SECRETS FOR SELLING YOUR HOME ALONE
Maurice Gilmore, LLC - 239-319-8082 MauriceGilmore.com/ Sellers
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2020 Authorify Publishing
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Table Of Contents
Why People Sell FSBO
The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Selling FSBO
What Are The Costs Of FSBO?
Staging Your Home When Trying To Sell By Yourself 27
Determining The Right Price When Selling Your Home By Yourself
Advertising Your House
Showing Your Home While Selling It Yourself Using Curb Appeal To Sell Your Home For More
Staging Solutions And Options
10. Preparation For Negotiation: Screening Buyers
11. Negotiating On Your Own
12. How To Write A Contract And Sell Your House Without An Agent 13. Inspections And Closing: Getting Things Done Without An Agent
About Maurice Hi, I am Maurice Gilmore of MVP Realty Associates. My past experience in the Banking and Life Insurance Industry has enabled me to be one of the most knowledgeable, loyal and confidential Real Estate Professional in South West Florida, specializing in the Naples, Ave Maria, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Estero and Fort Myers communities. For the past 19 years I have been honored to serve in this beautiful slice of paradise that I have been blessed to call home for over twenty years. Every transaction is serviced with exceptional class and distinction whether it is Luxury Homes, Pre-construction, New Construction, Resale, Foreclosed homes or Land. Buying, selling, or leasing; please allow me the privilege of making your Real Estate experience stress-free. Register today for instant access to MLS listings and email updates. This information will assist each client in confidently making the best decisions specific to their unique real estate needs. Also ask about our FREE Guaranteed Buyers and Sellers Programs and how you may QUALIFY for New Home Builders and Realtors incentives? As an Accredited A+ member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) my services will be offered at the highest level of ethical, professional standards and principles in the industry. I will always be accessible to clients throughout the transaction and even years after closing…
What Others Have To Say About Maurice I have found Mr. Gilmore to be extremely professional and considerate throughout the purchase of my property. He made the experience very stress free and straightforward. Expertise and specialism was demonstrated at all times and I would refer back to him for any future purchase or sale. Is there anything you wish Maurice Gilmore did differently? Nothing that I can think of. How did the agent help in finding the right property for you? Kept me informed of the different type of properties available and which would suit my purpose and lifestyle in my price range. How did the agent help to get a good price for you? He negotiated with the selling agent with my authorization. — Audrey Lucas. Maurice was a great help with our home search. He was very knowledgeable, and answered all of our questions at any time, day or night. He helped us get the best rates, and negotiated very well. He checked on us throughout the whole process. Maurice started as our realtor and ended as our friend. I would definitely recommend Maurice Gilmore to my family and friends. — Brandy Vasquez, Client "Maurice was knowledgeable, helpful & professional when I was dealing with him while trying to decide on a location to build in Naples. He took us to several developments during the process before we finally decided on one. He was never pushy or high pressure and in fact, long after I had moved into my house, I still considered Maurice a friend! It was a pleasure working with him." — Mrs. Janet Evenson, Client
"This guy is super when it comes to helping customer find a home so I know him since 2004, when I buy my first home and I closed one last May because of good service he provided to us and I will be more than happy to recommend him to someone else." — Mr. & Mrs. Leslet & Anne Rose Jean Charles, Client "We found Maurice to be an excellent realtor when we were selling and buying our property. We live in the UK and it was very reassuring to be able to completely trust and rely on Maurice to take care of things for us. He has excellent local knowledge and took the time and trouble to show us properties in several different locations, when we found the right place for us he proved to be a skilled negotiator and was able to get us a good discount on the original asking price. Maurice is professional, honest and trustworthy with a great personality and sense of humour. I have no hesitation in recommending him." — Mr. & Mrs. William & Debbie Neech, Client "My husband and I bought our first home in 2005 and Mr. Gilmore was our realtor. He diligently guide us throughout the whole process. When we purchased our second home, he was just as diligent. He is very professional and you can absolutely rely on him to respond to you no matter what time of the day or night Maurice is a professional and knowledgeable Realtor on anything regarding Real Estate. You can call or text Maurice anytime and he will respond shortly. He is the best Realtor in South West Florida. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to make a real estate purchase or rental in Naples to Fort Myers. I’ve experienced such a smooth transaction from start to finish with Mr. Gilmore. He is such a great realtor to work with! — Jeannette Ruiz-Ayala with any concerns. He is Awesome!!" — Sylvia & Dermot Brown, Client
Mr. Gilmore is a professional Realtor servicing the Fort Myers to Naples Real Estate Market. He is never too busy to take your calls and will get you an answer real fast, he is available for his clients. He helped us find our dream home and we are very happy. I will definitely recommend Maurice to anyone looking to buy, sell or rent a place anywhere in the U.S. — Patricia Williams Maurice provides an excellent realtor service. He listens, he is responsive and provides great customer service. He made the process of home buying seamless and efficient. I would definitely recommend Maurice to anyone needing this service. — Suzette Jones As a first time home buyer Maurice and his team made this process so smooth and stress free. I can’t thank Maurice enough for his patience and professionalism in helping my find my dream home in such a challenging year. He guided me through the process from the start until after I got my keys. I am truly grateful. — Orville Cole One of the best Realtor helped me find a wonderful home for an amazing price. Maurice G. is the best Realtors I have ever met in my life. He is so kind and treated us like we were family. We are so thankful, he found us one of the best houses for the best price in Naples and for that we are very happy. He's so generous and one of the nicest people I've met. So I want to say thank you to Maurice for helping me and my family find a wonderful home. — Donna Marilyn Forbes
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CHAPTER 1 Why People Sell FSBO
The advancement of technology constantly boosts the market and improves our standard of living. However, with an increasingly flexible job market, we are often required to move in order to grow personally and to develop our professional careers. All too often, this means that while we are preparing for one big change in our lives, we also need to deal with selling our homes. We all know that owning a home is preferable to and financially wiser than renting. However, when it comes to moving, selling a house might not always be as easy as it seems. While some people consider the convenience and ease of selling through an agent the absolute best way to go, others come to the conclusion that the thousands of extra dollars they might be able to make by selling their house on their own are worth the time, effort, and trouble that selling on their own might entail. As one may expect, the complex real estate market has its own tips and tricks that people should abide by in order to make the most out of their sale. Let’s see what makes people sell FSBO, as well as the pros and cons of this highly debated practice.
#1—WHY DO PEOPLE CHOOSE TO SELL BY THEMSELVES?
FSBO, or “For Sale by Owner,” happens when homeowners decide to put their house on the market and advertise it without the help and support of a professional real estate agent. Going FSBO means that the owner must know how to professionally market and show the property, negotiate an advantageous selling price
for the house, and, of course, be sure to get all the necessary paperwork completed for the eventual home sale. That last part usually includes finding an attorney to draft the necessary sale contract, as well as a title company to help complete the sale. Unsurprisingly, all these tasks can turn out to be pretty challenging for someone who is not fully prepared to take on such an imposing task. It’s also important to do extensive market research beforehand in order to avoid unwanted surprises. Based on reports and surveys, a substantial number of people who start out confident about going FSBO end up either losing the sale or giving in and hiring an agent. So, if you are determined to sell your home on your own, make sure you have the energy and the time necessary to perform all these tasks before setting out to sell your home all on your own. Given all the hassle it entails, why do people decide to do without an agent? The number one reason why people decide to sell their homes without an agent is to save money. A real estate agent usually charges about 4% to 6% of the selling value as commission, and that can give a lot of home sellers pause. Now, in exchange for that sum, the real estate agent brings vast experience and a wealth of market-specific knowledge that can truly benefit the seller. Agents also usually help owners set a fair, realistic market price for their house. A well-balanced price is crucial in order to sell the property successfully in a reasonable amount of time. Still, 4% to 6% of sale price can be a sizable sum, and many more self-reliant homeowners may decide it’s worth the extra effort and risk to handle the sale solo and pocket the extra funds. However, a lack of expertise among average homeowners looking to go FSBO has its consequences. The National Association of
Realtors® and Bankrate.com have reported on their sites that most FSBO homes are overpriced. That is true, and is usually a natural effect of people not knowing the actual cost of their property and the value of their hard-built equity, combined with a desire to draw as much profit as possible out of the sale. Unfortunately, overpriced properties are far less likely to be sold and have a much higher chance of scaring off potential buyers. While the issue of correct pricing can be bypassed with some solid real estate and community sales market research, the following negotiations cannot. It is a known fact that a lot of owners who lack professional presentation skills and/or developed negotiation skills end up selling their houses at far lower prices than they are actually worth. Statistically, a professional real estate agent manages to sell homes for a price that is, on average, about $27,000 higher than the prices private homeowners settle for. So, considering all of this, saving 4-6% of your house value in commission may be tempting at first glance, but is it really worth it considering the much larger percentage you might stand to lose on the final selling price? If you lack negotiating skills and you don’t know anything about the real estate housing market, hiring a high-performing professional real estate agent might be a small price to pay. You’ll also get a fast, sweet deal on your property and get the matter resolved with a nice profit—depending, of course, on what the market can offer. You get to work at your own pace, give the house a personal touch, and make all the decisions. Some of the other factors that frequently encourage homeowners to go the FSBO route are the privacy, knowledge, and decision- making elements of a sale.
It is clear that the owner knows their house best, making it easy for them to focus on promoting the good aspects of the house and downplaying the bad. With this, however, comes the challenge of cleaning and preparing the house for a viewing. Cleaning and preparing means that the house needs to be thoroughly cleaned inside and out, and emptied of personal objects and unnecessary furniture in order to make the house look as cozy and comfortable as possible, while simultaneously making the space seem neutral and adaptable. The seller must not only be able to present the house in an appealing, professional way, but must also help the buyer imagine himself living there—all while negotiating the best possible price. As for decision-making, FSBO does indeed grant the owner the authority to make all the decisions involved in the sale without having them brokered by an agent. That brings a definite plus as far as individual privacy goes, considering that the owner can schedule any and all viewings according to their own availability and preferences. The final price negotiation will also take place between the owner and the buyer, without an extra person in between. That sounds nice enough in theory, but in practice, it has its downsides. Making all the decisions and negotiating the final price yourself entail a huge amount of responsibility. That responsibility is particularly hard to bear for those with no real estate experience and/or no extensive house market pricing knowledge, and is a major contributing factor to just how many FSBO sellers end up agreeing to sell their house for less than the listed market value.
#2—THE UNEXPECTED CONS OF FSBO
The debate over real estate agent vs. FSBO sales has been getting more and more heated over the past several years. However, even
if the necessity for and role of real estate agents have been seriously questioned, they remain America’s favorite means to sell and buy homes. Statistically, approximately 80% of American home sales are brokered by professional real estate agents. Numbers don’t lie—most people prefer to use an agent. With such a huge majority, it’s worth looking into just why so many sellers choose not to go the FSBO route. To that end, let’s review some of the cons of FSBO in the attempt to further understand why so many people choose professional support when it comes to selling their homes. Selling the property as FSBO takes longer than an agent sale and requires extensive time and effort from the owner. Selling a home on your own is no easy task. On the contrary, it requires specialized knowledge, hard work, time, skill, and dedication to make it happen. Simply cleaning and preparing the house for a showing can be a challenge in and of itself without professional help and counseling. A home that has not been properly cleaned and prepared for sale will give the buyer the impression that the owner has been slacking off on basic home maintenance, and will be reluctant to pay as high a price as they might have if they had seen the house looking its best. Too little cleaning, or too clumsy a staging, and you could wind up with a substantially lower price when you finally do make the sale. The owner must also consider that real estate agents present and sell homes as a full-time job and, therefore, must be prepared to devote a considerable amount of time to presenting and marketing the house they aim to sell if they aim to do so without professional help and support. Trying to find the hours and energy to handle a real estate agent’s job, as well as whatever other obligations you might have can be a serious challenge, especially for the
Moreover, the owner of an FSBO house might find themselves stuck with those extra duties for a lot longer than they expect: it is a well-documented fact that houses take considerably longer to sell through FSBO than they do when handled by a professional real estate agent. At the end of the day, when choosing between FSBO and a real estate agent, one must be prepared to make a realistic assessment of just how much effort they are ready to invest in this endeavor, and how much their time is worth. Listing a house as FSBO enjoys better support nowadays, but is still a far cry from the real estate agent pool. FSBO listing now enjoys far better online support than it did a few years ago. There are several networks that specifically support FSBO properties and their owners, and offer nationwide listing services and marketing tools, all at low or flat rate prices. However, they struggle to compare to the more extensive, more established resource pools that real estate agents usually tap into. This more restricted support structure also contributes to the house spending more time on the market before selling, further inconveniencing the owner. FSBOs are usually overpriced—but still end up selling below market price. Very few of the owners who opt for FSBO have extensive knowledge of the housing market or finely honed skills in the real estate trade. Between that and the emotional factor of a homeowner’s bias, combined with a natural desire to profit from the sale, causes owners to overprice their homes. Overpricing frequently scares off potential buyers, leaving the house on the market for, yet again, a longer period—which can be a real disadvantage to those who want a fast sale or actually need the money.
When these houses actually get interested customers, the owner is likely to end up accepting a lower price than a real estate agent would have—either because they are in a hurry and growing desperate, or because they simply lack the negotiating skill and experience needed to successfully navigate such an involved process. Overpricing at the start only to end up accepting a final selling price well below the real market value of a property are two of the most common mistakes people make when selling FSBO. Many buyers don’t trust FSBO and prefer to work with a real estate agent. With a transaction as costly and important as selling and buying a home, trust is of paramount importance. Sometimes out of fear of getting scammed, sometimes just because they think it will offer a smoother bureaucratic process, buyers usually prefer to work with real estate agents. The professionalism and experience of a high-performing agent inspires confidence in buyers that they’ll be able to sail effortlessly through the sea of paperwork that comes with the real estate market. This puts FSBO homes at a clear disadvantage, no matter how you look at it. As the cliché goes, after all, it is a buyers’ world out there.
What does all this boil down to?
At the end of the day, with all factors considered, FSBO can be a great strategy—but only for good negotiators who have great real estate trading skills and a lot of market knowledge, are in no hurry to complete the sale, and are willing to dedicate a considerable amount of time and work to the process.
Selling a home FSBO represents a huge responsibility for the owner. Having control of everything also puts all the decisions and all of their consequences on the owner’s shoulders. However, if you feel up to the challenge and are in search of an adventurous new experience, selling your own house is definitely the way to go. On the other hand, if you find yourself busy, have no time to put in the required research, or cannot afford to take the required time, it is strongly recommended that you opt for a real estate agent instead. The same applies if you find it difficult to expend the effort needed to prepare the house for showing, or think with dread about the numerous home presentations you will have to make, or are simply not confident in your negotiating skills. While some might not have the necessary skills to handle negotiating or the hassle of the paperwork, others might simply value their time enough to choose a real estate agent and the benefits that come with this choice. Whatever you choose, make sure you take the time to consider all the details of your different options. Your house is a life investment, and selling it is a big decision. Make it count!
CHAPTER 2 The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Selling FSBO So, why do people want to sell their own homes without relying on the help and support of professional real estate agents? It keeps coming up time and time again: to save money. Depending on the service used, the commission fee for a real estate agent’s services generally ranges from 4% to 6% of the total property sale amount. In order to avoid this, some people try to sell their property on their own in the hope that it will allow them to save some money. Unfortunately, they forget that agents are trained to do this for a living and know all the special tricks and skills to do it right. It is their job, and at the end of the day you’d be hard-pressed to find an amateur—no matter how enthusiastic—who can be relied upon to outdo a trained, experienced professional. The untrained owner risks stumbling, along the way to a sale, upon a host of unclear, seemingly minor bureaucratic tangles and marketing difficulties. Fees and fines are obvious drains on profitability, but just as costly are delays, postponements, and missteps when it comes to courting buyers and negotiating with—in all likelihood—someone who is in fact a real estate agent. This puts the owner at a disadvantage, preventing him from making the property sale efficient, smooth, and most importantly, lucrative. Let’s look at the most common things people tend to overlook when spurning professional real estate agents and their extensive experience.
MISTAKE #1—MISUNDERSTANDING THE CORRECT MARKET VALUE OF THEIR PROPERTY
You should always know the proper market value of your property as early as possible when you decide to sell. An overpriced listing of the property will end up scaring off potential buyers; underpricing will net you a fast sale and a much smaller profit than you could have had. On the other hand, selling at the correct market value can cost you some of your hard earned equity. In order to get just the right listing price, the property needs to be evaluated carefully, from a neutral perspective. Influenced by their emotional attachment to the property in which they have spent so many days and nights, many sellers tend to add value to some distinguishing aspects of the house, its character, its quirks—not realizing that a potential buyer might consider those same things a hindrance. It might be anything from room decorations, or tapestries, or wall painting, to more substantial structural changes—whatever the case, anything that requires renovations or costs money to remove might not appeal to the client. That is why a neutral evaluation is an important thing to do before listing the property on the market—take a step back, try to detach yourself from your home and look at it as just a house. Ignore all your experiences there, and try to see it as a buyer will. There are lots of variables that can affect house’s pricing. These aspects include size, location, number and quality of services in the area, availability of reliable public transportation services, and neighborhood reputation, among many others. Pricing will also be subject to the regular house market pricing levels of the area, of course—no house is an island (or at least, not for the average buyer or seller!).
Homeowners lacking real estate agent-specific training and experience are faced with the almost impossible task of evaluating all the aspects that affect the market price and the variables within that—many of which change with the seasons, sometimes literally, as one fad or trend waxes and another wanes. Real estate agents have extensive, current knowledge of the setting trends of the marketplace, and the contacts and resources to make sure that knowledge stays up-to-date. They are also experts in pricing, and all the little details that affect it. They have the professional skills to evaluate the selling property neutrally, as they do not let their emotions affect the quality of their work.
MISTAKE #2—NOT MAKING THE PROPERTY AS ATTRACTIVE AS IT CAN BE MEANS FAILING TO MARKET IT PROPERLY
One of the most common mistakes in FSBO comes up in property marketing. When the private seller starts to advertise his or her property, it is important to provide pictures that make the house seem as attractive as possible, paired with a detailed and professional description. Failing to give all necessary information—or, worse, giving outright incorrect information—to a potential buyer is a quick and surefire way to torpedo a possible sale. Unfortunately, it is exceptionally easy to give too little or too much information on the details of your house. Making professional and tempting property ads is a challenging job, and like most other aspects of home sales, it requires either experience or extensive research and preparation to get it just right. Part of that preparation lies in understanding that, with a little work and investment, many aspects of the house—even things you might have considered its weak points—can be positively presented. Carefully and thoroughly cleaning and arranging the
house is essential before any showing. Investing in a few plants and storing away personal items and unnecessary pieces of furniture can make the house look cozy without being too personalized to appeal to someone with different tastes than you. Failing to do so, on the other hand, can imply sloppy maintenance and a general lack of care, and can reduce the earnest interest of potential buyers. If your property has them, taking good care of gardens and walkways can do wonders for the first impression you give to potential buyers; even the front door can make a difference, so clean up the whole face of the house in particular! It’s also imperative to fix all the minor potential flaws of the house. A little renovation can go a long way and really boost the property value. When it comes to the furniture and details, consider getting help! If you aren’t absolutely confident in your own ability to walk the fine line between a neutral and inviting home and a bland, sterile one, using the services of a professional staging expert can do wonders. There are trained service professionals whose only job is to make your house look just right for a showing. It is important to remember that potential buyers will have every little detail under a magnifying glass, since they are preparing to invest a lot of money in whatever property they decide to buy. In contrast to owners, real estate agents are professionally trained when it comes to property presentations. They will make sure the house looks as presentable as it can ever be. They will use every trick in the book to make the presentation as pleasant and convincing as possible. They might change the lighting of the rooms, rearrange some pieces of furniture, or offer refreshments and snacks to visiting buyers. They will do whatever is needed to make the premises look as cozy and comfortable as it can be in order to persuade the potential buyer that this is the perfect place for them. Anything beyond their expertise can be handled by one of the specialized professionals mentioned earlier—professionals with whom most agents maintain contacts, often allowing you to
get a better deal on a reputable expert.
Real estate agents also have full training on how to “seal the deal,” leveraging all that cleaning and staging and detail work to create the strongest possible negotiating stance from which to bargain. After all, no matter how much you spruce your home, there’s a limit to how much that alone can help you if you aren’t a skillful negotiator when the time comes. Professional agents can easily weed out the most promising leads among a crowd of potential buyers or a long list of visitors from a series of showings, and know how to coax them to the table and then to the contract.
MISTAKE #3—MARKETING IN THE WRONG PLACE: FAILING TO USE THE RIGHT CHANNELS
A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is, simply put, the way to go. Many property owners who want to sell their home—be it a house, an apartment, a condo, anything—fail to market their property as well as they could because they don’t want to spend hundreds of “extra” dollars to list their property on the MLS. This is one of the greatest mistakes people can make when selling FSBO. An MLS is basically a huge, comprehensive database of homes for sale, connections to real estate agents and other buyers and sellers, and market information, which is routinely used by real estate brokers. It’s a very good way to attract the interest of many potential buyers, as well as their buying agents. Even if you decide to go FSBO, working with buying agents is the way to go in order to obtain a fast sale. Real estate agents have access to MLS. That is a big part of how they are able to find potential buyers for any and all of their clients. They usually also have tons of personal and professional contacts to refer back to when needed, though, which is more difficult to replicate than MLS access.
Unlike owners, an agent trying to sell a home is working on commission. Striving to obtain a hot deal at the highest possible price is in the agent’s best interest—even more than it would be for the owner. Someone looking to sell their house FSBO certainly wants the best deal, but an agent needs it. They will throw all their skills and experience into getting that perfect price because, at the end of the day, agents make their living this way, and being able to uphold a good reputation for high sales prices is crucial to a good real estate business.
MISTAKE #4—NOT UNDERSTANDING THE NECESSARY PAPERWORK
Not knowing what papers you need to sell your property can cost owners opting for FSBO dearly. There are lots of documents and many disclosures that need to be signed and submitted for filing throughout the home sales process. A seller needs to consider scheduling appraisers, arranging necessary inspections, and meeting a whole host of other conditions. Failing to meet requirements in terms of accuracy and timelines might cost the owner and buyer extra money and time—quite possibly in the courtroom. That is why all official documents and agreements involved in the sales contract must have been cleared and executed within a set, legally binding time frame. Real estate agents have thorough training when it comes to the timely handling of all the necessary paperwork related to a property sale. When it comes to contract terms and necessary documents, real estate agents hardly ever make mistakes; it’s part of their job to do the paperwork right. They have their reputation to uphold because without it they don’t have a job, so they are going to do their part to finish everything in an accurate and timely manner.
MISTAKE #5—NOT KNOWING THE TERMINOLOGY OF PROPERTY RIGHTS
It is easy enough to welcome potential buyers inside your house and give them a tour, but when they start to ask about escrow, oil-, gas-, and water-rights, maybe even about the possibility of leasing the property, do you know what to say to them? Most people don’t, another mistake many people make when selling FSBO. This is also a reason people use real estate agents, as they are trained to easily respond to questions the average person would never have any reason to even think about. Unlike private owners, real estate agents are trained and experienced at considering all of the details buyers may want to know more about. Agents will often have a checklist of any and all matters that could affect the property, and they will have answers prepared for all of them, just in case, as a professional should. Again, it’s their reputation and expertise on the line, so mistakes and misinformation are something they are motivated to avoid at any cost.
MISTAKE #6—SLIP-UPS IN THE HOUSE PRESENTATION
Selling a house is an art. It’s all too easy to make a mistake describing something with sentimental value to someone who doesn’t see it the same way. It’s easy to use the wrong kind of adjectives, or to exaggerate and say the wrong things at the wrong time. What seems like wholehearted and innocent praise to you might actually be annoying to a stranger. It is often quite hard for an owner to present his or her property neutrally, simply because of the emotional attachments linked to it. That can be a hindrance to the sales process and is another common mistake made by people who sell FSBO.
On the other hand, real estate agents have the advantage of
professionalism and detachment when it comes to property presentations. They know exactly what words to use to make the sale happen. They can show less desirable traits of the property in a better light. They don’t have emotional biases that drive owners to focus on the wrong elements of a home. To repeat, selling is an art, and no one makes for a better artist than an agent when comes to selling property.
There are plenty of blunders to be made when selling your own property without professional support. You need to be available for all contacts, set up all of the home showings, and answer a host of questions. There is much to do. The house itself needs to be clean and free of unnecessary furniture, pets, and personal objects. It might even be a good idea, if you have any, to find somewhere else for the kids to be. Real estate agents have experience dealing with all of that. They present houses on a daily basis, all year long. Where you, as a private owner/seller, might stumble, they will succeed. Again, they have extensive training and long histories of experience in the field. As a rule, they are familiar with all of the mistakes and problems that might occur to complicate the process. They know how to dress up the risks, take advantage of the loopholes, and avoid the downsides of the deal, since it’s in their best interest to do so. Real housing market knowledge and professionalism is something you can only achieve through training and experience. That being said, selling For Sale by Owner really is a perfectly good option for those with real estate experience and good negotiating skills. For anyone else, though, selling FSBO is not recommended unless accompanied by thorough research on the subject and a great deal of free time and patience. Try to avoid the most common mistakes people make when selling FSBO and refer back to a professional real estate agent if you feel overwhelmed; it
is usually possible to consult with one for advice, even if you refuse to retain one to handle the proceedings themselves. Selling your house is important. Make sure your home gets the attention it deserves as your most important financial investment. The result will be well worth it.
CHAPTER 3 What are the Costs of FSBO?
When engaged in a transaction, it can be difficult to understand all of the costs. Regardless of whether an agent is involved or you are selling the property on your own, you are going to have costs. This chapter will help break down the different costs involved so you can easily understand the expenses associated with selling your house—while putting more money in your pocket with these proven strategies.
BREAKING DOWN THE BOTTOM LINE
Included in this section is a list of the most common costs that you may incur while selling your property. Some items may not be relevant to your specific situation, but if they are, you may find it helpful to write in the amount for each section.
Back Payments and Taxes = $________________
When you go to sell your house, if you have missed any payments, or if your house is in foreclosure, there may be back payments that you will be required to catch up on. There may be other liens on your house as well, including Home Owners Association (HOA) fees, taxes, or other payments. One important thing to keep in mind is that there may be penalties tied to these back payments, liens, or taxes. These extra costs are important to factor in from the start because you will not be able to sell your house until they are paid.
Loan Pre-Payment Penalties = $________________
Some loans, usually non-government loans, have a pre-payment penalty. A pre-payment penalty means that if you pay off your mortgage too quickly—typically within the first five years—there is a penalty. If you are unsure if this applies to you, track down your paperwork and see if you have a “pre-payment penalty” or “pre-payment rider” attached to your loan. If you do, that section of the paperwork should outline the terms and conditions surrounding it. Sometimes, there is also a penalty for settling the loan within a set period, regardless of the circumstances. Other times, there is only a penalty for specific situations. FHA, VA, and USDA loans never have a pre-payment penalty, but other non-government (or “conventional”) loans often do. This penalty can impact your bottom line, so it is important to know if you have a pre-payment penalty and what its terms are.
Holding Costs = $ _________________
Holding costs are the expenses that you still incur while you wait for your house to sell. Most real estate experts suggest you will need to pay about 4-6 months of payments even after you have listed your house. Some of these costs include: • Monthly mortgage payments • Monthly taxes and insurance • Utility bills: electricity, water, gas, trash, etc. • Maintenance: lawn care or snow removal and the like • Pest control Research statistics from Realtor.com indicate that nationally, homes are on the market for an average of about 86 days. Looking at your area’s average days on market, or their “inventory age,” gives you a good idea of how long your house might stay on the market before a sale actually goes through. This information is accessible either through Realtor.com or through Zillow.com. 20
To gain a better idea of what your holding costs may be, we will use the national average of 86 days, or about three months. Once an offer is put in on your house, the buyer’s lender usually takes about 45 to 60 days to close; however, that process can be even longer, depending on the circumstances. Keep in mind that until you officially sign the closing documents, you are still responsible for paying your monthly mortgage payments, no matter how sure the sale seems. So, if your house is on the market for three months, and then you have to spend at least two months in the contract, you will end up with a minimum of five monthly payments. Regardless of whether you are living in your house or not, you will still be responsible for its monthly mortgage payment and holding costs. You may run into a situation where you accept an offer from the buyer, start the closing paperwork, and then—at the last minute!—the contract falls through. According to Realtor Magazine, about one-third of all real estate transactions fall through at one point or another in the process. If this is the position you find yourself in, you may need to fix whatever problems caused the failure and start the whole process over again—adding more months of holding costs to the picture.
Transaction Expenses = $ ______________
Commonly referred to as “closing costs,” these expenses may account for 2-3% of the total amount of the loan. If you live in a high-cost region like California or New York, closing costs may be much higher, and can account for roughly 5-6%. If you are unsure of the average closing costs for your area, you can talk to a lender who specializes in your county or state.
Fortunately, transaction expenses are typically negotiable between
the buyer and seller, so if you can negotiate for a higher selling price in return for paying some of the closing costs, it can go a long way toward helping the sale, as the buyer will not have to bring as much to the table.
Cosmetic Fix-Ups = $ __________________
Most houses need some kind of cosmetic improvements, whether that means new carpet, fresh paint, or yard work. If you want to sell your house for top dollar, your house needs to be in excellent, move-in-ready condition. When buyers view your property, they will always be mentally assessing what they will need to change or update—and how much it’s going to cost them to do it. If they choose to put in an offer, they take these changes into consideration, which may lower the purchase price they are willing to propose. Properties that are in move-in-ready condition generally sell faster and for a higher price than properties that have not made any renovations or changes. In today’s market, a FOR SALE sign is simply not enough to sell your house. If your house needs more than just paint, carpet, or yard work, you may need to consider selling it as a fixer-upper or adjusting the price to include the cost of any more involved renovations needed. Remember: this can limit your potential buyers, but if you invest in those minor cosmetic changes, you will definitely see a faster selling time and a higher purchase price.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Selling a house without a real estate agent can save you thousands of dollars in sales fees; that much is true. However, the savings might not be as dramatic as you would expect. The fee charged by an agent usually covers many of the costs associated with selling a house, rolling those other fees into the agent’s commission. Furthermore, the time involved in selling a house is transferred to
the FSBO seller, and if that person is working, that can translate to more money lost in time taken off work. A meaningful amount of time and money are involved in selling a home, even when you sell it FSBO. Other costs involved in selling a house without a real estate agent include:
Determining the Sales Price of the Property
The seller can do this by comparing recent sales prices of similar properties in the area and adjusting their price to match those, hoping to hit the market sweet spot, or they can employ the services of a professional appraiser (which usually cost $350 and up).
Writing a Sales Contract
You can get a real estate attorney to write one up for you, or you can purchase a boilerplate contract or find one free online (overall, this process usually costs $200 and up).
You can purchase a listing on an MLS, but will have to do so from a real estate agent, as agents are the only ones that can list on MLS. If you use this option, you must also stipulate a commission fee that you are willing to pay a buyer’s real estate agent ($200-$500 for the MLS service, plus a 2-3% final sales price commission fee).
Advertising the Property
Advertising costs can vary widely, depending on what methods you want to use. Several websites, like Craigslist, will list a house for no cost; others, like eBay, can charge for a fixed-price listing. Advertising materials such as FOR SALE signs, brochures,
pictures, or classified advertisements can become costly as well (anywhere between $50-$2,000 on average, depending on which methods are chosen).
Requesting a professional home inspection is strongly recommended for many FSBO sellers. Most buyers will hire a professional inspector to find any flaws or deficiencies in the house they are considering purchasing. A seller is held liable for any deficiencies in the house that they know about, or that they reasonably should know about. Having a home inspection done on their terms gives the seller guidance on what a buyer will find in the house, and offers the seller a chance to repair any deficiencies before listing the house for sale ($200-$500).
Surveying the Property
Having the property surveyed is important in order to define the exact scope of the property being sold. Usually, you can find this information in a local tax office and, for a small fee, you can get a copy of the official documentation of the property’s boundaries ($15-$200 or more).
Most real estate agents will hold at least one open house, but you’ll need to prepare your house and advertise for your open house on your own ($100).
There are a lot of other possible costs involved, including (but not limited to) the following: staging your house to impress buyers,
independently assessing the buyer’s financing, your own financing of the deal, house warranties, the closing attorney, and negotiating a deal with the buyer.
COMPARING FSBO TO USING AN AGENT
Choosing whether to sell your house FSBO or through a real estate agent depends on your situation and how motivated you are to take on this process by yourself. There are plenty of options and resources available to you that can help with selling your house, but as seen in the previous section, costs can become quite hefty, even without paying for an agent. When you use a real estate agent, most of those fees are covered in their commission rate. Even though 6% seems like a lot, when you break down the costs individually, it isn’t that much, and it can be counted upon to expedite the selling process. All in all, selling FSBO is likely to net you a lot less money saved than you might expect, in return for a lot more work, time, and stress.
If you start planning ahead of time, you may find ways to reduce some of the costs involved, either by handling the tasks yourself or getting competitive bids. There will always be some sort of unanticipated expense involved—that’s just the way of the world—but there are plenty of costs than can be predicted and prepared for. Before the sale, here are some expenses you should expect: • Cosmetic repair, whether that means painting, window washing, carpet repairs, landscaping, or other fix-ups. • Staging your house to help impress buyers can be very valuable, but can cost you in storage fees, rental trucks, or new furnishings. If you choose not to stage your house 25
entirely, it is still wise to add a few decorative or new items to your house to make it look fresher, less lived-in. • Pre-inspection reports and other holding costs are inevitable. When it comes time to close the deal, you’ll hopefully get a good payout, but there will still be some expenses, including: • Real Estate Agent commissions, credits to the buyer, transfer taxes, house warranty for the buyer, capital gains tax, and moving costs.
CHAPTER 4 Staging Your Home When Trying to Sell by Yourself
How Much More Money Can Staging Get?
According to the National Association of Realtors® (Jan. 27, 2015), “The majority of homeowners know how important it is to make a home bright, clutter-free, and clean while on the market.” However, according to Realtors®, sometimes, going the extra mile and staging a home can significantly boost its market value, giving the seller more money in the end. According to Chris Polychron, who is NAR president and an executive broker, “Homeowners should try as much as possible to carry out thorough home management practices such as brightening the home, keeping it clean, and fixing any major aesthetic-related issues.” Another good idea is to stage a home to help potential buyers visualize themselves living in it, increasing the perceived value of the home by the buyer and the actual monetary value for the seller. In a survey carried out on Realtors®, 49% of real estate agents believe that staging a home has a great effect on how a buyer views the home; another 47% are convinced that only on some occasions does staging have an impact on how a buyer views a home. Only the remaining 4% said that the perception of a buyer is not in any way affected by staging a home. On the buyer’s side of the issue, Realtors® believe that there are several ways staging a home affects the views of buyers. 81% of Realtors® said that buyers are more likely to see the property as a future home, and 46% said potential buyers are willing to walk 27Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108 Page 109 Page 110 Page 111 Page 112 Page 113 Page 114 Page 115 Page 116 Page 117 Page 118 Page 119 Page 120 Page 121 Page 122 Page 123 Page 124 Page 125 Page 126 Page 127 Page 128 Page 129 Page 130 Page 131 Page 132
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