The 5 steps to sell your house on your own
While it’s not always recommended, it’s definitely possible to sell your home on your own—in other words, without a real estate agent. If you are organized and follow the steps below, you can potentially save 2-3% on real estate agent commissions. At the average home price, that means savings between $3,000 and $4,500!
Now keep in mind: This is going to mean spending about $1,000 up front to get everything right. However, you can simply consider this as an investment to save money once you have sold the house.
Step 1 – Have your home professionally inspected.
Depending on the size of your house, this will cost between $200 and $400. Almost all buyers will have a home inspected, but I 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 home than your buyer when it comes time to negotiate the price.
Typically, the home is leased at a specific price, then the potential buyer has the home inspected. This puts you, the seller, at a disadvantage. The reason is that it is better for you to be aware of any potential problems when you are pricing the house, rather than discovering it once you have a buyer.
Let me put it this way: do you know if your house is connected to the code? Unless you’re an electrician, you probably won’t. Now think about this: what would be better, for you to know that your house is not wired to code and price it accordingly, or for you to find out after a buyer has your house under contract?
In a home negotiation, knowledge is power! It’s worth $300 to get the upper hand 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 won’t know it until it’s too late. The good news is that most termite companies will inspect your home for free as a way of earning your business. You can even have more than one company perform this inspection.
I recommend that you do these inspections before doing anything else. The home inspection usually takes about 3 hours and the termite inspection an hour. Other than letting the inspectors in, you don’t even have to be present in the house! Most inspectors can schedule their work to be completed within a week.
Step 2 – Obtain bids from three contractors for each major item that needs repair.
After the inspections, you will know what is what. Then you should consider repairing the main elements. These include: foundation work, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, and roofing. If any of those things show up on the inspection report, have three different contractors look at the problem and make you an offer. Be sure to get these offers in writing
Also, you’ll want to bring in contractors for any major cosmetic issues. If you have old carpeting, holes in the wall, broken windows, etc., you’ll want to know how much it costs to fix or redo them.
Now, none of this means that you really need to fix anything. This depends on how the real estate market is doing in your area. If houses sell quickly, I recommend not doing any repairs and just selling the house “as is,” with the cost of these repairs subtracted from the price.
If it’s a tougher seller’s market, or what’s often referred to as a “buyer’s market,” then you may need to consider repairing major items or allowing an additional “repair allowance.”
This will be of great help in your price negotiation. If your buyer raises an issue, you will already have contractor offers available. 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 less likely to resist any price adjustment you offer.
Step 3 – Find out what houses are selling for in your neighborhood.
I stress the word sale, as it doesn’t matter 1) what a home is listed for or 2) how much you think it’s worth. The value of a home is what a buyer is willing and able to pay for it.
You may need to check with a real estate agent to find out how much other homes have sold for. Many will be happy to do a market analysis and let you know a good selling price for your home. This does NOT obligate you to work with that real estate agent, but be sure to let them know ahead of time that you are going to sell the house on your own. That same real estate agent can always find you a buyer, so doing this numbers analysis can benefit both parties.
Pricing the home right is critical, so you also need to factor in the price of any necessary repairs. My suggestion is to simply subtract your cost from your sales price and sell the house “as is.”
Having contractors bid on repair costs will help show your potential buyer (and the buyer’s real estate agent involved) that you’re serious and organized. It can speed up the sales process, as sometimes the buyer won’t even require a re-inspection, and this open transparency on your part is the key to closing a deal quickly.
Step 4 – Clean, remove junk and organize your home
You want your home to be as clean and tidy as possible. If this is easy for you, then do it yourself. If not, I would recommend “Got Junk” to get rid of any clutter and then a cleaning service.
You want to have as few of your own personal items in your home as possible. You might even consider renting a storage place for a few months as well.
You want to organize your home, which basically means removing personal items and arranging your furniture in a simple way.
The basic idea behind staging is for your potential buyer to start “seeing” their own furniture in your home. Once this happens, they have already started buying their house. It may sound strange, but houses that are organized 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 move in and make a faster, more profitable home sale along the way?
Step 5 – List your home on MLS rate sites and all other major places online
One of the best things a real estate agent can do for you is list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). There are real estate agents that will do this for a small fee (usually around $200). They do not charge commission, only the initial fee. This will expose your house to all real estate agents who have buyers.
The second thing I recommend is listing your home on Postlets. It’s a free site that will put your home on Zillow, Yahoo, and Craigslist. These sites have a large number of potential buyers for your home.
The last thing you want to do is put up a “For Sale By Owner” sign. Some people prefer not to 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 foot traffic near your house.
The most important thing once you’ve done the 4 steps above is to make sure that as many qualified buyers as possible know about your home. By listing your home on MLS and Zillow, you are raising awareness for serious buyers.
If you want to further minimize tire kickers, you can choose to show the home only to buyers who can show that they are pre-approved by a lender or have enough cash to buy your home outright. Serious buyers will have no problem doing this, especially in a competitive market.
Those are the five crucial steps I’ve used on every build site and mobile home I’ve sold. The vast majority of houses have been hired in less than 28 days, so this worked well for me, it should work for you too!