Last year, nearly 5.3 million existing homes were sold in the U.S.A. With the market doing well, if you’re looking to sell, now may be just the right time.
The question is, should you use a realtor, or do it yourself?
For those savvy self-starters looking to save themselves some serious cash, here are a few simple guidelines on how to sell your house yourself.
How to Sell Your House Yourself: 101
The thought of selling your house on your own may be a bit daunting. Still, thousands of homeowners do it every month and once you know the basic ins and outs, it’s really not too complex.
Not to mention, you can save yourself literally thousands of dollars in real estate commissions. No doubt you can come up with a few other uses for an extra 6% of your home’s selling price…
Read here if you’re not convinced of the many benefits of doing a direct sale of your home.
1. Asses Your Home’s Market Value
First things first, before you can put your home on the market you must determine what the fair market value is for your place. I.E. what is the value of your home now and what are you most likely to sell it for fairly?
This is the first, and one of the most essential steps as you could end up losing out if you price your home incorrectly.
For example, if you price the home too low, you will end up undercutting what you could be receiving for it. Price it too high and you’ll likely end up wasting months with it sitting on the market without any offers.
This usually ends with you cutting the asking price to what it should have been listed as in the first place.
How to get your home appraised:
There are really 3 simple ways to determine the market value of your home.
1. Hire an appraiser– You can hire a licensed appraiser to come in and do an appraisal of your home and property. This is a good route as you can use this appraisal when negotiating with potential buyers on price.
It can also serve as an official estimate of your home’s value. Of course, it does come at a price. Most appraisers charge several hundred dollars to do a thorough report.
2. Use a valuation website– This method is a bit less accurate but very easy. Sites like Zillow or others will give you an estimate of your home’s value with no cost to you.
Beware, however, that you take a big risk doing a valuation this way. These sites give good estimates, but when you’re estimating something as large as a home or property value, a guess can still cost you several thousand dollars.
3. Hire a realtor- You may not be using a realtor to sell your home, but you can have them come do a market analysis. An agent can take a look at what other comparable homes are selling for in your area and give you a projection of what your home could sell for.
2. Clean, Minimize and Prep
When it comes to prepping your home for sale, the old adage, “less is more” is absolutely true. Clutter is the enemy of home sales. It may sound pessimistic, but it’s, in fact, wise to look at your home from a critical viewpoint.
If you were a potential buyer, what would stick out to you as a negative point? Get rid of it, fix it, repair it, or redo it.
If you struggle to be objective about your own home or property, get a friend or honest family member to take a look.
Things to assess and change if needed:
- Curb appeal– does your home offer a welcoming, charming, neat outside?
- Feng Shui– does the energy in your home flow? Create a good feng shui by letting in lots of natural light. Clear out all the clutter. Create free space for walking and if you can, don’t store anything on the floor.
- Check the garage– is your garage organized or does it look like a hoarder lives there? The garage is an often underestimated space for home sellers. Organize it well enough that you leave room for potential buyers to envision their own possessions fitting inside.
- De-personalize– interestingly, the less personalized your home is, the easier it is to sell. By this, we mean that you should try and have few family photos visible when potential buyers come. Again, it’s easier for a potential buyer to envision themselves living in your home if there aren’t pictures of your grandmother hanging above the bed.
- Make minor repairs– Got a leaky faucet? Fix it. Broken mirror? Replace it. Burned out light bulbs? Switch them. You get the idea.
- Clean and freshen– Maybe you’ve seen it in the movies, but any time a potential buyer comes to take a look, throwing a roll of cookie dough in the oven isn’t such a bad idea. In all seriousness, make sure your home smells fresh and clean and that there are no spots on mirrors or other unsightly messes.
We’ll make this simple. Get a yard sign, have an open house, and list your home online.
When you’re selling on your own, you need to do all you can to get word of mouth working in your favor. Hang fliers, or posters, whatever you need to do, market that puppy!
It’s definitely worth investing in an experienced photographer to take photos of the interior and exterior.
4. Negotiation and Closing
Once you have an offer, it will be your responsibility to work out terms with the buyer. There will inevitably be some back and forth so determine beforehand how low you are willing to go before you accept an offer.
You will also be responsible for drafting your own contract once you receive a written offer. You can find state-specific contracts to use as templates online.
Your contract needs to include every tiny detail of the sale, including the closing date and location. Determine with your buyer where you’d like to meet and close. This is usually in a title or lawyer’s office.
DIY Your Home’s Sale
You can definitely learn how to sell your house yourself. With a little Googling and some serious grit, you can have a rewarding experience being your own real estate agent.
If things become discouraging, just remember the potentially tens of thousands of dollars you’ll be saving by doing it yourself. Best of luck!