If you’re like me, Spring just can’t get here soon enough. We started counting the days until Spring January first, and it’s finally here.
Although the Spring housing market typically starts January 2nd, the years since the housing market crash have been a little different. This January saw home prices continue to fall nationwide, even as home sales perked up a little.
Foreclosures are continuing to dominate the market and that means times are tough for sellers – and the Realtors who represent them.
And as the Internet has grown, more sellers are testing the market by selling their own homes by owner, also known as “for sale by owner” or FSBOs.
While hiring a real estate agent is still a really good idea for any number of reasons, I don’t have a problem if you want to test the FSBO waters. But you have to be ready.
If you’re thinking about selling your home on your own as a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) consider these 8 tips to guide you.
- Set a reasonable list price. Depending on where the competition is price-wise, you’ll want to set a list price that gives your home an edge in the local market. Consider pricing your home below the pricepoint of other homes that are listed for sale. If you overprice the home, you may find that your home won’t sell, whereas if you underprice your home, you might generate an abundance of interest and perhaps even a bidding war.
- Market and advertise creatively. Use every tool at your disposal to market the sale of your home. List the home for sale on websites like Zillow.com and Craigslist.org. Make sure you buy an Internet domain name for your home with the street number, street name and town you live in. For example: 123MainStreetDenver.com. Finally, find a “for sale by owner” (FSBO) website or discount real estate broker that can list your home for sale in the local multiple listing service (MLS) for your community.
- Place a “for sale” sign in your front yard. For effective marketing of your FSBO, hire a company to make an eye-catching sign to advertise your home. Avoid using a store-bought sign in which you fill in the phone number with a Sharpie market. Remember, you’re competing against big name real estate companies and want your property to stand out. Use flashy colors and be sure to list your cell phone and web site.
- Pay a broker’s commission. Just because you’re a FSBO doesn’t mean you shouldn’t agree to pay a real estate broker’s commission to the person who brings you the buyer. Be sure to let all real estate agents and brokers know that you’re willing to pay a commission to the individual who brings the successful buyer to your door by listing it on your listing sheets, on your website, and on your sign. Remember, paying half a commission on the sale of your FSBO is better than paying a full commission, and is loads better than paying the mortgage, taxes and insurance each month on your unsold home.
- Fix what’s wrong with your home. Fix any problems your home has before you start showing the home. Hire a home inspector to make recommendations about what you should fix. Fix as much as you can and take into account the market and the condition of other homes you are competing against.
- Clean and unclutter your house. Pack up as much as you can from your home and off the shelves, counters, closets and other storage areas. Store those items out of your home and make your home look clean, spacious and uncluttered. Don’t forget to clean out and unclutter your basement, attic and garage as well.
- Get your paperwork ready. Gather all the documentation you will need for the sale of your home, including plats of survey, condominium documents, disclosure forms and a real estate contract form for your prospective buyer.
- Find a good attorney and settlement agent. Make sure you have a good real estate attorney ready to assist you. Research the title company and settlement agent now and compare their services and fees.
Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate atThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.