For Sale By Owner: What It Entails
We love being realtors here at Home to Indy. Buying and selling homes is our business, so we know all the intricate details. But we realize that not everyone may want to work with a realtor. If that's the case, you will be sacrificing a lot of expertise (not to mention time and effort), but you certainly can do it; there's no law that requires you to hire a real estate agent (although some states require that you hire a real estate attorney). It's important that you know what you're getting into and understand the process before you decide if it's ideal for your situation.
When you sell your home sans realtor, it's called For Sale By Owner (FSBO, pronounced "Fizbo"). Read on to learn what FSBO entails.
The closer you look, the more little tasks are revealed as crucial in preparing, marketing, and successfully selling your home. Here are just a few of the real estate tasks an agent will normally perform for you:
- Evaluating the local market and comparable home values
- Suggesting an appropriate listing price
- Advising you on how best to present your home, including providing referrals to painters, repair persons, and more
- Helping coordinate preparation of disclosure and other needed forms and documents
- Creating advertising materials and arranging for photographs (interior and exterior, hopefully done by a professional) and possibly an exterior drawing of your home
- Placing ads on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and in other media, and sending out postcards to potentially interested buyers on the agent's mailing list
- Arranging for individual visits to the property -- if you're no longer living there, most likely by providing a lockbox for use by other realtors, and meeting with individuals who don't yet have their own agent
- Answering questions and providing documents such as disclosure packets to potentially interested buyers and their agents
- Holding one or more open houses, possibly including weekday open houses for other real estate brokers to visit and weekend open houses for the public (which itself involves many tasks, such as arranging for and putting out signs in advance, and providing food for the broker's open houses, as is traditional in some areas)
- Receiving offers to buy your house, whether via email/mail or in person if other agents wish to formally present their offers
- Helping you evaluate the strength of each offer and strategize on issues like whether to accept or reject an offer outright or make a counteroffer, and whether to also look for or arrange a backup offer.
- Negotiating with the buyer's agent until the purchase contract is complete (although this task may fall more to an attorney in states where legal help is required)
- Coordinating with the buyer's agent throughout the escrow period,
- Helping to make the house available for inspections and appraisals and make sure you're doing your part to close the deal help you strategize over requests made while in escrow, such as for a reduction in purchase price due to repair issues revealed in the inspection, and negotiating such issues with the buyer's agent (unless any attorneys are still involved)
- Attending the closing.
Sound like a lot? That's because it is. Indeed, selling a home can be a full-time, nights and weekends job while your house is on the market. And, as any agent will tell you, it's not all glamorous. We have been known to give a house a good scrubbing if it needs it before an open house.
A Word of Warning
If you decide to sell your house by yourself, make sure you learn the legal rules that govern real estate transfers in your state. And you must find out if there are any state-mandated disclosures as to the physical condition of your house.
Obviously, we would love to help you sell your home. But if you want to go it alone, be sure you have the time, energy, and ability to handle all the details. Above all, get to know the market well enough that you don't end up selling the home for less than it's worth.