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The 5 Steps to Selling Your Home on Your Own
While it’s not always recommended, it’s certainly possible to sell your home on your own—in other words, without a Realtor. If you are organized and follow the steps below, you can potentially save 2-3% in Realtor commissions. On the average home price, that means savings anywhere from $3000 to $4500!
Now please keep in mind: this will mean spending about $1,000 upfront to really get everything right. You can simply see this as an investment in saving money, however, once you actually sell the house.
Step 1 – Have your home professionally inspected.
Depending on the size of your home, this will cost from $200 to $400. Almost all buyers will get a home inspected, but we recommend that you – the seller – do it yourself before putting the home on the market.
The reason for this is simple: you need to know more about the house than your buyer when it comes time to negotiate the price.
Normally the house is under contract at a specific price, then the potential buyer gets the house inspected. This puts you, the seller, at a disadvantage. The reason being, it is better for you to know any potential problem when you are pricing the house, rather than discovering it when you have a buyer.
Let me put it this way: Do you know if your home is code wired? Unless you’re an electrician, you probably aren’t. Now think about this: which would be better, for you to find out that your home is not up to code and price accordingly, or for you to find this out after a buyer has your home under contract?
In a home negotiation, knowledge is power! It’s worth $300 to get the edge in this department.
Also be sure to get a termite inspection if termites are a problem where you live. Termites can destroy your home quickly, and many times you don’t know this until it’s too late. The good news is that most termite companies will inspect your home for free as a way to earn your business. You can also have more than one company do this inspection.
I recommend doing these inspections before doing anything else. The home inspection usually takes about 3 hours, and the termite inspection takes about 1 hour. Apart from letting the inspectors inside, you don’t even have to be present at home! Most inspectors can schedule their work to be completed within a week.
Step 2 – Get three quotes from contractors for each major item that needs repair.
After the inspections, you will know what it is. Then you should consider repairing major items. These include: foundations, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, and roof work. If any of these things show up on the inspection report, get three different contractors to look at the problem and give you a quote. Make sure you get these offers in writing
In addition, you will have to bring a contract on any major cosmetic problems. If you have old carpets, holes in the wall, broken windows, etc., you will want to know what it will cost to fix or repair.
Now, none of this means you need to fix anything. This depends on how the housing market is doing in your area. If the houses sell quickly, we recommend not to make any repairs and only sell the house “As-Is”, with the cost of these repairs subtracted from the price.
If it’s a tougher market for sellers – or what is often known as a ‘buyer’s market’ – then you may need to look at major items being fixed or allowing a ‘repair allowance’.
This will be a great help in your price negotiation. If your buyer presents a problem, they will already have contract offers in hand. You can simply adjust the price in a way that works best for both of you. Plus, when you show that you’ve done your homework, a buyer is usually less likely to resist any price adjustments you offer.
Step 3 – Find out what homes are selling for in your neighborhood.
I use the word sale because it doesn’t matter 1) what a house is listed for or 2) what you think it’s worth. The value of a home is what a buyer is able and willing to pay for it.
You may need to consult with a Realtor to find out what other houses have sold. Many will be happy to do a market analysis and let you know a good selling price for your home. This does not prevent you from working with that Realtor, but be sure to let them know in advance that you will be selling the home yourself. That same Realtor can always find a buyer, so doing this numerical analysis can benefit both parties.
Pricing the home correctly is critical, so you need to factor in the price of any necessary repairs. My suggestion is to simply subtract their cost from your asking price and sell the house “As-is”.
Getting quotes from contractors on repair costs will help show your potential buyer (and the buyer’s Realtor involved) that you are serious and organized. It can speed up the sales process as sometimes the buyer does not even need a new inspection, and this open transparency on your part is the key to getting a deal quickly.
Step 4 – Clean, declutter, and stage your home
You want your home to be as clean and clutter-free as possible. If this is easy for you, then by all means do it yourself. If not, I would recommend “Got Junk” to get rid of any clutter and then a cleaning service.
You want as few of your personal items in your home as possible. You may also consider renting a storage space for a few months.
You want to stage your home which basically means removing personal items and arranging your furniture in a simple way.
The basic idea of staging is that your potential buyer begins to “see” their own furniture in your home. When this happens, they have already started buying your home. It might seem strange, but homes that are staged sell 79 percent faster!
The other benefit of doing all of this is that it will make your move much easier. Let’s face it, you need to get rid of that junk sooner or later anyway. So why not do it before you walk away and make a faster and more profitable home sale down the road!
Step 5 – List your home on MLS rate sites and all other important places online
One of the best things a Realtor can do for you is listing your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). There are Realtors out there who do this for a small fee (usually around $200). They take no commission, just the initial fee. This exposes your home to all the Realtors who have buyers.
The second thing we recommend is to put your home on Postlets. It’s a free site that puts your home on Zillow, Yahoo and Craigslist. These sites have a large number of potential buyers for your home.
The last thing you might want to do is put up a “For Sale By Owner” sign. Some people prefer not to do this for various reasons related to privacy and security. Personally, I don’t think it’s too important to use a “For Sale By Owner” sign unless there is a lot of car and/or pedestrian traffic near your home.
The most important thing once you’ve done the previous 4 steps is to make sure as many qualified buyers as possible get to know your home. By listing your home on the MLS and Zillow, get serious home buyers noticed.
If you want to minimize tire kickers even more, you can opt to only show the home to buyers who can prove they are pre-approved by a lender or have enough money to buy your home outright. Serious buyers have no problem doing this, especially if it’s a competitive market.
These are the five crucial steps I use on every site built and mobile home I sell. Most homes went under contract in less than 28 days, so it worked well for me – it should work for you too!
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