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More and more home sellers are opting to sell their own homes. Most of them realized that selling a house without a realtor can be also a viable option. Their biggest reasons to sell their homes themselves are wanting to save money and wanting full control over the sale process.
But starting on how to sell a house by owner yourself still isn’t easy. According to Zillow, 95% of home sellers find the home selling process stressful. The top stress-inducing factors when selling a home without a realtor include the following:
- Not knowing when the home will sell
- Not knowing how much money they will get from the sale
- Lacking control over the numerous aspects of the sale process
That’s exactly where Houzeo comes in. In this blog, we’ll explain the step-by-step process of how to sell your house for sale by owner. And of course, the required closing documents, pricing your home, and other nitty-gritty details on how to sell a house by owner. So, let’s start!
🧐 Top 3 Priorities For HomeSellers
There are 2 types of costs associated with a Flat Fee MLS listing
- Sellers Want the Most Profit in a Sale: According to the Zillow Group’s Consumer Housing Trends Report survey , for over 50% of sellers, getting maximum returns was the most important consideration.
- Sellers Want Control in their Transaction: Over 40% of younger sellers desire more control over the transaction..
- Sellers Want to Save Time: The 3rd important finding was that time is an important consideration for home sellers.
Get Ready to Sell Your House by Owner in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Get Your Home Ready
First things first when selling a house by owner. Start by preparing your house for sale well. Your goal here is to make it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, rather than seeing signs of your personality everywhere. Here are the basic yet powerful ways to prepare your home for sale or on how to sell a house by owner.
Declutter and Depersonalize
Clean up by renting a storage unit for knickknacks, photos, extra furniture, and other personal items. The preparation on how to sell your house without a realtor means you have to groom the property yourself. Otherwise, if you have enough funds, you can hire experts to increase your home’s value.
You want your house to be in the best condition possible, so take care of major defects that could discourage buyers like leaky faucets, loose door handles, or electrical switches and lights that don’t work properly.
Repaint Interior Walls
Paint your walls a neutral color that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.
Organize Closets and Drawers
Make sure to clean up messy closets to give the appearance that your home has enough storage space.
Make Every Surface Shine
Hire a cleaning service to clean your home. If you paint or not, cleaning is the best bang for your buck – aside from pro pics. From ceiling fans to floors and everything in between, clean your home until it sparkles.
Eliminate Bad Odors
Hide the litter box and spray air neutralizer throughout your home. When showing the home, fill it with inviting smells by putting out fresh flowers and baking a batch of cookies.
Clean up the Landscaping and the Outside
Another powerful factor you need to take into consideration when selling a house by owner is curb appeal. Curb appeal is crucial to a good first impression, so make sure your home’s lawn is pristine. Be sure to clean the gutters and pressure wash your home’s siding as well. A sloppy exterior will make potential buyers think you’ve neglected interior maintenance too.
Make the Front Door Inviting
Let buyers know they’re invited into your home. A fresh coat of paint, especially in a color that contrasts with the home, will make the front door stand out. Make sure to buy a new welcome mat.
Step 2: Research the Market & Set Your Price
3 minute video on How to List Your Home on the MLS For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
Overpricing usually leads to a longer time in the market and an eventual price cut, so you might want to avoid that. The single most important factor that determines whether your home sells quickly or not is its list price. Whether you’re selling a house without a realtor or not, the list price is crucial to 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!!!
Start with Zillow’s Zestimate and Redfin’s Price Estimate
Zillow’s Zestimate and Redfin Estimate are both computed daily based on millions of data points. They are both also rather accurate with low median error rates. These are useful and free tools, especially if you’re selling a home without a realtor. Start here, and leverage both Zillow and Redfin for the steps below.
Review Recently Sold Similar Homes in Your Neighborhood
Use Zillow or Redfin to run your own comps. This step will take about an hour but you will gain a lot from this pricing exercise. Use the general guidelines below to select comparable homes:
- Vicinity: Ensure you search within ½ of a mile to a mile from your home
- Recency: Your comps should have sold within the last 3 months
- Age: Comps should be roughly the same age as your property. If your property is gut-rehabbed, you can use new homes as comps, but discount the price per square foot by about 10% if your home isn’t new
- Square Footage: The comps should have square footage roughly within 15 per cent of your property. This means that if your home is 2,400 sq. ft., search for comps within 2,000 to 2,600 sq. ft. Note that in most markets, smaller properties sell for higher prices per square foot than larger homes.
When you have between 3 to 5 good comps, adjust for the age of each property, lot size, upgrades, and condition. Then compute the price per square foot. Use the median price per square foot from these comps to price your home.
Review Current Active Listings in Your Neighborhood
The number you get from steps 1 and 2 needs to be adjusted based on what else is on the market, and whether it is a buyer’s or a seller’s market. So using the same criteria you used to search for sold comps in #2 above, search for current active listings on Zillow and Redfin. You can list your home at the higher end of your range if it is a seller’s market and there aren’t many other options for buyers.
Price your home on the lower end if it is a buyer’s market or if there are many other similar homes at comparable price points. You want to be competitively priced to drive traffic to your property.
2min Video: How to request changes to your MLS listing. All Online!
Step 3: Market Your Home For Sale
Gone are the days of homemade cookies in packed open houses. If you’re eager on how to sell your house without a realtor, marketing is the key. And marketing now is all about your online listing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have open houses, but the exposure your listing will provide your property will likely be 100s of times more. Specifically, there are 2 things important about your listing:
- How much exposure your home gets, and
- How desirable your pictures make your home look
With that in mind, here are some in-depth tips:
LIST IT ON THE MLS!
I can’t stress this enough. It’s one of the most important steps an FSBO can take. When you’re selling a house by owner or still deciding on how to sell your house without a realtor, remember to leverage online platforms to advertise your home for sale and get higher chances of exposing it to the public.
Post a Yard Sign
If you’re confused about how to sell your house without a realtor, start with posting a good yard sign. This is common in every home offered for sale, so you need to get one for your house for sale and spend a little bit more to get a better-looking one.
Bobby V and his son with the Houzeo yard sign, after accepting a contract on their home
Print Out Sales Flyers and/or Brochures
Have flyers and/or brochures readily available to give to people who look at your house and whom you meet expressing interest in your house for sale, These flyers and/or brochures should have the property specifics: property description, sale price, property address, and your contact details – both your phone number and email address,
Host Open Houses
This is literally opening your house to the public for viewing. This helps you better show your house to interested buyers all at the same time rather than arranging individual schedules to privately show them the house one by one. An open house is best done during the weekends and on good weather days.
Introducing the Houzeo Mobile App!
- View your listing
- Review and compare offers
- Counter an offer
- NEW! Buyers can now search your property and save it in “Favorites”
Step 4: Negotiate the Sale
The most difficult task to do when selling your home by owner is this part. Since you are selling a house without a realtor, all showings and negotiations are, of course, done by you alone. If you want to succeed in how to sell your house for sale by owner, prepare yourself to field and negotiate offers.
4 min video: Learn How to Submit & Review Offers on Houzeo
Don’t Make the First Offer
You never want to make the first offer. The interested buyer may offer a price that is a much better deal compared to what you have in mind.
Use Written Communication
The initial negotiations will probably be verbal, but once you agree on the basics, the buyer will have to submit a written offer. It is easier to communicate non-verbally when negotiating back and forth.
Be Willing To Walk Away
You are not obligated to respond to low-ballers and unserious offers. If offers won’t come down to the minimum price you have set, feel free to reject them. More often than not, these buyers will come back with something more in line.
Don’t be discouraged by the slow progress of your house for sale. You can always drop your offer price if you think you’re making no progress. Bear in mind though that motivated buyers are out there, so be patient.
Step 5: Handle the Closing
5 min Video: How to Select a Settlement Agent – Attorney, Escrow, Title
No matter where your house is located, you need to complete the required legal paperwork in order to close the sale. This is an entirely legal affair where either your closing attorney or title agent handles. The closing agent does most of the closing work, but you may need to provide certain documentation in the process. Get them ready as quickly as possible.
Your closing agent will schedule a date for your closing. Here’s how to prepare for your closing day.
Real People, Real Stories
Review Your Closing Documents in Advance
Closing documents should generally be available to you in advance of the scheduled closing date. Review these documents at length and understand their provisions. Here are some key documents you’ll likely sign at closing:
The HUD-1 or Closing Disclosure
Most homes are purchased with a mortgage. If this is the case on your transaction, you’ll get the Closing Disclosure summarizing the costs in detail.
If your transaction is all cash, you may get the HUD-1, although this is less common. These documents detail amounts you’re charged for, your loan payoffs if any, and the net proceeds you will take to the bank.
Remember, depending upon how much equity you have in the property, you may need to bring a check (or send a wire) on the closing date. Ensure there are no typos in your name, address, property address, bank info, and other details. Then review every amount and the totals to ensure there are no mathematical errors or inadvertent costs.
This document enables the legal transfer of title from the seller to the buyer. Read this document carefully, verifying all details including the legal description of the property, the deed book, the deed book page, and the Property Identification Number (PIN), if any.
We know of a case where a Seller sold a $94,000 property, but the deed also legally transferred over the Seller’s 5 other homes worth $680,000 over to the Buyer. There was a huge scramble post-closing to correct this mistake. It could have been a nightmare for the Seller if the Buyer didn’t honestly transfer the rest of the properties back to the Seller.
Statement of Closing Costs
This statement summarizes all the expenses involved in the transaction. This document is easier to understand vs. the HUD-1/Closing Disclosure, but they should tie.
Certificate of Title
It allows you to state that you have the right to sell the property.
If this is your first time selling a property or learning how to sell a house by owner, schedule an appointment with the closing agent before the date of the closing. Prior to that appointment, do your research and ask clarifying questions on anything you have doubts about. Readiness on how to sell your house by owner makes a huge difference.
Bring TWO Forms of Official ID
There will likely be a licensed notary involved who’ll require that you swear you are who you say you are. Take a valid driver’s license or passport for ID. Carry a secondary ID as well, just in case.
Selling a house by owner is much more complex than you can imagine. Also, learning how to sell a home by owner takes time and effort. It is more complicated than leveraging the expertise of a real estate agent, but if you can make it happen, make it happen. You can save tens and thousands of dollars and that’s why people try to do it all the time.
💰Incredible Technology, Incredible Savings
Houzeo’s technology makes FSBO easy by giving you access to tools only agents have
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top 5 most important things for a For Sale By Owner?
Ensure you price your home right; 2. Get professional photos taken of your property – remember the most attended open house will be on Houzeo, Zillow, Redfin, etc!; 3. List your home on the MLS – It’s literally the most important marketing tool; 4. Offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission – You’re saving 3% Seller/Listing Agent commission on Houzeo!; 5. Put your contact details on Houzeo, and on Zillow.
What's the biggest regret for home sellers?
According to Zillow’s 2019 Survey, the biggest regret sellers have is not starting the process of preparing to sell sooner. That’s why we’ve created Houzeo – Instant listing and marketing of your home to thousands of buyers via the power of the MLS, Zillow, Redfin, Facebook, and Twitter!
Is MLS needed to sell For Sale By Owner?
Absolutely! MLS is by far the most important tool a real estate agent can provide you. The US Department of Justice says that home sellers can save $6,200 on the sale of median-priced homes by choosing innovative services like MLS-only packages offered by brokers on Houzeo. If your home is more expensive – it’s much much more than that!
Will I have full control of my Flat Fee MLS listing?
Houzeo allows you to request all changes online giving you full control of your listing! Check out this clip on
How to Change Your MLS Listing Including Adding Open Houses… All Online! to learn more.
Will Houzeo help me select a closing agent?
We are pilot testing a feature that will allow you to select your own closing agent. Depending upon your state, that could be an escrow company, an attorney, or a title agent. Our goal is to have this feature available in most areas we cover by December 2020!
What are the steps to get my home ready for sale?
(1) Declutter and depersonalize your property.
(2) Make necessary repairs.
(3) Repaint interior walls.
(4) Organize closets and drawers.
(5) Make every surface shine
(6) Eliminate bad odors.
(7) Clean up the landscaping outside.
(8) Make the front door inviting.
How do I list my home for sale in local MLS?
First, log in to Houzeo using your e-mail, Facebook or google plus account. Click “Sell a Property” on the dashboard and fill out the address. Select a listing pan and Houzeo’s IntelliList Management System will make listing home easy and quick for you. Upload photos set a price, and sign your MLS contracts—it’s that easy, and your home will be listed on the local MLS in no time.
How long does it take to get my listing on the MLS?
After you’ve submitted your property info and all details on Houzeo, your home will go live on the same day or the next business day. The MLS system will manually enter the listing that takes extra two business days to process and activate.
What are the necessary documents in closing your home?
Review these important documents in advance before the scheduled closing date. First, the HUD-1 or Closing disclosure that details the amounts you’re charged for, your loan payoffs if any, and the net proceeds you will take to the bank. Depending on how much equity you have in the property, you may need to bring a check (or send a wire) on the closing date.
What do I need to bring during closing?
Before the closing, make sure to prepare two forms of official ID. Use a valid driver’s license or passport—and a secondary as well, just in case. There will likely be a licensed notary who will need you to confirm your identification
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