Just like building a house, selling a house DIY-style is a pursuit fraught with dozens of potential hazards and disasters just waiting to happen. It might seem easy on the outside, but those who have experience know that there’s more to selling real estate than the average person might realize.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “What do agents do anyway?” then here are three key areas to keep in mind the next time you think about selling your home on your own.


Pop quiz: if you wanted to move to Texas, how would you go about finding El Paso houses for sale? Answer: you’d probably do a Google search and look at listings on a real estate website. But where do those websites get their listings? Well, most of them come directly from the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, a massive database of properties for sale all across the country.

The MLS is one of the most important tools for a seller hoping to get their house in front of the eyes of interested buyers. There’s just one catch. Only licensed agents can list properties on the MLS. If you want to do it yourself, you’ll have to pay a fee of around $500 to $1,000. Ouch.


You may be able to save money on MLS fees by hiring a real estate agent, but what about the agent’s own commission? The average agent charges about 6% of a home’s closing costs. On the other hand, if you sell your home yourself, no one’s skimming off the top; all that money goes right to you. Right?

Not so fast. Yes, real estate agents do charge a commission for their services. However, research shows that properties sold by an agent can rake in as much as $80,000 more than houses sold by the owner alone. Why? Well, it’s exactly because of things like MLS, not to mention staging, open houses, and property viewings. These things have two big features in common: First, they cost a lot of money. Second, an agent can do all of it for you for much less than it would cost you to do it on your own.


Like any transaction, selling a house isn’t just a monetary agreement, but a legal one, too. Naturally, the more money there is on the table, the more stringent and complicated the legal red tape gets. It might sound like a pain in the neck, but it helps to protect both the buyer and the seller. There’s no getting around it; if you want to sell your property, you’ll have to deal with the legalities of it. Some states even require the presence of a real estate attorney during closing.

Of course, unless you yourself are a real estate attorney, navigating the legalese, avoiding the pitfalls, and making sure the deal is 100% kosher can be a confusing headache. Most people simply don’t have the legal knowledge or experience for it. Can you guess who does, though? That’s right: agents.