Selling a home without a realtor involves more legwork but can equal serious savings. A homeowner can save 5 percent or more by selling a home without a realtor. The process is typically referred to as “For Sale By Owner” and over 10 percent of home sales are done this way. The money saved can be used toward a down payment for another home or added to an interest-bearing savings account for the future. Consider a few basic steps involved when selling a home without a realtor.
Conduct Detailed Research
Know the comparable values of other homes sold in your neighborhood. Hire an appraiser to get a realistic estimate of your home’s worth. Often real estate agents will do this work for you and there is no obligation to hire them. Create a folder with important documents such as insurance, property records and other pertinent facts about your home. Read books and website dedicated to selling a home without a realtor. Consult with a real estate attorney to find out about the essential documentation required to sell a home. Ask questions about other legalities you might want to offer as an incentive to buyers such as renting with the option to buy or owner financing.
Get Handy Around the House
Look at your home objectively to see what buyers will think. Does it have curb appeal? Are there major functional issues that should be repaired? Does your home show visible signs of wear and tear? Mow the lawn, plant flowers and replace extremely worn/broken windows to give your home better curb appeal. Paint dingy walls and refinish scratched floors. Inspect the roof, heating system and appliances to ensure they are modern and functional. Now is the time to get handy around to house to give it a facelift to make it more appealing to potential buyers. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone to help. Failing to make certain repairs will lower the selling price of your home. Buyers will negotiate if they notice certain appliances don’t work or the backyard is a mess.
Keep it Impersonal
Once you take care of necessary repairs, get rid of your personal clutter to properly stage the home. If you have toys and photos all over the house, people cannot visualize themselves living there. Keep it clean, crisp and impersonal. Add plenty of light and open windows to make your home look brighter and bigger. Walk through your yard to get rid of junk, garbage and other clutter that tends to build up outside.
Price a Home Realistically
Often the selling price of a home is set too high and sellers wonder why nobody is calling to see it. A house sells faster when you set a realistic price. Websites such as Zillow give you a rough estimate of what your home is worth. Hiring an appraiser after the repairs are done is a great way to find out what your house should sell for. It also gives you formal evidence of the home’s worth to present to potential buyers during negotiations.
List Your Home at the Right Time
Listing a home at certain times of the year makes more sense than others. For example, most people want to purchase a home prior to the beginning of the school year. Listing the house in the late winter or early spring gives buyers time to close on the deal before school starts. However, listing the home in September might mean you have few potential buyers for several months. Consider the weather when you list a house. If you list a home near the holidays or during snowy winter months, fewer people will come to see it. Your home can sell faster if you list it during the proper time of year.
Marketing is the biggest job a realtor handles but you can do it yourself. Place a For Sale sign on your front lawn with contact information to attract passersby who are looking to buy a house in your neighborhood. Pay a small fee to be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can compete with sellers hired a realtor. Place an ad in your local newspaper with a photo of your home. Use a classified ads site like Craigslist to advertise your house. Let friends, family and neighbors know you are selling your home and encourage them to spread the word. Be prepared to show the house when people inquire about it. This means you must be present and willing to show your house when buyers want to see it. Protect yourself against potential scammers or thieves by asking for identification before you let anyone into the house. Try not to be alone when you show the house. Be open to negotiations and if you get stuck, hire a real estate attorney to help you out.
Be Ready to Sell
Once a buyer makes a valid offer, be ready to close the deal. Try to work with buyers who are preapproved for a mortgage to save time and disappointment related to financing. Request a letter to prove the buyer has preapproval. Have the required paperwork ready to present to the buyer. Any contract or deal should be subject to the approval of your attorney. Know what disclosures need to be made, such as lead paint. Be aware the closing date is often flexible. The sale is subject to the results of appraisals and home inspections ordered by the buyer. If something is found, be ready to make repairs or further negotiate the selling price of your home. Make sure the house is broom clean and in good condition to deliver to the buyer when the closing date is near. If you have difficulty with the paperwork, enlist the assistance of professionals such as a title insurance company and a real estate attorney. The proper paperwork can make or break a deal so this is a worthy expense.
Selling a home without a realtor can be a challenge but sellers save thousands of dollars by doing it themselves. Often you need to help of other professionals such as a title insurance company and real estate attorney. Either way, you still save money and have greater control over the selling process of your home.