How to Sell Your Own Home

The real estate market may seem mysterious, but many modern homeowners are choosing to forego hiring a real estate agent in favor of putting their properties For Sale By Owner (FSBO). Selling without an agent isn’t easy, but if you’re successful, it may be well worth the trouble.

Pros and Cons

Real estate agent commission can reach as much as 6% of the sale price, and traditionally, the seller foots the bill. It’s easy to see why someone might choose the FSBO route when you consider that commission on a home sold for $400,000 would come to $24,000!

Selling your home yourself also gives you complete control over the process. You can devote your full attention to the sale and set the timeline to suit your needs. And with the Internet at your disposal, selling your home without a realtor is easier than ever.

That said, selling a home is a lot of work. Despite your best efforts, the financial benefits might not be what you imagined or may be offset by the amount of time and effort spent on the sale of your home.

Marketing a real estate listing can be challenging without an established network, so your property may not sell as quickly as you’d like. Inviting strangers to your home for open houses can be risky. And once you do start getting offers, how do you know which one to accept? Finding a qualified buyer can be tough, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Not to mention the paperwork—researching laws and regulations can be confusing, and you may end up needing the assistance of a real estate agent anyway.

However, if you’re willing to work hard and be patient, selling your home yourself can be extremely rewarding. This FSBO sellers guide will show you how to sell your own home, one step at a time.

Pricing Your Home Competitively

The first step in selling your home is to determine its market value. Use an online estimator or look through recent sales of other homes in your neighborhood with roughly the same finished square footage, a number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size. You may decide to ask a Realtor to assist you with a competitive market analysis or hire a licensed appraiser to evaluate the property.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Imagine you’re a buyer when visualizing your home. First, simplify your space. Eliminate excess clutter and depersonalize your home so it’s easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there. Organize closets and cupboards to highlight storage space. Consider bringing in a professional stager (or a friend with an eye for interior design) to help with furniture and décor arrangements.

Next, thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom. Shampoo the carpets, wash the windows, clean the grout—scrub the walls if you have to. Hiring a cleaning company can make a big difference when doing a deep clean.

Ensure the entryway is inviting and tidy. Don’t overdo it on the air freshener—this could backfire and give the impression that you’re trying to mask unpleasant odors.

Finally, make any necessary repairs and cosmetic fixes you may have been putting off. Touch up chipped paint, fill holes in the walls, fix broken hinges, and prune unruly hedges in the yard—especially the front. Curb appeal is all about making the outside of your house look so enticing that people want to come inside and see the rest.

Marketing Your Home

These days, marketing a home for sale is simple using online platforms like Zillow and MLS. When creating your listing, include high-quality photos of your home, a detailed description of the property, and accurate contact information. Consider adding a video walkthrough of the home so prospective buyers can get a feel for space.

It’s important to market your home offline, as well. Add eye-catching real estate signage to your property to grab the attention of passersby, and so that buyers stopping by for a showing instantly know where to go. Brochures and flyers give people something tangible they can bring home or share with their friends. Finally, host an open house to generate interest in your home.

Open House Etiquette

Hosting an open house provides a great opportunity to show off your home at its best. Schedule a convenient time, such as on the weekend. Put up yard signs throughout your neighborhood and spread the word. When the day arrives, preparation is easy.

Clear your driveway so that guests have an unobstructed view of the home. Do quick clean, close toilet seats, and remove any signs of pets. Secure any medications or valuables somewhere safe and out of sight. And don’t forget to let in lots of natural light to accentuate your home’s positive qualities and create a cheery atmosphere.

Offer your guests refreshments when they arrive. Remain attentive and answer any questions, but try not to hover as they move throughout the home. Hand out flyers for your listing, and request feedback from potential buyers at the end of their visit.

Negotiating the Sale

As offers start coming in, you’ll negotiate with buyers’ agents to come to terms that everyone can agree with. These Realtors may be experienced, but don’t let them intimidate you, and don’t feel obligated to respond to offers that are too low. The right buyer is out there—you just need to be patient.

Once you’ve accepted an offer and your home goes under contract, you can expect at least a month of preparation and negotiations before closing. Remember that the contract should spell out every detail of the sale, and you may want to run it by a real estate agent or attorney to ensure it’s done right. After the buyers complete the home inspection and appraisal, you’ll negotiate any changes to the contract with their agent.

Closing the Sale

Hire a real estate attorney to review your purchase and sale agreement before you bring it to the closing. Retain a title company or settlement agent and make sure the loan approval process goes through. Once everything is in order, complete the required legal paperwork and close the sale. Congratulations—you’ve just successfully completed your FSBO!

Selling your house yourself may be more complicated than going the traditional route, but you could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars. Take advantage of the many resources available to help you sell your home yourself: Utilize free websites like Craigslist and FSBO.com, and save on your real estate signage with Best of Signs. Use this guide as a checklist to help the process go smoothly.

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