Selling a home can be a very stressful experience, including high emotions, large investments, and lots of time. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is not for everyone: with research, marketing, showings, and paperwork, selling your home yourself is still a huge investment of time and money.
While only 10% of people who sold their home in 2018 were able to do it unaided― yet 36% of millennials successfully completed FSBO the same year. Selling your home yourself is certainly a viable option in some cases, so increase your odds with these top tips to successfully selling your home.
Those who sell their own home frequently list it too high, meaning the house sits on the market for months, much higher than the average sales time for the area.
If you want to be your own real estate agent, then you’ll need to separate your feelings from the property just as a real estate agent would. Approach the sale of your home as a business person. Do careful research on what comparable homes are selling for in your area and think about getting the home appraised.
Carefully Prepare Your Home
One of the mistakes many FSBO listers make is not adequately preparing the home for listing. So much of home shopping occurs first online. If your pictures look cluttered, show things in disrepair, or have bright paint, it will be harder for buyers to imagine themselves in the space.
You don’t want to overinvest in home updates before selling, especially if the market is hot. But you should clean, put unused items into storage at least while taking pictures, and maybe opt for a fresh coat of neutral paint.
Take Great Quality Pictures
Homes that list few or low-quality pictures are less likely to attract buyers, even if the home is in excellent repair. You may consider hiring a professional to help you. The images should be bright, offer various angles, and cover as much of your property as possible. Having quality photos will allow buyers to get an accurate idea of the home and picture themselves living there.
It will also increase the perception that whoever is listing the home is a professional. You are more likely to get quality offers when you present your home in a quality way. On the other hand, if it is clear that you are selling your home yourself and offering up that you aren’t a pro through messy pictures, you are signaling that you might not be ready to handle this deal.
List and Market the Home
There are many ways to show that your home is for sale, and you should use as many methods as possible to attract the right buyer to your home.
Have a yard sign
Make it clear that your home is on the market, even to passersby. You never know when a neighbor can connect a friend to your house or someone who was just starting to think about moving notices your property and gets serious.
Post to housing sites
Platforms like Homie, Zillow, and Realtor.com are great places to list your home. Posting your home will increase awareness of your property and signal to realtors that your home is a place to show.
Let’s talk about MLS for a moment. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service and is the top site for Realtors and real estate agents use for both selling and buying homes. Only licensed real estate agents or Realtors list a property on the MLS. If you don’t go through a real estate agent or Realtor, you’ll have to hire another company to list the MLS or forfeit the visibility of listing on MLS altogether. Also remember that even though you’re going without an agent, your buyer likely is using one. Not listing on MLS will significantly decrease your visibility.
Host an Open House
Open houses are an excellent opportunity to gauge the interest in your home. You can attract a lot of interested buyers without having to schedule private appointments.
While we are certainly in the digital age, don’t underestimate the impact of old-school handouts. It’s a good idea to do this before the open house so that you can maximize the most number of showings simultaneously. In addition, a full open house can increase offers alone since the perception is that many people will be offering, encouraging those on the fence to get their bid in.
You may find the one at your open house but plan on having several private showings as well.
The upside of FSBO is you can schedule these showings on your own time. The downside is that you alone are in charge of coordinating the showings, cleaning up the house (yes, you must clean before each showing), and doing the walk-through, as well as answering any questions yourself.
As the pandemic continues, you’ll need to be aware of any restrictions to showings. Real estate agents and Realtors are notified of these changes, but you may have to do the research yourself to ensure you aren’t violating new state or county COVID guidelines.
Track everyone who tours your home by keeping a list of their names, contact information, and IDs. This method will encourage only serious buyers as well as protect you against theft during showings.
Make sure Buyers are Qualified
Protect yourself by requiring all bidders to be pre-approved (not simply pre-qualified) or have proof of funds before accepting any offers. It will cause you a lot of pain to find out before closing that your buyer can’t afford to pay after all, especially if you are counting on the sale of your home to buy a new house.
Hire a real estate attorney
The closing paperwork for the sale of a home is infamously long and hard to understand. A real estate attorney can review your paperwork and make sure everything is correct.
While it is undoubtedly a good idea to hire a real estate attorney, it is also legally required in 21 states.
Consider Hiring a Realtor or Real Estate Agent
Most people consider selling their home themselves to avoid paying commission to the realtor or real estate agent. Typically, these fees are between 5-6% of the sale price andarere paid out of your equity.
While you can sell your home yourself, there are many factors to consider. First is the work included in selling yourself. Second is the peace of mind that you comply with all laws and regulations and have a sound contract when closing. A third thing to consider may surprise you― those who use a realtor or real estate agent often sell their home for a greater profit, even after accounting for paid commission.
If saving money is your top reason for wanting to sell your home yourself, you may want to reconsider. Between the research, time, and money spent to prepare the house yourself and then to likely sell for a lower price anyways, you may actually financially benefit from hiring a professional.
Talk with Anita!
Anita is a Sonoma County resident and Realtor with 13 years of experience. Whether you’re looking for help to sell your home or just want to talk about preparing to do it yourself, Anita is a great resource.