We Know: All About Selling Your House Yourself

Making The Decision To Sell It Yourself

Be certain you have the time to show your home and deal with the paperwork before deciding to skip the realtor. Though you can save a significant amount of money by not paying that commission, you should be prepared for the extra work involved.

Unless you have a seller lined up right now, selling your house yourself is not a good idea in a high-value housing market, especially if you think the prices are getting ready to peak. In these markets, houses move a little slower, and you want to sell fast to make sure you don't lose money when prices come down.

Just to let you know statistically where you are: about 30 percent of homeowners try to sell their homes themselves. Of these, 66 percent are successful. Half these successful sales go to an acquaintance. You should also be aware that most homeowners who advertise homes for sale themselves will be contacted by realtors who will try to get you to let them sell the home for you; if you decide to use a realtor, you are probably better off finding one on your own. Many realtors assume that a person selling a home himself doesn't know what he's doing, a situation ripe for abuse.

Living In Your House While It's On The Market

It's sometimes necessary to stay in the home due to finances, but this can be a challenge, particularly if you have children. If you must stay, make sure you:

  • Keep the house clean at all times, especially the day before and of a sale.
  • Keep all food items sealed in the kitchen.
  • If you can, restrict pets to a small part of the house; buyers may have allergies, and an allergy attack is a good way to kill a sale.
  • Do a top-to-bottom cleaning, especially getting rid of clutter and hard-to-spot things like curtain dust.
  • Read our article on home staging, and implement as many of its suggestions as you can.

Advertising and Showing The House

To put your house on the market, all you really have to do is post an advertisement in FiSBO or a similar publication, or just online or in your newspaper. Selling it, though, requires a little more. Some things you can do to maximize chances of selling include:

  • Write a literate and complete description of the home, including all the things about it you've always loved.
  • Advertise your home; you can put up fliers (full-color photos are smart), take out classifieds, even put together a website with images of your home inside and out. If you have a website, put the web address on all your fliers and print ads, and include it at the bottom of all your email correspondence.
  • Keep the house in perfect order, and never allow drop-in showings.

Closing The Sale

When you're closing the sale, you may find yourself negotiating a confusing sea of paperwork.

  • Work closely with the buyer's bank when completing sales negotiations to ensure you have all your financial paperwork in order.
  • If you start getting lost, consider hiring a realtor or real estate lawyer on an hourly basis just to help you close out the paperwork.
  • Be prepared to work with the buyer's agent, the realtor the home buyer retained. They may try to bulldoze you into a deal you don't want to make; the better the deal they offer their client, the better their pay will be.
  • Make certain that your buyer gets pre-qualified for their mortgage within a week; if they drag their feet, you may hold the house, only to find that they can't afford to finance the house.
  • In low-value markets, with homes with lower sale values, and wherever homes are hard to sell, you can consider financing yourself. Be wary of this; if the buyer needs owner financing, they probably won't have the best credit in the world. Get the whole story before considering it.


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