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Should You Sell Your Home By Owner?

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At the outset, I would say that I am not against individuals selling their home by owner. Everyone may not need to hire a real estate agent/broker to price, market, show, negotiate, contract, inspect, and facilitate the closing of a real estate transaction. But do you? Whether or not you should sell your home “by owner” depends on the time and experience you have to see the transaction through closing.

Often when I visit with someone that is trying to sell their home without a real estate agent, they are surprised at the amount of work it takes just to get to the point where someone wants to purchase their home. They may encounter numerous trips to and from the residence for appointments to show the home to individuals that do not have the financial ability to purchase the home. On the other hand, there may not be a single telephone call to view the home or no one seeks to see the home after they know the asking price. Others may find someone that wants to purchase their home, but neither party knows how to close the transaction after an agreement has been reached on the price. Where you fall on the spectrum as to whether or not you should use a real estate agent ultimately depends on your familiarity with real estate transactions and the time you have dedicate to the deal.

After visiting with numerous landowners that attempt to sell their property by owner, I have identified several areas that often get overlooked and delay/impair the sale of the home. Hopefully, this list will give you some insight as to whether or not you are up for selling your home “by owner” or whether you should hire a real estate professional to assist you in the transaction.

Correctly Pricing Your Home

If you do any research about selling your home on the internet, you will see that “pricing your home correctly from the start” is a phrase that keeps popping up in the “Top 10” lists about selling your home. It is no secret that if the price of your home is too high, many buyers will never take the time to come see your house because they will assume that you are not serious about selling your home. Getting the price right will reduce the market time on your house and encourage buyers to put their feet inside your home. But how do you correctly price your home? It is rather simple if you have access to the data and know how to manipulate it. Generally, homes are priced by comparing the property to other similar properties in the area. Adjustments are made to the home based on the differences noted in the comparable properties (up or down) and you reach an opinion as to what the property is worth. Usually, homes will be valued per square foot ($$/sq. ft.) basis and listed at that price.

The biggest issue that appears is when a property owner learns that a home nearby sold for a specific price and they immediately assume their property is worth the same price without any comparison. For example, a nearby home sold for $400,000. The home was 4,000 sq. ft. and recently remodeled. You have a 3,000 sq. ft. home that was last updated in 1980. Is your home worth $400,000? I would say… it depends. You have to consider all the factors regarding ever sale of property in order to reach an opinion as to what any given property is worth. Without completing the analysis you are risking overpricing your home or even worse undervaluing your home.

Showing Your Home to Buyers

Another item that keeps popping up is the difficultly in making the home available for viewing by potential buyers. Many selling their home by owner have to completely forgo their normal, everyday life to timely show their homes. If the home is gaining a lot of attention in the market, many sellers have to spend their entire day “showing” the home. Further, dealing directly with a homeowner to show a home occasionally makes it more difficult for real estate agents to bring in potential buyers. Real estate agents and their buyers often have tight schedules to view homes. If a seller cannot accommodate the schedule, then your home loses out on a potential buyer.

If you list with an agent, the seller’s responsibilities with showing are essentially eliminated. The seller basically only has to keep the home clean and tidy so that the home is available for a showing on short notice and the agent handles the rest.

Marketing Your Home

Another item that seems to be lacking in homes listed by owner is exposure for the property. The key to selling your home quickly is ensuring that there is enough exposure to the marketplace so a potential buyer can find your home. It is almost always necessary for your home to have a yard sign notifying potential buyers that the home is on the market. Additionally, the home should be listed on popular websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist, among others. Print media is questionable because in the delay in publication, but it can be a good resource as well in rural markets and for advertising an open house. Most often the driver to exposure in the local market is being listed on the local MLS. Because placing a listing on the MLS is restricted to real estate agents, you will have to find an agent that will list your home there and it will likely cost you a fee. You should also consider hiring a professional take photographs of your home. If your photographs do not spark an interest in potential buyers to see the home, you are likely missing out. There are other creative ways to market your home; you just have to evaluate the exposure you obtain with each.

With a real estate agent, they will develop the marketing plan for your home. It will include a sign, open houses, listing on the local MLS, and other forms of advertising to gain exposure to the market. Also, most firms have a syndication service to place your home on popular websites. Our service places your home on over 900 websites including Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist.

I would mention here that several real estate brokerages are no longer listing their properties on Zillow and Trulia. This is in part due to either a lack of information or some perceived issue with the information contained on those websites. I cannot understand why any brokerage would abandon the Number 1 and Number 2 real estate websites in the world with their properties. You cannot get any greater exposure regardless of any shortcomings of the websites. While you may dispute aspects of the sites, you cannot dispute the exposure they can bring your home.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Often individuals attempting to sell their home by owner set themselves up for failure before they even post a sign. This is because many owners do not prepare their home for potential buyers before they invite them into the home. It is vital that sellers take some basic steps to get their home in “selling shape.” This would include decluttering the home, making necessary repairs, cleaning the yard and enhancing the curb appeal, and staging the home. Buyers want to feel like there is no work to be completed on your home and that it will provide them with all of the space they need to be comfortable. So take some time to repair all of the “small, cosmetic things” in your home and remove at least ½ of everything in your closets. If you kept your favorite couch or recliner from college, it’s time to move on. Remove the dishes you do not use to free up cabinet space and organize the pantry. Go through each and every room of the home and remove everything that is not necessary for daily life. If you do not want to donate or trash the items, place it in storage. Your goal is to make your home to feel fresh and roomy.

I hate to bring this up, but there is one thing that has pushed my buyers away from homes faster than anything else – pets. I know you love them and they are family; but to increase your odds of selling your home quickly, you need to find them a temporary home, remove all of their items (bowls, litter boxes, etc.), and have the home professionally cleaned. I can’t count the times that someone has said they do not want the home regardless because they are allergic to a pet or that they have to plan on repairing the damage to the home by pets. Often the odor alone keeps people from even viewing the property. So if you are planning on selling your home, you must consider any impact that your pet has on the property.

Closing the Deal

Finally, a large hurdle for by owner sellers is completing the sales contract and closing of the sale. If you have a buyer that is not represented by an agent, then you will most likely have to retain an attorney to provide you with a written contract reflecting the terms of the sale. This can be expensive and if not completed correctly may leave you without legal recourse if the buyer happens to bail on the transaction. If you are not sure about drafting a contract or what it takes to close the real estate deal, then it is vital that you contact someone who is familiar with the process. You need to make sure you are protected in the contract and you know what obligations you have to the buyer. If you proceed without these protections, you may expose yourself to a lawsuit after the real estate transaction is finalized. Again, if you are familiar with the process, you can complete the deal. However, it is wise to proceed with caution.

I hope that you have found this post to be of some benefit to you. Know that there is nothing wrong with selling your house by owner if you possess the knowledge and time to dedicate to the transaction. However it is not for everyone. If it is not for you, we would love to assist you in the sale of your home. If you plan to go at it alone, we would love to work with a buyer for your home. Once you are ready to sell, just shoot us an email so that we will let our potential buyers know about the availability of your property.

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