We just recently moved to a new town and that meant selling our house. We decided not to use a Realtor because you lose SO much money when it’s all said and done. We sold our home for 145,000 and a Realtor would have taken AT LEAST 8,700 of that profit. We wanted that money for the down payment on our next house so we decided to go the “for sale by owner” route. We spent about $280 listing our home with ForSaleByOwner.com which was 3% of what we would have paid a Realtor. We learned quite a bit along the way and wanted to share our knowledge with others who are considering selling their home without a Realtor’s help. This post covers every thing from advertising the handing over the key!
Before You Show The House
Set the Price, Advertise, and do some Research:
1. Carefully choose your price before you start advertising. Find out from the tax appraisal district or abstract company how much your house appraises for and ask how much houses in your area have sold for in the past few years. We took how much we spent on the house originally, added the expenses we had from updating the house, and then added a little bit more for wiggle room if we ended up negotiating the price.
2. Advertise everywhere! Put up a sign with your phone number, and a flyer (more about this in a minute) in your yard. We used this one from ForSaleByOwner.com and loved the weather-proof box for the flyers. Place ads in the newspaper and list your home on ForSaleByOwner.com’s website. If you list on ForSaleByOwner.com, your home will also appear in other home searches including Zillow, Yahoo, and more. Zillow is where most of our interested home buyers found us.
**Unless you use a Realtor or list with ForSaleByOwner.com, I don’t know a way to be listed on Zillow and that is a HUGE site for buying and selling homes. You want to be on this site FOR SURE if you are going to sell your home quick.
3. Create a flyer using ForSaleByOwner.com. Once you list on their site you can design a flyer with everything you need the potential buyers to know. Print it in color and have plenty available for the box outside. I bet we went through 85 to 100 flyers while selling our home…some of those were curious neighbors 🙂
4. Know what types of loans people are going to be applying for. There are so many different types of loans from conventional to FHA to VA military loans. They all have different rules and you need to be VERY familiar with them because some of these could really hurt you as the seller. For example, we finally accepted an FHA loan but waited for several months because we didn’t want to be forced to spend money fixing up a house that we were about to move out of. Please read the section here under “What Type of Loan is Right for You” before you accept a loan offer so that you can be as informed as possible. I also called the loan department at my bank and talked to her about the different types of loans and what regulations went along with each of them. It is just as important for you to know about the loan the buyer is using at it is for the buyer to understand it because both of your money is involved. You also could just pray that they have cash 🙂
5. Learn to tell a Realtor NO. After your little “For Sale By Owner” sign goes up, you could be contacted by local Realtors asking for you to list with them. Just simply tell them that you are not interested at this time and that you would not like to give up the commission they are asking for. They are pretty persistent and one even showed up at my door to look at the house. Just kindly tell them “no thank you” and that you are listing it yourself. More about dealing with Realtors at the end of the post 🙂
Get the House Ready and Practice Showing the House:
6. Clean the house really well. I’m talking baseboards, windows, and the garage floor. Throw away the piles of magazines and rake the leaves. Get rid of anything that is an eyesore because if it bothers you, it’s really going to bother a potential buyer. Most buyers would comment more on my stuff than the actual house so I know that they have a really hard time looking past your stuff to see the actual house you are leaving behind.
A buyer is not going to like coming into a house like this:
7. Do paint touch-ups. I’m not saying go hire someone to completely repaint your house. I am saying to touch up places where the paint has scraped off the walls and cabinets. We spray painted our outdoor light fixtures to make them look brand new again. We also painted over some patterns in our kitchen that I loved but that potential buyers probably wouldn’t like.
After a little spray paint touch up:
8. Stage your house. I don’t mean that you have to take every personal touch away from your home. I took some of our picture frames down, packed some of the clutter in my son’s room in boxes, and even packed some of his toys away. Just try to make your home empty enough to where the buyer could imagine “their stuff” in the same space.
9. Practice showing your house to a friend or your spouse. We both practiced showing the house to each other and decided that I was going to do it because I like to talk 🙂 We practiced about 10 or 15 times before the first buyer ever came through the door. You will feel really dumb at first but it helps you know what to say, what to point out as good features, and how to talk about the “not so great” features without scaring them away. My husband would even ask me questions about the house like when it was built or how old the water heater was. You have to know your house REALLY well or they won’t trust you. Decide if you are willing to negotiate on the price before the buyers come too because trust me, they are going to ask that one 🙂
When You Show The House
How to prepare each time and what to say:
10. Pretend the Queen of England is coming to see your house…EVERY TIME! We always said, you never know if the next person coming to look is the ONE that is going to buy the house. This means vacuuming, sweeping, and picking up. I would always do a run through and check to make sure the beds were made, the closet floors were picked up, and the sink was empty.
11. Throw everything that needs to be hidden in the cars. We had two empty laundry baskets and if someone was coming in 30 minutes, we would run through the house and grab toys, clothes, and magazines and through them in the baskets. Those baskets would go in our cars and the buyers would never know our house was a total wreck a half hour before. This trick saved us so many times. I would also throw dirty laundry in the washer and dryer if I didn’t have time to pick it up.
12. Make your house feel like a home while they are there. Light candles, spray Febreze, or do anything that makes your house feel comfortable. When I bought that house originally, it smelled like smoke from a previous owner and that alone almost scared me away from the deal. We would even have the TV or music on quietly so it wasn’t just lots of awkward silence as they looked around.
13. Show your home during the day if possible. I know people work and this isn’t always easy but your home is going to look better during the day. Open the windows, turn on all of the lights, and make it as bright as possible. Showing at night is fine but your house looks biggest and it’s best during the day time.
14. Always be available. List multiple numbers on your flyer and advertisements so that you can always be reached. If someone wanted to come see our house at 11:00 at night or 5:00 in the morning , we would have made it happen. If you are going on vacation, make sure you have someone who can show the house for you.
15. Allow them to look anywhere. This one is kinda scary but if they are interested in the house, they want to see every inch. Let them take lots of pictures, within reason, and encourage them to open closets, drawers, and cabinets. This is why the cleaning and decluttering aspect is SO important.
16. Don’t point out every negative aspect of your house to potential buyers. This one is weird because when we first started showing the house, I kept showcasing our “70’s-tastic” oven. My husband said, “why are you pointing out our super old oven. They are going to see it on their own.” So from then on, if they asked about it I would say “Yeah that was something we didn’t replace because we didn’t know which kind the new buyer would want.” It was a simple way to acknowledge the ugly oven without pointing it out myself. Be completely honest but don’t accentuate the negative when your house has so many positives.
Once the Buyer is Interested
Make Sure they are Approved and Be Their Friend:
17. Explain to the buyer that a Realtor is NOT going to be involved with this deal. If they were using one to look at other houses, that is fine, but unless you (the seller) want to pay a commission to a Realtor, tell them they need to drop their Realtor or there is no deal. We lost a few buyers because they would not call us personally but were making their Realtor call and negotiate. I would kindly tell the Realtor that we were not paying them a commission and that if their client was interested in our home, they could contact us personally. This was hard sometimes but we ended up getting the price we asked for without a Realtor’s help and all in less than 6 months.
18. Ask if they are approved and what type of loan they will be using. Decide if that is a loan you are comfortable dealing with and then move on from there.
19. Go to an abstract company and they will start helping you with the process of filling out your contract. We had help with this from some friends but your bank and abstract company will help you through this as well.
The Contract is Signed
Get to Know your Buyers and Thank Them:
20. Become friends with your buyer. It is a business deal but it’s also personal because it’s your home. Talk to them and become their friends. I have talked to the family that bought our house a few times since we moved and we LOVED them.
Me and our buyer on moving day! Whew I looked rough 🙂
21. Leave them a gift when you hand over the keys. I left mine a bag full of goodies for their daughter and for their new house 🙂
Please check out ForSaleByOwner.com for other great tips and list your home with them to save THOUSANDS!