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It’s safe to say most people selling their homes want to maximize their return on investment. For some determined sellers, this path is paved by listing homes for sale by owner (FSBO). By selling without a real estate agent, you can receive some great benefits – including saving on agent commissions.
Navigating the home sale process can be a challenge – confusing real estate vocabulary and legal paperwork may be intimidating. But as with anything, a little studying can help you feel confident. If you’re wondering how to sell your house yourself, this guide demystifies the FSBO process. You’ll learn everything you need to know, including:
Let’s get started.
If you’d like to sell your home yourself without an agent, you can. There are no laws requiring buyers or sellers to use agents. Since there are technical steps involved in real estate transactions – like legal paperwork – many sellers choose to use an agent to make things easier. Not all sellers use an agent, though. Last year, about 7%of all home sales were FSBO.1
There are several reasons a seller may choose to sell without an agent:
Along with the benefits of selling your home yourself, there are a few downsides you may want to consider:
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and want to sell your home yourself, it’s time to think about what steps the process involves. With this road map in mind, you’ll be prepared to navigate the home sale process from start to finish – no agent necessary!
Before you can get the right price for your house, you need to know what the market price is. Incorrectly pricing your home can negatively impact its ability to sell. Your house may be worth more or less than you think, so it’s best to consult the data to find out your home’s true market value. You can do this in a few ways:
Once you know the basic market value of your home, you can start preparing your home to sell. In this part of the process, you’ll decide what changes, updates or cosmetic fixes you’ll perform to make your home market-ready.
Preparing your home for the market can be as big or small of an undertaking as you’d like. Just make sure whatever changes you make increase your home’s value. Remodeling the basement may sound like a good investment, for example, but on average it only recoups about 70% of its cost.2
On the other hand, something as small as mowing the lawn or pruning bushes can increase curb appeal. Having curb appeal can increase your home’s value up to 7%, so be sure your home’s exterior makes a good first impression on buyers!
Now that your home is ready for the market, it’s time to get the word out. Marketing your home is one of the most important steps in the home sale process. After all, the more potential buyers who know about your home, the more likely you are to get the offer you’re looking for.
Over half of buyers find their homes through the internet, so creating online listings is a great first step. Create listings for your home in as many online spaces as possible, such as:
While only real estate professionals can create MLS listings, there is a work around. You can pay participating brokerages a flat-rate fee to create an MLS listing for you. It’s likely worth it – many agents find homes to show buyers through the MLS service, and about one-third of buyers find homes through an agent. Not creating an MLS listing for your home means you’ll likely miss out on a huge part of the market.
While listing your home online, be sure to get great photos of your home. It may take some additional time or money, but staging your home can lead to major benefits:
With your home officially on the market, the next step is making any necessary adjustments. This step requires you to think like a real estate agent. Ask yourself the following questions to see where your strategy may need to shift:
Homes that sit longer on the market tend to sell for less, so it’s important to watch your listing’s performance in the first month or so. Be quick to make necessary adjustments to avoid your listing going stale.
Receiving your first offer can be exciting! If you’d like to change the terms of sale put forth in the offer, you can negotiate and respond with a counteroffer. While negotiating your offer, confirm a few key matters first:
With these basics out of the way, you can consider negotiation tactics. One of the best things you can do is find out what the other party wants. Whether it’s a faster close, kitchen appliances or something else – knowing what the buyer wants puts you in a powerful position. Offer them something they want and include something you want in the contract. This could be giving them a faster close in exchange for a temporary rent-back while you find new housing.
Try not to get too emotionally involved in any one offer. This can cloud your judgment and lead you to sell yourself short. The right offer will come to you, even if it takes some time.
Closing can feel stressful if you don’t know what to expect. But with the right steps, you can have your home sold in no time.
When selling your home, most of what you’ll need to do legally involves paperwork. It may seem like a hassle, but having the proper paperwork protects both you and the buyer throughout the sale process. Incorrect paperwork can lead to problematic loopholes – like the one a California seller used to squat rent-free in a sold home for over a year.
Real estate attorneys aren’t required in every state, but you may decide you want one anyway to make sure everything’s squared away. With or without an attorney, here’s the legal paperwork you’ll need to sell your house:
With all the appropriate paperwork, your home sale should go off without a hitch.
The most prevalent way buyers find homes is through the internet, so having a strong online presence for your home sale is key. Where should you be posting your home, though? The easiest way to show up in as many places as possible with the least time commitment is to create an MLS listing.
Technically, only real estate professionals can create MLS listings, but FSBO sellers can pay brokerages a flat listing fee or use an FSBO site that offers an MLS listing option. Many sites like Redfin syndicate their data from the MLS database, which means one MLS listing can turn into several listings across the internet.
Most real estate agents use the MLS database to find homes to show buyers. So not only does an MLS listing get your home advertising on multiple syndication sites, but it also gets advertising from agents.
The below chart compares several of the most popular FSBO websites, their prices and whether they offer MLS listings.
Many of these sites come with apps you can download to make managing your listing on mobile easier. There are also additional apps you may find useful that can help you through different parts of the selling process:
Now that you’ve navigated the home sale process on your own, why not take it one step further? Becoming a real estate agent can be a great full- or part-time career path. As a real estate agent, you can enjoy high income potential, a flexible schedule, meeting new people and seeing incredible homes.
If you’d like to pursue a career in real estate, here’s how you can do it:
Like any small business, real estate agents would be wise to invest in a marketing strategy. This can help you find the right clients to represent and keep your bottom line growing. For tips on marketing yourself as a real estate agent or small business, download our infographic below.
Selling your home yourself may feel challenging at first, whether through FSBO or through a real estate agent, but with this road map, you’ll be celebrating closing in no time. And any equity you receive from the sale can go straight toward securing your new home.
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