Top tips, should you sell your home for sale by owner, and if so how.
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Welcome back! Today I thought I’d share For Sale by Owner Tips, I’ll walk you through a bit of my experience with how FSBO worked for me. The reason I wanted to share this is that we actually just went through this process ourselves from when we listed mid-January and closed in early March. Now hold on, just because we sold for sale by owner or FSBO that doesn’t mean to write off a realtor. Our process of selling was a little different than most people but I will explain what we did and why you may want to use a realtor or maybe why you may not want to. Like the photo FSBO can really make you feel like you are cut off from the world, but with the correct knowledge, tips, and guiedence you too could sell For Sale By Owner!
What you should know before you try for sale by owner.
I’m not going to lie I did a lot of research on “selling your home for sale by owner”. Some things you truly may want to consider before writing off a realtor are listed below.
**If you don’t like research this may not work for you. You need to know what is selling in your area and what isn’t. That’s where a realtor shines. They cross-reference homes in your area with similar comps to your home. This means if you live in a community that has multiple models they weave through the details and compare your house to similar ones that have sold recently, are on the real estate market, or are under contract to figure out what your home should be priced at. Now consider that you have done upgrades, that’s great that means your house should be more desirable than someone who has no upgrades or remodeling. Not so fast though this also depends on where you have put those upgrades and where your house is located.
–Example: My home was an end unit townhouse on a quiet street with a long driveway and a good-sized front yard for my community. My house was also on the hospital grid which means few power outages, which is a huge plus in Florida so that is valuable to anyone who has not encountered hurricane season. It featured wood floors throughout most of the house, wood floors are an upgrade they add value, most Florida homes only have tile or carpet. I added a backsplash to my kitchen that equals more value. My husband and I had added a few more upgrades during the design option process and chose more upgrades than most of the townhouses. Instead of sticking on the lower end of our neighborhood’s comps, we went higher knowing what value our home had.
**What else to consider, time and patience! If you don’t have the time to be there for every single showing then a realtor is a must unless you buy a lockbox and your buyers are working with realtors. Showings can be tricky selling your home for sale by owner, people may flake on you and change times and no matter how accommodating you are, may still never show. When someone is coming to your home you are the realtor, dress and look the part. Know your home, sq feet, have you done work or someone prior to you, find all your original documents from purchase to provide to prospective buyers. Making up a little flyer about your home never hurts. You may also get the question “why are you moving?” you can always lie but I tried not to because you may get caught in it. I was honest and said although I love our home my husband and I both cook and I bake so we outgrew the kitchen. Never mention anything you truly dislike, so even though I felt the kitchen was way too tiny and I started to regret the dark espresso cabinetry, the person buying it may love that feature and you saying you don’t like it may lose the sale.
**Newer or older, and original Owners. If your home is newer it will be easier to sell for sale by owner, if it is older that does make it more tricky on the seller’s part. If you are the original owner, I also believe that makes selling FSBO a lot easier since you have all the original facts of the home.
If the above paragraphs don’t bother you then you may be like me and be able to save a good chunk of cash. For our home we could have spent an extra 17k or more on realtor commissions but we saved that. Not to mention we sold for top dollar.
Can you sell a home without a realtor all around?
You sure can but it isn’t always easy. Something to remember is that even though you may want to save money by not using a realtor, a buyer may want to work with you because in most states the seller pays the realtor commission at closing unless stated otherwise in the contract. Some buyers don’t know the area and trust their realtors to be their eyes, especially at this time. People right now aren’t traveling as much so you may have a facetime/zoom/video call as a realtor shows a prospective buyer your home.
How can I get around paying a realtor commission?
You can always ask that no realtors contact you but that does cut off how many people will see your house. You can also mention that you may be willing to negotiate a lower commission, or flat out ask the buyer to pay the commission. You can always show your home and revisit the finner details if an offer is made.
How do I know if FSBO is right for me?
If the real estate market is hot in your area and you have the time and patience then I advise you to try it. You can always try it on your own a couple of weeks or months earlier first without using MLS (multiple listing service like Zillow, Realtor, Trulia). By listing without using MLS you give yourself the chance to save and quietly sell, don’t worry though because if it doesn’t sell that just means you need a larger pool of people in which case you can list it yourself on MLS before trying a realtor. Keep in mind when your home goes on MSL the longer it’s up, people tend to think something is wrong with it OR you’ve listed too high, this is why we listed quietly figuring it doesn’t hurt to try as a pocket listing (when a property doesn’t get listing on MLS but people still see it elsewhere this is considered a pocket listing).
Can I sell without listing on MLS and if so how?
YES, you sure can. That’s what we did. How? Well, social media! You can list in the marketplace on Facebook or join groups in your area that are okay with you listing your home, share with friends on Facebook for more exposure!. You can also use craigslist and make an ad there. The way I did it was I posted my home on this app called Nextdoor neighbor. I put my home on the app in the for sale section of homes and then a monitor told me I could create a group for my area called for sale by owner, so I did. Below is a sample of what I did without using MLS posting on Facebook & the Nextdoor Neighbor app.
If I don’t use a realtor do I need a lawyer or something?
Yes, depending on your state depends on how you can sell. For florida, you can use either a real estate attorney or a title agent if you don’t use a realtor. We used a title agent.
Who pays closing costs?
Depends on your state but in Florida you both do and usually, it’s the seller that pays more unless you negotiate something.
Did you wind up using a realtor for your home sale if not how did you sell?
No realtor, not on my end at least. Here’s how we did it, we listed quietly on Facebook and the Nextdoor neighbor app. I added to my listings, “please no realtors” as well as added some photos to my listing attaching extra photos with a google album. I then linked that to my listings and added all the proper information people would need/want as well as any upgrades to upsell. I also listed on a Friday so people who work could try to come for a showing. I had some interest but some were put off by my price tag. We had a few realtors contact us and I nicely told them at this time we are not working with realtors, we would like to try without one on both ends. I had 3 showings set up over the weekend, 2 showed, 1 flaked. I was contacted on that Monday by yet another realtor and though I was ready to give her the same response I gave others, this was a great opportunity! Her message to me was that she thought she would reach out even though she understands we don’t want to use a realtor, she said she doesn’t care about a commission she just wants to find her buyer a home. I found that admirable and I thought hey it doesn’t hurt to have her look, we can iron out details if it goes further. She came later that day with her buyer via facetime and the following day we received an offer. The offer wasn’t the asking price but we went hire on our price tag assuming someone would low ball and also knowing what was on the market in our neigborhood. We were offered 10K under the asking price but we were happy with that and accepted as long as we don’t pay any realtor commissions, the buyer agreed and said she would pay a reduced commission to her realtor. The process was pretty smooth but still nerve-racking because you never really know if someone has a change of heart. The buyer did come to check out our home in person a few days later just to make sure, and she loved it. Between the realtor, our title agent, and some paperwork on my part, I would say this was a very easy transition. We sold our home over what we thought we would and saved money without paying a realtor.
Why did you accept the first offer?
My husband and I originally thought we would have come out with about 30k less. Our area is a hot real estate market and because of that and our upgrades, we were able to price it higher. By pricing higher, we sold it for higher than we originally thought we would, it didn’t hurt that it was in such high demand with little available on the market. We could have waited around but you never know what the future holds, someone could have come along a few weeks to a month later and offered less or more with a realtor and we would need to pay a commission. This was truly the best decision for us since we needed the money towards our new home that we will be closing on in May/June.
If there is no realtor present for both sides how does a contract work?
This is where you need an attorney or title agent. Luckily the buyer’s realtor took care of the contract but my title agent would have been able to write one up if there were no realtors involved. Also, if someone makes you an offer, you want to make sure they actually have the funds. You need to make sure they are pre-approved not pre-qualified.
What is the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved?
Pre-qualified is providing information without proper documentation of how much of a loan you could be approved for, it is the basic step before handing over documentation to a bank that allows you to get approved for a loan. In order to be approved for such a loan, you need to be pre-approved. Pre-approved means that you have handed over documents to the bank to verify you are approved for a mortgage this is documentation that the funds are actually there. If you do get an offer ask for proof that they have funds and call their bank to make sure that they are pre-approved, you can ask for a pre-approval letter.
Top Tips for selling for sale by owner
-Prep your home before you put a listing up, paint it if needed or clean your walls with Mr. clean sponges. Fix everything that needs to be fixed prior to showings or at least prior to inspections.
-Keep it clean! People don’t want to see a messy or dirty home. If your counters, tubs, tiles need to be re-sealed or re-calked this can make your kitchen or bath look dirty. It is super simple to do it yourself by cleaning the old off using a small scraper and then cleaning the area thoroughly with CLR prior to re-caulking, making sure it is dry. I used this clear silicone to re-caulk, some painter’s tape, and rubber gloves so my hands didn’t get dirty. Below is a video on how to caulk your kitchen counter from the channel Helpful DIY.
-Bake cookies before a showing to make the house smell delicious, this will only help your chances. After the contract was signed, my buyer came in person and I had fresh baked cookies to make the house smell delicious I thought maybe it would help seal the deal.
-If you know anyone who is a realtor never write them off, if they offer their knowledge take it, don’t be prideful this will be very helpful if you get an offer.
-Whether you want to use a realtor or not interview 3, this doesn’t mean you will hire any of them this means they give you valuable information for free. The interview will provide you with answers to some of your research and also cut down on some. If you are confused or want to know anything this is the time to ask those questions. Let them know you would like to interview and once you meet with them that you want to try for sale by owner on your own before hiring a realtor, be transparent and let them know you may not be using their services. This leaves the ball in your court, they may follow up with you, it’s okay to keep saying thank you but no.
-If your market is hot try selling on your own first a few weeks before trying a realtor. If your market isn’t hot you may want to try a realtor.
-If you decide to sell for sale by owner find a real estate attorney or a title agent you trust, do your research! Make sure this person is credible.
-Take inviting photos. If you are not much of a photographer consider hiring someone or having a friend of family member who is better with the camera take them. My father is a bit of a better photographer than I am so I had him snap most of them. If you decide to take your own photos take different angles and heights to showcase the space for a more realistic feel.
-If your home is newer then you should be able to find photos of the layout of your home, if you find them definitely include them, the more information the better. Below is an example of home’s layout.
-Don’t be shy to share your home with friends and family for more exposure.
-Create a little flyer for prospective buyers to take home. Example below.
-Be careful with HOA communities, selling in an HOA community can be tough. Most of the time they do not allow “for sale” signs when not working with a realtor. Ask a member of your HOA or check your HOA rules. Our HOA did not allow it, we relied solely on social media for exposure.
-Check on your buyers mortgage pre-approval before accepting an offer.
-Don’t let anyone intimidate you by saying “You SHOULD hire a realtor, it’s very hard to sell on your own.” Be your own advocate, if you don’t think you can do it then hire someone but if you feel you have the slightest hope, do it yourself!
Items mentioned in this post:
I hope I’ve helped your make your decision and educated you on the processes, good luck with your future home sale!
Hey there! I’m the owner & author of Life Is Homemade (the blog), as well as Mad About Madeleines. I hope you enjoyed some of the delicious recipes, how-to’s, DIYs, & product reviews I blogged about. Thank you for your previous support I hope you stick around on my new journey with Mad About Madeleines.