FSBO's used the following methods to market their homes:
- Yard sign: 35%
- Friends, relatives, or neighbors: 24%
- Open house: 15%
- Social networking websites: 13%
- FSBO websites: 8%
Work Your Plan
Step 1: Clean it up. Clean up and clear out. Then, hire a staging professional for the inside of the home and a lawn care professional for the outside.
Step 2: Purchase and Sale Agreement and related paperwork: Familiarize yourself with the legal documentation required to list the home. Then, familiarize yourself with the purchase and sale agreement, counter offer and amendment documents.
Step 3: Home Inspection: Hire a reputable home inspector and avoid nasty surprises that could drive down your sold price later on.
Step 4: Legal Due Diligence: A step often overlooked, obtain a legal opinion of the legal risks that title insurance doesn't insure against. These exceptions documents are listed in Schedule II-B of your parcel's preliminary title report. You gain invaluable information that allows you to stay in control of your price and contract terms, giving you superior negotiating advantage.
Step 5: Research Market Price. More science than art, there is the Market Price, List Price, and Sold Price. A List Price within 10% of Market Price gets the attention of serious buyers and, depending on how hot the market is, should draw an Offer within four weeks. An Asking Price within 0-5% of Market Price is most likely to draw a full-price offer within two weeks. Pricing your home higher than 10% of Market Price signals that either you don't know what your home is worth or that you aren't serious about selling. If it's the first, then eventually the professional investors will circle your listing like sharks, waiting until they smell desperation. In this scenario, your Sold Price ends up being much less than Market Price.
Step 6: Market to the Serious Buyer and your personal network first: Most serious buyers have already bought the neighborhood by the time they find your home. They've identified the schools and amenities they want and your neighborhood meets the definition. They will be delighted when you put up your FOR SALE sign and be amongst the first to respond as Buyers. Populate a web page on this website with pictures, descriptions, and technical facts to share with family and friends. Finally, hold Open Houses to attract the neighbors looking for a step-up or step-down in the neighborhood they know as home.
Step 7: Multiple Listing Service (MLS): If Step 6 doesn't draw an offer after 1 month, you'll need to consider listing with the MLS. Although effective, the MLS should be viewed as a last resort. Most buyers who find your home through the MLS will be represented by an agent. However much you insist that the agent's commission be paid in addition to your sales price, inserting an agent into the deal puts pressure on your asking price and potentially bites into what you walk away with. Best to do a bang-up job on Step 6.
Step 8: Fielding phone calls. Be prepared to field phone calls from the phone number posted on your yard sign and web page. Best if the number posted on the yard sign is a cell phone.
Step 9: Offer. Don't be afraid of the first offer. There is a saying in the industry that the first offer is the best offer. Remember that there are serious buyers who know what they want and have been preparing for the right house to hit the market. They may have already been priced out of another home and don't want to make that mistake again. Know what your bottom line is and work with what the market gives you.
Step 10: Negotiations: Be prepared for negotiations and counter offers. This is where Steps 2, 3, and 4 give you the superior information to hold your ground. You know the market, you know your home and all of its relevant circumstances, and you've assigned an asking price that take all of that into consideration. End of story. You should expect a straightforward offer and clean escrow as a result. Any shinanigans and you've earned the right to send your buyer packing.
Step 11: Keep it in contract. Don't blow a good deal by not keeping within inspection timetables. Expect the same from your buyer. As long as all parties are acting in good faith, you should get through the escrow without a hitch.
Step 12: Escrow closed. The final step is closing the deal at the local title company. Deals can fall apart at this point, so be on point. However, because you've done your homework, your escrow most likely is simpler than the average, meaning that the likelihood of walking out with the check you were expecting is higher than average. This is where all the work you did pays off.
As you can see, it is a LOT of work to sell a home. It also takes planning. Start Working Your Plan at least six months before you plan on listing your home. Take each step seriously, and you should end up very pleased you did the work yourself!