- The decision to sell your home is not one to be made lightly. Whatever your reasons for doing so, be aware that there are external costs associated with home selling, whether you choose to hire a real estate agent to sell your home for you, or go with the for sale by owner (FSBO) route. Since real estate agents charge up to eight percent commission on the sale of a house, you can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars by selling your home yourself. However, you will still have to invesst some money and plenty of time into the sale of your house.
Step 1: Know the Laws
- In the United States, there are no laws that require you to go through a real estate agent or broker in order to sell your house. However, some states require that a lawyer must be involved with the transfer documents and assist in the finalization of the sale. Before you put your house up on the market, contact your state department of real estate and request copies of all the contracts, agreements and transfer documents you will need to legally complete the sale. Familiarize yourself with these documents, retaining a lawyer to help you understand and complete them if necessary.
Step 2: Determine a Selling Price
- Although there are several websites, such as RealEstate.com, eppraisal.com and Zillow.com, that will provide you with estimates on the value of your house, these sites may not take in to account the specifics of your local market and may therefore misrepresent the true value of your house. Your best course of action in determining the value of your house is to hire an independent real estate appraiser to inspect and appraise your home. In most areas, an appraisal will cost you between $200 and $500.
- For detailed instructions on what you can do before the appraisal to ensure that you get the most accurate appraisal, refer to Mahalo's guide on How to Prepare for a Real Estate Appraisal.
Step 3: Marketing
- Once you have decided on a selling price, your next step is to get the word out that your house is on the market. There are several ways in which you can do so.
- Buy a sign and place it on your front lawn in plain view of people driving by
- Place an advertisement in your local newspaper
- Word of mouth: Make everyone you know aware that your house is for sale. That way, if they are speaking with someone who is looking to buy, they can pass along your address and contact information
- Holding an open house. Be sure to advertise the date and time of your open house by placing an ad in the newspaper and putting up signs
- Placing ads on real estate websites, such as MLS.com, owners.com and ForSaleByOwner.com
Step 4: Showing and Selling
- Since you have not hired a real estate agent to do so for you, the responsibility of showing your home to prospective buyers rests with you. Think of any and all questions you would ask if you were considering buying a house and then be prepared with the answers. While you are in the showing phase of selling your home, ensure that you keep your home and yard neat and tidy.
- Once you have found a buyer who is interested in your home, consider asking him or her for a deposit to secure their claim on the house while they get financing. Agree to a possession date and then ensure that you complete and sign all the necessary paperwork. If you are uncertain about how to complete any aspect of the sale, ask a real estate lawyer for advice and help.
- Selling your home without a real estate agent can potentially save you thousands of dollars. However, before you decide to do so, ensure that you have the time to invest in showing and marketing your house. Be sure to observe all state laws regarding real estate transfers and retain a real estate lawyer to assist you in finalizing the sale in necessary.