Are you willing to trade time and effort to save thousands of dollars? The average fee real estate agents charge to help you sell your house is 6% of the purchase price. That can be a lot of money on top of other preparation and closing costs. If you are willing to spend time collecting some information, learning how to advertise your property for sale, conducting open houses, and escorting visitors, you can sell your own home without a real estate agent.
Determine the numbers you need to know when you want to sell your own home. Selling your own home is a financial and legal enterprise. Four numbers will help you assess the financial side:
- What do you owe?
- What is your home worth?
- What can you sell your home for?
- What closing costs should you expect?
To find out what you owe on your house, contact your mortgage company and request a payoff statement. This amount is the most current information on how much you owe on your home. The information on your monthly mortgage payment or your annual mortgage statement will be a close approximation of the amount owed. Your county records office will have information on any liens against your property which must be paid off before the deed can be transferred to the buyer.
The web is a great help in determining what your home is worth. For most houses in the U.S., you can go to Yahoo Real Estate and type in your address. You will get a brief description and an approximate value. Zillow also offers a free home value estimate calculator. The home values offered from these sites are approximate, but they give you an excellent starting point in setting an asking price when you want to sell your own home.
What you can sell your home for is a bit different from the value estimates. Remember that your home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In figuring out what you can sell your home for, you need to know what makes a house attractive to buyers, what discourages a potential buyer, what the current market conditions are, and you should decide how quickly you want to sell your home.
Closing costs are the final fees involved in transferring the title of your home to the buyer. Who pays these costs is negotiable, but you need to have a good idea of what they will be and factor that information into your decision on asking price. According to Bank Rate.com, average closing costs are around $3,000. This total includes lender, title and settlement fees, but does not include county recording fees or other costs such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, homeowner association dues or prorated mortgage payments.
Get your home ready to sell. The key requirements to get your home ready to sell are: clean, de-clutter and fix. Buyers make their decision based on first impressions. Real estate agents talk about curb appeal – what does your home feel like when someone drives up and walks-in. So making a small investment in landscaping can pay off in attracting buyers.
Clean means everything – inside and outside of the house. To de-clutter your house, you may need to put some items into a storage unit in order to have your rooms appear open and inviting. You should remove small items off tables such as photos and knickknacks, and keep the counters clear. You want the potential buyer to be able to see their family’s stuff in the house and that is easier for them to do when the space is de-cluttered of your stuff.
Unless you are planning to sell your home as a fixer-upper, you need to do the fixing first. Contracts for home sales give the buyer the right to inspect the property, so you are ahead of the game if you do the inspection first and make any necessary repairs. Before a sale for your house can be completed, a legally binding disclosure form is signed by both parties. Therefore, your inspection should include general condition and any items required by federal and state law to be formally disclosed. Be aware: Failure to disclose is the grist for law suits and damage awards.
Attract buyers. You can inform potential buyers that you are selling your home through local classified advertising, word-of-mouth, and yard “For Sale by Owner” signs. But far and away the most effective way to advertise that your home is for sale is by listing it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). You can see examples of homes for sale in your area at the Realtor.com site. You can list your home for sale for free on sites like FREEhomeownerlistings.com and craigslist.org.
To list your home for sale, you need to collect basic information on size and features. You need good pictures of the outside of the house and each clean, de-cluttered room. You should write a brief description using keywords that buyers like such as: gourmet kitchen, granite counters, exceptional schools, professional landscaping, near lake or golf course, or ready to move-in. In the details of the listing, add information on room sizes and interior and exterior features. Print copies of the final write-up in color and make those available next to your yard sign and for handing out to visitors and open house attendees.
When a prospective buyer visits your home for sale either by appointment or attending an open house, be ready. Pick up and spot-clean all surfaces. Even though you live there along with your children and pets, the house needs to appear empty. If you remain in the house during the visit, give the buyers plenty of privacy to look around. Your children and pets should be somewhere else. If you have time, add some fresh flowers or scented potpourri to create a nice ambience. If you host an open house, be sure to have a sign-in sheet for follow up contact, and it is wise to remove your small valuables from sight.
Finalize the sale of your home. There may be offers and counter-offers and lots of discussion, but when it is time to actually make the sale, it is also time to get the professionals involved. You need a lawyer to construct the sale documents, you need to create and jointly sign disclosure agreements, and the buyer’s lender will want title searches, appraisals, surveys and verifications. Although you saved thousands of dollars in agent fees, the closing is not the time to save money. Having professionals involved in the document preparation and signing protects you and the buyer.
Jason Kay recently sold his own home in Colorado. He recommends listing your home for sale on Freehomeownerlistings.com and using ForSaleByOwner.com to get lots of help.