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Florida has long been an attractive destination for retirees and out-of-state transplants, thanks to its beaches, warm weather and relatively affordable cost of living. But as mortgage rates continue to rise, the state’s housing market has started to slow.
The most recent data from Florida Realtors reveals that the median home sale price in the state in April remained flat year-over-year at $410,000. However, homes are taking much longer to sell, spending a median of 31 days on the market before contract — a huge increase from just 8 days in April 2022.
These trends may seem concerning to homeowners thinking of selling in the Sunshine State. To maximize your investment while prices are stagnating, you might consider foregoing a real estate agent in favor of a for sale by owner or FSBO sale. Here’s what you need to know about how to sell a house by owner in Florida.
Pros and cons of selling your house by owner
It’s certainly possible to sell your house without a Realtor, in Florida or anywhere, but there are major drawbacks as well.
- Not having an agent means you won’t have to pay your agent’s commission. This will save you the equivalent of about 3 percent of your home’s sale price. So, if you sell your home for $350,000, that’s $10,500 you don’t have to pay to a Realtor.
- You call the shots. Selling your home on your own means that you have complete oversight of every decision, including pricing, marketing and negotiating.
- Typically, the homeowner clears out for showings and the agent guides prospective buyers through the home. But with FSBO, you’re the one coordinating and hosting showings, so you never have strangers in your home without you being there.
- Even if you don’t hire a real estate agent for yourself, you’ll still need to cover the buyer’s agent’s commission as well as your other seller’s closing costs.
- FSBO sales require a lot of work and a big time commitment. From staging your home to setting a price to coordinating showings to negotiating with buyers, it’s all your responsibility.
- You might earn less money. Significantly less: According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2021, FSBO homes typically sold for $225,000, while agent-listed houses sold for $330,000.
Get your home market-ready
No matter where in Florida you live, there are some important steps you’ll need to take before your home is ready to list.
- A pre-listing inspection can be a great place to start: A professional will examine your home and identify any issues with the property before it hits the market. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it can give you a better idea about the condition of your house, which can help you decide how much to list it for — or how much you want to sink into repairs.
- What is necessary, though, is cleaning and decluttering to get the home ready for viewings. (Unless, of course, you’re selling as-is.) You want it to look its best for potential buyers — you might even choose to have it professionally staged by a design expert.
- Boosting your home’s curb appeal can be another critical part of getting it market-ready. Make a strong first impression with buyers by making it inviting right from the start: Tidy your landscaping, add some bright flowers, clean your windows, maybe even refresh the paint job.
- Once this prep work is complete, you’ll want to hire a photographer to snap some professional-quality photos of your property, inside and out. These shots will be important for advertising your listing online: More than half of buyers find their new home on the internet, according to NAR data.
Set a realistic price
You might already have an idea of how much your home is worth, but you should still do some research before setting a sale price. After all, if you price your house too high, it could deter some buyers immediately. But you don’t want to go too low and potentially lose money, either.
So, how do you price your house appropriately? First, look at real estate comps in your area. This means searching for recently sold houses in your neighborhood that are similar to yours (think square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, amenities) to see how much they sold for. This exercise will give you some insight into how properties like yours are performing in your local market.
For the most accurate understanding of what your house is worth, schedule a home appraisal. A professional appraiser will both review comps and perform a walk-through of your property, giving you an independent assessment of its value. According to HomeAdvisor, a home appraisal in Florida typically runs from $325 to $425.
Promote, promote, promote
To get the word out about your house, you’ll have to put some effort into marketing. Get started by adding your property to the multiple listing service (MLS) in your area, which is a database that real estate agents use to list and view available properties. You’ll need those professional photos you took for the listing, and without an agent, you may need to hire a company to list the home on your behalf — many will do it for a one-time flat fee, search online for options in your area.
You’ll also want to add a yard sign to let locals know that your home is on the market. On it, mention that the property is FSBO and include your phone number. Promote the sale on every social media outlet you can — look at other local listings to get an idea of how the posts should look, and what hashtags you may want to use. Look into placement on local websites, Facebook groups and even bulletin boards at area coffee shops. And schedule at least one open house, ideally on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It’s a good idea to have printed flyers with the highlights of your home (including a photo, the address and your contact information) so visitors can review them and reach out later if they’re interested.
Remember that Fair Housing laws apply to all home sales, whether you’re using a Realtor or not. This means, in short, that you can’t discriminate against a prospective buyer due to their race, religion, disability or other protected class characteristics.
Confirm the buyer’s financials
The financial and legal end of things is probably the trickiest part to manage without a Realtor. When a buyer submits an offer, you need to know that they have the financial means to back it up. To do this, ask them for a mortgage preapproval letter. This document shows that a mortgage lender has looked at their financials and is very likely to approve them for a loan of a particular amount. It’s not the same as final approval, but it gives you some assurance that the buyer is qualified.
While the state of Florida does not require you to hire a real estate attorney to sell your home, it often makes sense to hire one — especially if you’re selling without an agent. Real estate contracts are complicated, and you want to be completely sure that you’re both following the law and looking after your best interests.
What paperwork do I need to sell my home without a Realtor?
Whether you work with an attorney or not, there’s plenty of paperwork involved with selling a home FSBO. Be ready to pull together a lot of documents for closing, which can include:
- Property deed
- Purchase agreement
- Closing statement
- Title reports
- Property disclosure form
- Mortgage documents
- Homeowners association rules and documents
- Home warranty information
- Home inspection report
- Repair contracts and receipts
- Recent utility and property tax bills
Is selling your Florida house without a Realtor the right decision for you? If you find the sheer amount of work involved overwhelming, it’s not too late to call in a pro. Florida real estate agents are licensed professionals and experts in their local markets. Working with an agent can ease much of the stress that comes with selling your home, save you time and hassle — and potentially help you earn more money from your sale.
By selling without an agent, you won’t have to pay a listing agent’s commission, which is usually about 3 percent of a home’s sale price. The median sale price for a home in the state is $410,000, so 3 percent of that would be $12,300. However, research has found that owner-sold homes sell for nearly $100,000 less than agent-sold properties, so you might actually lose money by not working with an agent, even factoring in the commission fee.
Florida home sellers must complete a seller’s disclosure form, which lays out any potential issues or problems with the property, including its potential for erosion (if it’s a coastal property) and the presence of environmental hazards like radon gas or lead-based paint. This is standard in most states. And if the home is part of a homeowners’ association, you’ll have to provide information about any rules and assessments as well.
Yes — there’s no legal requirement to hire a real estate agent to sell your home in Florida. However, agents can provide valuable expertise that could save you both time and money, so it’s worth considering.