The key to selling your home yourself is being properly prepared. If you aren’t, your home may remain on the market longer than you expect because you aren’t attracting and getting offers from qualified buyers. And this is where many homeowners become frustrated and start to think about giving up the dream of selling their homes themselves. However, some sellers are very successful at selling their own homes, and you can be one of them.
This report has been especially prepared to assist home sellers like yourself understand the process so you can sell your home quickly and for the price you want. To help you prepare, be aware of the following tips before deciding whether or not this is the right approach for you.
- Price your home correctly. Setting the correct asking price is critical. Setting the price too high can be as bad as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace, and not by your emotional attachment to your home or what you think your home is worth. To establish a realistic price, compare the price, features, and condition of similar homes in both your neighbourhood and locations where similar homes have sold in the last few months. It is also important to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important as price in the current market. Work up a careful budget of your selling costs, and prepare a net proceeds sheet to determine an informed estimate of what you can expect to earn from the sale of your home. Prospective buyers may request a similar analysis of buying costs.
- Prepare your home for sale. First impressions are crucial. Ensure that your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it, as objectively as possible, through the eyes of a buyer. Don’t ignore needed repairs and fix-ups: your prospective buyers certainly won’t! Your job is to make sure your home stands out favourably from the competition.
- Make sure you have all the necessary legal documentation. There are many important legal contracts and documents which you need to assemble, complete, and understand when selling your home. Below is a partial checklist of forms you will need for prospective buyers and for legal documentation.
- Mortgage Payoff
- Loan Application
- Deposit Receipt
- Property Profile Fact Sheet
- Buyer’s Cost Sheet
- Closing & Settlement
- Personal Property
- Exclusion List
- Property Survey
- Sellers Statement /Plot Plan of Representation
- Market Your Home Effectively. Beyond the sign on your lawn, you need to find effective ways to spread the word that your home is for sale. You can reach local buyers with ads in a newspaper, but you will reach just a small part of the possible market. Be sure to include buyers who may already be working with a realtor. To locate them, notify as many top agents as possible in your market in case their client’s criteria match what your home has to offer. Out-of-town buyers are an important target too, so create a strategy to reach them as well. Above all, be very customer service oriented and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. That means making sure that someone is always available to answer the phone, respond promptly to messages, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as quickly as possible.
- Remain objective when showing your home. Be sure to keep your emotions out of the sale of your home. The best way to do this during a showing is to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your home, you’re better off counter-balancing this point of view by calling attention to the positives instead of becoming defensive.
- Pre-qualify prospective buyers. Don’t waste time entertaining buyers who cannot afford to buy your home. Research their financial situation with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit standing.
- Negotiate effectively and knowledgeably. There are a great many details that need to be resolved before a sale is considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, and buyer concerns and objections, to name a few. You must fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can, in turn, explain the details and ramifications to the buyer, and make any necessary amendments to the sale. Have the contract you use thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, work to maintain the buyer’s interest in your home so it doesn’t wane during negotiations.
- Know your buyer. Your objective during negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine what’s motivating potential buyers. Do they need to move quickly? Can they afford to pay the asking price for your home? Answering these questions will give you an advantage in the negotiations: you’ll know what you need to do to get what you want.
- Do not move out before you sell. Studies show that selling a vacant home is more difficult than selling one that is occupied. A vacant home looks forlorn, forgotten, and simply unappealing. And it could even cost you money. If you move out before you sell, you’re also letting prospective buyers know that you have a new home and are motivated to sell quickly. That can, of course, give the buyer an advantage at the negotiating table.
- Understand why you’re selling, but keep your reasons to yourself. Just as important as understanding your buyer is understanding yourself. Your reasons for selling can affect everything from how you price your home to how much time and money you invest in preparing it for sale. And knowing your motivation helps you determine your priorities: the money you walk away with, how long your property is on the market, or perhaps both. Different goals dictate different strategies. Someone who prefers to sell without a real estate agent to save the commission would indicate that money is a primary considerations (see “How to Assess Your Net Gain” below). Whatever your reasons may be, it is very important to keep them to yourself so you don’t put yourself at a disadvantage during negotiations. If anyone asks why you’re selling, simply tell them that your housing needs have changed.
How to Assess Your Net Gain
To find out whether or not you’ll come out ahead by selling your home yourself, consider that most buyers use real estate agents because it doesn’t cost them anything (the seller pays the agent’s fee). Be cautious: buyers, investors, and speculators who seek out For Sale by Owner properties are usually in search of a bargain. Low-ball offers from these buyers will usually net you a lot less in the long run. Determine for yourself the following:
- You need to be as prepared as possible with your marketing, negotiations, evaluations, showings, and all legal matters.
- Calculate what it will cost you to effectively market your home and put together all the necessary materials, from the “For Sale” sign to the contracts.
- What price will a buyer offer you as a For Sale by Owner, minus the costs identified in number 2 above? Is this net amount higher or lower than the price an experienced agent could net for you minus his/her commission?