Q: I love reading your informative columns. My husband and I are thinking of selling our home. With the sellers market so hot right now, we thought maybe we could forget hiring a realtor to sell it and sell it ourselves. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Selling your home without a real estate agent can save you many thousands of dollars in commission, but it is not as easy as you may think. You will have to invest a lot of time and some expense doing the work an agent would do, such as advertising, marketing and showing your home, as well as negotiating the price. You will also have to handle all of the legal and financial paperwork involved in the transaction. But if you are still determined to sell your home yourself, here are some tips:
Line up a real estate attorney before you start the process. Don’t wait to find a buyer to get an attorney. Be proactive and have one waiting in the wings. A good attorney can help you navigate the process and handle the legal work that will be required once you accept an offer. Things move fast at this point, so having an attorney already lined up will save time and frustration.
Set a realistic price for your home. The biggest mistake owners selling their homes without an agent make is under- or overpricing their property. Many people think their homes are worth more than they are. Leave emotions out and set a price based on facts. Check online pricing calculators such as Zillow.com, which gives an estimate of your home’s worth based on square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and its location. Check local property records, such as your town’s assessors office or county clerk to compare your home’s assessment with others in the community, and what comparable homes to yours have sold for in recent months. You could also hire an appraiser to give you an estimate of your home’s value. Finally, be aware that buyers expect a For Sale By Owner property to cost less because there is no real estate agent taking a commission out of the sales price. Consider all these factors when pricing your home.
Next week I’ll talk about staging, marketing and advertising your home and negotiating with potential buyers.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and Out of Darkness.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.