From Sacramento to San Diego, home sellers across the Golden State are saving thousands on the 6% real estate commission by selling their homes For Sale By Owner (FSBO).
According to Zillow, 26% of Gen X’ers and 36% of millennials listed FSBO. National Association of Realtors found that FSBO homes sold faster than agent-assisted homes. 77% of FSBO homes sold in less than 2 weeks.
If you’re wondering how to sell a house by owner in California, you’ve stumbled upon the most authoritative guide for FSBOs. Not only will these tips help you save thousands in commission selling without a Realtor in California, but you’ll also have more control over your sale than ever.
⚡ 4 Powerful FSBO Tips
- List on MLS: MLS is the most powerful tool for home sellers. It gives you maximum exposure to home buyers and buyer agents. More exposure means more competition and a higher sale price for you.
- Price Your Home Competitively: Pricing your home right is probably the single most important factor in selling your California home fast. Pricing too high means more days on market. Pricing low means multiple offers and a bidding war.
- Get Professional Photos: 90% of home buyers search for homes online. You are competing for clicks on Zillow and Houzeo. Get pro photos done – more clicks online means more showings and more offers!
- Offer a Competitive Buyer Agent Commission: We hate commissions. But you can make buyer agents work for you by paying them a commission. Check with local California Realtors what a competitive commission is in your area.
How to Sell a House By Owner in California?
Selling a house by owner in California seems daunting. The biggest FSBO challenges are for sale by owner paperwork, negotiating offers, and closing on time.
Best FSBO sites will help you conquer all these challenges with cutting-edge technology, 5-star customer support, and licensed broker assistance only when you need it. And they will still help you save thousands by avoiding the listing agent commission.
That being said, remember you are competing against agent-assisted sales. Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to sell by owner in California like a professional:
Step 1: Price Your Home for Sale
Listing price is the single most important factor that will help you sell your house fast in California. Whether you’re selling a house by owner or not, the listing price is crucial for attracting a wide pool of buyers.
REMEMBER! The purpose of the LIST PRICE is to DRIVE TRAFFIC to your listing. It’s not your SALE PRICE!!!
If you price your home too high, you risk it staying on the market for too long. Few things hurt a home sale more than a stale listing.
There is however little downside to pricing your home for sale a little lower or just at the right price. Competitively pricing your home for sale will drive foot traffic and offers. If you priced it too low, you’ll likely receive multiple offers and sell at the market price.
In a hot sellers’ market, you can price your home up to 10% more than the market. But 2023 is a buyer’s market in most of America. So, lower your asking price to beat the competition and attract higher interest.
» How to Price Your Home for Sale: 6 steps to nail down your list price!
Step 2: Prep Your Home for Sale
Here are a few things you can do to ready your California home for sale:
- Declutter & Depersonalize: Tidy up your place and keep the surfaces like coffee tables, countertops, etc. clean. Keep trash cans, dirty dishes, and towels away. Also, remove personalized items such as photos, keepsakes, fridge magnets, etc.
- Repaint Neutral: Neutral colors appeal to a larger pool of people. This will help in attracting more buyers.
- Keep the Lights On: Use light bulbs wherever necessary. Natural light works best for photography. Ensure to keep the curtains and blinds open.
- Improve Curb Appeal: Go for clear landscapes, fresh flowers, or exquisite wall paints. Remove dead plants, trees, etc.
- Hire a Professional Home Stager: According to RESA, staged homes can sell for up to $40,000 over the list price. Also, staged homes sell 9 days faster. An average home seller spends $1,774 to stage their home. Hire professional California home staging companies to stage and prep your house for listing photographs and walkthroughs.
✍️ Pro Tip: Consider Virtual Home Staging
Virtual staging is an affordable alternative to regular home staging. It costs about $100 to $1,000 to stage a house virtually. With virtual staging, you get realistically staged photographs or a video slideshow which you can upload with your MLS listing.
» Virtual Staging: Learn to stage your home digitally.
Step 3: Market Your Home
Realtors in California have the resources and tools to advertise and market a home. Here are a few marketing tactics to beat an agent-assisted sale:
- Hire a Pro Photographer: Implementing real estate photography in California can greatly impact the home-selling process by attracting more buyers. According to VHT Studio’s Analysis, homes photographed professionally sell 32% faster. Hire professional real estate photographers in California to collate an appealing portfolio.
- Write a Powerful Property Description: Combine a catchy headline with an engaging opening statement. Use popular adjectives like captivating, luxurious, impeccable, stainless, etc. Also, talk about special features of your house like the type of flooring, energy-efficient devices like solar panels, etc.
- List on MLS: Homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sell faster and for 17% more. List on MLS in California with a Flat Fee MLS listing service like Houzeo. Houzeo will get you on the MLS for a small flat fee starting from $349. Your listing will be syndicated to 100+ real estate websites, giving your house the maximum exposure.
- List on For Sale By Owner Websites: FSBO listing sites like Zillow, and Craigslist have millions of visitors per month. Several California For Sale By Owner websites will allow you to list your home for free. But, you will be at the risk of attracting unqualified buyers. We recommend you research an FSBO site thoroughly before listing your home For Sale By Owner.
- Put a “For Sale” Yard Sign: You can attract unrepresented buyers with a yard sign. Get a “FOR SALE” yard sign, preferably with your phone number. Houzeo custom yard sign is only $49, and you get it for FREE with a selfie!
» Creative Ways to Market a House: Here’re 18 unique ways to market your house.
Step 4: Manage Showings
You can do the following to show your California home to potential buyers:
- Open Houses: According to the NAR, 92% of home buyers find open houses useful. Hosting an open house is a good low-pressure way to show your home to potential buyers. You may even attract unrepresented buyers, saving the entire buyer agent commissions.
- In-person Showings: Use an online showings tool to manage showings. With an online showings tool like Houzeo Showings, buyers and buyer agents can choose a showing slot stated by you. The tool also provides features like requesting, rescheduling, updating and canceling showings.
Step 5: Review, Compare, and Negotiate Offers
Though you are selling a house without a Realtor in California, the basics of what to do when you get offers remain the same. This includes, accepting, declining, or ignoring the offers (not recommended).
We suggest you review the offers on all their merits and never ignore an offer. Look for contingencies offered by the buyer.
- Is the buyer willing to make a cash offer?
- Is the buyer offering to cover some closing costs?
- Do the potential buyers have a mortgage preapproved?
Keep these questions in mind when comparing offers. Typically, California real estate brokers do such negotiations for you. As a For Sale By Owner seller, use offer management tools like Houzeo Offers. With Houzeo Offers you can make counter offers, call for the best offer, and more.
» Highest and Best Offer: Is it a smart move in multiple offer situations?
Step 6: Draft a For Sale By Owner Contract
You can draft your own FSBO contract, but we do not recommend it. It is best to hire a licensed real estate attorney to prepare the contract. A real estate attorney will also ensure the contract stands legally binding for both parties.
» Who draws up contract in for sale by owner?: Learn to draft a contract when selling a house in California without a realtor.
Step 7: Close the Sale with a Professional
It is not mandatory to hire an attorney for selling a house in California without a Realtor. However, we recommend you hire one.
A licensed real estate attorney will help you draft all the closing documents and minimize the legal risks. Typically, the real estate attorney fee ranges between $100 and $500 per hour.
Paperwork for Selling a House Without a Realtor in California
Some mandatory documents needed to sell a house in California by owner are as follows:
- The HUD-1 or Closing Disclosure: A closing disclosure contains a summary of all the detailed costs for homes purchased with a mortgage. If you accept an all-cash offer, you may get the HUD-1, which is less common. These documents detail the amounts you pay, your loan payoffs, and the net proceeds you will take to the bank.
- The Deed: It enables the legal transfer of title from the seller to the buyer. Read this document carefully to verify the legal description of the property, the deed book, and the Property Identification Number, if any.
- Settlement Statement: This statement summarizes all the expenses involved in the transaction. These expenses are usually split into whether they have been paid prior to closing or are due at the time of closing.
- Certificate of Title: It allows you to state that you have the right to sell your own home in California.
- Two Forms of Official ID: You will have to swear on your identity in the presence of a licensed notary. You will have to furnish identity proof (like a passport, driving license, etc.) during the process. The closing process might also require you to produce secondary identity proof.
» Paperwork for Selling a House Without a Realtor: Learn about the FSBO paperwork you need.
Seller and buyers both pay separate closing costs at closing. California seller closing costs usually consist of HOA fees, escrow fees, real estate attorney fees, transfer tax, and home warranty fees.
Additionally, you need to pay the commissions for both the listing as well as the buyer agent. This will be around 5% to 6% of the sale value. If you offer seller concessions, then you might have to cover some California buyer closing costs as well.
» California Seller Closing Costs Calculator: Estimate your closing costs when selling your own home in California.
Steps to Sell a House by Owner in California
- Price Your Home for Sale
- Prep Your House
- Market Your Property
- Manage Showings
- Review, Compare, and Negotiate Offers
- Draft a For Sale By Owner Contract
- Close the Sale with a Professional
For Sale By Owner Pros and Cons
As per Zillow, 36% of Millennials, 26% of Gen Xers, 22% of Boomers, and 19% of Silent Gen are selling their homes by owner. Most importantly, in our experience buyer agents are not at all averse to working with FSBO sellers.
Pros of Selling For Sale By Owner
- You Will Save Thousands in Commissions: California home sellers spend around $42,360 on real estate commissions (based on median home values). Selling a property in California without a Realtor will help you save 2.5% to 3% on the listing agent commission.
- You Can Hit the Market Quickly & Sell Fast: You can list your house yourself whenever you are ready. You need not hunt for a real estate agent to begin selling a house For Sale By Owner in California. FSBO websites like Houzeo will get you on the MLS within 24-48 hours, or faster. Statistically speaking, 77% of FSBO homes sell in less than 2 weeks.
- You Will Have More Control Over the Process: As an independent California home seller, you will interact with buyers directly. You will also control other aspects of selling by owner in California like showings, negotiations, paperwork, etc.
Cons of Selling For Sale By Owner
- You May Need Licensed Broker Support: Selling For Sale By Owner means you are on your own. If you need help with paperwork, inspections, negotiations, or closing, you will have to manage everything yourself. So make sure you list with a service that provides licensed broker support if you need it.
- There Could be High Hidden Fees: Several FSBO listing services that charge low upfront costs have a high hidden fee at closing. Additionally, several FSBO sites like Craigslist are infamous for attracting unqualified buyers and scammers.
» List with Houzeo: No hidden fees and licensed broker support when you need it!
FSBO Mistakes to Avoid
Here are the common mistakes FSBO sellers make that you should avoid at all costs:
- Not Listing on the MLS: A For Sale By Owner MLS listing allows nationwide buyer agents to know about your property. Your listing is syndicated to 100+ real estate websites which can help you attract unrepresented buyers. Statistically, homes listed on the MLS sell faster and for 17% more.
- Pricing Your Home Incorrectly: Overpricing might turn potential buyers away. Underpricing will lead you to leave some serious amount of money on the table.
- Not Offering a Competetive Buyer Agent Commission: 90% of home sales involve buyer agents. Not incentivizing the buyer agents will prevent you from attracting a top dollar for your property.
- Skipping Professional Real Estate Photography: Professionally photographed homes sell 32% faster. So, skipping professional real estate photography will lead to lesser foot traffic and slower home sale.
Sell a Home By Owner in California for Cash
If you’re selling a rental or a house in poor condition, you might want to consider selling it to a cash buyer. Cash offers typically save you the uncertainty involved with financing, and often even skip inspections.
Here’s how to sell a house by owner for cash:
- Sell Your Home By Owner in California to Cash Home Buyers: California cash buyers typically offer 50% to 70% of the property’s Fair Market Value. They can help you sell your house as is in California by owner i.e. in its existing condition, without any repairs.
- Offer Your House to an iBuyer: An iBuyer can make a cash offer instantly and help you sell your own house in California fast. They make cash offers as high as 100% of the fair market value. However, iBuyers have strict purchase criteria.
» Sell My House Fast for Cash: Attract maximum cash offers when selling your house yourself in California.
Consider the following sell-by-owner alternatives if saving money is your main goal:
- Flat Fee MLS: A flat fee Realtor or a Flat Fee MLS company gets you on the MLS for a small flat fee saving you thousands in commissions. Best Flat Fee MLS listing companies like Houzeo can get you on the MLS within 48 hours, or even faster!
- Discount Real Estate Brokers: The best discount real estate brokers in California offer all the services that traditional Realtors do but at discounted rates. They usually charge 1.5% to 3% commissions to list your home.
- 1% Commission Realtors: Clients save thousands by working with discount brokers at 1% commission rates.
- 2% Commission Realtors: At a discount rate of 2%, they provide similar services to conventional Realtors.
- 4.5% Commission Realtors: You can get all real estate services from your agent for a low commission of 4.5%.
- Low Commission Real Estate Agents: Low commission realty companies like Redfin and Ideal Agent provide full service for less than 3% commission. Low-commission real estate companies typically charge 1.5% to 2% of the sale price.
The Bottom Line
Selling a house by owner in California will help you save thousands in real estate commissions. But, it has some major drawbacks like you might skip an MLS listing, and won’t get any help when needed.
If you wish to do an FSBO sale with any MLS listing, sell with Houzeo. Houzeo will get your FSBO home on the MLS within 24-48 hours. Also, you will have 5-star Houzeo customer support to help you at every step. Here’s how Houzeo works to maximize your savings and exposure.
Eager to Know More?
We’ve got you covered. Check out what is Houzeo and why its Flat Fee MLS packages are the best way to sell a house by owner.
What is Houzeo?
An overview of what the platform is all about
» NEED MORE CLARITY? Read these exclusive Houzeo reviews and learn why it is one of the best FSBO sites in America.
1. Can you sell a house in California without a realtor?
Yes, you can sell a house without a realtor in California. Opt for a Flat Fee MLS company to get listed on the MLS. Check out our rankings for the Best Flat Fee MLS California Companies.
2. Do you need a license to sell your own home in California?
No, you do not need a real estate license to sell your home on your own in California.
3. Is for sale by owner legal in California?
Yes, For Sale By Owner is legal in California. You can list your home on For Sell By Owner Websites like Houzeo.com. Best FSBO sites will help you save thousands in commissions and you will have complete control over the transaction.
4. Who pays closing costs in California?
Buyers usually pay the mortgage-related fee in California. This includes the origination fee along with the escrow fees. The seller pays transfer tax and title insurance fees. However, most of the closing costs are negotiable between sellers and buyers.
5. How much tax do you pay when you sell your house in California?
You have to pay California transfer tax rate at $1.10 per $1,000 of property value. Additionally, you might have to pay city/county real estate transfer tax.
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