact us. We are a real estate
investment company that focuses on helping homeowners reach their goals…
whether we buy your house or not… we’re on your side.
We look forward to helping you as a resource and working with you on the sale of your
home if there’s a fit.
PS – If you’re still not sure what option is right for you… use this quick little test. Can you
wait 6 months to sell your house? If the answer is no or “I’m not sure”… contact us and
we’ll give you a no obligation offer on your home. Take our offer, look it over, pass it by
people you trust, and take your time to decide. There’s no pressure. If you feel that
helps you reach your goals… great.
We can close quickly, no fees, no commissions…
and we’ll even pay closing costs. We’ll make it as painless as possible. Just connect with us to get the