Greetings, my friends! I have a question for you. Have you ever sold your own house instead of using a realtor? Well, my husband and I decided to test the waters and list our home as “for sale by owner.” Guess what we discovered?
To recap, my husband is retiring in a few months and we are heading home to our native North Carolina from Pennsylvania. Our families live in NC and we have a lake house there. We are really looking forward to moving back home! Since we are not in a rush to sell the house up North, we decided to list it ourselves. After much research, purging, cleaning, painting, etc. we put our house on Zillow as “for sale by owner.” (FSBO) We have learned so much in a short time and I want to share with you what we discovered. Maybe it will help you too!
*First of all we began by cleaning the house inside and out. We purged closets, drawers, cabinets, storage areas, etc. Trust me, start this process well in advance of selling your home! Donate, sell or trash things you no longer use or need or in poor shape.
*We did touch up painting as needed and did minor repairs such as replacing a broken smoke detector and a few hinges here and there. Try to think of things that will come up in an inspection and beat them to the punch. When my in laws sold their house the inspector came up with 40 pages of items. (and their home was spotless and meticulously maintained!)
*We had the house and carpets professionally cleaned.
*A talented neighbor (who is also a brilliant photographer) took interior pictures of the house for us. Because it is still winter and the outside of the house and pool aren’t the best looking, we found pictures from last summer when the house and yard were lush and green. Case in point. This is how the house looks in the winter versus the spring. Big difference, right?
This way folks know how pretty the house and yard typically look. This is how I picture it in my mind anyway.
We download the pictures to Zillow and chose our list price based on comparables in the area. Then we listed the house as FSBO on Zillow and Trulia. You definitely want the pictures to showcase your house in the best possible way! (Libby Smith’s wide angle lens and sharp eye captured our rooms in the best light!)
Here are a few things we are learning in the process….
1-When you list your house FSBO on Zillow be prepared for a ton of phone calls from realtors. They compliment you on your beautiful home and wonder how they can help you sell it quicker and better for top dollar? Plus, you get lots of literature in the mail offering the same. If you aren’t interested in listing with an agent yet, tell them so and usually they take it pretty well but just want to know if they can check back with you in a few weeks. (and they do.)
2-There are curiosity seekers. People that want to see the house but can’t necessarily afford it or aren’t ready to move yet. But, you show it to them anyway in hopes they may know someone who can afford it and is ready to move. Still a pain because you clean and turn every light on, etc. for each and every showing. Also be prepared for realtors who want to “preview the house”. They don’t necessarily have a buyer, but they really want to see the house and be the first to drop off their “Propaganda”.
3-Most importantly: As a seller you CAN negotiate a lower commission fee with certain realtors. We received a few fliers in the mail offering a total discounted broker fee of 3.75%. It would break down as a commission rate of 1.25% for the seller’s agent and 2.5% for the buyer’s agent. MUCH better than the usual 6% fee (3% per agent). This will save thousands of dollars! Also if you are listing as FSBO, you can negotiate a lesser fee if an agent brings you a buyer. We are offering a 2% broker fee but you can negotiate even less!
4-Everyone says spring is the best time to sell a home. Visually yards look better in the spring. I know ours does. But, in the winter inventory of homes tends to be lower which makes selling more competitive. (and the real estate agents seem more willing to work at a discounted rate.)
5-You can list your home FSBO AND get on the MLS without hiring a realtor. There are several companies such as Houwzer who offer a full service flat fee of $995 plus a 3% fee for a buyer’s agent. They will take professional photos and videos and list your home on all of the social media including MLS, etc.
6-Also you can pay a flat fee of $195 via www.ListingExpress.com. They will list your home on MLS and hundreds of local and national real estate websites. (for that one time fee)
Bottom line is you can sell your house by yourself with a little knowledge under your belt! Until now, we always moved via a corporate move through my husband’s work. His company always handled the move and paid the real estate and closing fees. Now that it’s up to us, we are trying to save where we can. And now that we realize the commission fees are negotiable, we will take advantage! I mean, why pay a real estate agent 6%? Will they come help me vacuum and clean the bathrooms before a showing? Or make sure the lights are on, everything smells nice and the table is set with fresh flowers? I’m guessing not.
Our plan is to continue trying to sell the house ourselves for a few more weeks. We have several showings scheduled and if nothing pans out we will list with a realtor. At the reduced rate, of course. There is a line of realtors willing to take the lesser fee so we have options. My advice to you is begin the process as soon as possible so you won’t scramble at the last minute.
I hope these tips will help you when you go to sell your home. Now we know we can negotiate a lower commission. This will save us thousands of dollars in the long run and will give us more spending power on the other end. Fingers crossed!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Thank you for stopping by! xox Dell