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Advice on how to sell property as a FSBO

The following advice for selling is an excerpt from our sales help kit available for $18.95 (includes shipping). Along with marketing tips, contract forms, checklists and more. All of us here at FSBO Central wish you the best of luck in selling your home and will do our best to assist you!

Congratulations! You have just taken the first step towards realizing the most profit from the sale of your home or property! The following tips are designed to help the seller to carefully prepare to market their real estate and to maximize their profit, while minimizing the risk. The following guidelines are written mainly for the homeowner, but most tips can be used by the investor of any type of real estate property. This is a brief version of the tips for selling your own property, the full hard copy version is available in our sales help kit.

There are many reasons people decide to sell their home. Some of the most common reasons (a) to move to a better neighborhood; (b) to move to a different neighborhood; (c) to buy a bigger home; (d) a job transfer or change; (e) to realize a profit. The urgency factor for the sale is obviously different for each of these reasons and should be one factor taken into account when marketing your home.

Another consideration is the commitment of everyone in the household to sell the home. The reasons for selling the home should be clearly understood by all beforehand and agreed to, if at all possible. It has happened in the past where homes have been pulled off the market after time and money has been spent, all because an important family member strongly objected.

Another emotional factor that needs to be addressed up front is the sentimental attachment influence on the asking price. The potential buyers you will encounter do not have the same perspective that you do, and will only be able to view the home in light of a fair market value. Homes that are priced under the influence of sentimental value are nearly always priced above this. When even a very nice home is priced over the market value, it often becomes what realtors refer to as the "lead off" home. Your home will be viewed first by buyers looking for your type of home and compared to others like it that are at fair market value. You end up helping other homes to sell, but not your own! Putting yourself in the buyers shoes, realizing that they will be looking for the most home for their money just as you would, can help you overcome the urge to price your home based on your feelings for it. A more sensible approach is obtain a third party appraisal or some competitive market analysis.

A word about competitive market analysis seems appropriate at this point. These can be obtained from most realtors. Some will not consider doing it if they know you are planning to sell the home yourself. Many will, however, based on the prospect that you will give them a referral, and if you fail to sell within the time period you planned for or just tire of the task, that you might list with them. No contract need be made, but keep in mind their expectations because that is exactly why a competitive market analysis is done, to sell their services. Because of this, get at least three realtors from different brokerages to do them for you. If they are within five thousand dollars of each other, you are probably safe starting out with the middle price. If they range much higher, your safest bet is to invest in an independent appraisal by a licensed appraiser in your market area. Their fee of $200 to $300 will give you a price that is within 1 - 5% of fair market value.

Three other steps you should do in preparation for selling your home are:

1) Do market research. Read the paper, go to open houses in your neighborhood, talk with others selling in your community. Look for common elements and features that are important.

2) Understand your time frame. Look at how it can be affected by the market. Are you the only house for sale in your neighborhood? What is the supply of homes like yours on the market now? How long are they taking to sell?

3) Invest in making your house attractive and sparkling clean! Going through the house, both inside and out, making a list of things to do is a great investment of your time. Outside, work on curb appeal, cleaning up trash, mowing lawn, trimming shrubs, painting if necessary. Make sure roofing , eaves and gutters are securely attached. Inside, clean and paint rooms, replace worn carpeting, repair or replace broken fixtures, pick up clutter, clean oven & refrigerator, change filters in furnace, etc. If you cannot or don’t want to do these things yourself, hire someone. Make your home look and smell as much like a new model home as possible.

A few other points to remember are:

(A). Advertising attracts potential buyers, but merchandising and marketing are what sell homes. Focus on buyers needs and desires. Understand how most buyers want to buy. Typical forms of advertising are:

Word of mouth - this can be generated by yard signs, signs around the neighborhood, postings at the supermarket, conversation at social gatherings, workplace bulletin boards, mail out flyers to Real Estate offices and business corporations, etc. And don’t forget to tell your family, cousins and all!

Newspapers - local and regional ads are a must. Compare prices and readership figures. Make it descriptive, not cryptic. Use more than a 3 line ad so that it stands out. Location, lot size, house size, number of beds and baths, special features, and price are the basic items to include. Local schools and proximity to local or regional attractions can also be helpful. Picture ads for property in newspapers are usually a waste of money. The graphics quality is not as good as a Web site or magazine ad, which also have more targeted audiences.

Internet (esp. World Wide Web)- This new element in advertising media is really taking off. Some people say that the World Wide Web may surpass newspapers in dollars spent for advertising in the near future. The best sites can give you worldwide exposure as well as local and regional. They also give you an excellent forum for a picture (AKA display) ad that really shows off your home. Essential things to look at are price, minimum length of contract, support services offered, how many search engines the Web site is listed on, what type of other advertising is done, how thorough the property information is, attractiveness and ease of use the site offers. Other options available: multi views of homes, virtual walkthroughs, personalized Web sites, printed brochures, sales help kits, etc.

Magazines - Look at readership and type of distribution for this media. If a subscribership, it can be well targeted, but limited to those who know about it. If general distribution only, find out where placed and in what regions. Options and prices vary widely with this media. Generally more expensive than newspapers and Internet advertising.

Radio - Probably the most costly way to sell property. If planning to use this media, seek professional help and advice in order to be effective. Scheduling, target audience and broadcast area are important. Also need to have top quality ad, a good "hook" and should be done by a recognizable radio personality with a large following in the target market.

(B) Have forms or a resource available for qualifying the buyers and making contracts. Understand what they are and how to use them.

(C) Be prepared field offers and counteroffers. Work to uncover the buyer’s real wants and needs. Make it easy for a qualified buyer to get a loan.

(D) When closing the sale, be sure to keep on track. A typical sale involves:

  • a home inspection,
  • an appraisal,
  • a survey,
  • a title search,
  • a termite examination,
  • loan underwriting and approval,
  • date of closing,
  • payday!

This information is provided as a service to customers and visitors to the FSBO Central® web site. Whereas the use of this information is not under the control of FSBO Central® and/or Whitehouse Promotions L.L.C., no warranty, expressed or implied, is given as to the effectiveness of this information for the sale of any real estate property.

A full version of marketing tips, contract forms, and checklists are available upon request for $20.95 (includes shipping).

We also have a detailed glossary of real estate terms online for your easy viewing.

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