Should I sell my home myself?
It's a question thousands of homeowners ask themselves each year. If
you are to be one of them, you'll face some tough decisions. Indeed,
selling your home can be a complex as well as time- and
energy-consuming process. So consider all the implications both
positive and negative before choosing the do-it-yourself approach.
To help make the decision that's right for you, here's a list of
some of the key tasks and responsibilities you must assume as an
independent home seller, plus some cautionary tips to keep in mind.
This information is provided by the Council of Residential
Specialists, an affiliate of the National Association of Realtorsฎ,
whose membership is comprised primarily of the 5 percent of
realtorsฎ who have earned the prestigious Certified Residential
Specialist (CRS) designation and who are involved in 25 percent of
the residential real estate transactions nationwide.
Pricing Your Home
Your first responsibility as an independent home seller is
assigning your home a market value, meaning the price that
accurately reflects what a ready, willing and able buyer will pay.
As part of this decision, you'll need to consider the condition of
your home, inside and outside, comparable properties in your area,
current market conditions, as well as the cost of financing and its
If your listing price is not in line with comparable properties
and market trends, your home could linger on the market or sell for
a lower price than you might otherwise receive.
"For Sale by Owner" homes typically attract bargain hunters who
may expect you to lower your asking price further since, they, too,
are looking to save money on real estate commissions.
Marketing Your Home
Independent home sellers must market their properties. This means:
Putting up signage that is consistent with local ordinances;
Developing and paying for display ads in local newspapers;
Holding open houses;
Working to ensure your home gets good word-of-mouth exposure among
friends, neighbors and community organizations.
Showing Your Home
As an independent home seller, you will be responsible for all
showings of your home. To make the process more manageable,
encourage prospects to make an appointment and discourage drop-ins.
Work to screen the "buyers" from the "lookers," as
curiosity-seekers are common at "For Sale by Owner" homes.
Prequalify potential buyers to ensure they can afford to buy your
Be prepared and informed when it comes time to negotiate.
Try to resolve any doubts your potential buyers might have, work
to keep their interest high and make a final agreement as quickly
and efficiently as possible.
Once an offer is made, agree on the final price and terms, respond
to objections and try to be responsive and flexible about legitimate
Drawing Up the Contract
Every independent home seller should have an attorney or other
qualified professional preside over all agreements including
drawing up the sale contract and managing the sale proceedings and
closing. He or she might also help set the closing date and time.
Be sure to draw up a list of items you want written into the
contract including any personal property that is to remain with
the house (like the refrigerator, microwave oven, dishwasher, etc.)
or items excluded in the sale.
Be mindful that as the seller, you are obligated by law to
disclose any material defects in your property to the purchaser.
In many states, the seller is required to provide the buyer with a
written disclosure statement and should have these available when
the buyer first sees the property.
Is Using a Residential Real Estate Professional a Better Choice?
Selling your own home takes a lot of hard work and skill. You must
spend considerable time to study the process, understand your
obligations and do some of the complicated work that a real estate
agent does routinely. No wonder, then, a recent survey conducted by
the National Association of Realtorsฎ showed that 80 percent of home
sellers in 1999 chose to use a real estate professional to assist in
the selling process a percentage fairly consistent over many
According to Walter J. Frey, CRS,
president of the Council of Residential Specialists, a qualified
real estate specialist can help you sell your home faster, for the
best price and with the least "hassle," by:
Walking you through the process of selling your home from
beginning to end;
Pricing your home accurately by doing a Comparative Market
Analysis, one that will help support the price with comparable facts
Advertising your home in the most visible outlets in your area;
Holding open houses;
Suggesting easy ways to make your home more attractive to
Exploring alternative financing methods that can help relieve a
potential buyer's financing concerns;
Scanning the Multiple Listing Service to locate active buyers
through a special nationwide network of resources;
Acting as a third-party negotiator between you and the buyer,
acting as your advocate to negotiate the best price and terms for
Screening prospects so you don't have to expose your family to any
stranger who knocks on your door.