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Everything You Need to Know to Sell Your Own House

Selling Your Own Home?

Is this the year you’re hoping to sell your home? According to experts, that could be a wise decision. Forecasters aren’t too optimistic about the housing market in the coming years but believe 2019 still holds some hope. Rising interest rates are to blame and no one feels certain about where those and the rest of our economy is headed beyond the next 12 months.

With home prices falling a bit, it only makes sense for homeowners to want to eke out every last penny they can from, what is for many, their biggest financial investment. That means traditional real estate agents who require a standard 3 percent commission may be out of the question. With all of the technology and tools now available commercially, homeowners have options when it comes to selling their home.

How to Sell Your House by Owner

It’s a misconception that selling your own house is difficult. Yes, it can be difficult if you don’t utilize available tools, but even the ugliest, most outdated home will sell if it’s priced right. No matter where you live or the condition of your home, you can sell your own home and we’re going to show you how.

Step 1: Clean It Out

The first and most important thing you can do to sell your own home is to clean out the clutter and personal items. This can take some time, so plan accordingly. Every closet, drawer, cabinet, shelf, pantry and room, as well as the garage and backyard, need a thorough scrub. You want your home to look its very best to sell quickly and for the most money.

Related: Selling Your Own Home? Stage It Right to Sell

Get rid of anything that isn’t being used. As Marie Kondo, the wildly popular Japanese organizing guru, would say, keep only what “sparks joy.” Donate, sell or toss any items that don’t absolutely need to be in your home. Your goal is to enable potential buyers to see your home as their own. By paring it down, your home will appear larger, brighter, well cared for, and a blank palette that screams, “BUY ME!”

Step 2: Partner with an FSBO Expert

The best people to answer how to sell your house by owner are those in the FSBO market who live and breathe it every day. While For Sale by Owner implies you sell your own home by yourself, it surely doesn’t have to be that way. Thankfully, there are FSBO professionals who offer agent support (without commission) and the same technology and tools the real estate agents use, like the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

For a flat fee that is significantly lower than what you’d pay a licensed real estate agent to sell your home for you, you can get your home listed on the MLS (a must to sell your home), plus the basics, like a yard sign, key lockbox, and even professional photos of your home. You can also call an agent to ask questions and make sure you’re on track throughout the process. This is a great resource for homeowners looking to sell their own home but want some help to make the process much easier.

Related: Considering a Flat-Fee Real Estate Agent? What You Need to Know

Step 3: Price Your Home to Sell

When selling your own house, you must decide which is more important to you: selling for the most money possible or selling quickly. Sometimes, you can have both, but one typically takes precedence. To sell your home quickly, price it at its sweet spot. Use your FSBO service’s resources to get market data that shows recently sold home prices in your area for homes similar to yours and take note of the median price per square footage.

Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples, too. While the house next door may have sold for $250 per square foot a month ago, if the home is more updated, has more bedrooms and bathrooms, a pool and an outdoor kitchen that yours doesn’t, you may not be able to justify the same asking price.

If your goal is to sell quickly, price your home just below the average selling price. You may be sacrificing a few thousand dollars on the sale price, but you’ll get more attention and likely sell it faster. It may cost you more, in the long run, to hold out and wait for a better offer weeks or months later.

Step 4: Market Your Home

Marketing your home requires professional photos of the property, listing your home on the MLS, creating brochures and getting the word out on social media and real estate offices. If you utilize a FSBO service, much or all of this may be included in the flat fee they charge. If you go at it alone, be sure you use a photographer who specializes in real estate. Taking photos from your mobile phone won’t cut it. People will be comparing your photos to those of professionals and your home won’t be taken seriously if the photos are of poor quality.

You should also be sure you have a for sale sign in your yard so anyone who drives by can see your home is for sale. It will also confirm to agents and potential buyers that they are at the right home. Get your brochures to real estate firms who frequently show homes in your neighborhood and leave plenty in your home for viewers to take with them.

Step 5: Show Your Home to Potential Buyers

If you’ve done a good job at marketing your home, you should have agents and potential buyers calling to see your home. Make sure your home is clean, clutter-free and ready for showtime. If the buyer’s agent is with their client, you may not have to be there when they show your home. You can either buy a key lockbox or use one the FSBO service offers so the agent can let themselves in. Otherwise, you should show your own home. You never want a potential buyer to view the home without you or a licensed real estate agent with them.

Step 6: Negotiate an Offer

Once you get an offer from a buyer, you can either accept the offer as is or negotiate it down. Determine your lowest acceptable price and if the buyer makes an offer below that number, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth accepting to sell quicker or whether you should counter the offer. These negotiations may go back and forth several times but recognize the buyer may decline all offers and walk. In this case, you’ll need to wait for another buyer to make an offer.

Step 7: Manage Inspection and Repairs

Most homes require at least some repairs in order for the buyer to be satisfied. Once a buyer makes their offer, a licensed inspector, paid by the buyer, will come to inspect your home. You may be present during the inspection, but you should stay out of their way.

Once they inspect the home, they will draft up a report that is given to you and the buyer. The buyer can require certain repairs to be made in order for the home sale to go forward. These requirements are negotiable. You may accept all, some or none of the recommended repairs. You may also get an estimate for those projects and deduct that price from the sales price if you do not want to manage those repairs.

Related: The Home Appraisal Blues

The buyer’s lender will also require a home appraisal in order to ensure the asking price is in line with the appraised value. While the buyer typically pays for both the inspection and the appraisal, some home sellers choose to pay to have their home pre-inspected to speed the process.

Step 8: Close The Deal

After you and the buyer have come to an agreement on the sales price and inspection repairs, and the lender accepts the appraisal, you are ready to close. The buyer’s agent may choose the title company where they’d like to close or you may suggest your preferred title company as well.

Your buyer will likely have their real estate agent with them at closing. You can go alone or hire an agent from the FSBO service to go along with you. You will need to sign lots of paperwork that can be confusing for some, so paying a small fee to have representation gives some FSBO owners peace of mind.

Congratulations! You sold your own home and kept thousands of dollars for yourself by doing it. See, it wasn’t that hard! Now that you have a FSBO service at your side and some experience under your belt, you may never consider using a traditional real estate agent again.

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