While it is not always recommended, it is definitely possible to sell your home on your own – in other words, without a real estate agent. If you’re organized and follow the steps below, you can potentially save 2-3% on real estate agent commissions. For the median home price, this means savings of $ 3,000 to $ 4,500!
Now keep in mind: this will mean spending around $ 1,000 up front to get everything done right. However, you can view this simply as a money-saving investment, once you actually sell the home.
Step 1: Have your home inspected by a professional.
Depending on the size of your home, this will cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 400. Most buyers will get a home inspected, but I recommend that you, the seller, do it yourself before putting the home on the market.
The reason for this is simple: you need to know more about the home than your buyer does when it comes time to negotiate the price.
Typically, the home has a contract at a specific price, then the potential buyer has the home inspected. This puts you, the seller, at a disadvantage. The reason is that it is better for you to know about any potential problems when pricing the house, rather than finding out once you have a buyer.
Let me put it this way: do you know if your house is wired to code? Unless you’re an electrician, you probably aren’t. Now think about this: what would be better, so you know that your house is not wired to code and the corresponding price, or to find out after a buyer has your house under contract?
In a home negotiation, knowledge is power! It’s worth $ 300 to get the upper hand in this department.
Also be sure to get a termite inspection if termites are a problem where you live. Termites can destroy your home quickly and many times you won’t know it until it’s too late. The good news is that most termite companies will inspect your home for free as a way to earn your business. You can even have more than one company perform this inspection.
I recommend that you do these inspections before doing anything else. The home inspection generally takes about 3 hours and the termite inspection takes about 1 hour. Aside from letting the inspectors in, you don’t even have to be present at the house! Most inspectors can schedule their work to be completed within a week.
Step 2: Get bids from three contractors for each major item in need of repair.
After inspections, you will know what is what. Next, you should consider repairing important items. These include: foundation, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, and roof work. If any of those things show up on the inspection report, get three different contractors to examine the problem and make you an offer. Make sure you receive these offers in writing
Also, you’ll want to bring in contractors for any major cosmetic issues. If you have old rugs, holes in the wall, broken windows, etc., you’ll want to know how much it costs to repair or redo them.
Now, none of this means you really need to fix anything. This depends on how the housing market is doing in your area. If the houses are selling quickly, I recommend not doing any repairs and simply selling the house “as is”, with the cost of these repairs subtracted from the price.
If this is a more difficult market for sellers, or what is often referred to as a “buyer’s market,” you may need to look to repair major items or allow for an additional “repair allowance.”
This will be of great help in negotiating prices. If your buyer raises a problem, you will already have the contractors’ bids on hand. You can simply adjust the price in a way that works best for both of you. Also, when you show you’ve done your homework, a buyer is less likely to resist any price adjustments you offer.
Step 3: Find out what houses are selling for in your neighborhood.
I emphasize the word sale, as it doesn’t matter 1) the listing price of a home or 2) what you think it is worth. The value of a home is what a buyer can and is willing to pay for it.
You may need to check with a real estate agent to find out what other houses have sold for. Many will be happy to do a market analysis and let you know a good asking price for your home. This does NOT force you to work with that real estate agent, but be sure to inform them ahead of time that you are going to sell the house on your own. That same realtor can always find a buyer for you, so doing this numerical analysis can benefit both parties.
Pricing your home correctly is critical, so you also need to factor in the price of necessary repairs. My suggestion is to simply subtract your cost from the sale price and sell the home “as is.”
Having bids from contractors on repair costs will help show your potential buyer (and the real estate buyer involved) that you are serious and organized. It can speed up the sales process, as sometimes the buyer won’t even require a re-inspection, and this open transparency on your part is the key to closing a deal quickly.
Step 4: clean, remove trash and prepare your home
You want your home to be as clean and tidy as possible. If this is easy for you, do it yourself. If not, I would recommend “Got Junk” to get rid of any clutter and then a cleaning service.
You want to have as few of your own personal items in your home as possible. You might even consider renting a storage space for a few months.
You want to stage your home, which basically means removing personal items and organizing your furniture in a simple way.
The basic idea behind the staging is that your potential buyer will start to “see” their own furniture in your home. Once this happens, they have already started buying your home. It may sound strange, but houses that are organized sell 79% faster!
The other benefit of doing all of this is that it will make the move much easier. Let’s face it, you have to get rid of that junk sooner or later anyway. So why not get it done before you move in and have a faster, more profitable home sale down the road?
Step 5: List your home on MLS rate sites and all other major places online
One of the best things a real estate agent can do for you is list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). There are real estate agents who do this for a small fee (usually around $ 200). They do not charge commission, only the initial fee. This will expose your home to all real estate agents who have buyers.
The second thing I recommend is to put your house in Postlets. It’s a free site that will list your home on Zillow, Yahoo, and Craigslist. These sites have a large number of potential buyers for your home.
The last thing you can do is put up a sign that says “For Sale By Owner.” Some people prefer not to do this for various privacy and security reasons. Personally, I don’t think it’s too important to use a “For Sale by Owner” sign unless there is a lot of car and / or pedestrian traffic near your home.
The most important thing once you’ve done the 4 steps above is to make sure as many qualified buyers as possible are aware of your home. By listing your home on MLS and Zillow, you are making serious homebuyers realize it.
If you want to further minimize tire kickers, you can choose to show the home only to buyers who can show they are pre-approved by a lender or have enough cash to purchase your home outright. Serious buyers will have no problem doing this, especially if it is a competitive market.
Those are the five crucial steps that I have used on every site built and in every mobile home that I have sold. The vast majority of homes have been hired in less than 28 days, so it has worked well for me, it should work for you too!