Selling Your Home Yourself
At The Highest Possible Price,
& Avoiding Paying A Large Commission
So, you want to sell your home. But, you want to save thousands on commissions, selling without a real estate agent. I appreciate your desire ? if we could, we would all like to save thousands of dollars.
Unlike most real estate agents, I will not try to convince you that you are wasting your time. If you are willing to learn the process, and invest the time and money to do it, you can sell it yourself. And, of course, the bonus is that you save the thousands of dollars in commissions.
I will detail here, everything that you will need to do to be successful in your quest.
These are tested and proven techniques that successfully helped thousands of sellers for years.
I will attempt to keep to the point without trying to confuse you with unnecessary information. (You´ll need all of your time to work on the sale!)
Why would I do this?
Why would any real estate agent want to show someone how to do their business?
As I mentioned, I´m not like most other agents, whose only goal is to have you sign a listing agreement with them. Believe me, you´ll meet them as soon as your sign goes up, or you place your first ad. I realize that you have made up your mind to sell your home yourself, and you are most likely not interested at this point to be discuss listing the home. I believe that if I can assist you in the sale of your home, there would be benefits that can come to me.
1) You will refer relatives, friends, or associates to my website, that will produce business or
2) If you are unsuccessful in the sale, you would at least allow me to discuss with you my marketing strategies and consider me for the job. Of course, never with any obligation on your part! or
3) You could also consider me to assist you in your search for a new home. Even if you are moving out of the area, I belong to a National Network of REALTORS? and can find a REALTOR? to best assist you.
Worst case scenario, I hopefully helped someone and what goes around, comes around. I have always believed that if you help enough people, you will be taken care of. I have been quite successful by providing excellent service to my clients.
Enough about me. Let´s get started on your project of selling your home!
You can sell your home yourself, without a real estate agent, but you will have to do the job of the agent. That does require a lot of work and you will have to learn the process and devote the time to be successful.
The first obstacle that you will have to overcome is "emotion." Selling a home is a business transaction. By this I mean that you have to understand that a potential buyer is interested in purchasing a house to make his home for his families emotional attachments. The fact that you are emotionally attached to your home doesn´t count. Yes, your memories and feelings about your home are important, just not to your buyer.
You will, like most sellers, want three basic things in selling your home.
1) Sell your home for the highest possible price
2) Within the time period you want
3) And with the least amount of hassle and inconvenience
Realistically, you will have to forgo a portion of #3. Selling a home is not easy and there is a degree of hassle and inconvenience involved. This is where the real estate agent earns his keep. Remember, you´re now doing his job!
Although it can be an overwhelming task, I´ll take you through the process, one task at a time.
Task 1 Understand Market Conditions When Pricing Your Home
Task 2 Calculate Your Bottom Line
Task 3 Prepare Your Home For Sale
Task 4 Market and Show Your Home
Task 5 Negotiation and Contract
Task 6 Closing and Moving
OK let´s get going!
Task 1 Understand Market Conditions When Pricing Your Home
Often misunderstood, this will be your most important job in getting your home sold. The biggest single factor in homes not selling for top dollar is improper pricing based on two major factors:
1) Current Market Conditions
2) Your Time Requirements
To understand market conditions, you need to understand "Supply and Demand." When there are fewer homes on the market than there are buyers, we are in a "Seller´s Market," meaning you can demand a higher price for your home. Conversely, less buyers than sellers, we are in a "Buyer´s Market," forcing prices downward. Your particular market could fall anywhere in that range, but you must consider all of the factors that can also effect your pricing ? interest rates, new home sales, and local economic factors such as large new businesses opening or closing, or even negatives as with a new road going through, close to your home.
To properly analyze the current market conditions, you will need to research homes recently sold, under contract, or currently available.
You have a few ways of getting the information that you need.
1) You can go to the public record and see what recently sold homes have sold for.
2) You can contact a title company that may assist you at no charge, with the desire to have your business when you get a contract.
3) Or, if you are in my local market area, you can call on me to provide a market analysis. It is a relatively simple task for me to provide you with the information ? as with all good agents, we have the proper tools. (Still no obligation)
With your market information, take time to visit the homes in your area to see how they compare with yours. If you have an opportunity to visit an open house, let the owner or agent know that you live in the area, thinking of selling your home, and would like to look to compare. (Be prepared for a sales presentation [for your listing] from any agent) Your comparisons should help you make a more objective decision on pricing your home.
You will next want to review the information you´ve gathered and make honest, unbiased comparisons based on criteria such as:
Other Features and Upgrades
Begin by looking at the homes that are currently on the market to get a sense of what the other people are asking for homes similar to yours. You cannot rely on their price as being the market price, as they may be overpriced. It will just give you another indicator of the pricing range. Remember, appraisers do not use current listings as part of their appraisals, only closed sales, within the past 6 months, and your buyer will need an appraisal on your home that will at least equal the sales price, depending on the type of loan that they secure.
Now you go to the pending and closed sales. This will tell you more about what buyers are actually willing to pay for a home and what the sellers were willing to accept. Remember that your neighbor´s home didn´t necessarily "close" for the asking price or what they may have told you. Go figure!
Look to the homes that are similar to yours in style, size, etc. Make adjustments for remodeling, additions, pools, etc., understanding that this does not include regular maintenance items, such as air conditioners or roofs. You too, will have to have your "maintenance" items in good condition. Although having taken care of these items will tend to make your home sell faster, it will not significantly add to the value of your home.
If you have 4 comparable homes that sold recently for $139,900, $143,500, $151,800, and $159,900 and the one for $159,900 had more features and generally in better condition, than you must factor that out. If your home is superior to the one at $139,900, but more in line with the other two in the middle, one could assume that your price should fall somewhere in the range between $143,500 and $151,800. Based on the amount of time you wish to have your home on the market, would dictate which end of that range that you would want your price to be.
If you are still unsure of the price to set, you could hire a property appraiser from the phone book or call me for assistance (no obligation).
To reiterate, leave emotion out of the equation. We all know your home is special, but you must be objective in your pricing process. Remember, an over-priced home WILL NOT SELL and will languish on the market for months, being perceived, eventually, as a "problem house." At this point, even dropping the price might not help as your home would have been stigmatized, forcing even lower pricing to find a willing buyer.
Improper pricing is the single biggest mistake that sellers make!
Task 2 - Calculate Your Bottom Line
Having established the fair market value for your home, you can now determine your bottom line. This will be the "net" amount you will receive at closing, after paying all of your expenses.
Remember, the only cost you avoid by not listing with an agent is his commission ? all of the other closing costs remain.
Closing costs can vary from one area to another, and also depend on how the contract was written. The following are items that you may need to deduct from your sales price to determine your "net."
Your Mortgage or Loans The payoff on your mortgage (and the 2nd, if it applies) or any other loans against the home must be deducted. You will need to contact your lender(s) for the payoff amount, as it is rarely the principle balance on your monthly statements.
Prepayment Penalties Many private and conventional loans have specific monetary penalties if the loan is paid off prior to a certain date. Assure that you don´t have any or calculate them into your expenses.
Failure To Notify Penalties Some government lenders may charge an extra months interest if you fail to notify them at least 30 days in advance of your intent to pay off the loan.
Assumption Fees Loans that are being assumed by the buyer will often have an assumption fee charged by the lender.
Buyers Closing Costs In negotiating with you, many buyers will want you to pay some or all of their closing costs. By law, some government loans require the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs. The rest are what you will need to negotiate. There are numerous closing costs that must be paid anywhere from about $4500 on a small loan of around $100,000, to thousands for higher end homes. This is really the only area that you have for negotiating, as your other costs will be fixed.
Prorated Interest Mortgage interest is normally charged in arrears. That is, when you make your payment in April, you are actually paying the interest for March. If your home closes on April 24, you will be responsible for paying the interest from April 1 to April 24.
Attorney´s Fees Don´t get caught in a bad contract.
Escrow Fees Title or Escrow companies are disinterested third parties that hold funds, handle paperwork, and assure that all necessary conditions are completed prior to anyone receiving any money.
Transfer Taxes/Charges or Tax Doc Stamps are often charged by the state. Of course, they want a piece, too. This amount varies widely by state (in FL, it is 70 cents per $100 of the actual purchase price), but can add a significant amount to your costs.
Title Insurance Fees Title insurance is a policy that protects the buyer from any loss from defects in the title. The title insurance company researches the title to make sure there are no liens, judgements, or "clouds" on the title that would affect the ownership rights.
Reconveyance Fees Attorneys or title/escrow charge these fees to clear off the lien on the title when your existing loan is paid at closing.
Home Warranty Coverage Depending on the plan, a home warranty covers items in the house, such as plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc., usually for a period of 1 year. Costs can range from the low $300s to $400+ for the year. This is also a negotiable item with the purchase.
For a list of specific costs, you can contact a title/escrow company, mortgage lender, or real estate attorney.
After our first two tasks, have you decided not to sell? These are the realities that you must contend with. If you´re still in the game to sell at a price that will make you what you need, we´ll proceed to task 3.
Task 3 Prepare Your Home For Sale
Your preparation of your home for sale, will determine if you make a quick sale at full price, or have a home that sits on the market for months, even after several price reductions.
You will need your home to stand out in the crowd of other homes on the market. Remember, the buyers will be viewing other homes, and first impressions are important. Again, leave your emotions out of the equation. View your home impartially, putting yourself in the shoes of a buyer. What do you see when you walk in a home that´s dirty, messy, or worn looking won´t command a good price if you can get any offers at all.
The age-old observation that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" certainly applies when it comes to attracting buyers to a for-sale home.
Making a good first impression can mean the difference between receiving serious offers for your home or being subjected to months of lookie-loos dropping by but never buying. How can you ensure that your home will make the best impression possible?
Here are six tips for savvy home sellers:
1. Focus on curb appeal. The outside of your house can be the source of a very good first impression. Keep the grass well-watered and mowed. Have your trees trimmed. Cut back overgrowth. Plant some blooming flowers. Store toys, bicycles, roller-skates, gardening equipment and the like out of sight. Have at least the front of your house and the trim painted, if necessary. Sweep the porch and the front walkway. After dark, turn on your front porch light and any other exterior lighting.
2. Clear out the clutter. Real estate agents say buyers won't purchase a home they can't see. If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won't be able to see your home. Get rid of anything you don't need or use. Rent an off-site storage space if that's what it takes to clear out your home.
3. Use your nose. Many people are oblivious to scents, but others are extremely sensitive to offensive odors. To eliminate bad smells, bathe your pets, freshen the cat litter box frequently, shampoo your carpets, dry clean your drapes, and empty trash cans, recycling bins and ash trays. Place open boxes of baking soda in smell-prone areas, and refrain from cooking fish or strong-smelling foods. Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in your home and using air fresheners. Baking a fresh or frozen pie or some other fragrant treat is another common tactic.
4. Make all necessary repairs. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyers definitely will notice and likely magnify minor maintenance problems you've ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, or torn screens, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you've taken good care of your home.
5. Introduce lifestyle accessories and make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible. Set the dining room table with your best dishes. Put out your only-for-company towels. Make up the spare bed. Hang some fresh curtains. Put some logs in the fireplace. Use your imagination.
6. Get a buyer's-eye view. Walk up to your home and pretend you've never seen it before. What do you notice? How do you feel about what you see? Does the home seem inviting? Well-maintained? Would you want to buy this home? Your answer should be an enthusiastic yes!
7. Give your home a total scrubbing, one end to the other, concentrating particularly in the kitchen and baths. Your potential buyers look at these rooms with the most scrutiny, to get a feel for the house.
Make a list of to-dos and be consistent in completely everything on your list. It will all pay off at closing time.
Consider having a garage sale to thin out your clutter and dispose of all those things you really don´t need anymore. As well as making your home look better and less crowded, you will make money to pay for the items on your to-do list. Also, remember, movers charge by the pound.
Smokers? Keep them outside while selling your home. Smoke smells in a home will turn off most buyers, including, surprisingly, other smokers. You may even need to paint and have the carpets and drapes cleaned to remove the smells.
Pets? Everyone loves pets, everyone except the majority of buyers who will question the cleanliness of your home when they see Fido running around the house. Although you probably don´t notice, others coming into the home will pick up the odors. Perhaps a friend or family member could keep Fido for you for a while, with visitation rights, of course.(smile)
Although a lot of work, it will be worthwhile. Clean, organized, clutter-free homes are always the first to sell!
Task 4 Market and Show Your Home
OK, first of all, it´s not time to get out your magic markers to demonstrate how neatly you can make a for sale sign. You want to be as professional as possible and show pride in your sign that you are displaying. Buy a well made sign that won´t dissolve after the first rainstorm, or better yet, go to a sign painter and have one made.
Next, you will need a box or tube to attach to the sign for flyers. Hopefully, you can find one that won´t fill with water after every shower.
You will want to create a professional looking flyer to show potential buyers all of the attributes your home has to offer. This is a fairly simple task, if you can use a desktop publishing program on your computer. If not, find someone who can. Your flyer will be your link back to your home, that a potential buyer is looking at after viewing homes all day, and you definitely want to make a good impression.
Include a picture of the front of your home and the address and price.
Include the specifics, such as:
den or office
Pool, and if screened
The more amenities you provide on your flyer, the better the impression. Be sure to mention if all of the appliances come with the house. Remember, you are competing with real estate agents who do these for a living.
Another feature you could supply on your flyer would be mortgage information. Ask a mortgage company for information about what the home would cost, based on your asking price, for down payments, interest rates, monthly payments, etc. Of course, shop for the best deals, to make your home more appealing, financially.
Remember: Always keep your information box supplied with flyers.
Also, it would be wise to hand out as many of these flyers as possible to family, friends and associates. They´ll often know someone who´s looking for a home. Put them up on community bulletin boards whenever possible.
Aside from advertising your home on my site, you will be limited on other outlets. Your local newspaper will obviously be your biggest source. Write catchy ads; nothing bland like most you will see. Stress something unique about your home, whether a view, lakefront, or fabulous pool. Select a title that will get attention, such as "Our Loss, Your Gain." Try different ads each week to monitor which ones create the most phone calls.
Oh yeah! Did I mention that you need to be available to answer those calls, or at least return them as soon as possible? Buyers will be turned off quickly by sellers who don´t get back to them promptly. Also, you will need to prepare children in how to handle a call from a buyer, if you are not available.
Again, you are competing with professionals, who, as a rule, are set up to answer their phone or be paged at most any hour of the day. They know the importance of that prompt callback.
Check your neighborhood stores for the racks of local, community papers. These can also be an excellent source of advertising, and usually at a lower cost than the large newspapers.
Open houses can provide a good source of exposure to your home. Local papers often have classified sections to advertise open houses. Get directional signs, placing them at corners leading to your home from the major thoroughfare. Place a sign in your front yard. Expect several of your "nosey" oh, did I say that? neighbors that have always wanted to see how you lived.
At this point, you can also expect to find real estate agents visiting with an intent of obtaining a listing. If you feel you can benefit from some extra exposure, you have the option of offering a commission (negotiable) to the agent if he produces a buyer. This would still save you at least half of the normal commissions that you would pay by having your home listed. The other upside of this scenario would be that you would have a professional handling most of the functions of the sale.
OK, let´s talk about showing your home. If you take phone calls or return calls, you can do some preliminary screening to make sure they are not the type that spends their free time looking at people´s homes, with no intention of buying. Politely ask a few questions such as if they currently own a home that they need to sell, and most importantly, if they have been to a lender to be "pre-qualified" for a loan. Most experienced real estate agents will not waste time taking customers out to view properties without first meeting with a lender. You need to know if they are qualified to purchase a home at your price level.
Use common sense on who you admit to your home. The newspapers are testament to the problems that we have today. Women at home alone, need to be particularly cautious. Be sure to put away any valuables that may be in site. Even though you accompany them around your home, if there is more than one, you can´t keep an eye on everything going on.
Prepare your home to show. Turn on the lights (even in the daytime), open all the curtains and blinds. Turn off the TV and perhaps turn on some quiet music. Set the thermostats for a comfortable temperature. If you have children, you could perhaps have them visit their friends or at least assure that they are on their best behavior. If you still have pets in the house, get them out and use some air freshener. Make sure the beds are made and "obstacles" removed from the floor.
When buyers arrive, be friendly and try to make them feel comfortable. Your home should sell itself. Hand them your flyer and take them for a brief tour. Don´t spend time telling them the obvious; everyone knows "this is the bathroom." Show them the most appealing parts of your home first. Point out all of the features and benefits of your home, but don´t oversell it.
If uninterested, they will thank you and head for the door. You can´t take it personally; it just may be the wrong type of floor plan for their needs. If you have interested buyers, they will spend time with you, asking questions. Don´t be afraid to ask the really enthusiastic buyers if they´d like to make an offer.
Convinced them? Good! Let´s go to the contract!
Task 5 Negotiation and Contract
We´ve already established your knowledge of the market conditions and your requirements, so you know what you have to work with. The buyers will make an offer on your home, partly based on what they feel it is worth and partly on what they think they can get away with (low-ball offers).
Make sure their offer is presented on a standard real estate purchase contract and above all, make sure you understand everything on it to properly fill it out. An offer to be enforceable must be in writing. You should have a supply of contracts, as the buyers will not. When the buyer makes the offer (in writing), you have three choices:
1. Accept the offer
2. Reject the offer
3. Make a counter offer
If they have presented an offer that is not acceptable, it is probably best to not reject the offer, but to make a counteroffer. There´s usually a point in between their offer and your price that you can come to an agreement on. The exception is that if they are "jerks" and being ridiculous with their offer, show them the door. It won´t be worth the aggravation.
Make sure you properly complete everything on the contract, that it´s signed by all parties, and that any changes have been initialed. Mistakes on the contract can cost you thousands or hold up the sale for months. Always be aware of your "net" that you created earlier while negotiating. If they ask you to pay closing costs for them, make sure you are also not lowering your price. Establish on the contract all things that are included in the sale, such as appliances, ceiling fans, etc. Also, put in writing anything that does not come with (convey with) the home. If you are going to provide a home warranty with the home, it must be on the contract.
"Writing is your friend!" Always keep everything in writing.
Get an earnest money deposit of at least $1000. This money must go into an escrow account at the title/escrow company or an attorney handling the closing, and would be returned to the buyer if you can´t perform on the contract or if contingencies can´t be met.
You will most likely have contingencies included on your contract. You want them kept to a minimum. The buyer should have a right to a home inspection, with a reasonable contingency period of perhaps 7 to 10 days. If after the inspection, it´s not acceptable to the buyer, he may back out of the purchase and receive a refund of his earnest money deposit.
Contingencies pertaining to sale of the buyers home is much more risky, taking valuable time from the market if they can´t perform. I would recommend a right of first refusal in a situation as this. It would at least keep your home on the market, giving the buyer the right to complete the purchase before you sold it to someone else who has presented an offer. See your real estate attorney; stay out of trouble.
Be sure you have the "closing" date on your contract. This is the day that you should be moved out of your home and the buyer will get the keys.
By law, in Florida and other states, you, as the seller, must provide a seller´s disclosure (obtain one from the local board of REALTORs) that details everything that you know about the home and any problems that it may have had while you lived there. Be accurate, and truthful, as it is sometimes expensive and easy to come back to you with a successful lawsuit, if it is found that you were less than candid on your disclosure.
Task 6 Closing and Moving
OK, we´re almost there, but don´t let your guard down. You need to monitor the transaction almost daily to prevent anything going wrong. There are countless little things that could derail or postpone your sale. A partial list of things you will need to monitor are:
Earnest money deposited at a title/escrow company or an attorney, if he will be doing your closing
Setting up the title company for title insurance & closing (if no attorney)
Follow up with buyer´s lender to monitor loan process
Admit home inspectors to your home (home inspection contingency)
Repair any items that come up in the home inspection that the buyers require in order to proceed with the contract. Remember, some government loans will require certain conditions to be met, including there being screens on all windows
Admit structural engineer, if buyer orders one
Admit the home appraiser
Admit the termite inspector
Arrange for septic inspections (if applicable)
Possible roof inspection? Some government loans will require a roof with, usually, at least 3 serviceable years on it
Stay in touch with the title processor or attorney on the progress of the closing
Make certain that you have no surprises coming before you load the moving van. It will be very expensive if you´ve moved and have to pay the mortgage on this home when it goes back on the market.
Great! Back the truck up to the door. Don´t forget the small stuff. Stop the newspaper, take the power, gas, and water out of your name. Disconnect the phone.
I hope you have found this to be a valuable tool for learning how to sell your home on your own without scaring you too much. It can be a daunting task, but well worthwhile. If you follow the recommendations in this report, you´ll be far ahead of most "for sale by owners" out there.
Every home has unique situations, and if you get stumped on anything, please give me a call to see if I can help. Your calls to me are, as always, with no obligation on your part.
As they used to say in the commercial: "Tell a Friend" about my website, and I´ll be happy.
Best of luck in your quest!