With record-high home sales prices translating into larger sales commissions paid to listing agents, many sellers are choosing the For Sale By Owner option, now much more feasible thanks to Internet services that allow sellers to easily and inexpensively market their homes to an increasing number of buyers who are going online to search for property.
But selling a FSBO home can be frustrating and unprofitable if not done properly. Sellers who aren’t prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to pull off a successful FSBO sale will probably be better off — emotionally and financially — enlisting the help of a qualified real estate agent.
Still, those willing to do the extra work necessary can often save tens of thousands of dollars by selling FSBO. The following tips should help prospective home sellers understand the basics of a successful FSBO sale. For more details, see our in-depth FSBO Seller’s Guide.
Establish Your Asking Price Carefully
Overpricing your home, which is common for FSBO sellers, can stifle interest from potential buyers. There’s also danger in setting your asking price too low. Although some sellers set a low asking price to attract interest from more buyers in hopes that a bidding war will ensue, those sellers risk walking away with less than fair market value for their home. To best establish an asking price for your home, you should evaluate recent comparable sales and asking prices of local properties up for sale. Find comparable sales and local listings online.
Stage Your Home Simply
A cluttered home makes it feel smaller and often distracts buyers from what you’re trying to sell them — the home itself. They walk away from your home remembering the dirty clothes strewn across the floor or the sprawling DVD collection instead of remembering the location, square footage and floor plan. Buyers typically respond most positively to clean and bright homes (a paint job can do wonders) that don’t have too many personal items displayed.
Market Your Home Smartly
A smart marketing plan will ensure that you sell your home for the highest price possible within the timeframe that you need to sell. Casting a wide net is a key ingredient to a smart market plan. Although good signage is important, you shouldn’t just plant a sign in the front yard and wait for people to drive by. Find ways to get your property in front of as many eyeballs as possible. This could include advertising in a local paper or hosting an open house and placing open house signs throughout your neighborhood. Sellers who post their homes online take advantage of the marketing power of the Internet, which more and more buyers are using to search for property.
Show Your Home Flexibly
If you’ve set an appropriate asking price and employed a good marketing strategy, it won’t take long for interested buyers to start contacting you to schedule a walk-through of your home. You need to be as flexible as possible in accommodating these buyers. If you make them wait too long, they could move on to the next property. Avoid trips out of town and keep your home as clean and clutter-free as possible so it’s staged for buyers at all times.
Negotiate Your Purchase Agreement Confidently
When you receive an offer from a buyer, take some time to carefully review the offer and respond confidently within the timeframe specified by the offer (typically a few days). Avoid the temptation to give a knee-jerk response such as taking offense at a lowball offer and rejecting it outright. Instead, you could respond to a lowball offer with a counteroffer that sticks close to your original asking price. Conversely, don’t accept an above-asking-price offer without reviewing all the terms of the offer to make sure the buyer isn’t asking for a condition that you’re not willing to accept.