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Decision time: Realtor vs. FSBO
The first decision to make before putting your home on the market is whether to use a real estate agent or sell your house independently. Many homeowners want to forgo using a Realtor because they don’t want to pay the commission, which is typically 6 percent, split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.
Just know that selling your house on your own takes a lot of work, and it may not get as much foot traffic as it would if it were listed with a broker. As a compromise, many homeowners are using discount agents, who stage a home, list it and market it for a deeply discounted fee, while the homeowner shows it. Companies such as Redfin offer sellers a full-service experience at a lower commission. However, the buyer’s agent still receives full commission.
If you decide to sell your own home, follow this seven-step guide and get an offer you can’t refuse.
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1. Have your home inspected
Having your home inspected before you put it on the market enables you to make repairs ahead of time and puts you in a better position when negotiating price. Buyers who know you’ve had an inspection and made the repairs may be more likely to put an offer on the house. Knowing what the problems are ahead of time and fixing them reduces the likelihood of the sale falling apart when the buyer has her own inspection done.
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Clean it up and clear it out
To get the best return on your investment, your home needs to look its best. Before putting your house on the market, you should:
- Make necessary repairs.
- Clear out clutter.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint.
- Give the house a deep cleaning.
- Replace burned-out light bulbs.
- Pull weeds.
- Trim hedges.
- Water the lawn regularly and make sure it looks its best.
- Depersonalize the home by removing pictures and other personal items.
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Stage your home
Staging your home brings out its best features. Eighty-one percent of real estate agents say it’s easier for buyers to visualize a property as their future home when it’s been staged. Realtors rank the living room and kitchen as the most important rooms to stage. If staging is not your forte, hiring a professional will probably pay off.
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Price it accurately
If you’ve enlisted a real estate agent, he or she will help you determine the market value of your home. If you’re selling your home on your own, there are several online tools that will help you determine your home’s value, such as ForSaleByOwner.com. The best way to determine your home’s value, however, is to have a professional appraisal done.
Many sellers figure they should set the price high and then lower it if the house doesn’t sell — but agents discourage this. Many buyers and agents stay away from homes that are priced too high because they figure the seller is not serious about selling or is unwilling to negotiate. Experts estimate that houses that are priced accurately when they’re put on the market sell in about half the time of houses that are overpriced.
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Market your home using easy tools
Full-service real estate agents take care of listing your home and marketing it by creating and distributing marketing materials, etc. If you’re selling your property independently, there are tools to help you make flyers and post your home online, among them Realflyer.com and Owners.com.
Make sure to post a for-sale sign outside that includes flyers. The flyer should include:
- Your home’s features.
- Pictures of the house.
- A link to a website where buyers can learn more about your home.
- Your phone number and email address.
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Show your home like a professional
When buyers contact you, ask them for their email address and phone number. As you walk them through your home, allow them to lead the way. Give them plenty of time and space to look around. Point out the home’s special features.
Make sure to give them a copy of your flyer or marketing brochure when they leave. Follow up with a phone call or email thanking them for looking at your home and asking if they have any additional questions you can answer.
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Hire a real estate attorney
Real estate attorneys are often not needed in situations where agents are involved, but owners selling their homes on their own should always use an experienced real estate attorney to negotiate offers, execute contracts, and arrange for the closing.
Use Bankrate’s calculator to determine how much house you can afford to buy.