Without the support of a licensed real estate agent to help you navigate your way through the process, you’ll need to be well-versed in what to expect while trying to sell your property.
“Before I was a licensed Realtor, I flipped and sold homes successfully,” says Jason Bowman of highly rated The Jason Bowman Team at Re/Max Elite in Mason, Ohio. “I’m not one who thinks that every situation needs a qualified Realtor.”
Still, before you stake that “For Sale By Owner” sign in the front yard, heed the advice of our highly rated real estate agents as they offer tips on how to sell your own home:
1. Stage the home, hire a photographer
When you hire a Realtor, part of the package typically includes professional photography of both the interior and exterior of the house. These photos are a key marketing component to a successful sale.
A property that is FSBO should include top-quality photography — but only after the house is staged.
Whether you stage the house yourself, or hire a professional, de-cluttering, boxing up personal photographs and mementos, and arranging the furniture for optimum appearance will help highlight the home.
“You need to look at your house as a piece of property and not as your home,” says highly rated Deb Agliano – Re/Max Andrew Realty in Medford, Massachusetts. “This is very difficult to do, since it’s where you live and have had so many experiences. But in order to walk away with the best outcome from the sale, you need to look at the house as a product and emotionally distance yourself from it.”
2. Focus on web-based marketing
Marketing your house to as many potential buyers as you can is a necessity. And in today’s market, there’s no better avenue than the Internet and social media.
“Signs in the yard and newspapers do not sell homes anymore,” says Erick Monzo of highly rated Keller Williams – The Monzo Group in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. “Over 90 percent of our buyers use the Internet as the main source of shopping.”
In addition to using social media to sell your house and popular For Sale By Owner websites, you can also pay a flat fee to have your property appear on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database of homes for sale that is operated by real estate agents. Appearing on the MLS will give your property listing a much broader audience, as more than half of recent home buyers used MLS websites in their search according to the National Association of Realtors.
The cost to list your property on the MLS can start around $300, which is paid to a listing agent in lieu of any commission on the sale.
3. Befriend an appraiser and title company
If you’ve never been through the process of selling a home on your own, it might behoove you to establish a rapport with both an appraiser and a title company ahead of time.
“The title company can’t negotiate the transaction, but they can give you a blank contract and walk you through the steps,” Bowman says. “And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk to a bank or mortgage broker about financing and what to expect.”
Hiring a home inspector and an appraiser before listing the property will also help manage expectations and identify any potential issues.
“The best advice I could give a FSBO seller is to hire a local, licensed appraiser to determine a reasonable listing price,” says highly rated Michael Winslow of Blue Picket Realty in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
4. Make sure the price is right
Not pricing the property correctly is one of the biggest FSBO mistakes. Underpricing can leave money on the table, while overpricing can leave a house sitting on the market too long.
“Oftentimes, many owners feel their home is worth far more than the market will pay,” says highly rated Jonathan D. Reed, Realtor of Fairfax Realty in Fairfax, Virginia. “Reasons being, emotional ties to the home and appearance of the home could sway an owner to feel the home is worth more than the market will allow. This could cause the home to sit on the market for a longer period of time, and that tends to draw a red flag to a property.”
Hiring an appraiser and doing your research on recent property sales in your neighborhood should help to zero in on an appropriate price.
5. Hire a lawyer
A real estate transaction might seem simple in theory (person A gives money to person B for the cute yellow house), but in reality, it can be full of perils and pitfalls.
Hiring a real estate attorney to review contracts will help protect you in the long run.
“The lawyer should be able to vet any contract received for any potential legal problems,” says Reed. “This does not mean the lawyer can advise you as to what is or isn’t a good offer. The lawyer would simply be utilized to cover your exposure to any legal liabilities pertaining to the contract.”
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