Choosing between hiring a real estate agent and selling your home yourself can be a tough one. On the one hand, you get to keep all the profits. On the other hand, you have to do all the work. Learn what to consider and how the process works when you sell your home yourself.
3 Choices for how to sell
Many first-time home sellers are not aware they have several choices for how to sell a home.
- Real estate agent: With this option, you hire a real estate agent to handle the sale.
- Combination: With this option, you handle some of the details on your own, but bring in a real estate agent to handle items you don't have time or expertise to do on your own.
- FSBO (“For Sale By Owner”): With this option, you handle all of the details of your home sale yourself.
Questions to ask yourself when selecting an option:
- How much time do you have to oversee the listing, showing, paperwork, negotiations?
- How much expertise do you have with real estate matters?
- How confident do you feel to conduct negotiations so you get the highest selling price?
What you save with FSBO
When you sell your house yourself, you keep the commission you would have paid to an agent. This works out to around 6% on your home's selling price.
Example: Your home sells for $300,000. You keep the $18,000 (6%) in agent commission.
When an FSBO approach works best
Research shows selling your home yourself is a better choice in certain situations:
- When you already have access to a large network of prospective buyers.
- When the real estate market is tight (i.e. it’s a buyer's market).
- When you have a lot of personal time to devote to marketing and selling your home.
- When you have confidence and knowledge of real estate matters.
In situations where the opposite of these four statements is true for you, it’s important to remember that 100% of nothing is still nothing (i.e., in certain circumstances, paying an agent a commission to help with the sale may net you more than you would get trying to sell on your own!).
FSBO: the basic steps
Once you have made a choice to sell your house yourself, it’s simply a matter of following a series of steps until your home sells.
1. Stage your home and take pictures.
Your first step is to stage your home—remove overly personal items, give it a thorough cleaning and paint touch-ups, etc.—and take photos to show your home its best advantage.
- Resource: Boost Your Home's Value with These 5 Simple Tips
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2. Set your home's asking price.
This price is your "ideal" price—what you hope to get after your own expenses. So you want to set a price range (lowest to highest) to help you with negotiations.
3. List your home.
Once you have your home staged and photos taken, and you know what your asking price is, it’s time to make your listing public.
Your options include:
- Flat Fee MLS: The most common way is by finding your local "flat fee MLS listing" service and paying the fee (around $95 in most markets).
- FSBO.com: You can also list your home on ForSaleByOwner.com for $69.95+.
- Craigslist: Many sellers list properties on Craigslist (it’s free to list).
- Other local resources: Local Greensheets, community newsletters and papers, even coffee shops are great places to list your home!
- FOR SALE Sign: Don't forget your "For Sale" sign—front and center on the property itself.
4. Develop your marketing materials.
Depending on your market, you may want to set up a small webpage with photos and details, create and print brochures or flyers, develop postcards, and other ideas.
As space permits, be sure to include:
- Floor plan details (including square footage)
- Terms (lease to own, FSBO, special financing options, etc.)
- YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION!!
5. Schedule an open house.
Now that you have your home listed and your marketing materials prepared, you can begin hosting open house events to allow interested prospects to tour your home. Notifying buyers of your open house event is as easy as posting a free Craigslist ad, putting up local signs (with balloons), and sharing via word of mouth.
Preparing for your open house:
- Check to ensure your homeowners insurance is adequate to cover any property hazards prospects may encounter (this protects you from being sued if someone trips and falls while on your property!).
- Be sure to have enough marketing materials and forms on hand.
- Consider burning a scented candle or baking fresh cookies to scent your home invitingly.
- Provide some beverages for those who take your tour.
- Practice giving your home tour so you sound knowledgeable about big selling points.
6. Negotiate the sale of your home and complete the paperwork to transfer ownership.
Many first-time FSBO sellers find that this is the most complicated part of the process. Luckily, there are plenty of DIY resources that can help.
What to research:
- Locate and download a copy of your state's standard real estate contract.
- Select a real estate attorney to contact when it’s time to review the contract.
- Learn about the closing and escrow process in advance so you know what to expect.