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Step One: Update Your Home
Unless you plan to sell your property as-is (and sacrifice a good chunk of profit), your home will likely require some updates before it’s market-ready. Complete basic repairs, then tailor your property to the modern buyer. This means more than just slapping some granite on the counter and snagging some new appliances. Current homebuyers covet everything from an upscale garage door to a dedicated laundry room. Research the features that appeal most to the buyers in your area, then try to incorporate them in your own home. Nashville buyers, for instance, put a premium on energy efficiency, so upgrading your windows could seriously elevate your price point. They may be a hassle, but these updates are necessary if you want to maximize profit.
Step Two: Stage your Home
This is the first real test of your FSBO skills. It’s time to showcase your property so that potential buyers can’t resist picturing themselves living there. First, declutter your house. Whatever you don’t use on a weekly basis belongs in storage, waiting to fill your next home. Less stuff allows buyers to imagine their own lives within the space and saves you some cleaning between showings.
Once you’ve decluttered, deep-cleaned, and spruced up your home (don’t forget the exterior!), it’s time for the photoshoot. With 93% of today’s buyers hunting online for their next home, your gallery has never been more important. It’s tempting to put your own Instagram skills to the test, but most FSBOs don’t regret shelling out a few hundred dollars for a professional photographer. A professional’s attention to lighting, angles, and space can make your home pop off a screen so that a buyer can’t help but make a visit.
Step Three: Price Your Home
It’s critical to get this right the first time. Set the price too high, and your home will sit on the market forever. Set the price too low, and you’re cheating yourself out of big money. Property value estimates from websites like Zillow and Trulia may be helpful, but usually, they’re a few thousand dollars off the mark. To nail your home’s listing price, you’ll need to perform a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA. This is a nuanced evaluation of your home’s market value based on similar, recently sold properties in your neighborhood.
Most real estate agents will do your CMA for free, but if you’re selling your home without a realtor there are plenty of ways to access recent sales records. Search Zillow and Realtor.com to find comparable sales within your neighborhood. Then analyze how your property stacks up against these homes to set your list price with confidence. Be aware that other factors could affect your potential price point. Details like the time of year and unforeseen intricacies of your specific market often require that you stay flexible and responsive in pricing your home.
Step Four: Promote Your Home
This is the longest step because, frankly, it will require the most work on your part. While you could just throw a FOR SALE sign in the front yard and hope for a miracle, finding the right buyer normally involves a more proactive marketing approach. A great starting point is to get your property listed in the Multiple Listing Service or MLS, the national home listing database exclusively for real estate agents. It’s the most extensive, detailed, and trustworthy listing resource around. Properties on the MLS are also featured on flagship real estate websites like Realtor.com and Trulia. Unless you have a real estate license, you’ll have to buy your way in via a flat fee service. In Nashville, a premium MLS listing costs anywhere from $300-$500 per year, but most would consider the resulting exposure to be well worth the price.
A strong MLS presence is just the first step to successfully marketing your home. Keep leveraging the internet by advertising through social media, and build a website for your property where you can post a video tour of your home. Even print-marketing through brochures, flyers, and yes, even an old faithful For Sale sign expands your promotional reach. The fact is, with so many websites and outlets for advertising real estate, it is easy to be seen, but hard to be noticed. Without a real estate agent to help make connections, you’ll likely need every outlet to meet your perfect buyer.
Step Five: Always Be Available
Have you ever heard that 90% of success in life is just showing up? Well, this is especially true when selling your home without a realtor. Real estate agents thrive by getting as many eyes as possible on a property, and their best ability is availability.
Designate blocks of time to host one-on-one showings, and keep a flexible schedule to accommodate those last-minute buyers. Consider hosting a weekend open house or three, so that buyers can drop by for an informal, stress-free look around. It’s a struggle, but if you really hustle you might not have to live the on-call lifestyle for too long.
Step Six: Negotiate With Your Buyer
You’ve hooked your fish, but don’t celebrate yet—now you have to land it. You and your buyer must negotiate critical terms like earnest money and the official closing date. Once these are decided, each party signs the Real Estate Purchase Agreement.
Most states, including Tennessee, have a standard contract you can easily access. That being said, the form is usually extensive and loaded with legal jargon. Unless you’re walking around with a working knowledge of contract law, it’s best to hire an attorney to look it over. Lawyers don’t come cheap—anywhere from $150 to $350 an hour—but you won’t regret enlisting a professional to confirm the terms of your deal.
Step Seven: Survive The Slog to Closing
You may have signed a contract, but the sale is hardly complete. Now you’ve entered the due diligence period, where your property faces an appraisal and inspection by the buyer. Any irregularities or hiccups in this stage (and there may be many) could threaten the entire sale. Without a real estate agent to handle the tense conversations that always seem to come up during this step, FSBOs often find this to be the most uncomfortable and anxiety-filled stretch of the selling process.
FSBO sellers often find themselves in damage control mode, working to keep the deal afloat. If the lender’s appraisal is too low, you might have to negotiate a lower price. A poor inspection report could have you pitching in for closing costs. Some buyers even balk at conditions set by the homeowner’s association. Without a real estate agent who knows when to yield and when to stand firm, FSBOs often find themselves giving the buyer more concessions than they deserve.
Step Eight: Closing Time!
You (finally) made it to your closing date, but don’t relax just yet. The easiest way to complete your sale is to, yet again, hire a lawyer. Some states even require that an attorney be involved in the closing. While Tennessee isn’t one of them, a real estate attorney will prepare all the necessary documents, and facilitate the closing process so you can sleep easy knowing you’ve completed a legitimate sale. If you’re still committed to selling your home on your own, you’ll need to assemble the correct documents to make your sale official. At the very least these will include the deed, bill of sale, affidavit of title, and a closing statement. Just don’t lose the house keys beneath your stack of papers!
If You’re Having Second Thoughts…
The For Sale By Owner route has its advantages, but facing this process alone can feel like climbing your personal Everest. Zillow claims that less than a third of its users who try FSBO actually end up selling their own home. Fortunately, this isn’t the only way to save money on the sale of your property.
Nashville’s own Felix Homes is pioneering a more seller-friendly experience that includes all the perks of working with a realtor while maximizing return to homeowners like you. Our streamlined home selling process enables agents to work at just 1% commission. We handle everything from marketing your house to facilitating closing, while the seller saves an average of $8,100. You could still take the lonely, potholed road to selling your house without a realtor, but if you’re having second thoughts, we’d love to talk.
Learn more about selling your home with Felix Homes or contact us to speak with a real estate agent at 615-422-4277.