Real estate agents may try to make you think selling an FSBO house is too hard, but if you're willing to put in a bit of time and effort (much of which you would have to do anyway if you listed with a real estate agency), you can make the sale and save thousands in commissions. Here are the steps involved:
1. Do Your Research
Knowing the market is one of the keys to success. Learn sale prices of similar homes nearby and look at listings to determine which details you should include in yours. Your local newspaper is a good source of information, as are home sale prices listed online at sites like Eppraisal.com.
2. Price It Right
The price you set should be comparable to similar homes in your vicinity. If you set it too high (even if you only do so to give yourself bargaining room), you may put off some buyers. If it's too low, buyers may think something is wrong with your house. If you're confused about pricing, hiring a professional appraiser can be money well spent. You don't want to go more than 10% over what a competent appraiser values the house at, even in a strong market. The right price is the key to a faster sale.
3. Get Your House Ready to Show
Keeping your house neat helps when a prospective buyer wants a tour right away. Before listing your house, consider doing cosmetic updates, such as a fresh coat of paint to rooms that look drab, and get rid of clutter to make rooms look more spacious. Keep the yard mowed and get rid of weeds. If you have a gravel driveway, consider putting a fresh load of gravel on it.
4. List Your House
After you establish your price, list your property. Get a "For Sale by Owner" sign for your front yard (and side yard too, if you live on a corner). Because 85% of buyers start their searches online, the internet and social media sites like Facebook are great for putting your listing in front of as many eyeballs as possible. ISoldMyHouse.com lets you list your home for free and reach thousands of homebuyers online.
5. It's Showtime!
You will be answering phone calls and emails to set up showings. The more flexible you can be with your schedule, the better. Sometimes you may have to do a showing on very short notice, so keeping the house tidy is a good investment of your time.
Walk homebuyers through your house and be prepared to discuss its features. Having a printed fact sheet about your house is also very helpful to buyers. If you have made recent repairs, such as upgrading wiring or putting in new floors, have receipts handy to show buyers.
6. Field Offers and Negotiate a Price
You don't necessarily have to pounce on the first offer. When you set your asking price, know how much lower you're willing to go. Counteroffers are generally expected. It's a good idea to only consider written, signed offers and to respond with a written counteroffer, acceptance, or rejection so that everything is documented. While negotiating on a handshake seems "nice," selling your house is too big a deal not to document everything in writing.
7. Sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement with a Buyer
You feel like all your hard work has paid off when someone makes an offer. Once you and a buyer agree on a sale price and any conditions of the agreement, you will both sign a sales contract. Boilerplate sales contracts can be downloaded from the web, but you should have an attorney look it over before you sign anything.
Typically, sales contracts make the closing contingent on the buyer obtaining financing, the house passing a home inspection and pest inspection, and other contingencies, such as the seller making certain repairs to the property. If these contingencies aren't satisfied, the closing will not take place and the sale falls through.
Once the sales contract is signed, most sellers consider the house as "sold." Whether you take down your ads or listing at this point is up to you. Leaving your ad and listing up until the closing date can make it easier to find another buyer if the sale falls through at the last minute.
8. The Big Day: Closing
The buyer has arranged financing, you've fulfilled all your obligations in the sales contract, and closing has been scheduled. At closing, you will receive a check for the price of the home, and the buyer will receive the deed to the property along with keys, garage door openers, etc. Find out in advance if you will have to pay any legal fees or a commission to a buyer's agent on the date of the closing. Congratulations on selling your home yourself!
If you're excited about listing your house as a FSBO property, click here and you can get started today.