Owner Guide to Selling Your Home Without Realtor Help
Step-by-step guide to selling a house without a realtor or estate agency, including tips on tools you can use and other relevant recommendations
14:43 11 May 2021
Thousands of people across the country are selling their homes without resorting to the services of a realtor. Yes, hiring a specialist is much easier, but it sounds way less attractive once you see how much they charge. Money is often a very convincing argument against using such services, and that is when specialized tools come in handy.
Let's say you want to sell a house for $350,000. On average, realtors charge about 6% from a transaction. With this said, you will have to give about $21,000 to the agent as commission money, which is a significant amount for many US households.
Selling a house on your own can be more difficult, but it certainly is not impossible. You may be intimidated by some of the steps in the process, especially paperwork. But we live in a world where most issues can be resolved with a laptop at hand.
So for paperwork, you can use online services that provide free legal templates for most documents. For example, FormsPal is one of such resources. It is an online database of legal forms that will allow you to fill out all the necessary forms by yourself effortlessly. Besides, such online services will cost you much less than hiring a realtor or attorney.
You should not be afraid of a large task; that is why we suggest you break it down into smaller pieces. We will analyze step by step what you will need to do to sell your house in the guide below.
1. Prepare Your House
No one wants to live in a place where the presence of another family is visible here and there. Therefore, you need to "depersonalize" the house and make it look like a catalog item.
- Remove personal belongings from visible places
It is worth hiding your personal photographs or children's drawings. You need to let people imagine themselves living in your home, but with their own stuff.
- Add neutral accents
Such details will create coziness. Candles, flowers, blankets, rugs are perfect candidates for this task.
- Look at the house with a critical eye
Walk around the house and take a fresh look at it. After living there for a while, you probably got used to many things that can catch the eye of your prospective buyer. Perhaps the paint has peeled off somewhere. It is worth replacing such things or doing small cosmetic work. Sometimes even new dining chairs can make potential buyers fall in love with the house.
- Scrub the place till it shines
Hire professional cleaning specialists. Trust me, they will clean up in a way you’ll never be able to. You might even change your mind regarding selling the house after seeing the results.
2. Take Photos
Incomprehensible photographs taken with a low-quality camera will not work. You need to capture your home from its most dignified angles to attract future buyers.
Better to hire a skilled photographer for this job or at least borrow a semi-professional camera. Interior photographers know how to take such photos to make space seem larger and brighter, which usually makes homes more appealing.
3. Set a Realistic Price
The price should be based on the current market situation. If you go overboard with the price, you may not get any offers at all. Fortunately, special services and calculators will help you set the right price.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency offers you a service based on home sales data in your area. The data is taken from borrowed mortgages. You can use the FHFA calculator, which is based on the price you paid for the house. It suggests a price given the average rate of all homes in the area.
Other online calculators, you might want to check:
- Zillow Zestimate
4. Prepare a Description of the House
Before placing an advertisement for the sale of a house on specialized sites, prepare its description.
You have already taken beautiful photos. Now you need to provide them with textual meaning.
First, make a short form including:
- House size
- House age
- Number of rooms and bathrooms
- The last renovation works
- Heating systems, plumbing
Describe the house in more detail. Mention all its advantages, whether it is a quiet area with nice neighbors or a new plumbing system. Describe why it will be convenient and comfortable to live in this house.
5. Start Advertising
There is a huge number of specialized websites for selling houses used by realtors themselves. Buyers always start their search on the Internet. This is where the whole market is now going. Register on these sites and post a classified ad.
Many of the services are chargeable, but the amount is not even close to the realtor’s services costs. One of the most popular estate websites in the industry, FSBO.com, charges around $100 for a six-month hosting (or $400 for extended hosting).
You should not immediately sweep aside more expensive options. Usually, they include posting on several sites at once, which of course, will be very useful.
6. Hold an Open House
Set aside one or more days for holding an open house. Prepare for this event in advance and do the following:
- Repeat cleaning;
- Prepare colorful brochures;
- Buy treats and drinks;
- Create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere in your home.
Your task is to make people fall in love with your home at first sight. And yes, the smell of freshly baked cookies really works!
Information brochures should include not only information about the house that can be found on the website but also additional features. You can mention the history of the house or talk about the parks and schools in the neighborhood. Focus on amenities that will interest your customers.
Get ready to receive offers, and not all of them will suit you. There is no need to rush and shake hands with the first buyer, thinking you won’t have another chance like this. You have the right to reject deals that you do not like, and the chances will be plenty.
Be patient and train your persuasion skills. Buyers often start their offers with much lower amounts than they can actually offer. Therefore, if you are confident in the price quoted, just wait and keep advertising.
8. Seal the Deal
After you find your buyer, another phase begins — paperwork.
This step depends on the laws in the state where you are selling your house. It makes sense to hire a consultant to help you with this. But we also recommend not to pay a lawyer for the preparation of each document but to use the form-building software available online for free to get a real estate purchase contract ready.
To Sum Up
Getting involved in selling a house on your own is worth it if you have enough time and the ability to interact with people.
This process can take a lot of effort, but it will save you a fair amount of money. Weigh all the pros and cons, and if you are confident about your abilities, go for it. As a last resort, no one forbids you to hire a realtor at any point.