All homeowners should be aware that you don’t have to have a realtor to sell your home. In 2019, realtor commissions averaged 5.7% which, for a sale worth $250,000, would be a commission of $14,250.
This is money that homeowners can keep in their pockets if they choose to sell their property themselves.
We have prepared the following step-by-step guide for all homeowners who want to learn what’s required when selling your property yourself.
1 – Get your home ready before listing
We recommend a thorough (if not professional) clean and decluttering of your house first.
The goal is to create a space that prospecting buyers can imagine themselves moving into, instead of just seeing your style and personality no matter how great it looks.
Remove everything that creates a lived-in feel such as pictures, photographs, and other personal memorabilia.
And clear out the house’s storage spaces like the garage, attic, and any closets and move at least a third of what’s in the house into a rental storage unit.
This is also the perfect opportunity to complete any repainting/repair work and replace outdated appliances and fixtures.
2 – Research the local market
Objective research is the key to setting your price.
One struggle for FSBO (For Sale by Owner) homeowners is deciding on a price due to emotional attachments to the property.
An emotionally based price that’s too high can get in the way of making progress in your sale.
Online, objectively compare your house with similar properties that were recently sold in the same area in order to understand what the price range is.
Focus on properties that have a similar square footage, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, and a similar lot size.
Competitive prices sell faster, so if you need to find a buyer immediately then set the price a little lower. If you can afford to take your time, then you can wait for someone to take a higher price.
3 – List your property
Without using a professional broker, you can still get exposure for your listing on sites like MLS under a flat-fee service.
Also, try using a number of different FSBO-friendly listing sites. Many come with reasonably priced fees, while others are free to use.
So, to list your house for sale, you will need to draft the following:
- Data on the house including the year it was built, the finished square footage and lot size, bedroom and bathroom count, parking arrangements, and details on the heating configuration.
- Photos with lots of natural light that focus on sweeping views rather than cramped, close/up shots. Since the photos are particularly important, many homeowners will hire a professional photographer.
If this is not for you, then be sure to get at least one good photo for every room and hallway, plus multiple exterior shots.
After selecting the best ones, use editing software to create the best lighting and contrast to perfect the images.
- A house description talking about information that hasn’t been mentioned in the standard listing data. Treat this description as a marketing campaign to grab buyer’s attention. And because it only has to be a couple hundred words, you can easily write it yourself by reading other listings for inspiration and guidance.
4 – Advertise your listing
MLS and FSBO-friendly sites are great, but there are other avenues to gain exposure too.
You can place “For Sale” signs at the front of your property and put brochures around social areas in town. You can also set up a website or use YouTube as an advertising medium.
5 – Begin hosting open home viewings
Posting your open home information online, putting flyers throughout community spaces in town, and using the word of mouth approach to advertise your schedule is the same as what an agent would do.
For the open home days, provide some refreshments and dress professionally. Give everyone that walks through the door your attention and have patience.
A calm, kind, and focused demeanor will help as you will be dealing with buyer’s agents who do this for a job.
You can also create a sales sheet for prospecting buyers to take through the house, highlighting the house’s history, local amenities, and any other aspects you want to draw their attention to.
6 – Arrange times for private viewings
Once the home is on the market, you can expect to be contacted for private viewings. You should verify the agents of buyers by asking for their license numbers which can be checked with your local state’s real estate department.
7 – Negotiate
When an offer comes in, you can either accept it, make revisions and return it to the buyer, or flat out reject it.
Back and forward communication is necessary to ensure that both parties are happy so don’t feel that you have to accept a low offer and remember that you are not obligated to respond to low and unserious offers.
Patience pays off when negotiating, so keep your cool.
And if you are not familiar with a real estate purchase contract, be sure to have it reviewed by an attorney.
Most states have a standard contract that you will need to become familiar with.
8 – Follow state and federal laws for selling property
The Fair Housing Act, for example, prohibits sellers from discriminating amongst buyers on the grounds of gender, race, religion, and more.
There are other state laws that you will need to adhere to as well, so it is wise to employ the services of a real estate lawyer to review all contracts and ensure that all agreements adhere to the law.
9 – Close the sale
You can do everything from getting your house ready for listing to negotiating, but in order to close the sale you will need to hire a professional escrow agent.
Depending on your state, an escrow agent can be a real estate attorney or a title company representative, and they will be involved in finalizing all of your paperwork and closing costs.