After adding up the costs involved in selling your house, you may have come to the conclusion to sell your house yourself. Many who go this route are at a loss for knowing how to sell a house privately. There is a lot involved in selling your house privately, but if you're up for the challenge, many have managed it well.
Here is a guide to help you along your selling journey.
"How to sell a house privately," is also regularly searched as "How to sell a house FSBO?" That's because the term for selling your house privately is For Sale By Owner (FSBO). Remember that term, as you'll most likely hear it a lot as you work to sell your house yourself.
How to Sell a House Privately: Checklist
From marketing your home until you hand over the keys, there is a lot to plan on when you sell your house privately. We've provided a checklist to help you through it. We'll walk through each step in the checklist in more detail in a moment.
Your Private Sale Checklist
- Decide if you are going to go with a Flat-Fee MLS
- Price your home
- Prepare the house for sale
- Repair, if needed
- Stage your house
- Market your home
- Hold it open
- Schedule Walk-throughs
- Order contract form
- Legal review
- Deposit and earnest money amount
- Set counter-offer date
- Accept offer
- Make any last minute repairs
- Schedule septic pump/sewer inspection
- Final walk-through with buyer
- Settlement with buyer and/or escrow
- Review and sign contract
Listing on the MLS
The MLS is a database of home information that feeds major sites like Zillow and Realtor.com. In order to show up in those searches, you will need to pay a licensed real estate brokerage to list it for you.
While using a real estate agent is an option, there are also discount real estate agents and MLS companies that will list your house for a flat rate. The amount of service you get beyond there is dependent upon what you pay for. Flat Fee MLS companies usually only list your house, but other marketing services may be available.
Discount agents will do everything a traditional real estate agent does—including listing your home—but for a lower flat rate than the traditional commission.
Decide if you are going to list your home on the MLS, and choose one of these three ways to do it first.
If you've come across a flat fee MLS listing service, you may be inclined to get your home listed for a small fee and save on commission. While this is a great option for some, know the limitations. To learn more about flat fee MLS listing services, check out our in-depth run-down here.
Price Your Home
Now it's time to price your home. You want to make sure that you price your house to sell, but still make a profit, if you can. A great way to do this (and the way real estate agents come up with this number) is to complete a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).
A CMA takes houses like yours that have recently sold or are for sale in the area to help you determine the price. It's a good idea to do a walk-through of any open houses in the area that have similarities to yours and watch what they eventually sell for. This will give you a good idea of what to price your house at.
Prepare for Sale
When going in for a job interview, you'll probably dress up and maybe even spray a bit of fragrance on. You want to put your best foot forward.
It's the same way for selling your house. You want to show off the features of the house, which means removing much of your possessions and completing any repairs and updates.
Declutter every room. You are going to have to do it anyway when you sell the house, so you might as well use it to sell the house. Make sure to complete any repairs such as holes in the wall or carpet, leaks in the plumbing or roof, and paint touch-ups before you start showing the house. If the house needs any updates, now is the time to tackle those as well.
Make sure to stage your house. Staging the house allows potential buyers to see themselves living in it.
Market Your Home
Once your house is ready for people to see it, it's time to market your house. List it on sites like Craigslist and Facebook, and even consider paying for a few ads. Put a big sign up in your yard with your contact information on it and create a few fliers.
You may even want to hold an open house. The open house doesn't have to take up much of your time but allows time for any interested party to come and view the property without scheduling an appointment.
Once you have an offer on your house, it's closing time.
If the buyer isn't working with a real estate agent, you'll be in charge of ordering the contract. Make sure you have a lawyer look it over and see if it covers your end of the deal well.
If the offer you received is unacceptable to you, now is the time to negotiate. Some negotiations will require you to repair portions of the house. Decide if those terms are acceptable before you agree. It's more difficult for a seller to get out of a housing deal than it is for a buyer.
Earnest Money and Deposits
Once you agree upon a price, you'll need to decide on the earnest money amount and collect the deposit. You'll also use this time to complete any repairs you may have agreed to.
Inspection and Appraisal
The buyer may schedule an inspection if they wish. You as the seller have the right to be there during the inspection, and will want to attend to ask questions about the repairs.
The buyer may also schedule an appraisal, which you can attend as well.
Right before you sign the contract, it's time for a walk-through. Make sure you have the contract in hand, and point out and document the repairs done (if any) according to the contract.
Once everything is good to go, all that's left is for you and the buyer to sign the papers, hand over the keys, and settle in escrow. Make sure you leave a good 48 hours for you to review the contract before signing to make sure you know what you're agreeing to.
Now you know how to sell a house privately. At any point during this process, you can decide to work with an agent if the workload is overwhelming. Now, get out there and sell that house!