So you’ve decided to sell your home but aren’t sure that hiring a realtor is the way to go? Check out our tips and tricks to getting your home sold.
The number one most important thing to getting your home sold is pricing it properly from the beginning. Many homeowners feel they can start with a high price and negotiate down… This is actually the opposite of what you want to do. You should pick an asking price as close to the actual price you’d accept for the home. By setting the price higher, you’ll miss out on showing your home to hot buyers who are truly interested in purchasing.
Think of it this way.. If you’re shopping for a bicycle, and you’re just about ready to buy…you’ve done all your research, read reviews, looked at several and you know that the fair asking price for the type of bike you are looking for is between $80 and $100… would you take time out of your schedule to go look at a bike that was priced at $120?
If you’re wondering how to accurately price your home, most realtors would be happy to help by emailing a market analysis. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have 5 showings in the first 10 days that you have your home for sale by owner, it is priced too high.
Another important thing to take into consideration when selling your home for sale by owner is condition. Without a realtor’s objective opinion, it may be hard to see your home as a product on the shelf. Check out our list of 10 things you can do to get your home ready to be sold. Have a friend or family member walk through and ask them to be honest about how your home will show to potential buyers.
Get ready for lots and lots of phone calls…from realtors. Wait, what? You’re selling for sale by owner, why would realtors be calling? Realtors often have access to lists of for sale by owner and will call with all sorts of claims… they want to preview it for a buyer, they can list it for a higher price, they have a qualified buyer, etc. Bottom line is, if a realtor really does have a buyer for your home, you should expect to pay them 3% of your listing price. In all honesty, most buyers will be working with a realtor. It is free for buyers to use realtors and a huge value to them. If you’re not interested in paying a realtor at all, you should be honest with the realtors who are calling. Tell them you appreciate the call, but you won’t be paying a realtor so there is no point in showing the home.
On the flip side, if you are ok with paying a buyer’s agent, you should ask that they email you their buyer’s pre-qualification letter before you allow them to show the home. Unfortunately, some people are less than honest, and will have their mom, friend or business partner pose as a buyer in order to show your home and build rapport with you in hopes that you’ll fail to sell your home for sale by owner and list it with them.
If they do in fact have a qualified buyer, a realtor on one side of the transaction can be a great asset to the success of a transaction when you’re selling for sale by owner. They can keep things friendly during negotiations and keep their buyer on track as far as financing deadlines.
Hire a professional photographer. The first thing we, as realtors, do to get your home sold is hire a professional real estate photographer (they have different training and equipment than someone who takes portraits) The first thing buyers will see is the photos of your home online. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. I would say this is the number one thing that people skimp on when selling their home for sale by owner.
Stay safe!! When taking calls from buyers who would like to see the home, don’t give them your schedule. Example- “I work until 5 but can show it after that!” This tells anyone calling that the home is potentially vacant until 5pm. Don’t “teach” buyers how to work security systems. Sounds obvious, but for sale by owner sellers have been taken advantage of by “potential buyers” who say things like “I’ve never had a security system before, how does it work?” It sounds silly, but sellers desperate for an offer don’t always use their best judgement.
Put away valuables during showings and open houses. Laptops, jewelry, car keys, etc. Unfortunately many for sale by owner home are the target of robberies.
Follow up, follow up, follow up!! When you have a showing, get the buyer’s contact information and call the next day for feedback on the home. You have to be non emotional here!! If the potential buyer says that the home smelled like pets, for example, be appreciative that they are willing to be that honest with you!! Use their feedback to improve your home accordingly!
Check back in a few days after that a further qualify the buyer.
Here are a few questions to ask-
- Ideally, when would you like to move?
- Do you have a home that you’d need to sell before you purchase ours?
- Do you have a pre-approval letter from a mortgage broker or will you be paying cash for the home?
- How long have you been looking for a home?
- If you’re renting, when is your lease up?
- Are you prepared to purchase a home listed for sale by owner or do they expect you to pay their realtor.
You’ve got an offer! Yay!!… Don’t pop the champagne just yet. The work is really just beginning. Negotiating with a buyer head to head without a middle man can be tricky. Remember to set your emotions aside. If the buyer says something like “I know the neighbor’s home sold for $10k higher, but that house had more upgrades” it’s easy to take that personally and be offended. Look objectively at the buyers claim and ask yourself if it’s reasonable for an outsider to think that. Take some time before responding. Selling for sale by owner takes a calm person.
Once you’ve agreed on a purchase price, now what? You need to write all the terms up in a contract. When selling for sale by owner, a good real estate attorney can provide you with a contract. Don’t wait until you have an offer to find one (you can always reach out to us for a recommendation). It’s also worth mentioning that you should find an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions. More real estate deals fall apart, have delayed closings or lose money in post contract negotiations because buyers and sellers choose their estate planner or brother who is a corporate attorney to help them through a real estate transaction. Please don’t make this mistake. A good real estate attorney can save you thousands of dollars. FYI-
Most real estate attorneys charge a flat fee paid at closing not an hourly rate. Beware of anyone trying to bill you hourly for a real estate transaction when selling for sale by owner.
Once your purchase contract is signed by both you and the buyer, you’ll want to send it to your respective attorneys asap. From the date the seller (you) signs the contract, you only have 5 days for attorney review and for the buyers to conduct a home inspection. You’ll need to give the buyers and their home inspector access to the home for 2-3 hours during these first 5 days. Once the home inspector returns the home inspection report to the buyers, they’ll have their attorney send a letter (in email form) to your attorney outlining any problems the home inspector came across. The buyer will either ask for the items to be repaired, or they’ll ask for a credit at closing so that they can make the repairs themselves once they move in. These items can all be negotiated. This is one place you’ll see the value in your attorney.
After the home inspection items are all agreed on (within the 5 day attorney review and inspection period) your attorney will continue correspondence with the buyer’s attorney to make sure they are meeting their financing deadlines and that the transaction is moving along smoothly. There is usually about 30 to 45 days in between when you accept a contract and when you close on the sale of your home.
Either the evening before or the morning of closing, the buyer will want to have a final walk through. At this time, they’ll want to walk through the property and make sure it’s still in good condition and to make sure all your belongings are moved out. So many problems can arise at this point. it is so very very important to be completely moved out and have the home clean for the final walk through. If buyers find problems (holes in the walls, items taken that were supposed to stay i.e. blinds, damage that isn’t normal wear and tear) they can ask for more credit (money) to be given at closing or decide to cancel the closing all together. It happens more than you think.
Often, the seller is given the option to sign all the necessary paperwork at their attorney’s office a few days prior to the closing. This way, you won’t need to actually attend the closing.
Either way, get your signing hand ready! You’ll have quite a stack of papers to sign! Once that’s done, you’ll have officially sold your home for sale by owner!