Selling Your Home: Can You Really DIY?

For sale by owner. One sees that sign far less often than you’d expect to. In this modern day and age, many people take tasks that were previously only done by experts (such as travel planning and creating legal documents) into their own hands. Yet people still rely heavily on realtors to sell their houses. Why is that?

Selling a home without an agent is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot more than putting some signs in the yard. According to the National Association of Realtors, 5 percent of all home sellers actually to sell their homes on their own at first, but end up turning to a real estate agent when their own efforts fail. What are these owners doing wrong that leads them to abandon their efforts?

Sellers, agents and Web site operators say understanding some key points might make the difference between no response to your for-sale-by-owner ads and more potential buyers than you can keep track of.

You must market and promote your home. Putting signs in the neighborhood is not enough, people who see them already live there. Find public bulletin boards in your town. Take out free ads on Craigslist. Make a simple website that potential buyers can browse. The more eyes see your home, the more chance you have of that perfect buyer falling in love.

You must be aware it will not be cheap to sell your home yourself. Registering on the MLS, paying for newspaper ads, printing fliers, even possibly consulting with a real estate lawyer before going to market. All will cost you money, but if you manage to sell your home without bringing in an agent, you will recoup your funds.

Price competitively. As in all things, value for money is what buyers like. When cable TV marketing consultant Brad Mintz was selling his duplex, he subtracted the expected 5 percent agent’s commission from the market value of his home. “If I tried to get top dollar for my house, I could still be sitting there waiting for somebody to meet my price.” Homebuyers want to feel they are getting a bargain. If your home is similar in size and amenities to others in your locale, you will get more attention by having a lower price.

Lastly, be prepared! Not only will you need to have the home show ready for potential buyers,  preferable as soon as they call so you can strike while the iron is hot, but also agents will want to view your home. They may have a client who they think the home is right for, but they may also be hoping to convince you to list with them as well. If an agent is calling or coming to view your home, be ready with your response. You don’t want to alienate someone who could bring a buyer to your door, and the agent’s knowledge of the market may be useful for your own selling efforts.