If you decide to sell your home yourself, keep in mind that there are a lot of moving parts. Selling on your own has been done many times before and is achievable, but if you want to sell your home quickly doing it yourself may not be a viable option. It takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment to take your home from “For Sale” to “Sold”, and if you don’t have enough of this consider hiring a Real Estate Agent who will be 100% committed to you.
Below is a checklist of what you need to consider when selling your home, whether you are doing it yourself or decide to hire a Real Estate Agent:
- Find out everything there is to know about your home: Know permitted square footage of the living area, correct number of bathrooms (is it a full, quarter, or half?), lot lines, zoning, property taxes, etc. If you don’t remember, look at the terms of your existing loan.
- Know your current market and local property laws: What are the sold properties around your home that is similar in size, number of beds/baths, and location selling for? Are there any that sat on the market for too long and didn’t sell and what were those homes priced at? Research property disclosure laws you need to consider.
- Decide on a price: Set your emotions aside and choose a realistic price you know someone will make an offer on. Price your home too high, and you run the risk of having your home sit for a long time or worse, never sell. If you don’t mind waiting until the right buyer comes along, price your home at market value, you may get an offer between 1-5 months before an offer is made. The sweet spot is pricing your home just under market value to generate more interest and to get more people to make offers on your home early on.
- How will your home be financed? Educate yourself and contact local lenders to see how your home can be financed.
- Imagine yourself as a buyer or inspector: Put yourself in the buyer or home inspector’s shoes – what do they expect? Perform a walk through of the inside and outside of your home and see what can be repaired or replaced:
-Are your walls clean or do they need a paint job or cleaning?
-How serviceable and updated are your appliances?
-How are your plumbing and electrical? If you need to update your outlets or fix that leaking sink, now is the time to do it.
-How updated or clean are your floors? If you have old, dirty carpet then a buyer will find your home less attractive.
-Are your sealants in good condition or do they need to be replaced? Example: windows, doors, bathtub, etc. People are conscious of being energy efficient, so if you have old windows at least make sure they are sealed properly to not put off buyers.
-Are all of your fixtures working properly? A buyer may not notice it when they first walk through your home, but this will come up during inspection. Once they see something simple as a light bulb not working, they begin thinking of what else could be wrong with the house.
-Does your roof need repair?
-How is the curb appeal of your home? If you have trash and weeds in front of your house make sure you clean it up.
-Does your house need a new coat of paint?
-Are your doors and windows in good condition or do you need to replace any of them?If anything comes up during the inspection, make a note of everything you need to repair.
- What’s around your neighborhood? Buyers are counting on you to be knowledgeable about the community and may ask you questions about local schools, transportation, shopping, and more.
- Make a marketing budget: Marketing can greatly increase the amount of interest on your home. Determine what types of marketing you will consider:
-Commission to the Real Estate Agents if you decide to use an agency
-Advertising costs if you decide to sell yourself. For example signs, other fees, and your time.
-Professional fees like an attorney, closing agent etc.
-Taxes for the sale
-Fees typically paid by the seller (surveys, septic cert. etc).
- Look at local print to advertise: Are there areas in your newspaper or monthly newsletters that you can advertise for free or at a small price? Or do you want to reach a larger audience and bring buyers from other cities to look at your property?
- Look at the internet to advertise: The internet is the best platform for advertising because you are not just reaching the people who drive by or read your advertisement, with the internet you can reach everybody.
If you sell yourself consider how much it will cost to advertise online. Some places are free, and to reach other audiences you will have to pay.
Real Estate Agents have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When a home is listed on the MLS notification are sent out to hundreds, if not thousands of people who can see everything there is to know about your home. They can see if it is active, under contract, pending, sold, and more.
- Develop a marketing plan: Now that you have a budget and have analyzed the types of marketing you can use, it is time to develop a marketing plan. Establish a target audience of people who may be interested in your listing and market it as effectively as you can with the resources you have taking into consideration cost.
- Design your ad: I recommend education yourself on writing up or designing an advertisement to make it as effective as possible. You want to put in the time and catch people’s attention, not waste it with an advertisement that will be overlooked.
- Put aside time: You’ll need room for appointments that you’ll make with prospective buyers as well as any “Open Houses”. Sometimes buyers can feel pressured or uncomfortable if you are showing the home, it’s best to let your Agent do the showing so the buyer feels more at ease.
- Purchase “For Sale” and “Open House” signs: Make sure that it’s bold, attractive, water-proof, and weather-proof.
- Make a list of potential buyers: Many times it is those in your inner circle who you can sell a home to. If you host an Open House, make a list of people who are interested so you can follow up with them. Look for the people who seem serious about purchasing a home versus people who are checking out the neighborhood. When the Open House is over, make sure you call the people who are seriously interested to close the deal.
- Negotiate: Once there’s an offer, it’s negotiating time. Put your emotions aside and work to get the best offer to make a sale.
- Gather your legal documents and forms: When an offer is accepted, it’s time to gather your forms together in order for the legal sale of your property. In total there are about 20 forms the seller is required to provide the buyer. If you are selling on your own it is recommended that you hire a Real Estate Attorney to carefully review the contract to see when the documents are due as well as to review the buyer’s rights when they receive the form. State or Federal law dictates many of these documents so it is pertinent that the rules are strictly adhered to. You can obtain these forms through your local Board or Realtors or your Real Estate Agent.
- Negotiate and review the final terms of the sale: An agreement in writing must be made to the buyer stating the following:
-Terms of Financing
It is highly recommended that a Real Estate Attorney review the final terms of sale prior to closing.
- Final Walk Through: A final walk through is conducted at least 24 hours before closing with the buyer. The buyer examines that any requested repairs be properly completed before close and that your home is not in worse shape than when they initially visited it. Ensure any discrepancies or disputes are taken care of before transfer of title.
- Arrange when you will move to your next home: In many cases, the “seller” must become the “buyer” simultaneously when they are selling their home. Timing is everything, and make sure you have a place to stay after you sold your home since you will have to move out before the possession date in your contract.