What's the Best Way to Sell Your Home For Sale by Owner
Thinking about selling your home by owner? It can save you some dough at closing, but it will definitely require more of your time.
Here's the best way to approach it.
Step 1: Decide how much your time is worth
Selling a house yourself means a pretty big time commitment.
Not only do you need to do the normal work of keeping your house clean and decluttered, you also need to take good photos, schedule showings, market your property, and negotiate when an offer comes in. If you have real estate experience and a flexible schedule, it might not be too hard.
But if you don't, just be sure you understand the scope of what you're getting into before you begin.
Time is money. And when it comes to selling a home, you'll probably be spending a lot of time doing things like marketing your house, scheduling showings, following up, and negotiating. That's on top of the normal seller's duties like keeping your home clean and organized.
So, even if you're saving by not paying a commission, you might be losing out by spending a lot of your own time selling your home.
Step 2: Do your research
When coming up with a price for your home, look at "comparables" (other homes sold in your neighborhood) and be sure to note:
- How they were priced
- When they were sold
- What their square footage is
- How old/un-renovated they are relative to your home
Step 3: Get your home listed on an MLS
A Multiple Listing Service (MLS, for short) is a bundle of services that real estate brokers use to share information about real estate listings they're representing. These are usually location-based, so a Realtor working in Cincinnati might not have her homes listed on the same MLS as a Realtor working in Cleveland.
These services were designed by and for real estate agents, but the good news is there are a lot of sites that will help you get your home listed on one—and will provide lots of other services, too!
Owners.com helps you buy or sell a home without a traditional agent.
Instead, you'll choose from a few packages that offer everything from a flat fee MLS listing to a 2% fee (instead of a 5% fee) for a local owners.com agent to help you list your home and to consult with you over negotiations, repair lists, and more. They even have tools to help you keep track of your showings and open houses.
The catch is the service is only available in a handful of states. They're expanding quickly, so be sure to check back to see if your state is listed.
Fizber.com lets you list your house for a flat fee. From there you'll be matched with a local agent who will get your home on a local MLS as well as other major sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin.
You'll provide all the photos and listing details and the percent of the buyer's commission you're will to offer to a potential buyer.
Fsbo.com offers inexpensive listing packages that will get your home on an MLS. They even sell yard signs!
Zillow & Trulia
Zillow has become synonymous with real estate, so you're probably wondering how you get listed on the holy grail of sites. It's actually a lot easier than you'd think.
You'll need to claim your property and fill out all the necessary information (check out our guide on how to do that and increase your Zestimate). In that same area, you'll find an option to say your home is listed as a for sale by owner property. Then, voila! You're done.
Oh, and doing this will also get your home listed on Trulia, too.
Step 4: Show your home
When you're selling your own home it can be tempting to stick around while a potential buyer looks. It seems safer, plus you'll be on hand to answer any questions they might have, right?
Be careful with this approach. When a buyer is seeing a home, they want to imagine what it would be like to live there. They want to feel free to say "I really hate these floors and I want to tear them up" or "this paint is terrible."
But when the owner is trailing around within earshot, they'll feel more like they're guests in your home than someone seeing their dream home for the first time.
Step 5: Be ready with an attorney
It seems like selling a home should be a simple transaction between two people, but the truth is you can't close a sale without a real estate attorney. A good agent will have an attorney that she normally works with, but if you're selling yourself then you'll want to vet a few attornies before choosing one.
Step 6: Hire a title insurance company
When you sell a home you'll typically need to work with a title insurance company in order to prove that the home is yours to sell. The insurance company will do a search and create a policy for the new buyer.
As the seller, you'll be responsible for this service, which means you have the opportunity to shop around and choose the company that's right for you.
Step 7: Be ready with your next move
Being so focused on selling might pull some focus away from where you're going to go next. Or, things might go more smoothly than you originally thought and you might find you've sold your house before you have a chance to buy a new one.
If that happens, don't worry! Take a minute to congratulate yourself of selling your home so quickly and then check out our strategies to get yourself over the hump!