Bypassing real-estate agents and selling your property yourself may cut out a commission of up to 6 percent — or $21,000 on a $350,000 home. You may also have the ability to lower your asking price by up to 6 percent to comparable listings in your community to help sell your house faster. Roughly 13 percent of real estate transactions today are for sale by owner (FSBO), according to the National Association of Realtors. About 45 percent of FSBO transactions involved people who already knew each other, such as family members or acquaintances.
A FSBO transaction requires that you follow all the legal rules that govern real estate transactions in your state, such as who must sign the papers, who can conduct the actual transaction, and what to do if and when encumbrances are discovered that slow down the transfer of ownership. You also comply with all state-mandated disclosures as to the physical condition of your house.
There are resources that can help you find out what your home is worth. Sites like realtor.com, zillow.com and homegain.com can help you review comparable real estate listings available in your neighborhood.You could also ask a realtor or two to stop by for a comparative market analysis. They don’t charge for the service, and you should be candid about your intent to sell-by-owner. They may help you in hope of getting the listing if the FSBO doesn’t work out for you.
Once you’ve arrived at a fair market price, you can either list for that amount or discount your price just enough to position your property as a bargain. Ads in the local newspaper, which may cost as little as $25 per month, can be surprisingly effective, considering a large percentage of buyers across the country upgrade into homes within their existing community.
You may want to invest in a listing service, which publishes the specifics of available homes to realtors and potential buyers. Packages priced at $229 and up also include a yard sign kit, access to a consultation line and automatic syndication of the listing to the real estate sections of partner Web sites like Google, Yahoo and USAToday. Higher-priced packages, which run as high as $809, also include a listing on Realtor.com and on the MLS. You’ll probably need to do some work on the home to make it as attractive and sellable as possible. You’ll need to arrange for advertising, open houses, and research your selling price.
With banks continuing to tighten their lending restrictions, it’s more important than ever to get your buyers pre-qualified or pre-approved. As the seller, you should demand a pre-approved mortgage letter with any written offer potential buyers make. You should work with a lawyer or Title Company during the closing, to ensure both you and the buyer have a legal representative who understands the process and is looking out for your best interests.
You need to be willing to invest the added time commitment of showing your own home.You may also feel uncomfortable opening your home to just anyone—whereas a realtor is bringing only bona fide potential buyers to your door.