You can sell your home yourself and save a ton of money. In fact, in today’s marketplace, this might be the only way to get it sold in a reasonable amount of time. Many people feel that have to stay in their home or rent it out and accept landlord liability and headaches. Neither is true. Here are the steps to take:
Curb appeal baby…curb appeal. Have a gardener go over your yard as if you were the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. I’m talking about your footpaths, trees, shrubs. Put some new flowers or potted plants on display while you’re at it.
Make sure your doormat is new and have a painter touch up the entrance if appropriate. And have the painter clean up the window sills and doors. Scrub your home’s exterior or get a service to do this for you. If you have to, consider painting the house.
2. Become or Hire a Handy Person
Spruce up the interior with new fixtures. Replace your door and cupboard handles and faucets. While you’re at it, take care of all the small jobs you’ve been putting off. A cracked floor tile. Broken blinds. Whatever. These jobs won’t take that long or cost that much to get done but can really add big bucks to the bottom line and get your home sold much faster. If you prefer, hire someone. Read my Angie’s List Review to see how.
3. Go to the Bathroom
Need I say it?
Potential buyers will project their “understanding” of your home based on their experience in the commode. If it’s dirty, they just won’t have the enthusiasm you want them to have. Replace fixtures and toilet seat. Get new towels and mats and have a potted plant in there as well.
4. Be a Peacock
Show how proud you are of your home. Make your garage spotless. Put everything in place and get rid of most of it. Same thing with all the rooms and kitchen. If possible, get rid of whatever possible. People like large homes. Clutter makes people feel cramped. Get a storage facility if you have to or sell your extra stuff on eBay, but start clearing clutter out of your house.
5. Collect Intel
Before you advertise, you need to know what your home is worth. That’s not hard to do. Go to Craigslist.com and Zillow.com These sites will tell you what people are listing homes for. Zillow will also tell you what homes like yours sold for recently. You can also hire a professional appraiser.
6. Advertise and List
Tell friends and neighbors that you’re selling your home. List it for free on Craigslist and Zillow. You can even make an inexpensive website that has more pictures and details and even a video tour showing off your palace.
Don’t stop there.
You can advertise your home on Realtor.com without having to commit to paying a commission. You can also list your home on the Multiple Listing Service. You’ll only pay a commission (2% to 3%) if the buyer is working with an agent. There are other websites that can help increase exposure and services that help you draft and post your listings. Take advantage of them.
7. Open House
Is there any law that says you have to drive a ridiculous red Cadillac and have a bad toupee in order to have an open house? Not that I’m aware of. Have yours on a Sunday and pick up some colorful flags and signs. Make fliers that list your home’s price and other details.
OK…relax. I know you freaked when you got to this section. Most people hire realtors just because they have a mortal fear of the paperwork. But it’s a groundless fear. First, make sure that you only accept offers from buyers who are pre-approved.
Next, get yourself the required documents. They are state-specific, but I have some really cool news for you. ForSaleByOwner.com has a nifty package you can get for less than $40. In it, you’ll find all the documents you need to get this transaction done for the state in which you live.
Next, you’ll want to hire a real estate attorney to go over all the documents. This should cost less than $1,000 tops.
9. Close the Deal
On closing day, you and your buyer will meet with the title company. You’ll each sign a number of documents. Then you’ll get your check and the buyer will get the keys. The only thing left for you to do is count how much money you saved by NOT using a realtor.
Can I guarantee that you can get this done in 30 days and spend less than $3,000? No. But I can guarantee that you’ll save at least 3% of the value of the home (and maybe 6%). That’s a lot of cabbage any way you slice it.
You know…my experience tells me that when I hire a realtor, they don’t really work for me. They often work against me. That’s because they are interested in getting the sale done at any price. They want to cram a sale down my throat. If nothing else, by doing it yourself you’ll be working with people keenly interested in looking out for your interests above all else.
Did you ever sell your house by yourself? What were your experiences?
What about owner financing for someone who wants to buy? How do we arrange that? Do I need an accountant, or a lawyer, or both?
Neal Frankle says
I would certainly speak to both. Here’s a post that might help thought.
Another tip is to give each room a fresh coat of paint. My wife and I are preparing our home for market and are about halfway through repainting the interior. We are matching the current colors, so all we need to do is give it one coat (if you change colors you will probably need to use two coats, which means double the expense, double the labor, and double the frustration!).
We are having a yard sale ion a couple weeks and plan to donate a bunch of stuff and put other items in temporary storage. We want our home looking as new and as uncluttered as possible!
zach zimmerman says
I just bought a home. First time home buyer here. Anyways… I wouldn’t invest much money into a home if the area is struggling. For example, if all the homes in the area are going for $100,000. If you want to put $15,000 into the home, will you get a high return on investment? Will you be able to sell the home with the updates for at least $110,000? But this article does bring up some good points. I saw some homes that seemed nice, but were extremely dirty. I could even see the dust! I am not kidding. So, some good points here.
Neal@Wealth Pilgrim says
Actually….I guess as a buyer you’d WANT those dirty houses….because nobody else does and you can get a bargain.
A friend listed her house 6 weeks ago with a commission free real estate company (that doesn’t list on mls). She’s had 4 open houses, only 2 tire kickers have come to look and is considering going with an agent. Other houses in the area are moving. She completely decluttered her house, put in some curb appeal flowers etc. after I advised her to, but it still isn’t getting any action.
I’m not sure what the issue is, I think she’s maybe overpriced, but the agent she’s going with is telling her that she won’t have to lower her price so she doesn’t think it’s that.
I was thinking of selling my own house, but after her experience, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not. But the thought of the commission for very little work is killing me. Not sure how she would get a listing on mls without a realtor though since they control the listing service?
Neal@Wealth Pilgrim says
I think the link to ForSaleByOwner (above) offers that service. You could also google that question (and then…let us all know!)
Financial Samurai says
It’s a tough one Neal. For expensive houses ie $2mil, you save like $100,000. But bad marketing could lose you $200,000 in price!
I’d do myself if the house cost less than $400,000. Anything more, best to use a great agent I think.
Neal@Wealth Pilgrim says
If you can find a great agent Sam…you could be right. But for that kind of savings, you could get a professional appraisal, interior decorator etc……
I’ve not had good experiences with any real estate agent. They seem to never care about what our needs are.
Financial Samurai says
I hear ya. I got one on my tennis team, and the good thing is, we are friends first, then teammates.. so he’s not going to fook me over.
I never understand when I see pictures on MLS of dirty houses! Want to sell your house clean it up and maybe watch one day’s worth of HGTV.
Doug Warshauer says
Lots of great information in this post. It’s a persuasive argument, but with the real estate market as weak as it continues to be, I’m not sure I’d do anything that might reduce the chance of finding a buyer. Curious what other people think?
Very informative. I always like learning about DIY methods, even if I don’t end up doing it myself. I’ve never sold a home, and was not aware of some of the advertising methods such as craigslist that are available. Good to know!