If you ask anyone who has ever tried to sell their home themselves they’ll tell you that from the moment the “For Sale by Owner” sign goes up, the phone begins to ring. Unfortunately, many of those calls will not he from prospective buyers, but rather from real estate agents looking to obtain your listing. Obviously the idea of not having to pay a commission to a real estate agent is attractive to any home seller. But because of all the issues involved in the process, selling a home on one’s own can be challenging, as many home sellers will attest to.
The key is to be properly prepared. If you are not, your home could remain on the market longer than you expect because you are not attracting and getting offers from qualified buyers. This can be a point where many homeowners become frustrated and consider giving up their dream of selling their home themselves. However, there are sellers who accomplish selling their own homes, very well. You can be one of them.
This industry report has been especially prepared to assist home sellers, such as yourself, understand the elements involved so you, on your own, can sell your home quickly and for the most amount of profit. To help you prepare, here are 10 inside tips that you should be aware of before you make the decision as to whether or not this is the right approach for you.
10 Inside Tips for Selling Your Home Yourself
1. Price it Right…Correctly setting your asking price is critical. Setting your price too high can he as costly as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace not by your emotional attachment or by what you feel your home is worth. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, objectively compare the price, features and condition of all similar homes in both your neighborhood and other similar ones which have sold in recent months. In addition, check comparable listings currently for sale. if you are asking more then your competitors, you most likely help them sell first. It is also important for you to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important as price in today’s market. Carefully budget your selling costs and prepare a net proceeds sheet to calculate your best estimate of what you will take away from your home sale. Prospective buyers may also request this kind of analysis of buying costs.
2. Prepare Your Home for Sale…First impression is crucial. Make sure your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it through the objective eyes of a buyer. Don’t gloss over needed repairs and fix-ups, as your prospective buyers won’t. Your job is to ensure that your home stands out favorably from the competition.
3. Prepare Yourself With All Necessary Legal Documentation…Not surprisingly, there are many important legal contracts and documents, which you must assemble, complete and understand. A partial checklist of forms that you will require for prospective buyers and for legal documentation is as follows: Seller Disclosure, Purchase Contract, Mortgage Payoff, Loan Application, Earnest Money Receipt, Deposit Receipt, Property Profile Fact Sheet, Buyer’s Cost Sheet, Closing & Settlement, Personal Property, Exclusion List, Property Survey/Plot Plan, Sellers Statement of Representation, Lead Base Paint Disclosure and Mold Disclosure Form.
4 Market Your Home Effectively… Beyond the sign you will put on your lawn, you should find effective ways to spread the word about your home. Local buyers can be reached through the newspaper, but this is only a small part of the market you are after. Actually less then 4% of all homes sell through the newspaper. Be sure you include the many buyers who could already be working with a Realtor®. To locate them, target as many top agents as possible in your market to see if the criteria of their buyers match that of your homes. Because out-of town and international buyers are also an important target and have a major impact in Florida, you should create a strategy to reach these people as well. Above all, you should be very service minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Ensure there is always someone available to answer the phone, pick up messages promptly, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as soon as possible.
5. Remain Objective During a Showing of Your Home…Keep emotion out of the sale of your home, and the best way to do this during a showing is to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your home, it is better to counter-balance this point of view by illustrating the positives rather than becoming defensive.
6. Pre-Qualify Your Prospects…Don’t waste your Time entertaining buyers who could never afford your home. Research their financial steadiness with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit standing before you show your house. A financialy stable buyer will not mind answering these questions. A time-waster will.
7. Negotiate Effectively & Knowledgeably… There will he many details to resolve before a sale can be considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, buyer concerns and objections. Make sure you fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can in turn explain details and ramifications to the buyer and make any amendments to the sale that are necessary. The contract you use should he thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, manage the buyer’s interest in your home so that it doesn’t wane during negotiations.
8. Know Your Buyer…Your objective during negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine what your buyer’s motivation is. Does he or she need to move quickly? Do they have enough money to pay your asking price? Knowing this information will give you the advantage in the negotiation because you will know up front, what you will need to do in order to get what you want.
9. Don’t Move Out Before You Sell…Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant. It looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could even cost you money. If you move, you’re also telling buyers that you have a new home and are motivated to sell fast which can, of course, give them an advantage at the negotiating table.
10. Know Why You’re Selling and Keep it to Yourself…The flip side of “understanding your buyer” is to “understand yourself”. Your reasons for selling will affect everything from your list price to how much time and money you will invest in getting your home ready for sale. Your motivation will help you determine what is more important to you: the money you walk away with, the length of time your property is on the market, or both. Different goals will dictate different strategies. As someone who wants to sell without a real estate agent in an effort to save the commission it is likely that money is one of your primary considerations. Whatever your reasons, however, it is very important to keep them to yourself so as not to place yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiation table. When asked, simply say your housing needs have changed.
How to Assess Your Net Gain To analyze whether or not you will end up ahead by choosing to sell on your own, consider the fact that most buyers do use a real estate agent because it doesn’t cost them anything for this service (i.e. the seller pays the agent’s fee). Be cautious, as buyers, investors and speculators who seek out For Sale by Owners are typically those in search of a bargain. The low-ball offers from these types of buyers will often net you much lower in the long run. Actually, statistically homes sold through a professional Realtor had higher nets to their sellers then sold by the owners. What you will have to judge for yourself is the following:
1. Be as prepared as possible with your marketing, negotiations, evaluations, showings and all legalities.
2. Consider what it will cost you to effectively market your home and assemble all necessary materials from the “for sale” sign to any contracts?
3. What price will a buyer offer you as a For Sale by Owner minus the costs identified in point 2 above. Is this net price higher than the once an experienced agent could net for you minus his/her commission?
For additional Information contact The Realty Team toll free at 1.800.654.4904.
By: Dona DeZube
Helping others become homeowners protects your home’s value and builds stronger communities.
When people move from renting to owning a home, they’re more likely to vote, get involved in community groups, and care about their home’s appearance. The children of homeowners do 23% better in school, according to a 2001 study by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. And a steady flow of first-time homebuyers makes it easier to sell your own starter home when you’re ready to move up to a larger property.
Make housing affordable
One way to make more people homeowners is to make housing more affordable. All U.S. homeowners benefit from policies like the mortgage interest tax deduction. Many use government-backed mortgage insurance to lower loan costs. A variety of public and private programs offer low-cost loans and downpayment assistance to help Americans become homeowners. Help prospective homeowners save a downpayment by donating to sites like EARN, a non-profit that uses donations to match funds saved by low-wage earners.
Reduce foreclosures and preserve home value
Foreclosure matters because it hurts all homeowners. In 2009, foreclosures will cause property values to decline an average of $7,200 for about 70 million homeowners, resulting in a $502 billion loss in home equity, the Center for Responsible Lending estimates. Each foreclosure within 1/8th of a mile of your home lowers your property value about 0.744 percent, CRL says.
“One of the sad lessons of the [recent past] is that we aren’t alone,” says Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the JCHS. “It’s clear that if the family next door loses their home to foreclosure, my home’s value will go down. Therefore, I have a vested interest in ensuring that people become homeowners and that homeownership is sustained over time.”
One effective tool against foreclosure is educating homeowners before they buy. The Joint Center found that loan delinquencies fell 13% with homeownership counseling. People who go through pre-purchase and post-purchase counseling and learn about mortgages, family budgeting, and home maintenance are less apt to face foreclosure, says Michael Berti, senior homeownership specialist at the Rural Ulster Preservation Company in Kingston, N.Y.
Support groups that help homeowners
One way to do your part to help other homeowners is by donating your time or money to some of the many non-profits that promote responsible homeownership.
Habitat for Humanity partners with new homeowners to build affordable housing. Habitat homes aren’t free. Homeowners work hundreds of hours, get homeownership counseling, and make mortgage payments.
The United Way supports many local programs that build affordable housing, help families build financial assets, and teach financial management skills. If you donate to United Way, you can direct your contribution to those causes.
HomeownershipSF, in San Francisco, tries to intervene where people facing foreclosure have the resources to catch up on their loan. If “the home can’t be saved, we try to get a first-time homebuyer we’ve worked with into the home as quickly as possible to stabilize the neighborhood,” says Interim Director Christi Baker.
Government programs support homeownership
Supporting federal state, and local programs that help create homeowners is another way you can expand responsible and affordable homeownership.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Authority provide mortgage loan insurance or guarantees that let people buy homes with only a small downpayment and borrow at lower interest rates.
Government-sponsored groups Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and government-run Ginnie Mae buy and securitize mortgage loans made by banks, freeing up money, so banks can keep lending.
Sites like Govtrack and RollCall help you stay on top of laws that affect homeowners.
HUD’s HOME program provides financial support to state and local housing authorities to build and renovate for-sale and rental housing for lower-income Americans.
In U.S. cities of all sizes, the HOPE VI program has funded plans to replace deteriorating public housing with new low-rise, mixed-income homes. These developments sell most homes at market rates, but designate a percentage for use by low-income homeowners.
How to get involved
You can support responsible homeownership in many ways. Retired construction contractors France and Bill Moriarity travel the country in their RV managing Habitat construction projects. “We like it because it’s a hand up, not a hand out,” France Moriarity says. Habitat volunteers don’t need construction skills and can sign up to work as little as one day at a time. Groups can volunteer together. Organizations like Rebuilding Together and NeighborWorks America sponsor once yearly volunteer events that help lower-income homeowners repair their homes.
In San Francisco, Gregg Lynn convinced 150 people from his professional network to donate a percentage of their income to EARN. Follow his lead by asking your professional network, trade association, or social group to contribute.
Dona DeZube has been writing about real estate for over two decades. She lives a suburban Baltimore 1970s rancher on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound.
Chrisha Mitchell, Realtor at 708-966-9282
By: John Riha
Published: April 4, 2011
Four great, summary ways to invest your $3,000 tax refund in your house.
Boring? Hardly. Upgrading and maintaining your home preserves its value, giving you a nice return on your investment. Plus, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors every day.
With summer on the horizon, here are four outdoorsy ideas for spending your refund.
Add outdoor lighting
Show your house in its best light, even in the evening, with an outdoor lighting scheme. You’ll enhance your home’s architectural features and play up landscaping details, plus you’ll be adding safety and security to your property.
Here’s a quick price check on a professionally installed system:
7 LED outdoor lighting fixtures to illuminate 100 feet of walkway: $2,275.
A transformer to convert household current into low-voltage: $400.
Two motion-detector security lighting fixtures: $300.
Install a patio
A backyard patio is an inexpensive way to add some sweet living area to your home.
For a professionally installed brick or concrete paver patio that’s 12 by 16 feet–plenty of space for a table, chairs, and barbecue equipment—you’ll pay about $15 per square foot, or $3,000 total. Expect a payback of 30% to 60% on your investment (plus many hours of great outdoor living).
Other paving materials include limestone, slate, and granite. Concrete is a less expensive option that costs $6 to $12 per square foot, installed.
Upgrade your deck
Make your deck more livable with upgrades that add shade, increase privacy, and provide convenience.
Shade sails provide soft, diffuse shade for areas not covered by trees and building overhangs. They’re made of weatherproof materials that never need maintenance, and come in various shapes. Professional installation of a 12-foot triangular sail costs about $3,000, including the sail and support posts.
Cable railings are thin stainless steel cables stretched between posts. They open up views and add a contemporary feel. Expect to pay $70 per lineal foot for the railings plus pro installation.
Built-in planters add visual texture and help define separate areas of your deck. Integrate their construction with built-in benches to add seating. You’ll spend $150 to $250 per lineal foot for cedar or redwood planters and benches, including materials and installation.
Replace your air conditioning
Hoping the old unit holds on for another year? New central air conditioning units require 30% less electricity and lower energy bills by 30% more than AC units made just a few years ago. You also may qualify for a $300 energy tax credit. Prices for a new energy-efficient central air conditioner start around $3,000.
John Riha has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. His 1972 suburban house has been an ongoing source of maintenance experience.
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 30, 2010
You’ve found your dream home. Make sure missteps don’t prevent a successful closing.
1. Be truthful on your mortgage application
You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent in verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to fund your home purchase. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.
2. Hold off on big purchases
Lenders double-check buyers’ credit right before the closing to be sure their financial condition hasn’t weakened. If you’ve opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan.
Although it’s tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your new home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.
3. Keep your job
The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.
4. Meet contingencies
If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you’re required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don’t stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.
5. Consider deadlines immovable
Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don’t have to ask for a delay. If you’ll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of, your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.
More from HouseLogic
How maintenance adds to home values
Reducing closing stress
Other web resources
More on calculating closing costs
More on the closing process
Click for information on buying a home!
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: August 24, 2010
When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.
1. Decide what you can do yourself
TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.
Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?
2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer
Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.
If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.
3. Check permit costs
Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.
Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.
Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.
4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work
If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems.
Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.
Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:
You’re getting it at a steep discount
You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
You know the problem can be fixed
You have a binding written estimate for the repairs
5. Check the cost of financing
Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.
If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:
Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).
6. Calculate your fair purchase offer
Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.
For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.
Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.
The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.
Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.
7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer
Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:
Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.
Radon, mold, lead-based paint
Septic and well
Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with.
If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.
More from HouseLogic
What you need to know about foundation repairs
Budgeting for a home remodel
Tips on hiring a contractor
Other web resources
This Old House remodeling cost estimates
Check the average return on different remodeling projects
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose parents bought and renovated a fixer-upper when she was a teen. A regular contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
Click here to view Chicagoland homes!
or call Chrisha at (708) 966-9787 for more information.
By: Jane Hoback
Published: January 14, 2011
Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.
De-bug the light fixtures
See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.
Vacuum heat vents and registers
Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.
To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.
Replace grungy switch plates
Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.
Neaten weather stripping
Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.
Replace stove drip pans
Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each and instantly freshens your stove.
Jane Hoback is a veteran business writer who has written for the Rocky Mountain News, Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine, and ColoradoBIZ Magazine.