Selling a house isn't rocket science, but the bottom line is that most real estate agents are more qualified than you to sell your home. If you lack real estate sales knowledge, examine your lifestyle to see if you have the time and energy to study the basics then prep, market and close your sale. Should you answer “yes,” you'll potentially save thousands in commission fees when the sale is complete.
Are you unsure about how much to ask? Don't worry; the advantage of taking the For Sale By Owner route is that you can be more flexible in your asking price because you're saving on commission fees. You have many options for competitively pricing your home; covertly ask a real estate agent for a free analysis of your home's worth, pay a real estate appraiser -- typically about $300 -- or base your price on figures found on real estate websites specializing in residential home values and recent selling prices for your neighborhood.
Cleaning and Staging
Consider the amount of time you can devote to making your home shine. Whether you tackle FSBO or pay an agent, your home will sell faster and for more money if you invest in minor cosmetic improvements such as neutral paint colors, which can help a potential buyer envision herself in your abode. You won't even need to do this yourself; time-strapped FSBO sellers can hire real estate service companies that specialize in staging homes to showcase their best assets.
Until recently, FSBO sellers were limited in the amount of market reach they could attain, because they were banned from listing their homes in the Multiple Listing Service, the world's largest database of properties. Today, dozens of FSBO databases exist on the Web or through the Internet to help sellers market their homes -- and even break into the MLS. Additional marketing tactics like creating your own website and launching social media campaigns can also get the word out.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of selling your own home is scheduling your life around home tours for potential buyers. If you are ready to answer every inquiry and surrender your free time to showing your home to strangers, the FSBO option can work for you. Also, be aware that you will be giving your time to those "just looking," who have neither the means nor the interest in actually buying your house. However, many sellers find that this inconvenience is worth the amount saved in commission fees.
Dion't Take it Personally
One of the drawbacks to selling your home yourself is having to listen to potential buyers discuss the things they don't like about your home -- and some of the comments can be downright insulting. Don't let them bother you. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. You know better, so just smile and go on. After all, it's going to be another family's home soon.
Sellers aren't required by law to use a real estate agent for their home sale, but some states require sellers to utilize real estate attorneys to handle the paperwork. If your state is one of them, you'll need to pay for this service. Should you decide to handle the paperwork yourself, dozens of FSBO resources exist for sellers who have time to get acquainted with contract requirements that are shared throughout all states. Common disclosures that all sellers have to share with potential buyers include stating known issues such as previous roof repairs, flood damage or on-site suicides that occurred within the last few years.
A limited real estate broker will list a home in the MLS in exchange for a fee, typically half the 5 to 6 percent fee that a full service agent charges to sell your home.
Even if your state does not require a real estate attorney to handle the paperwork, it may be worth your while to hire one anyway. Purchase offers are legal documents and you don't want to get yourself in a bind that could end up costing you much more than hiring a real estate agent would.
Catering to potential buyers' requests and handling final contract negotiations are among the biggest pitfalls of not using a real estate agent, especially during slow selling times.
Rene Agredano is a traveling journalist and entrepreneur based in Fort Collins, Colo. Since 1998, she has covered travel, home-and-garden, fitness, animal care and other lifestyle topics for publications such as "The Times-Standard" newspaper of northern California. Agredano holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Chapman University.