Typically, if you want to sell your home, one of the first things you would do is contact a real estate agent or brokerage to get your house listed. For the majority of sellers, the thought of dealing with legal proceedings and paperwork without representation is daunting and off-putting. But these days, more and more sellers are choosing to sell their homes without the help of a realtor. While it may seem like a difficult task, especially for those without any experience in real estate, it’s entirely possible to do. It is essential, however, that you make sure you go through the process thoroughly and correctly to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts with potential buyers.
It is legal and possible to both sell and buy a home without agents involved. But it should be noted that it’s no easy task, especially in the case where neither the seller nor the buyer is being represented. If this situation applies to you, make sure to be thorough, do your due diligence, and contact a lawyer for help with any legal matters that arise. In the end, there is an advantage to selling your own home, because if you can manage the process successfully, you can potentially save yourself huge amounts of money.
The biggest advantage of selling your home without the help of a real estate agent is that you can avoid paying their commission. Typically, you would pay about 6% of the sale price of your home to cover the agent’s commissions. This amount is usually split evenly between the buyers and sellers agents. However, if you sell your home yourself, you can avoid paying the 3% for a listing agent. Think about it; if you sell your property for $300,000, that’s $9000 extra dollars in your pocket!
It’s also a great way to ensure that you have complete control over the sale yourself. You can choose how you market your home, how you show it, how much you sell it for, and how you negotiate, without the input of a real estate agent.
Of course, this all depends on you having enough knowledge to know what you’re doing. But the good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help you with organizing the sale process of your own home.
For Sale By Owner houses typically fall through more often than those sold by an agent, usually because the owners don’t know how to correctly price, negotiate deals, and market their home. Selling a house is a lot of hard work! So be prepared to put in the leg work in order to get a successful sale and earn enough money to make it worthwhile.
As with anything, there is a downside to selling your home on your own. It’s likely to be a much more difficult task than you may think. Seller’s agents do a lot of hard work to market and finalize a sale, so be prepared to put in some serious time if you plan on going it alone. Firstly, it might be more challenging to market your home than you think. With an agent, your house will be put on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Plus, agents provide access to an extensive network. If you don’t have this advantage, you may need to put some thought and effort into how you make your property visible to potential buyers.
Another glaring issue is that, when buyers know a home is for sale by the owner, they may try to negotiate lower than they typically would otherwise, and without any representation yourself, you might find yourself getting swindled! On average, homes that are sold by their owners fetch less at the end of the deal than they would have if there had been a seller’s agent involved. This is not only because finding the correct sales price and marketing the home is trickier, but also because it’s easier to find yourself being victimized by tough negotiating on the part of a buyer’s agent.
It’s also essential to do a lot of research about the laws and regulations in your area. You should be aware of everything that is legally required of you as a seller, and make sure that you have all the necessary legal paperwork ready before you consider inviting buyers to view your home.
According to real estate professionals, here are the top reasons that homes for sale by owner fail to reach their goals:
- The list price of the home was wrong from the start.
- Not making the home accessible when the buyer’s schedule dictates.
- The home was not appropriately prepared to sell. This can include fixing items that should have been repaired as well as knowing how to stage a home properly.
- The home was not marketed properly, including presentation, photography, and internet exposure.
- Not knowing how to properly qualify a buyer to ensure they can get a mortgage.
- Not knowing how to negotiate home inspection repair requests.
- Being stubborn enough not to offer a buyer’s agent a commission if they bring a buyer.
- Perform Market Research
- Decide on the Home's Asking Price
- Market the House
- Show the House to Prospective Buyers
- Gather the Paperwork Required to Sell a House by Owner
- Pre-qualify the Buyer
- Hire an Attorney and Close
1. Perform Market Research
The first step for selling a house without a realtor is to do plenty of research, so that you know how to price your house competitively. This is important, as without using a comparative market analysis (CMA) or the help of your agent, you’re at a disadvantage in knowing what you can actually expect to sell for.
2. Decide on the Home's Asking Price
After looking at comporable homes and getting a feel for the market, you will need to decide on an asking price for the house. It may be a good idea in the case of For Sale By Owner homes to hire an appraiser to tell you how much to list your property for.
3. Market the House
One of the toughest things you'll need to figure out when selling a house without a realtor is how you’re going to market your property. You won’t have the advantage of listing it on the MLS (unless you want to pay), so you’ll need to find more creative ways to entice buyers. If you live in a busy neighborhood or on a street where plenty of people drive past, merely making use of for sale by owner signs may do the trick.
If you want to spend the money, it is possible to pay a fee (usually a few hundred bucks) to list your home on your local MLS. It’s also important to understand what’s special about your home and market that to potential buyers. If you have a great backyard or a beautiful view, those are important selling points that can really make a difference. If you don’t live somewhere where sticking a sign on your front lawn is likely to work, try advertising online, on social media, or hosting an open house. Be careful of your safety if you decide to let strangers into your home. It is important to lock away any valuables.
4. Show the House to Prospective Buyers
Once you’ve figured out how to find buyers, the next step is to get your home ready to show. Clean it thoroughly and keep it organized, it’s also a good idea to remove pictures or personal momentums to help anyone viewing the home to imagine themselves living there. Picture a show home, and then try to make your house look as close to that as possible.
5. Gather the Paperwork Required to Sell a House by Owner
At the point where it comes time for a buyer to put in a written offer on your home, make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork ready to roll. You don’t want to waste time, turn buyers off, or look unprofessional by being disorganized.
6. Pre-qualify the Buyer
Be prepared as the biggest obstacle during closing tends to be the buyer’s mortgage. If you are selling your home yourself, it’s essential to do your due diligence early on and make sure that a buyer is pre-qualified for the loan. This way, you reduce the chances that your will hit a bump in the road at closing where there are issues with the mortgage.
7. Hire an Attorney and Close
If you manage to get through all the steps of selling your home without the help of a real estate agent, make sure that when it comes to closing, you have legal representation. Closing is a legal affair and should be handled by either a closing attorney or a title agent. Most of the closing process will also be handled by the buyer’s agent, but it’s likely you’ll be asked to provide documentation, which is another reason why having your paperwork ready to go is important.
Below is a comprehensive list of all the documents you will need to sell your own home (may vary by state):
- Original Sales Contract
- Professional Appraisal
- Records of home repair and maintenance
- Payoff amount for your mortgage (mortgage statement)
- Insurance Records
- Receipts from any improvements
- HOA documents (if applicable)
- Warranties and manuals
- Preliminary Title Report
- Mandatory Disclosures
- Pre-Inspection Report
- Comparative Market Analysis
- Listing Agreement
- Seller’s Net Sheet
- Purchase offer
- Final purchase and sales agreement
- Contingency removal form
- Home Inspection Report
- Appraisal Report
- Closing Statement
- Tax Forms
Typically, the majority of the paperwork is easy to find or obtain from your lender. However, people often struggle with paperwork that usually requires a lawyer, something that a brokerage will provide for you. If you do not have a real estate agent and are selling your own home, you may be able to find a free printable real estate purchase agreement pdf online. It is advisable to seek legal counsel when it comes to a purchase agreement or sales agreement, as these legally binding contracts need to be accurate to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts. The same is true for any other paperwork that is a legal contract, such as the deed. Since the deed is a physical, legal document that transfers title or ownership of the home, it may be best to consult a lawyer if you have any questions regarding the legal aspects of the sale of your home.
If you do not want to hire a lawyer to draft up your paperwork, as this can be pricey and may defeat the purpose of selling your own home to maximize profit, it may be possible to have the buyer’s agent draw up contracts such as the purchase agreement. It’s fairly typical in cases where the seller doesn’t have their own Realtor for the buyer’s agent to do most of the work, especially when it comes to drafting up documents. Don’t forget, as a seller, the fee for your buyer’s agent will typically be paid by you, so there’s no problem having them help out with some of the paperwork, particularly if it will assist in the smooth selling of the home.
If you’re looking to buy a home that’s For Sale By Owner and you have your own agent, there usually won’t be too many issues, as your agent should be able to navigate the situation. It’s generally advisable for at least one party, either the buyer or the seller, to have an agent working with them, as this will decrease the chances of confusion or misunderstanding, especially when it comes to legal matters.
If, however, neither party has an agent, it’s certainly advisable to hire an attorney to help with paperwork. Some states will require an attorney to close the transaction, but even if it’s not a requirement, it’s always a good idea to have legal representation. Buying a house without a realtor is doable, but it will likely be a more stressful process.
Selling a home yourself may be a great way to maximize profits and make sure that you get the most money you can out of the sale of your home. It’s important to get yourself organized and be prepared to do a lot of hard work to get your home ready and complete all the steps necessary to close. If you have any doubts as to legal grey areas, it’s always best to consult an attorney.