10 Inside Tips for Selling Your Home Yourself
Obviously the idea of not having to pay a commission to a real estate agent is attractive to any home seller, but if you ask someone that’s tried to sell themselves, you’ll hear about how challenging it is to keep up with all the issues involved in the process. The key is to be prepared for all steps along the way, which can be difficult even under the best of circumstances. Remember, not all costs will be measured in dollars. Before going it alone be sure to account for the value of your time and peace of mind in knowing things are being handled properly.
To start with, your phone will begin to ring from the moment the “For Sale by Owner” sign goes up. Unfortunately, many of those calls will not be from prospective buyers, but rather from real estate agents looking to obtain your listing. Those other people that are actually interested in buying often times will be hoping to take advantage of your inexperience, offering to buy your home at a price well below market value. On the flipside, your house could remain on the market longer than expected because you’re not attracting, and getting offers from, qualified buyers.
Keep in mind that there are multiple services a real estate agent will provide during the process of selling your home, services you will need to obtain and coordinate on your own, often times at the expense of the time you need to be making preparations for an impending move. However, there are a select few who accomplish selling their own homes, and you could be one of them. To help you prepare, here are 10 inside tips that you should be aware of before you make the decision as to whether or not this is the right approach for you.
1. Prepare Your Home for Sale
Your job is to ensure that your house stands out favorably from the competition. First impressions are crucial in accomplishing this. Make sure your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it through the objective eyes of a buyer. Don’t gloss over needed repairs and fix-ups, your prospective buyers certainly won’t! Many people find it invaluable to have a neutral second set of eyes do a walk through of your home to identify potential problem spots.
2. Price it Right
Correctly setting your asking price is critical. Setting your asking price too high can be as costly as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace not by your emotional attachment or by what you feel your home is worth. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, objectively compare the price, features and condition of all similar houses which have sold in recent months in both your neighborhood and other similar ones. See our Free Home Evaluation Form.
It is also important for you to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important in today’s market. Carefully budget your selling costs and prepare a net proceeds sheet to calculate your best estimate of what you will take away from your sale. Prospective buyers may also request this kind of analysis of buying costs. Keep in mind that Realtors have easy access to this information and may be able to help you seek it out.
3. Prepare Yourself With All Necessary Legal Documents
Not surprisingly, there are a multitude of important legal documents and contracts which you will have to assemble, complete and understand. A partial checklist of forms that you will require for prospective buyers and for legal documentation is as follows:
- Seller Disclosure
- Purchase Contract
- Mortgage Payoff
- Loan Application
- Deposit Receipt
- Property Profile Fact Sheet
- Buyer’s Cost Sheet
- Closing & Settlement
- Personal Property
- Exclusion List
- Property Survey / Plot Plan
- Sellers Statement of Representation
4. Market Your Home Effectively
Beyond the sign you will put on the lawn, you should find effective ways to spread the word about your house for sale. Local buyers can be reached through the newspaper, but this is only a small part of the market you are after. Be sure you include the many buyers who could already be working with a real estate agent. To locate them, target as many top agents as possible in your market and see if the criteria of their buyers match your home.
Because out-of-town buyers are also important, you should create a strategy to reach these people as well. In ever increasing numbers, more than 80 percent, people are turning to the Internet to begin their home searches. Having a web presence to attract these potential buyers is all-important.
Above all, you should be very service minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Ensure there is always someone available to answer the phone, pick up messages promptly, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as soon as possible.
5. Remain Objective During A Showing of Your Home
Keep emotion out of the sale of your home. During a showing it is best to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your house, whether in person or during the requisite follow-up phone call, it is better to counter-balance this point of view by illustrating the positives rather than by becoming defensive.
If at all possible, it is highly recommended for safety purposes that more than one person be present when showing the home. Also be sure to have valuables and personal information secured and out of view at all times.
The Halfway Point
We know this procedure can be a bit overwhelming, after all it’s a full time job for us! If you’d like to talk to a professional about an easier option, please don’t hesitate to call us.
6. Pre-Qualify Your Prospects
Don’t waste your time entertaining buyers who cannot afford your house. Research their financial steadiness with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities, and credit standing.
7. Negotiate Effectively & Knowledgeably
There will be many details to resolve before a sale can be considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, buyer concerns and objections. Make sure you fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can in turn explain details and ramifications to the buyer and make any amendments to the sale that are necessary. The contract you use should be thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, manage the buyer’s interest in you home so that it doesn’t wane during negotiations.
8. Know Your Buyer
Your objective during negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine your buyer’s motivation. Do they need to move quickly? Do they have enough money to pay your asking price? Knowing this information will give you an advantage in the negotiation because you will know up front what you will need to do in order to get what you want.
9. Don’t Move Out Before You Sell
Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant because it tends to look forlorn, even forgotten, which simply is not appealing. It might cost you money as well. If you move, you’re telling buyers that you have a new home and are motivated to sell fast which can give them an advantage at the negotiating table.
10. Know Why You’re Selling and Keep It To Yourself
The flip side of understanding your buyer is understanding yourself. Your reasons for selling will affect everything from your list price to how much time and money you will invest in getting your home ready for sale. Your motivation will help you determine what is more important to you, whether it be the money you walk away with, the length of time your property is on the market, or both. Whatever your reasons, it is very important to keep them to yourself, otherwise you may end up at a disadvantage during negotiations. When asked, simply say your housing needs have changed.