Let’s cut to the chase—selling a home by owner can be intimidating. Perceived as a complicated process of marketing, showing, negotiating, inspecting, and signing, some homeowners who wouldn’t dream of embarking on the task of selling their home themselves.
Often homeowners mistake the idea of a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) as "saving the commission" when, in reality, you earn the commission. So is selling your house as hard as it seems?
Let’s break down the basics of a For Sale By Owner.
1) Adopt a new perspective.
Breaking down a daunting task into manageable pieces may help make the process appear less overwhelming, so first things first…selling your home is a business transaction!
While the four walls of your home undoubtedly hold an abundance of incredible memories, it’s important to go through a paradigm shift and remove the emotional tug the home has on you.
Take a business-like approach to selling your home in order to maintain clarity throughout the process.
2) Create a to-do list.
Start compiling your to-do list by scheduling an appointment with a real estate attorney or closing agent, as this may prevent a delay later down the road. The appointment will disclose time critical issues such as termite inspection, well and septic inspections, radon, etc.
Walk outside and get an unbiased view of your home from across the street. You’ve heard it before: curb appeal is so important. It’s true that every home makes a first impression, and you want yours to attract buyers the moment they drive up.
Trim trees and shrubs, so that you can clearly see walkways and windows. Power wash the exterior of the house, clean your windows, and touch up any painted surfaces.
3) Freshen up.
Step inside and assess the unique scent that every home has. Find any hidden sources of odor and eliminate them (unless, of course, Fido is the culprit).
Clean your home as you’ve never cleaned before. Depersonalize and declutter every room. Buyers are attracted to clean, open spaces and they want to be able to envision themselves living in your home. So while your children’s art is precious, it’s probably better boxed away while you show your home.
Ask a friend to come by and give you their honest opinion or hire a professional stager to get your home in tip-top shape. Fix all of those nagging items that have taken up permanent residence on your "honey do" list.
Buyers will notice the leaking faucet, so take time to repair those items or hire a handyman.
4) Set the price.
Now comes the moment where keeping your emotions in check is critical.
We all tend to overvalue our home, particularly if we’ve invested a lot of sweat equity, but this is the time to be realistic.
With the vast amount of information available through internet research, you should be able to get a very good sense of the fair market value of your home. Sites such as MilitaryByOwner provide you with the resources you need to take an in-depth look at the home prices in your area.
Use our search feature to find homes in your zip code with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms and see how they compare to yours.
While internet sites can give you a ballpark of what homes are valued at in your area, a more accurate assessment is available from a professional appraiser. An average appraisal can run between $350-500 in most areas. But investing the money now can save you from finding out at closing that the bank will not lend above the appraised price. This will also help you price your home competitively.
Asking the fair market value for your home helps ensure it won’t linger on the market or, on the other side of the spectrum, leave you wondering if you should have set your price higher.
5) Advertise your FSBO.
Once you have set a well-researched asking price, it’s time to get the word out. Market your home in every possible way.
Advertise on MilitaryByOwner, utilizing a package that allows you to include photos and a virtual tour link.
You've taken the FSBO path to save money on the commission, but that only happens if the home actually sells! Reinvest some of the money you expect to save and put it toward an aggressive marketing strategy.
6) Your photos matter.
Take a plethora of photos, shot from different perspectives, at various times of day—including pictures taken at night—and then choose the best of the best. Create a slideshow or virtual tour of your home and upload it to YouTube.
We live in a visual age, and the power of good images can't be understated. Good photos will help make your ad more shareable! Blurry, poorly lit photos will cause prospective buyers to scroll on by, while good quality, clear photos could inspire a buyer to find out more.
Get Pro Real Estate Photo Tips for Selling or Renting Your Home
7) Utilize social media.
Share photos and details of your home on your Facebook page, and set your post’s settings to "public." Ask friends to share the information with people they know who may be in the market for a home in your area.
As mentioned, good photos of your home will only make it more shareable and create interest.
Other ideas for sharing your home listing on social media:
- Do a Facebook Live video or upload a video tour of your home. Be sure to set it to 'public' and ask your friends to share.
- Publicize any Open Houses across your social media.
- Mention your home ad on your own Facebook and Twitter pages, LinkedIn, or even YouTube channel or blog, if you have them!
- You may have good results posting in your local Facebook neighborhood or military oriented groups (ask for permission from admins first).
8) Extend advertising locally and with paid services.
Place "For Sale" signs in your yard and at nearby intersections. Create a professional and detailed flyer including photos and place them in a waterproof container in front of your house for potential buyers to pick up. Post flyers in the housing office of the military installations near you, as well as on billboards at local grocery stores.
Consider the option to list your home on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), the system used by real estate professionals to advertise homes. There is a fee involved in listing it, and if a buyer finds your home on MLS you will be required to pay a commission.
Bottom line: have a creative and pervasive marketing strategy.
9) Schedule showings.
Be available to show your home to potential buyers. In a 9-5 world, it isn’t easy to be at someone’s beck and call, but if you don’t show it, it won’t sell.
Enlist the help of family and friends to show the home or ease the burden of the life events that keep you from being available.
Should you have an open house?
You’ll see arguments that Open Houses aren’t effective or not worth the effort. However, 53% of homebuyers will attend an Open House, according to the National Association of Realtors.
If you decide to have an Open House for your FSBO, you’ll want to be present and personable, as well as keep your home and belongings safe. It’s also important to give prospective buyers space to walk around and envision themselves in the home.
Get tips for holding an effective Open House.
10) Ask for feedback.
Ask potential buyers for their honest feedback. Set out a notebook for them to share what they did and didn't like about your home.
This is where separating your emotions comes into play again. You know the drill: you can say something bad about your mom, but if someone else does, your feelings get hurt.
Growing a thick skin and not taking what potential buyers have to say about your home personally can help you to make the changes necessary to get the home sold quickly.
11) Be prepared for paperwork.
Get ready for your potential buyers by purchasing the state-specific forms required to sell your home. MilitaryByOwner makes this easy by offering a Home Sales Package from US Legal Forms.
Due to the intricacies of real estate transactions, you need to employ the services of a closing agent to carry out the legal portion of the transaction.
The parties authorized to perform real estate closings vary from state to state, so consult your current mortgage lender to ask for guidance on whom best to contract for assistance. Establish a relationship with your closing agent prior to receiving offers on the home so that they are prepared to assist with the review of all documents.
Once you receive an Offer to Purchase, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking, it becomes the ultimate game of chess! But before you can call "checkmate," you should make sure that the offer is from a pre-qualified buyer.
Asking to see a Pre-Approval Letter from the potential buyer will save both of you a lot of time and needless negotiating and no, it’s not rude to ask. (Learn more: Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What It Means and Why It Matters)
Take time to consider the offer and contemplate your counter-offer options through your business-like perspective. Driving away a potential buyer because you’re offended that they asked for a carpeting allowance to replace your 1970’s shag is not in your best interest.
12) Close on your FSBO!
Once you’ve agreed upon the terms of the sale, submit all documents to your closing agent.
From this point forward, the agent will assist you with the inspections and documents required for a real estate transaction, such as appraisals, termite inspections, and a title search. Completion of this phase will result in the closing, which will officially transfer the ownership of the property from you to the new owner.
Congratulations! You have successfully sold your home by owner. Now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor: your proceeds check!
Get even more tips for your FSBO:
Thinking of listing your home For Sale By Owner, but need a little help? Download our free resource, For Sale By Owner: Is It an Option for You?
All images from Canva