Selling Your Home: For Sale by Owner

Very Honest For Sale By Owner Sign
Image by Casey Serin via Flickr

When you’re preparing to sell your home, your first instinct is often to rush straight to a realtor.   There are benefits to using a trained real estate agent, but it isn’t always necessary.

The biggest motivation to skip the realtor is avoiding the fees, which can run as high as 7% or more in some places.  What does that 7% get you?

First, it gets you experience.  Realtors know which hoops you have to jump through, from both a legal and a marketing perspective.  Do you need an inspection?  How much of your stuff should you move to storage?  Are you comfortable with high-dollar negotiations?

Time is another critical item in the fee.  Do you have a minimum of an hour to dedicate to advertising and screening potential buyers?  Every day?  Do you have a flexible schedule to show your house at times convenient for the buyers?

The third element is access to the Multiple Listing Service(MLS), which lets other realtors see your home listing.  There are alternative listing services you can use, but none are as widely know as MLS.

There are some good reasons to use a realtor, but none of that means you can’t sell your home yourself.  FSBOs are done every day.

If you are nervous, your local community education program may have a course on selling your home yourself.  These courses are usually very affordable.

Some tips:

  • Be objective about pricing.  Look at the selling price of similar homes in the area, NOT what your dream price is or how much you have spent on improvements.
  • Always keep your home ready to show.  Keep the dishes done, everything put away, and the floors mopped.  The “lived-in” look will not help your house sell.
  • Keep track of the potential buyers.  Put the name, address, phone number, and any identifying notes in a spreadsheet so you can follow up later if your house doesn’t sell.
  • A bid is not binding.  Don’t stop advertising until you close on the sale.
  • Make a fact sheet and blank purchase agreement that potential buyers can take home.
  • Hire professionals where necessary: lawyers, inspectors, and closing agents.

Selling your home yourself can be intimidating, but it is a job you can tackle yourself for a significant savings.  Would you try it?

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    1. It will depend on the market. If I can easily sell our place in 10 years, I will. If I need that MLS boost, we’ll be finding a great realtor and paying for their expertise. They usually don’t make anything until you sell, so they are motivated to make that happen too.


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