The depressed housing market has many home sellers acting as their own real estate agent to try and keep more money in their pockets.
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With home prices falling 4.7% last year, according to CoreLogic, sellers are looking to side step the 5% to 6% commission real estate agents typically take from sales.
But selling a home yourself isn’t as easy as posting a for sale sign on your front lawn. From setting the right price to attracting buyers, there’s a lot you need to know if you want to successfully sell your home.
“Selling a home without the help of a real estate professional is no easy task, and it isn’t the right decision for everyone,” says Jill Simmons of Zillow, a real estate website. “Most sellers hire agents especially for their expertise in setting a competitive price and for their negotiation experience.”
Setting the Right Price
How you price your home could be the difference between selling it in a couple of months or it languishing on the market for several months to a year. “Price is the most important decision you can make in the entire process,” says Matt Brown, director of business at ForSaleByOwner.com. “We recommend that home sellers get a full blown appraisal.”
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A full appraisal typically costs $300 to $500, but according to Brown, the process will provide an unbiased opinion of how much the home is worth on the open market. Brown says to build some negotiating room into your asking price because buyers like to perceive they are a getting deal.
But don’t price it too aggressively; you risk turning off potential buyers by setting the price too high. “You want to price your home to sell and avoid pricing high thinking you can come down on price later,” says Simmons. “This is especially true in today’s market where there is a lot of housing inventory and not a lot of buyer demand.”
If you don’t want to pay for an appraisal, Simmons says to use online tools and real estate websites to learn the selling prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood. You can also visit local open houses to see how your house compares.
Take emotion out of the equation when determining a selling price. Realistically look at your house and how it will sell against others on the market in your vicinity.
Make a Listing
One a price has been determine, it’s time to list the home. Experts say it can to pay for an ad in the local paper, but warns buyers are increasingly using the Internet to do their initial search. According to Brown, 93% of home buyers start their home search online. For around $80 a month you can list your home on ForSaleByOwner.com. The website offers other packages that give you access to other real estate websites as well. You can list your home for free on Zillow, Yahoo! Real Estate and Craigslist .
No matter what online marketplace you use to list the home, the post should include detailed information about the property along with numerous images of the inside and outside of the home. Brown suggests including any extra details like marble counter tops or recessed lighting.
Post high-quality photos that show your home in the best light possible. “Take photos of everything people care about – the kitchen, the bathrooms, the closets and the yard. The more photos the better,” says Simmons. Before you embark on your photo shoot make sure to de-clutter your home and get rid of any knick knacks or family photos. Make it as easy as possible for buyers to envision their belongings in your house.
Showing the House
On top of having a good home profile, you need to be flexible and available to show the house at a moment’s notice. Keep the house is clean and the lawn well maintained at all times. “Start to detach from the house emotionally,” says Brown. “Think of this as a business transaction and start thinking of your next house.”
Once you get an offer, experts say it pays to have an attorney by your side during the process. Rules and regulations of the home-selling process vary by state—and some require an attorney. There are websites that allow you to download contracts and attorney referral services.