Selling your own home is attractive to many people. In this article, we will look at the good and bad of going For Sale By Owner or FSBO.
Why would you want to sell your own home?
Obviously, you have the potential to save yourself money. By selling your home yourself (For Sale By Owner or FSBO), you can save the commission you would normally pay a real estate agent (often as much as 6% or more!)
You may need to sell your home quickly. By lowering the asking price by the amount you save on commissions, you may be able to price your home below market value, still make the same profit, and sell it as quickly as possible.
You are probably the perfect person to show your home to buyers. Who else knows your home and neighborhood better than you do yourself? Probably nobody! So, who better to tell others about your home? (Be careful here. You may know all about your home, but you don’t know just what may excite or turn off a potential buyer)
You can keep better control of your life. If you are setting the viewing appointments, you can choose when to have the prospective buyers come see your home. If you aren’t feeling well, or didn’t get a chance to clean up after the kids this morning, you can schedule the buyers to come through later in the week!
These are just a few of the advantages to selling FSBO. Now let’s take a look at some of the downside to selling your own home.
Difficulties in selling your home on your own?
Don’t let this scare you off, but there are some potential problems when you try to sell your own home.
Many buyers look at FSBOs for the same reason many FSBOs try to sell on their own… Saving Money! Now, that probably isn’t a surprise to you, but think about what it really means. Both the buyer and seller are trying to save the same money on the same house. There are ways to work around this, but don’t get defensive when someone comes in and makes a “low-ball” offer on your home.
At least some of the money you save from not paying the Realtor’s commission will still have to be spent on marketing your home. Yard and directional signs, newspaper ads, flyers… it all adds up. You can still save considerable money, just make sure you budget beforehand for these expenses!
You are still going to have to deal with Realtors! It is a fact that most FSBOs get an average of 2-3 times as many calls from Realtors as they do from buyers! Especially during the first weeks you try to sell on your own. We’ll talk about how to deal with these calls in a bit.
Speaking of phone calls, expect to get them from Realtors, buyers and “lookers” at all hours of the day and night. It is often difficult for a seller to know who is actually a good prospect, so you will probably show your house much more often, for the same results. Also, you should have a way for buyers to get in touch with you immediately, which can be difficult if you work, or go shopping, or go to soccer games, or to… well, you get the idea! At the very least, you will need to get a good answering machine.
You will need to answer your messages frequently! The more motivated a buyer is, the less time you have to respond to them. You are probably not the only one they are calling, and if you wait a few hours to call them back, they will have moved on to another house.
Last and possibly most important, you will be competing against all the other home sellers in your area, and that includes those who have listed their house with a Realtor.
A good real estate agent does offer many advantages to their clients. The agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and probably works in an office with many other agents, all of whom have buyers looking for different types of homes. They can advise you of the best selling features of your home and anything you can do to give your home more “curb appeal” so it will sell quickly. You will have to work harder without an agent, but you expected that, right? After all, you are saving their commission!
Preparing your home to sell.
OK, good. You’re still with me. You can work around not having an agent, and possibly even get one to do some of the work for you for a lot less, maybe even for free! But first, let’s get your home ready to sell.
First, get rid of clutter. Empty closets, clean the garage, if you don’t need it, get rid of it! It is amazing what most people (myself included) can accumulate in just a few years of living somewhere! Get rid of as much as you can! I know it’s hard, (get a storage unit if you have to) but I can tell you that 99 times out of a hundred, the house with minimal furniture and knick-knacks will sell a lot faster and for more than a house with all that stuff still in there. Plus, getting rid of the excess stuff will save you a fortune on your move!
Once the clutter is gone, clean your house. Better yet, save time and effort by finding a reputable cleaning service and have them do it! ou want the house to be immaculate. If your home is really clean, buyers will feel that you have also kept it in good shape.
Speaking of clean, if you have any pets, or if you smoke, have a friend or relative come over and smell your house. We don’t see or smell what we get used to. I’ve been in houses that absolutely reeked of pet odors or cigarette smoke, and the owner couldn’t smell a thing. This can cost you thousands!
Make minor repairs, or hire someone to do it. Little things can really turn off a buyer. They get the impression that your home isn’t well cared for, and that costs you money! Paint a wall, fix a dripping faucet, replace a burned out bulbs, all those little things you’ve been meaning to do… get to them!
There’s a reason it’s called “Curb Appeal”
Your home’s entry makes the first impression on your buyers. Paint the front door, it really helps your home look inviting. Bright colors are considered welcoming, many experts believe that red is the best color. Clean around your entry, if your screen door is unsightly, repair or replace it.
Mow the grass, rake up the leaves, trim those overgrown bushes, plant fresh flowers! If it needs it, seal the driveway and cracks in the walkways… your home will look very welll cared for!
Next, get your family mentally ready for what’s coming! Having strangers walking through what is a private, secure space, is unsettling for everybody. Explain what is happening to young children. Who knows, you might even get them to keep their own room clean!
Finally, depersonalize your house as much as possible. The family photos of great-uncle Jesse may mean a lot to you, but will make it that much harder for buyers to imagine themselves living in your house.
Well, that’s it for now. In the next installment, we will talk about setting up your team, pricing your home, attracting potential buyers, showing your home, and accepting the offer.