Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Maybe you've found your dream job in another city, or you find that with a baby on the way your current house won't be big enough. Unfortunately, sometimes a job loss or an adjustable rate loan that's about to skyrocket means having to sell your house in a hurry.
If you're in a situation where you need to sell ASAP and want to sell your house by yourself, to avoid paying commissions, you need to pay particular attention to three things:
- Pricing your house correctly for the market;
- Marketing your home strongly and in multiple media (online, newspapers, MLS, etc.);
- Keeping your house ready for walkthroughs so every potential buyer gets a chance to see your house at its best.
Price it Like Goldilocks
Overpricing or underpricing your house can make it take longer to sell, so you want to get the price just right. If you're in a hurry to sell your house as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) property, the dangers of overpricing it are obvious. While you may set a high price with the idea of having negotiating room, if you set it too high, many prospective buyers won't even bother looking. Having some negotiating room is fine, but even in a robust market, overpricing by more than 10% can make potential buyers pass your property by.
On the other hand, many people think that if they give their FSBO house a bargain price they'll be sure to sell it quickly. The problem is, an awful lot of people see a bargain priced home and their first thought is, "What's wrong with it?"
In some cases, pricing your house a bit below its appraised value can bring in more possible buyers, but you can probably attract the same buyers simply by using good marketing techniques.
When pricing your house for sale, go for the "Goldilocks" principle: not too high and not too low, but just right. A professional appraisal may cost a few hundred dollars, but it is a smart investment because it will help you price your property correctly.
You don't necessarily have to drop your asking price to get more home buyers interested in your house. The most reasonably-priced house in the world won't sell if people don't know about it.
Price your home fairly and market it using several types of media, and you'll have your best shot at selling quickly. Here are some marketing strategies for FSBO properties:
List your house on a website devoted to FSBO properties, like ISoldMyHouse.com.
Create a Facebook "Fan" page for your house with photos and other information about your house.
Create a "virtual tour" video or slide show for Facebook or for a page you set up specifically to showcase your home.
Never forget the power of a crisp, professionally made "For Sale" sign in your yard.
Some "For Sale" signs come with pockets in which you can place informational sheets about your home.
Advertise in local newspapers, local shopper tabloids, and other local print media that sell classified ads.
Advertise on Craigslist, tell all your Facebook friends you're selling (and ask them to "Share" your post), and if you list on a website like ISoldMyHouse.com, buy a flat-rate listing in Multiple Listing Service databases.
Maximize your House's Appeal Inside and Out
You want those who tour your house to be able to easily imagine themselves living there. That may mean making it a little more "anonymous" looking by removing excess personal knickknacks.
Removing clutter is one of the best things you can do to show your house in its best light. You do not have to empty closets, but organizing closets to show their utility is a good idea.
Make sure all light switches work and that your house is well-lit.
Keep the temperature comfortable. No matter the season, if your house is uncomfortably cold or hot, buyers will be distracted from appreciating all of the great things about your house.
If you have pets, consider sending them to a kennel or pet day care when you schedule an open house or showing.
Mow the lawn, weed the flower beds, and corral outdoor toys in a storage shed if possible.
In spring or summer, adding a few containers of bright flowers will accent your yard nicely.
Fix broken windows, mend holes in fences, rake leaves, and clean out the gutters.
You don't need a professional home staging coach to get your house ready for tours or an open house. It just needs to be neat, clean, well-lit, and in good repair.
Make a Contingency Plan if a Sale Doesn't Happen Right Away
Try not to panic if your house simply isn't selling. One thing you must keep in mind is that there are many scam operations out there that prey on people who need to sell fast. If someone seems to appear out of nowhere and offers to buy your house or pay your mortgage, be extremely wary, and never sign anything without having an attorney look it over and explain it to you.
Some sellers in a hurry try various incentives to sweeten the deal. While cutting the price one time may not hurt you, avoid cutting the price again and again. A history of cutting your house price hints at desperation (which may be real) and gives possible buyers a feeling that something is fundamentally "wrong" with the property.
One incentive you might try is to offer to prepay the taxes or closing costs. Some sellers offer a year of landscaping or maid service as an incentive. Sometimes a little push like this will get a noncommittal homebuyer to make an offer.
Finally, if you're trying to sell a house in a dead market, you might consider renting it out till the market improves. If you don't have experience as a landlord, hiring a property manager can be a good investment. Sure, they'll take a cut of the rent, but they also deal with screening tenants, scheduling repairs and collecting rent, things that are particularly hard for you to do if you move to another city.