Are you wondering how to sell your house yourself, without the help of a real estate agent? Known as a “for sale by owner,” or FSBO, some homeowners take this route to avoid paying real estate agent commissions. While this may save money, keep in mind that the process is far from easy. It involves a lot more than just sticking a "for sale" sign on your lawn. So before you make any decisions, check out this step-by-step guide to see if selling your own home is right for you.
1. Evaluate the current market
The first step in learning how to sell your house without a realtor is to get a pulse on your local real estate market. You should determine if you are in a buyer’s or a seller’s market - knowing this can help you price your home correctly and determine the right time to list it.
A buyer’s market is an area where more houses are listed for sale than active buyers ready to purchase them. If you’re trying to sell your property in a buyer’s market, your home may remain on the market longer before you’re able to secure a buyer due to the large number of available properties.
A seller’s market occurs when there are more buyers seeking to purchase homes than there are available homes on the market. This often leads to multiple buyers interested in a single property, resulting in bidding wars. A seller’s market is a fantastic time to sell your home as you could secure a sale price that’s higher than your listing price, or at least more than your bottom line.
2. Choose your list price
When learning how to sell a house by owner, setting the right price for your home is one of the most important steps. First, you can use a home value estimator to get an idea of how much your home is worth. You should also review recent sales of comparable homes in your area to get a better sense of where you should price your home. Look for sale prices for homes with similar square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size. When in doubt, start with a lower asking price. Overpricing by $10,000 can cause your home to sit on the market and ultimately force you to sell for less than if you had priced it right initially.
3. Prepare and stage your house
Walk through your home and note everything that could be improved or updated. You can then make small updates like repainting walls to neutral colors and updating appliances to help boost buyer interest. Once you’ve made home improvements, you can hire a home staging company for your entire home or just a few rooms. If you choose not to stage, then you must clean and declutter. Remove personal items like family photos, so potential buyers can easily envision themselves living in your home. If necessary, rent a storage unit to temporarily store all but the most critical pieces of furniture and decor.
4. Take listing photos
When navigating how to sell your own home, one of the most important steps you can take is investing in high-quality listing photos. Most homebuyers search for homes online first and photos are the first thing they’ll see. Hire a professional photographer to make sure your home leaves a good impression. A Redfin study found homes with professional photos sold for $3,400–$11,200 more on average than homes without professional photos.
5. List your home online
When you sell your own home, advertising is key. Find a few for sale by owner (FSBO) websites to list your home online. Websites like these typically charge a flat rate, plus the cost of additional services. You should also consider listing your home on the MLS. Your local MLS is the largest and most accurate database of for-sale homes. Unfortunately, only licensed real estate agents can post listings, which is one of the main hurdles for FSBO listings. However, services exist that will charge you a few hundred dollars to list your property on the MLS through what’s called a “Flat Fee” listing. Search online for "Flat Fee" MLS to find similar services in your area.
6. Further market your home
Yard signs and listing your home on FSBO sites and the MLS shouldn’t be the end of your marketing campaign. You should also consider advertising your home using some or all of these strategies:
- Create physical flyers or brochures that includes all of the basic information about your home.
- Tell friends, neighbors, and coworkers that your selling your home.
- Create a YouTube channel and post a professional-grade video tour of your home.
- Post ads for your listing on Craigslist and share your listing on neighborhood and community pages, such as those on Facebook or Nextdoor.
7. Be available and know your home’s selling points
Get ready to answer questions and show your home to potential buyers at a moment’s notice. It’s also important that you know your home’s selling points, as you are the one marketing it to potential buyers.You know your home better than anyone else, so you know your home's best features. Most likely they are the exact same ones that sold you on the home in the first place.
8. Hire an attorney
Real estate agents take care of all of the contracts, paperwork, and fine print of a home sale transaction. Without the assistance of an agent, you should find a real estate attorney to tackle the details of your home sale. Your attorney will work up a purchase and sale agreement, help negotiate the terms of the contract, and review related paperwork and loan agreements.
9. Wait for the right offer...
Skilled listing agents find highly qualified buyers to sell your home for the most money. Selling your home without an agent means you’ll need to do the extra work to find the right buyer. If your home is priced right, an offer will typically come through in 30–45 days. In the meantime, brush up on your negotiation skills if you receive multiple competitive offers or an offer below your list price.
...or lower the price.
If you don’t receive any offers, you’ll most likely need to lower your asking price. Keep in mind that the longer your home sits on the market, the more you may end up lowering the price. Avoid price drops altogether and choose the right list price from the beginning.
10. Close the sale
Safeguard yourself from costly consequences and ask your attorney to review your purchase and sale agreement with a fine-tooth comb. Then hire a title company or escrow officer to take care of the closing process. If any liens come up in your title report, work with your title agent or attorney to resolve them and successfully close the sale.
Want to sell your home but don’t know where to start? Talk to a Redfin listing agent in your area.