So you've decided to sell your home on your own. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting the business of selling a house done - without paying hefty commission fees to a real estate agent.
First, let's be clear here. You're not going to hear any disparagement of all the work a real estate agent puts into selling your house from me. Realtors and real estate agents work hard to sell your house. They put in time and know-how, expertise that they've spent years acquiring. If you've decided to put your house on the market without a real estate agent in your corner, you WILL have to put some time into learning the basics of real estate law in your state, as well as the particulars of your real estate market. Here are seven must-know tips to help you be a successful For Sale By Owner seller.
Tip 1: Know the real estate law in your state
You don't need to know every in and out of real estate law. You do need to understand what your obligations as a seller of real estate property are. Check with your state realty officiating office to find out about:
- mandatory disclosures
- fair housing practices
- necessary inspections
- any documents that you must have handy (lead paint certificates, for instance)
Tip 2: Take advantage of the multiple listing service
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a service open to licensed real estate agents. Its purpose is to allow realtors to share information about listings with each other. When your house is listed with the MLS, it'll get exposure to the people who get buyers out to see your house - other realtors. You can't list your house with the Multiple Listing Service on your own, but many real estate agents are willing to work out a flat fee listing price, or a special contract with an FSBO owner that only pays them commission if they find the buyer for you.
Tip 3: Get a realistic market appraisal of your house
One of the places where a real estate agent is invaluable is in helping their clients set the right price for their house. If you're selling your house on your own, you'll need to do a little digging to find out what the market in your community is like. The single biggest mistake that FSBO sellers make is pricing their home too high. By getting an appraisal that takes the neighborhood values into account, you can avoid that trap and price your home to sell while still making as much profit as possible in the sale.
Tip 4: Do some research to see what's selling in your community
This is probably one of the most overlooked bits of research you can do. Look beyond selling price when you check into recent sales and study what those homes have in common. Then take a look at homes that have been on the market for a while. You may be surprised to find what seems like a silly detail - for instance, that white houses nearly always sell faster than any others. Knowing what features attract buyers can help you plan any renovations with an eye to improving the chances of selling your home quickly.
Tip 5: Take some time to learn how to show a house
Showing a house isn't quite as easy as it sounds. One of the hardest things to learn is how to open the door to buyers - and walk away. They're not here to take the grand tour - they're here to explore. Introduce yourself, show your buyers in - and let them know where they can find you if they have questions. Then step away and let them wander through the rooms on their own. Few buyers are comfortable opening closets or examining features if the current owner is hovering over their shoulder
Tip 6: Know your community
Be prepared with ready answers to questions about your neighborhood and the larger community. You should know the answers to questions like, "Do you know which school my children would attend?" and "Where is the nearest grocery store?" You should also take the time to prepare positive answers to questions like, "What are the neighbors like?"
Tip 7: Get a lawyer familiar with real estate law to oversee the closing and finalize the paperwork
Once you have an offer, you don't want to risk losing the sale because you missed some important detail. Have an experienced lawyer draw up the contracts and make sure that every "T" is crossed properly. Just keep in mind that knowledge is king. The more you know about the home selling process, the real estate market and your community, the better you'll do in a For Sale By Owner sale.
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