Selling Your Own Home – An Outline
Selling your own home can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Though listing with an agent is probably the best plan, I won’t leave you do-it-yourselfers without some helpful information. In the right market, it may make sense to save the commission and do it yourself – if you know what you are doing. Use the outline here to do it right, and to avoid common mistakes.
First Understand Home Value
It’s not what you think your house is worth, and it doesn’t matter how much you put into it. The value is only what it’s worth to potential buyers. See what they’ve paid for similar homes before you decide on a price. Do a market analysis – don’t just guess. Over-pricing can cost you as much as under-pricing.
Selling Your Own Home – The Rest Of The Story
Be objective. Get your most honest and open friend to walk through the house with you. He or she will see problems you didn’t even know were problems. “Sell” the home to him, telling him all the benefits of buying your house, and get his honest opinion of your sales technique.
Make a thorough plan. What will your kids say to those who call? Where will you close? Will your documents be prepared by an attorney? Plan well, and it will all go smoother.
Make a list. What needs to be repaired, cleaned, changed, or removed? Always do the most obvious things first. More on this in coming chapters.
Prepare the house for sale. Beyond the obvious cleaning up and repairing, look for easy improvements that will increase the value of the home.
Prepare your sales pitch. List any questions buyers might have, and be ready with answers. Prepare comparison sheets showing other home sales, so buyers can see the value in your home. Make a map showing nearby stores and libraries, etc. Sell the benefits, not the features. Never say “near stores.” Instead, say “You can walk to the store in five minutes.” Don’t just say “garage.” Try “No chipping ice off the windshield in the morning.”
Put crucial information your advertising. Include the square feet, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the address, your telephone number, and the price. If you leave out the price, some buyers just won’t call, plus you’ll waste time with others who shouldn’t be calling.
Listen to buyers. One mistake sellers make talking to buyers is to get defensive about their home. Listen to the criticisms, and resolve them or ask how important the issue is to the buyer. In other words, try to learn a little about selling.
Have forms ready. You don’t want a buyer to say, “I love the house. I’ll get an offer form somewhere tomorrow and then I’ll be back.” He might see another home he likes before then. Have copies of an “offer to purchase,” or “purchase agreement” form ready. In real estate it is only legally binding if it is in writing. When you are selling your own home, you need to have ready the same tools that a real estate agent would have.
Have a clear sales agreement. Be sure it’s understood by both sides. What happens, and when? What if the buyer doesn’t get financing? What’s included with the sale? When will the buyer take possession? Who pays the closing fee and the transfer tax? More on this in later chapters.
Make closing easy. Choose a closing company before you even have an offer. Have documents ready to sign. Prepare answers to likely questions. This will probably be the largest financial transaction in your buyer’s life, so make him comfortable.
Use this basic outline, and you’ll be doing better than the average seller when selling your own home.