Selling an Austin Home without a realtor or real estate professional is difficult to do. The NAR estimates that nearly 70 percent of all for-sale-by-owner sellers eventually hire a professional agent for help. Of the remaining 30%, only about half pull it out.
Selling real estate is simple in concept but more complicated in execution. It’s not ‘deep’ waters of knowledge, but the waters are very wide and require specialized knowledge and skills. Of the many FSBO home sellers who’ve contacted me, most felt as though selling a house would be like selling anything else, but found it to be quite a bit more work than they bargained for.
The amount of knowledge, effort and action required for the one time event of selling a house cause many to want to outsource to a Realtor or real estate professional. However, the potential to save $10k+ on closing costs make it worth the while for others.
If you’re interested in selling a house without a Realtor, here are some helpful tips on how to get it done:
Research – There are 2 types of research to prepare for when selling a house. 1- Contracts / Paperwork and 2- Price
- Contracts / Paperwork – Probably the easiest place to start is by looking at the closing paperwork from when you last sold a house, including copies of the Sales Contract & all addendum, property records for appraisers, the title company and others, as well as insurance documents, disclosures and legal documents. Once you look over, it’s a good idea to visit both the Title Company where you’d like to close as well as a real estate attorney to make sure that you have the most updated versions, understand how to accurately complete and have any necessary addendum for the transaction to be completed.
- Price– Understanding the true value of what a bank will lend a buyer for your property is paramount! Take your emotions out of play and hire a professional appraiser to determine the value. The investment is between $400-$600, but can be well worth it. Too many sellers price too high, which keeps their house on the market longer than it should be. I’ve known sellers who’ve priced it above top of the market, hoping to make as profitable a transaction as possible, only to wait 6 months to finally lower it to sale price. Depending on your need to sell, 6 months of holding costs can kill a profit. In today’s market, you can sell fast if you price right. But if you price too high, your holding costs will eat away all of your profits.
Prepare Your House– Here are some simple tips to help your house sell faster
- Clean house – Would you sell a used jacket without first washing it? Would you sell a car without washing, waxing & vacuuming it? A house is the biggest investment most people will ever make, so make sure it is in its best condition prior to showing. Steam clean carpets, wash or repaint walls, and make sure the kitchen & bathrooms are spotless!
- Uncluttered house– One of the top reasons sellers want to move is that they want more room. You don’t want to advertise that your house isn’t big enough for your needs by having clutter all over the place. I recommend putting everything you don’t require on a daily basis into storage. Clean out your closets and empty your cupboards as much as possible. Give the new buyers the perception that space if plentiful.
- Take down personal items – Part of a buyer walking through a house is having them fantasize about living there. That’s tough to do if you have pics of yourself and your family all over the place. Your personal items will actually make people feel like guests in your home rather than potential buyers in their home.
- Repaint – If your walls require new paint to look better, then repaint. It’s not that expensive to do so and can take months off your sales time. One bit of advice – keep the colors neutral. Your personality may be loud and boisterous, but it doesn’t mean that your buyer will want a bright purple accent wall in their living room.
- Landscaping– You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s a belief I have that many people disqualify a house within the first 5 seconds of pulling up to a house. Therefore, curb appeal is important. Have a rakes & trimmed yard, unweeded garden with living plants, a freshly painted garage and an impressive looking front door.
Marketing – There’s more to putting a sign in your front yard and hoping people will find you! Here are some marketing tips:
- Signage – When you put a sign in your front yard, also create some informational flyers about the property. People would rather look at information and then call than just make random cold calls.
- Get online– Use For Sale By Owner sites, like FSBO.com, to list your house. There are other home listing sites that you can use as well. Posting on Craigslist.com is helpful as well.
- Video -Create a video walkthrough and upload the video to YouTube and other online real estate sites. This information will greatly assist you in selling quicker.
- Referrals– An amazing amount of home sales come from other neighbors who want their friends or family to live closer to them. So knock on some of your neighbors’ doors and let them know that you’re selling your home.
- Newspaper Ads– Post ads in the local newspaper as well as some of the smaller, local neighborhood papers.
Negotiating – Here’s the biggest thing to realize about negotiations… there’s more to negotiate than price! From a seller’s perspective, the right price can be the difference between receiving money at the Title Office or paying money. From the buyer, what’s the difference of a few thousand dollars off the sales price? $5,000 difference in price over 30 years at 5% interest is about $10-20/ month. So come up with some creative ways to offer them an upfront money savings on their move while still keeping your price. Here are some examples:
- Throw in new appliances: Spending $1,000 on a new stove / refrigerator set is better than having to discount $5000 in sales price.
- Pay the first years Home Owners Association Fee
- Offer to Pay for the Movers
- Include a membership to a local Golf Club
In many cases, the buyers just want some type of deal. Offering to save them money on their move is more valuable than saving them a few bucks off their mortgage over the next several years.
In summary, selling a house on your own is difficult but not impossible. Using some of my tips listed above should assist you in selling quicker. Selling quicker reduces your holding costs, which increases your profits and this is the reason you’re selling your house on your own.