Selling your home without help of an agent can save you money, but it requires you to do quite a bit more work. In order to successfully sell your home, you must set the right price, prepare your house for the market, advertise it, and select a qualified buyer. Knowing what you can do yourself and what is best to outsource can prevent you from making costly mistakes.
Find the current assessed value of your home. This is printed on your most recent property tax bill. Alternatively, in most counties, the current assessed tax value of each home is listed on the county tax assessor's web page. Your home may be worth more or less on the open market than the assessed value.
Look at the selling price of homes in your neighborhood for the last six months. This information is available on home search websites. Look at the assessed values of those homes to see which of them is valued closest to your own and how much the sales price differs from the assessed value.
Pay for an independent assessment of your home. This is a service you can get without turning the entire process over to a real estate agent, and it is frequently the best way to get an accurate current value of your home in the market. This can be skipped to save money if you feel confident about your pricing.
Prepare Your Home
Clean your home thoroughly. Every surface and cranny should be cleaned. Your home should look as clean as possible when you are showing it to buyers. Hire a professional cleaning service to help you if necessary..
Remove as many personal possessions as you can from the home. This includes things like family pictures, mementos, and knickknacks. You want your buyer to imagine themselves living in the home, which is hard to do if your personality is too evident.
Clean out your closets to the bare minimum and remove any non-essential furniture. Doing so creates the illusion of additional space, which can make it easier to sell your home. Put the items you remove in storage -- entirely out of sight.
Ensure that the lawn is mowed and edged and that there are no weeds in the flowerbeds and the walkways are swept. A well-kept yard increases curb appeal, which can make a big impact on buyers.
Market Your Home
Place signs in your yard and -- with permission -- at strategic intersections near your home indicating that your home is for sale by owner. If you live on a busy street, this will drive traffic to you, and if you live on quiet street it will help prospective buyers find your home easily.
Advertise in the local newspaper and in local real estate circulars. Homes that are for sale by owner are not eligible for inclusion in multiple listing services, which many buyers review online. As a result, you will need to work hard to get your property noticed.
Place your home on for-sale-by-owner websites. There are websites dedicated to helping owners sell their homes, and they offer the option to advertise on their sites. The more places you can put your home, the more buyers you will attract.
Evaluate Potential Buyers
Be available to show your home if you are doing it yourself. However, realize that many buyers feel self-conscious in front of the homeowner and unwilling to criticize the home for fear of giving offense. For this reason, if you have a trusted friend that can show your home on your behalf it may be advisable to do so.
Look at the buyer's ability to secure financing. Many for-sale-by-owner transactions get held up by financing issues on the part of the buyer. To avoid a costly delay, consider working exclusively with buyers who are either preapproved or pre-qualified. Preapproved means their lender has reviewed their finances and expects to approve them. Pre-qualified goes a step further and shows the amount the bank has already authorized the buyers to borrow.
Complete the contract for sale with the buyers and their bank. This process can be expedited through the use of do-it-yourself forms that you can find on for-sale-by-owner websites. Alternatively, you can contract this step out to a real estate attorney.
- For-sale-by-owner sites frequently offer packages to help you compile the needed forms and instructions on how to comply with disclosure laws in your state.
- Selling your home yourself frequently takes longer than doing so with an agent. Have patience with the process.
- Any mistake in contracts or disclosures can expose you to a costly lawsuit. It is far better to spend a small sum to consult with a real estate lawyer to ensure your compliance than it is to fight a lawsuit.