Buying a home is likely the biggest single purchase of your life, so it makes sense to lean on the knowledge of real estate professionals to guide you through the process. However, that expertise doesn't come cheap, and when it comes time to sell your home, choosing to sell without an agent can save you money that could be better used in your new home or for closing costs. Those savings could be as much as 6 percent in commission. If you decide to go it alone, you'll need to know exactly what documents to prepare.
Hire An Attorney
Choosing to sell your home without an agent is an uncommon choice. Just 8 percent of home sales are listed by the owner, and the reason may be that the process seems daunting to the average person. The first thing you'll need to do is find an attorney with plenty of real estate experience who can guide you through the legal steps to ensure that the sale is solid and protected. They'll help you to ensure the potential buyer is preapproved for financing, and they will negotiate contract terms and provide the added protection that all your bases are covered.
Find What You Need Online
There are lots of resources on the internet to make selling your home relatively straightforward, including sites like forsalebyowner.com. One of the first things you'll need to do is set a realistic asking price that can help you to attract the right buyers and sell quickly. The Federal Housing Finance Agency offers an online calculator that you can use to see how much your home should be worth if it has appreciated in value since you bought it, in line with comparable homes in your area.
Advertise and Market Your Home
You can purchase packages to market your home to a larger audience than you'll be able to access solely through your own contacts, friends and family. You'll need to take quality photographs to present your home in the best possible light and craft an honest but inviting description of the property.
Once you advertise your home and receive an offer, you need to lock down the agreement. The contract lays out the obligations and expectations for both parties, and once it is signed it becomes a legally binding document. It needs to include all details of the sale, such as the terms, the timing of the exchange and the price.
Residential Property Disclosure Form
The buyer will likely hire a home inspector to conduct a tour of the property and note any structural or cosmetic issues that will need attention. This point in the sale can be risky and often leads to negotiations on the selling price, especially if the inspection reveals any potential problems in the home. Most states require home sellers to provide a Residential Property Disclosure form to potential buyers that lists the condition and any defects in the property. The form must be filled out completely and honestly, but it is limited to your own experience living in the home. This means you are not expected to disclose something a neighbor told you about the home before you lived there, for example.
The Lead-Based Paint Warning Statement
If your home was built before 1978, you are required to provide information to buyers about the possibility of lead-based paint being used in the home. Federal law requires you to provide the buyers with the EPA-approved information pamphlet titled "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home," available from the EPA website.
- Consumer Reports: 5 Tips for Selling Your Home Without an Agent
- The Wall Street Journal: How to Sell Your Home Without a Real-Estate Agent
- Federal Housing Finance Agency: HPI Calculator
- Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Real Estate: What To Know About The Real Estate Residential Property Disclosure Form
- Environmental Protection Agency: Real Estate Disclosure
- For Sale by Owner: The Paperwork Every FSBO Home Seller Needs to Organize
Fiona Tapp is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has been featured on The Washington Post, HuffPost, The Toronto Star, Brit+Co, and others. She writes about a variety of topics including Homes, Parenting, Education, and Travel. Fiona is a former teacher and masters degree holder.