How to Sell Your House as a For Sell By Owner (FSBO)


(Svilen Milev)

Selling your home as a For Sell By Owner (FSBO) is a very attractive idea when faced with the alternative of paying 6% or more in realtor commissions. It also is often a very daunting idea when faced with the reality that approximately 85% of homes sold in the US are sold through the MLS system. The good news is that you can always fall back on selling your home through a realtor if you are unable to sell it yourself. I am currently selling my own home as a For Sell By Owner and wanted to offer some suggestions and tips on what I have done to maximize the exposure of my listing and hopefully help my home sell without a realtor.

Preparation

A number of important items should be dealt with before you post your home for sale. You want your initial listing to be completely ready as you may have your best visibility the first few days after your post your home. Also, it may be helpful to have your home ready to for showcase with as little as 15 minutes notice.

  1. Perform any maintenance and repairs that may have been put off for another time. Few things will turn off potential buyers like a home in disrepair. If a buyer notices an unrepaired problem in the home, they will often begin to wonder if the rest of the home has been well maintained.

  2. Clean and organize. The first thing that ought to be done is to de-clutter your home. Go through each of your rooms and decide which items you no longer want or need and donate them to a local thrift store (this is often tax deductible, so make sure to get a receipt). Next, clean everything; wash walls and baseboards, scrub floors, wash windows, dust furniture and fixtures, pay special attention to bathrooms. Consider having your carpets cleaned professionally.

    Professional home stagers advise sellers to minimize the amount of furniture and décor in a room. This makes the living space feel more open and also allows the buyer to picture themselves in the home instead of being so caught up in the sellers' style. For ideas on home staging look at home furniture catalogs such as IKEA or Pottery Barn.

  3. Take pictures. One of the most important parts of your listing is the pictures. With your home immaculately clean and nicely staged and organized, take pictures of each room from many different angles with proper lighting so that you can choose the ones that make your home look the best.

  4. Price your home. Often one of the most difficult steps for a For Sell By Owner listing is pricing your home correctly. Professional realtors have access to more information about comparable sells in your neighborhood. Sometimes other homes for sell in your neighborhood may be priced incorrectly and can give you a false sense of what price to list your home at, but may also give you a general idea of the price range your should be considering. One option for pricing your home is to pay for a professional appraiser to appraise you home. Typically an appraisal will cost around $400. Another option is to consult a realtor for the pricing of your home. When working with a realtor, be prepared for them to try and convince you that a For Sell By Owner listing is a bad idea. It is important to decide at this point whether you are willing to work with a buyers' agent (typically for a 3% fee) or if you will be willing to negotiate payment of the buyers' closing costs.

  5. Create a flier. You will want to provide a flier at your curb that showcases your home to potential buyers and will hopefully convince them to set up a showing. Feel free to use my flier as a starting point [ flier.docx | flier.doc ] (adapted from a word template from Office Online). Be creative in the description of your property and features of your home. Print out your fliers out on a high quality color printer.

  6. Get a nice sign. Purchase a large For Sale sign which you can post near your curb and include your contact information. Also purchase a container for your fliers which can be place near the sign.

Sell, sell, sell!

With preparations complete you should now be ready to post your home for sale. The goal now is to get your listing in front of as many potential buyers as possible.

  1. Free Web Listings. There are quite a few websites that offer free home listings. I would suggest posting your home anywhere that you can for free. Some of the websites syndicate their listings to other free websites; to have complete control over what information each site displays about your home, I would suggest submitting your listing to each website separately. Make sure to include as many pictures with your listing as the site allows. Be cautious when posting your contact information on the web as there is a chance scammers may try to contact you. Just remember if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.


  2. Paid listings. If you are looking for more exposure there are a lot of websites that offer paid listings. One that I would suggest spending $40 for a listing is on Zillow.com. Zillow is a very popular real estate website which also now supplies listings to Yahoo! Real Estate. Some sites such as Owners.com will allow you to purchase an MLS listing for a reasonable fee.

  3. www.forsalebyowner.com

  4. Other Advertizing. Don't forget to take advantage of more traditional forms of advertizing such as posting fliers on community bulletin boards. Also, if you have a Facebook, MySpace, blog, or other similar account make sure to post information about your home there as well.

  5. Prepare for bombardment. If your experience is anything like mine, expect to get a whole lot of phone calls from realtors trying to convince you to list your home with them. Be ready to explain that you are not interested, but if you have decided that you are willing to work with buyers' agents you can explain that to them.

  6. Showcase. Hopefully all of your advertizing will attract some attention and you will have the opportunity to showcase your home. Before the potential buyers arrive walk through each room of your house and decide what features you want to emphasize. When they leave make sure to give them a flier with your contact information. A well advertized open house may be a great opportunity to get more people into your house.

Have other suggestions about how to list a For Sell By Owner home? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

Wishing you the best of luck with your home sell,

- Jordan Squire

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