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There's a serious dilemma many homeowners face when it comes time to sell their home. It's not what the asking price should be. It's not if they should do any repairs or upgrades before putting it on the market. And it's not how to perfectly stage the house to maximize the wow factor at showings.
Of course, all those things are important. Knowing which mistakes to avoid when selling a home is certainly half the battle. But the dilemma that can often cause the most trouble: the DIY dilemma.
The DIY Dilemma
We can DIY just about anything today.
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Did the clothes dryer go kaput last night? No need to call a handyman. Simply pull up one of the thousands of step-by-step how-to’s on YouTube and you'll be able to throw in a load by the weekend.
It’s probably this new do-everything-yourself culture that has prompted more and more homeowners to take the selling of their house into their own hands. But -- like a clothes dryer -- real estate has a lot of moving parts.
Selling a house without an agent requires you complete the entire process from beginning to end. This includes setting the price, advertising, staging your house for showings, negotiating offers, completing all necessary paperwork, and handling the closing procedures.
Here are some of the skills Realtors find to be the absolute bare minimum anyone selling a home must have.
1) Research Your Market
If you want to end up with the most profit you possibly can, you need to determine the market value of your home. Some sellers have trouble setting a realistic price that is competitive for their area. The best way to determine a fair, yet competitive price is to research the selling prices of homes that have recently sold in your area plus the prices listed for homes currently for sale. Click for more tips on pricing a home.
2) Have a Marketing Plan
Unless your home is in a highly trafficked area or a neighborhood where multiple other homes are for sale, you’ll need to develop some sort of marketing plan. Sticking the standard red and white sign in the front yard isn’t nearly enough these days.
To get the most exposure and reach a wider audience it's important to list your house online. A joint study by The National Association of Realtors® and Google found: “90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process.”
When researching listing services, it's important to find out if changes can be made once the listing is posted. Some don't allow changes, some charge an additional fee. And you need to make changes. Common changes include adding more (or higher quality) photos, rewriting descriptions, adjusting the price, and updating the status of the home.
Also, make sure the MLS service you choose lists your home in the correct geographical location, so you’re seen by the most relevant audience.
Is it worth it?
According to the folks at For Sale By Owner - Realty Services: “Even with all the tools available to sellers online, an estimated 80 to 90% of all homes sold have an MLS listing.”
In addition to a listing on an MLS, some other ways to market your home include creating flyers to leave on every bulletin board you encounter, creating video walk-throughs to post on your social media channels, and placing an ad in your local newspaper (yes, some people still read those, but papers now put all their ads online too).
Hosting an open house (or three) is highly recommended. Not only does it attract potential buyers but it gives local agents and brokers the opportunity to view your home. Your house may be exactly what one of their clients is looking for.
One vital piece of marketing not to be overlooked is takeaway materials. At the very least, create a handout detailing the specs of your home and your contact information. And color photos won't hurt either. In fact, if you really want to leave a good impression it's fairly simple and inexpensive to create professional-looking pamphlets or brochures online. Whatever you choose, you must have something to give visitors to make it easier for them to recall your home after they leave.
3) Hone Your Negotiation Skills
Selling a home can be an emotionally complex transaction. One of the hardest things you'll have to do is watch and listen as potential buyers nitpick every little thing about the place you call home.
Some homeowners struggle to be objective while showing their home. And when it comes time for negotiations it can also be difficult to keep personal ties to the home from influencing this process. If you feel this may prove a challenge, try to enlist the help of a friend or family member who can help you keep on track and stay objective.
When it’s time to talk price hopefully, you've prepared a counter-offer plan ahead of time. When a buyer makes their first offer avoid allowing emotions (ecstatic or offended) to take over. Remember that the first offer almost always comes in lower than the buyer is truly willing to pay.
4) Protect Yourself
A contract is a legal, binding agreement so it's important to dot all the I's and cross all the T's. This is the one area that owners selling their own home should not attempt to DIY. Hiring a real estate attorney ensures the transaction goes smoothly. If there does happen to be a hiccup or two, having an attorney protects you against possible litigation in the future.
The paperwork for the sale of a home is in-depth and complex. An attorney’s review of the contract involves a thorough evaluation of each contingency and clause. Real estate attorneys can easily spot terms that overly favor the buyer's interests.
The FindLaw website offers this advice: “In order to properly sell your home by yourself, you will need to learn about the laws of your state that govern real estate transfers. These laws will indicate what kinds of paperwork you will need to prepare as well as who will need to sign what. In addition, you will need to find out what to do if you find that there are any encumbrances that are on your home and how to handle them. Lastly, some states have mandatory disclosure laws that you will need to follow where you will need to disclose certain physical characteristics of your home.”
Solving the Dilemma
There are two important sets of questions every homeowner must ask themselves before venturing down the road that leads to a sold home.
First: Will I be able to save money if I put an FSBO sign up? Is it really worth it to be a DIY-er?
The second question to ask: “Should I just hire a professional?” Ask yourself if you have the time, energy, and patience to go through the entire process from beginning to end.
Hopefully, after reading this post the decision will be easier to make and you'll feel good knowing you're making a well-informed, knowledgeable choice.