When you sell a home by yourself, there are more tasks ahead of you than just putting up a curbside sign and waiting for buyers to come to your door with money in hand. However, once you do a little "homework" and have all the facts, it may be easier to decide on selling your home yourself or using a broker.
Sellers, who are emotionally tied to their homes, often price them too high. It can be helpful to do a comparative study and match your home against similar homes in your neighborhood or town. If houses are not selling quickly, you may have to set the price a few thousand dollars lower than you originally intended. You might want to consider hiring an appraiser to get an idea of an appropriate selling price.
All too often, owners skimp on advertising. In addition to the "For Sale" sign in your front yard, post others where legally allowed. Include a telephone number and show your property by appointment only. Compile a brochure or fact sheet listing the asking price, lot size, individual rooms and dimensions, heating and cooling systems (with monthly utility bills for the last year), appliances or other fixtures included, present financing, taxes, and any unusual or particularly attractive features. The Internet can also be a useful tool when selling your home. People who may be considering relocating to your city or town could view a picture and fact sheet, which could spark their interest.
It may be wise to screen potential buyers. If they seem interested, ask how much of a down payment they can make. If you are getting close to a deal, you may want to ask the buyer to supply you with a financial statement from a bank or mortgage lender. A serious buyer most likely will be happy to provide the information requested. You may even want to ask buyers if they have obtained a "pre-approval" or "pre-qualification" letter from a bank or mortgage company, so that you may be certain the funds they are offering for your house would be available for them to borrow.
If you need assistance, "homeowners service agencies" may prove a lower-priced alternative to traditional full commission brokers. These companies generally charge a flat feebased on the asking price of the houseto screen prospective buyers, arrange appointments, suggest a price, and negotiate with buyers. However, showing the house would be the owner's job.
If you decide to sell your home on your own, remember the following tips:
- Price It Fairly. Compare your house to others in your neighborhood that have recently been sold, and factor in any improvements or unusual assets.
- Advertise. Use more than just a "For Sale" sign on your lawn. Circulate brochures, run ads in the local newspapers, and put notices on bulletin boards and real estate websites.
- Screen Buyers. Before accepting an offer, ask the buyer to supply a financial statement or get mortgage pre-approval or pre-qualification.
When should you decide to discontinue selling the home on your own? Assuming a house is properly priced and in a reasonably active market, a homeowner attempting to sell without professional assistance should allow six to eight weeks without a written offer. With help from a service agency, give it four months. After that, call a professional real estate broker.
Selling a home on your own can be a great deal of work, but you may save many thousands of dollars that would normally be "lost" to real estate commissions. On the other hand, while the prospect of improving one's financial position is tantalizing, the task may be too time-consuming or beyond your expertise. Professional real estate assistance, whether from a service or a broker/agent, may "save" you more than you realize as you set out to sell your own home. As you can see, there is no perfect answer to whether or not you should sell your house by yourself. However, doing a little research and arming yourself with some information can better help you decide what is the best strategy for you and your situation. 20/20