Selling For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Guide
Selling your house ‘for sale by owner’ (FSBO) can be done these days, don’t let real estate agents or the media fool you. In fact, if you know what you’re doing and are disciplined, you can sell your house quicker by yourself than through an agent. It takes discipline, a little marketing know-how, and some guts, but the rewards can be high.
By now you’re probably thinking ‘foreclosures are rampant, home prices are dropping, the economy stinks, and my neighbor has had their house up for sale for 2 years.’ All that might be true, but our society is mobile, people want homes. I sold my house for sale by owner (FSBO), twice, in late 2007, in Michigan (highest unemployment rate in the country), in just 3 months. I’ve also bought twice now, and looked at over 100 homes in the process with a very discriminating eye.
Sold twice? Well, the first guy got cold feet before signing the papers. Selling your own house can be very rewarding, exciting, and loads of fun. It is hard work, but probably not as hard as you think. Besides, you get to keep the commission, show your house only when you want, and not have to deal with shady realtors who are looking for their own best interests. The bottom line is that nobody knows your house as well as you do and you can capitalize on that. Here is how to sell your house in 3 months or less ‘for sale by owner’ (FSBO).
Before you Buy your Home
- Buy the right house – Selling your house starts with buying the right house. Things like location, neighbors, access to shopping and highways, school reputation, taxes, and curb appeal are essential. Just as you should look for these when buying, your potential buyer is going to be looking for as well.
Week 1: Exterior
- Clean up – Get everything off of your floor and put away nicely in storage. Get rid of stuff you don’t need (donate it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army). Storage is big in a buyer’s eyes. If you have stuff laying around, the buyer thinks they would as well, and they won’t buy your house.
- Curb Appeal – To get people into your open house or to even grab your flyer your house has to grab people’s eyes. How do you do this? Make sure your grass is always green, full, and freshly cut. Also, trim up overgrown greenery, and add vegetation that looks good year-round – ornamental grasses, evergreens, ferns. Paint your house if it needs it.
Week 2: Interior
- Paint the Interior – Nothing is a bigger turn off than dirty, or outdated paint on the walls. Buy a couple of gallons of warm, eathy, modern paint colors, and spend a weekend updating.
- Update hardware and light fixtures. This is a cheap way to make your house look more updated than it really is.
- Let your hardwood shine. If you have dingy carpet covering your hardwood, get rid of it. The hardwood increases the value of your home and gives it character.
Now that your house looks great, it’s time to market it.
Week 3: Marketing
- Take great pictures – This is a very important step. Make sure that your outdoor pictures are taken on a sunny day, without clouds, with the sun to your back. Indoor pictures should be taken with a flash during the evening to add brightness and richness.
- Build a website for your house – This is free (use blogger.com or wordpress.com), and very easy. Your website should include exterior and interior pictures, your address, your asking price, your contact phone and email and a list of the following information: bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, age, updates, features, location benefits, link to a map, utility and tax information, and any other fun features that set you apart from the competition. Add Google Analytics to track where your traffic is coming from.
- Print out flyers and put in a tube outside – Sounds old fashioned, but I was going through about 20 a day, including one to my eventual buyer. Your neighbors love where they live, let them grab flyers and do your selling for you. Include the lions share of the information and the color photos that are on your website. Also, include your website so people can see more photos (direct links as showing in Google Analytics are those who grabbed your flyer).
- Put an ad on Craigslist.com (for free) – Delete and repost your ad every 48 hours. Link your ad to your website. This brought in about 25 site visits per day.
Week 4: Show your House
- Get your house appraised – Make sure you do your research and give the appraiser favorable comparables. This will give you bargaining power later on.
- Have an open house – Call everyone who has expressed interest so far to invite them. Have open houses every two weeks. Not only does this get more people in the doors, but it keeps the pressure on those who are interested. Make sure the house is as clean as can be, bake some chocolate chip cookies, and throw on some classy music for atmosphere. Give everyone a flyer and seller’s disclosure.
Continue doing everything you’ve already done on a consistent basis, and brush up on your negotiation strategy when the offers start rolling in. Good luck!
For Sale By Owner Resources
For more on selling for sale by owner, you may want to check out:
Would you try selling FSBO? If not, what are your fears?