Selling your home on your own can save you thousands of dollars in commissions, but you have to be willing to put in the extra effort. Learn how to go through the “for sale by owner” process—it’s not as hard as you may think.
You already know that skipping the real estate agent and selling your home yourself can potentially save you thousands of dollars in commissions. But you may be wondering if this option is right for you, or where to begin. “For sale by owner,” or “FSBO” (pronounced fizz-bo), is actually easier than most people think, as long as you’re willing to put in the extra effort and time to save some cash.
Prepare your home for sale
Whether you’re selling your home on your own or listing it with a realtor, this is one step you can’t avoid. Take a look around your home for repairs that you’ve long since stopped noticing. Finish any unfinished projects. Banish all odors from your home, clean it from top to bottom, and declutter and streamline your belongings.
Determine your home’s sale price
With sites like zillow.com, realtor.com and neighborhoodlink.com, it’s relatively easy to get an estimate of your home’s value based on comparable sales in your area. Visiting open houses in your neighborhood can also give you an idea of what homes of similar age, square footage and condition are listing for. You can also ask a realtor or two to provide you with a comparative market analysis, which is typically free. (Just be up front that you’re doing for sale by owner.) Then, price your home accordingly.
Remember—since you won’t have to dish out commissions after the sale you have the ability to reduce the price of your home slightly to help it stand out and possibly sell faster.
Advertise your home
Selling your home is not an “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” kind of situation. Just because you’ve determined a price and put a for-sale sign out front (which you should, by the way) does not mean you’re going to have prospective buyers knocking down your door. You must get the word out.
First, prepare your pitch.
Determine what you want to say about your home. What are its best features? What has been recently updated? How is the neighborhood and location? What about the schools? Figure out what makes your home stand out and include it with your listing.
Next, take photos.
Pictures of your home are almost as important as its price. Follow these tips to help draw in potential buyers:
- Include an exterior shot of the front and back of your home.
- Include photos of the strongest features of your home, whether it’s a view, your deck or the kitchen.
- Take your exterior shots in the morning or just before sunset—these times offer the best lighting.
- Be aware of how your photos will be placed in your listing. Viewers will look at the top left photo first—make it your strongest.
Now, get the word out.
Make some nice color flyers to include with your front yard for-sale sign, hang them at supermarkets and other public areas and send an electronic version to everyone you know. Create a free online ad with craigslist and include an ad in your local newspaper. You may also want to consider using the services of a FSBO Web site, such as ForSaleByOwner.com or FSBO.com, which can usually place your listing on the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. This could cost you up to a 3 percent commission, but it’s still less expensive than using a traditional real estate agent.
Make the sale
Familiarize yourself with the paperwork involved to close the deal and keep it neatly in a folder. Be on time and look professional for appointments. Make sure those requesting to see your house have been pre-qualified for your home’s price and can provide the paperwork to prove it. And be sure to work with a lawyer or title company during the closing. This helps ensure both you and the buyer has someone who understands the legalities of the process looking out for your best interests.
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