Sell Your House by Owner and Save Thousands
Selling a house without a realtor isn’t as hard as you may think and the reward can be worth the effort. According to the National Association of REALTORSⓇ, nearly 10 percent of home sales in 2016 were FSBO (for sale by owner). The number one reason people decide to go the FSBO route is to keep more of their own money. Paying a realtor anywhere from three to six percent is often too much for many to swallow, particularly if they are willing to do some or all of the legwork themselves.
When you sell your home by owner, you take on the role of a real estate agent, doing all of the things they would do for you. The commission you pay a REALTOR®️ goes to their time and effort to:
- List your house with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Market your house through fliers, advertisements and a website
- Facilitate showings of your house and possibly hosting open house events
- Act as an intermediary when entering negotiations and accompanying you to the closing
For many, these agent services seem easy enough to handle themselves. If they can just learn how to sell a house by owner, they’ll save thousands. Seems straightforward enough, but where do you start?
For Sale by Owner To-Dos
Selling your own home is a searchable term, just like most everything these days. There are hundreds of sources online to guide you through the process, although some are more complicated than others. Most present the following tasks to sell your own home in one variation or another:
Get a professional photographer
It is not recommended that you take photos of your home yourself. A professional will not only help you stage your home so each room appears spacious, bright and uncluttered, but they will know where to position the camera in order to achieve the best representation of each room. Many are also able to provide a virtual tour using a specialized camera. Virtual tours take your viewer on a 360° journey through your home, giving them an experience that is as close to actually being there as possible.
Price your home well
Depending on your goals, the price of your home is the number one determining factor of whether your home will sell. If you price it right, it will sell – no matter what your home looks like or where it is located. Many FSBO over-estimate the value of their home. Look at comparables for several homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood. Note the price-per-square-footage and the features of the home.
Make a high-quality sign
For FSBO, the number one method used to market a home is a yard sign (35 percent). Like a billboard, it advertises to a passerby that your home is for sale. Even if those people aren’t in the market for a home, they often let friends and family know the home is on the market. Neighbors, too, will see the sign and inform others. It will also let those who found your house on an internet search to quickly locate your home. You want your sign to clearly display your best contact phone number in large print. If you decide to show your home to interested parties by appointment only, be sure to include that on the sign as well to discourage unannounced visits.
Design high-quality flyers
Similar to a sign, you need a way to let others know your house is on the market. For those who won’t be driving by your property, displaying fliers in public places will attract interest, particularly if the flier is in full color and on nice paper. Your flier should have the best of your professional photos displayed, as well as a compelling and well-written list of the best features of your home. Be sure to include your contact information in several places.
Set up a website
Up to 51 percent of buyers find their next home searching the internet. If you really want to attract and impress buyers, set up a simple website that is similar to your brochure. You want to use the best of the professional photos and a virtual tour (if you have one). Describe the features of your home that you believe buyers are looking for and those that make your home unique. Using services like Google Analytics, you can track views to know if you’re are getting any traffic.
Write compelling copy for your MLS listing
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is THE place where agents and buyers go most when looking for a home. Here, they can compare homes, filter their search and pinpoint the homes they want to view. The MLS enables you to concisely describe your home and add professional photos. Use plenty of adjectives that build excitement around the features of your home, such as “huge private lot”, “tons of storage” and “high-end appliances.”
Get your house listed on the MLS through a third party (for a fee)
Unfortunately, listing your home on the MLS is not free. Only licensed real estate agents have access. You can pay a flat fee to a third party or negotiate with a REALTORⓇ to list it for you for a fee. If you sell your home without a REALTORⓇ, you may decide to skip the MLS, but if you really want to get more eyes on your listing, it’s worth the low fee to make your home searchable online so it will pop up on real estate agencies’ pages.
Build a relationship with realtors
Real estate agents are not your enemy. You aren’t sticking it to them by selling your own home, rather you are trying to get the most out of the sale of perhaps the biggest investment in your life. While they would prefer you to pay them, many understand the attraction to selling your home without an agent. Reach out to any REALTORⓇ acquaintances to let them know you are trying to sell your home FSBO. Discover who the top real estate agents are in your neighborhood and give them a call and some brochures. They want to find their buyers a home, even if it isn’t one of their agency’s listings.
Hold open houses
Open houses can be a good way to get exposure. They do come with risk, however. Not everyone who shows up to your open house will be a qualified buyer. Many will be nosy neighbors. Open houses do, however, give potential buyers who are interested in your neighborhood an easy way to look at the home without involving a real estate agent. Hold your open houses on the weekends to get the most visits and advertise wherever you feel comfortable. Inform the real estate agents you’ve contacted of your open house to increase the number of real buyers.
Keep your house spotless
This goes without saying, but your home should be clutter-free, impeccably clean and as much unnecessary furniture and belongings removed. This includes inside of cabinets and closets as people inevitably open them up. Your visitors will want to see a blank palette where they can envision their own belongings. Removing clutter will make your home appear larger. It is also recommended that you remove personal photos. Open all window treatments to let as much light in as possible. Vacuum rugs and carpet every day, add some fresh flowers and bake fresh cookies to make your house smell enticing.
Know your bottom line
Finally, decide on the lowest price you’re willing to go should you get a low-ball offer. Consider the fact that every day your house is on the market is money you are losing in mortgage payments, bills, etc. If you turn down an offer, there’s always a risk you won’t receive another offer for weeks or even months. Is it worth a few thousand dollars to hedge your bet? If so, stick it out and wait. If you want to get out ASAP, you may save money, in the long run, accepting an offer below asking price. Just determine exactly how low you’ll go while still coming out ahead.
A Low Fee – High Support Alternative
If all of these tasks seem overwhelming, there is another option that many home sellers prefer. You still sell your home by owner, but you pay a low fee for marketing and agent assistance. Companies like ListingSpark cater to home sellers who want to sell their house without a REALTORⓇ but don’t have the time or desire to go at it completely alone.
ListingSpark offers home sellers the opportunity to forego agent commissions (the number one reason home sellers sell their homes without a real estate agent) and pay a daily low fee to list their home. For only dollars a day, the home seller has access to:
- The same technology real estate agents use (the MLS, and sales comps and property tax records for market analysis that helps you accurately price your home)
- A professional photographer
- A high-quality yard sign
- A lockbox you can place your home key when you grant permission for an agent to show your home when you aren’t there
- Marketing brochures
- Agent support should you have a question
- Closing coordinator (for an additional low fee) for expert contractual guidance
- A personal online dashboard to track sale activity
This hybrid approach is ideal for home sellers who want more control with less commitment, fewer upfront and backend costs, and a faster sales process. No need to design and print your own yard sign and brochures, create your own website or hire your own photographer. All of this and more come standard in the per-day pricing model.
The best part is home sellers only pay for the days their house is on the market. The faster your home sells, the less money you spend. Even if your home takes a little time to sell, home sellers who use services like ListingSpark save thousands in agent commissions. For most buyers, the cost of this service ends up being a few hundred dollars, as opposed to tens of thousands that could go towards a full-service real estate broker.
If you want to sell your home by owner, consider both approaches to determine which model is best for you. Much of your decision will be based on how much time you have to dedicate to selling your home and how much support (if any) you think you may want along the way.
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