For Sale By Owner checklist: 8 Steps for FSBO

  1. Price your home.  Look at recent sales.  Make sure your square footage is correct when comparing to recent sales.
  2. Get your home ready to sell.  Clean.  Declutter.  Stage.
  3. Put out a sign. $16 on Amazon.  Put your phone number, email and a website on the sign.
  4. Make an extra key and put it in a lockbox on the front door.  $23 on Amazon.
  5. Get a professional to take pictures.  Go a little further and get a walkthrough video and drone shots.
  6. Put it on Zillow as a For Sale By Owner.
  7. Find a company that will list it on the MLS for a flat fee.
  8. Schedule an open house through the MLS and Zillow.

How much do Real Estate Agents Make?

Check out my video explaining how commission works or check out info below!


Who pays real estate commission?

The seller pays the entire commission at closing or settlement (4-8 weeks after the home is under contract typically).  The commission is negotiated between the listing agent and the seller when the listing agreement/contract is signed to put the house on the market.  In our area 5-6% commission is typical but it is negotiable.

  • commission-picGenerally, the commission is divided four ways: to the listing broker, the listing agent, the selling (buyer’s) broker and the selling (buyer’s) agent. Once the listing agreement is signed the listing agent uploads the home into our MLS system.  The MLS is a system agents use and pay for to share listings.  The commission offered to the selling agent is shown in the listing of the seller’s home in the MLS.  So if it is a total of 5% commission then it will show 2.5% commission to the selling broker.  6% commission will show 3% to the selling broker.

    How is it split with the brokers?

    That depends on the agent’s agreement with their real estate broker and company.  Many companies start new agents at a 50-50 split and as you sell more your percentage increases.

    What other expenses are there for agents?

  • We are independent contractors/1099 employees so we pay self employment tax of 15.3% of our income.  Many experts recommend agents set aside 40% of our income for federal income tax, self employment tax and state income tax.
  • We basically are our own business so we have to pay for office supplies, computers, smart phones, cars, gas and any other expenses that are needed to be a successful real estate agent.
  • We often have to buy leads (Zillow, Trulia or or pay a referral fee of 25-35% of our commission if the lead is referred to us by a website.  (Here’s a fun fact:  realtors pay a lot of money to use the MLS system to market and research homes.  Zillow pulls listings from our MLS system that we pay for.  Then Zillow charges hundreds of dollars a month per zipcode to agents for leads that are captured using our listing information in our MLS.)
  • We have marketing costs.  If you are a listing agent you pay for professional photographs, marketing material, advertising and blasting out a lot of information to every real estate website.  For finding buyers we have to market to them.
  • We pay dues and membership fees to belong to the MLS and realtor associations.  Also, we have to pay a monthly fee to access the electronic lockbox on listings.
  • We pay money to the Real Estate Commission of Pa for our license.  We have continuing education classes that are required to keep our license active and we have to pay for them.
  • Health Insurance for self employed or business owners is very high.  It’s a big consideration when thinking of being a real estate agent.
  • Here’s the other expense to take into account.  Often homes don’t sell or fall through due to inspection issues, the appraisal is too low or (happened to me many times) the loan falls through.  So as realtors we spend a lot of time selling a house and we spend money (listing agent is more) and it did not pay off and actually costs us money because we don’t get paid unless we go to closing and transfer of the home happens.
  • For new agents it can take 6 months to a year before you make your first sale and make your first commission.

Any other fees?

NOT FROM ARTISAN REALTY!  Most real estate companies charge an administrative fee to both sellers and buyers.  It should be explained beforehand and they put it on the settlement sheet.  It can be $200-$600 depending on the company.  Artisan Realty does not charge this fee to buyers or sellers because we are a local, boutique real estate company that focuses on utilizing technology for our clients.

Note:  There are other options to sell your house:  For Sale By Owner, Discount Brokers etc…  I based the above on how it typically works.

New Agents: 5 things to do to get started. They are all free!

So you have your license and joined a brokerage.  You know all of the protected classes and you know the definition of unilateral contract.  Now What? Here are 5 things you can do today that are free.

  1. Put an ad on craigslist under apts/housing for rent  Find a hot rental in your area that would rent easily.  It should be priced well and the pictures should look great.  Advertise it on craigslist with pictures.  Here’s an example of a post:

I’m a licensed real estate agent. There is no cost to you to be represented by an agent to tour homes and negotiate a lease. My fee is covered by the landlord.  Email me the areas you would like to search in, minimum amount of bedrooms, your price range and if you have pets. My email is and I can set you up on an automatic search and you’ll be emailed listings automatically.  Feel free to email, call or text and I can send you detailed information about available MLS rentals.

Take a screenshot of available rentals from the MLS and add it to the post.  At the end of the post include all the cities you work in so when people search craigslist your post comes up.  You won’t make much money working with renters (depends on your local market) but as a new agent you need to build confidence, learn the processes in real estate and find clients.  There is no easier, low pressure way then working with renters.  This will get the phone ringing and guess what.  Renters turn into buyers!

2.  Set up Automatic Searches  As soon as you have an email and any information from potential renters or buyers set up an automatic search in the MLS.  Make sure the search includes at least 50 homes so they get frequent emails.  Clients don’t want emails reminding them of a time change or a recipe.  They want emails showing new homes that hit the market or if there is a price drop.  Make sure your MLS profile has all your contact information and a professional picture.  As they open these emails containing new homes and price reductions your information will pop up with it.  It’s easy marketing.  Also, set up searches for yourself so you can keep an eye on the market and you can see what it’s like to receive emails from the MLS.

3.  Professional Profiles on Real Estate Websites  Zillow, Trulia,  Sign up and set up professional profiles on these websites with your professional picture.  It’s free!  It’s a must.  This is where buyers without agents are looking at real estate.

4.  Social Media  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat.  Sign up and set up professional profiles.  This is completely free.  Post local information and original content.  Hashtag away so people can find you.  I use all these except Snapchat.  I have an account on Snapchat but I don’t get it.  Hey, I’m a Gen-Xer.

5.  Work with a Busy Agent  Find a successful, busy agent.  Offer to help with an active buyer for 25% of their commission if they go to closing.  You may never make money but this is what you will get:  you’ll gain experience, build confidence, learn real estate processes & if it sells you can promote yourself on those real estate websites and social media accounts (see steps 3 & 4) that you sold it.

I did this when I first got started.  A busy agent was going away for a weekend trip.  She had these high end buyers that were very picky and they wanted to look at houses while she was gone.  I offered to my coworker to show them houses and if they bought a house I showed them I told her I would take 25% of the total commission.  I talked to them and sent them houses 20% more expensive than their budget.  I showed them 3 houses in the higher price range.  They called their agent the next day made an offer and bought one of the houses I showed them.  It was a $700,000 house.  My gross commission was $5000 and it was not a lot of work.  Think outside the box always and work for free or cheap so you can learn!

All 5 of these tips will help you build confidence, learn the real estate process and find clients.  This feeds into determination and determination is the key to getting you from a new, licensed real estate agent to your first sale!

Most & Least Expensive Homes that Sold in October in Delaware County…

The most & least expensive homes that sold in Delaware County in October were both bought with cash.  Just like Chester & Montgomery Counties – see my blogs from Nov 3rd & 8th.  It’s a similar scenario.  The most expensive home was a house that sold for $1.7 million and the least expensive was a twin that sold for $7,000.  Let’s take a look at the 2 homes:

Most Expensive Home:  253 Berwind Rd. Radnor, PA 19087 sold for $1,700,000 for cash on Oct 24th.  The home is only 9 years old and has 6169 SF on an acre.  It has a gorgeous pool with a pool house, 6 car garage and whole house generator.  The gourmet kitchen is the center of the modern, open floor plan and has 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.


Least Expensive Home:  34 E 23rd St, Chester, PA 19013 sold for $7,000 for cash on Oct 13th.  The home had a fire and a lot was destroyed.  It is a twin on .06 acres and the taxes are only $900 a year.  It is 2024 SF and that means it sold for $3.46/SF – Crazy!


In all of Delaware County in the month of October 488 homes in total settled through real estate agents.  The average sold price was $255,892.  The average days on the market was 72 days.  282 were single family homes.  188 were twins or townhomes.  18 were condos.  None were mobile homes.  32 were foreclosures (6.5% is very high).  11 were short sales.  6 were in 55 and over communities.  17 were new construction.  56 has pools (that includes if there is a community or above ground pool).

Most & Least Expensive Homes that sold in October in Chester County…

The most expensive home and the least expensive home that sold in Chester County in October were both bought with cash.  The most expensive was $3 Million and the least expensive was $9,000.  Let’s take a look at the 2 homes.

Most Expensive:  According to our MLS this was the most expensive home to sell in Chester County in October for $3,000,000.  137 Jaffrey Rd, Malvern, PA 19355 is 109 year old classic stone colonial and has 8.8 acres.  Yearly property taxes are $29,725.  It had been on the market for sale since June of 2015 and they originally were asking for $3,950,000.  It is located in Willistown township which is known for it’s protected open space.


Least Expensive:  23 Pawnee Ln, Honey Brook, PA 19344 sold for $9,000 cash.  It is a mobile home that is 30 years old and the monthly fees are $464/mo. and that covers the community pool, trash, water, sewer and trash removal.  The yearly property taxes are $509 ($29,216 less than 137 Jaffrey Rd).  It was listed for $10,000 on Aug 30, 2016 so it sold pretty quickly.  It is located in Honey Brook which is about halfway between Philadelphia and Lancaster with lots of open space and beautiful farms.


In all of Chester County in the month of October 567 homes in total settled through real estate agents.  The average sold price was $373,213.  The average days on the market was 63 days.  377 were single family homes.  167 were twins or townhomes.  17 were condos.  6 were mobile homes.  21 were foreclosures (that seems high at 3.7%).  10 were short sales.  25 were in 55 and over communities.  48 were new construction.  147 has pools (that includes if there is a community or above ground pool).

Stay tuned…I’ll analyze other counties in the Philly suburbs in my 30 day Blog Challenge!