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Advice on How to Sell a House by Owner

by Bridget Kelly, studioD

The main reason that homeowners decide to skip the real estate agent and sell their homes on their own is to save money. Around 10 percent of homes are sold by owner. Known as FSBOs, these homeowners take on the job of real estate broker. Some are successful; many are not. Be prepared for the hurdles you’ll face in completing the sale on your own.

Pros and Cons

In 2012, homeowners who sold their homes without an agent typically made $65,000 less than a home that sold with the help of a real estate agent, according to the National Association of Realtors. A Stanford University study, however, tells a different story and the authors claim that the use of a broker adds no value when it comes to selling price, but a broker’s assistance will help the house sell quicker.

Sales Price

The most effective way to determine a list price is by enlisting the services of real estate agents. An agent can pull a comparative market analysis from your local multiple listing service, which is free, and agents usually welcome invitations to submit price estimates. After all, should you decide to list the house in the future, they will be in the front of the line of agents vying for the listing.

List in the MLS

Expose the home to as many buyers as possible by purchasing a MLS listing. Each regional MLS is exclusive to the area’s real estate agent and broker members; agents are the only ones allowed to access the database. Some FSBO websites affiliate with, or are owned by, a real estate agent and offer homeowners the opportunity to purchase an MLS listing.

Preparing the Home

Almost 77 percent of first-time homebuyers surveyed said that they drove by a home that they first viewed online. If a buyer doesn’t like what she sees from the curb, she won’t bother looking inside, thus the importance of curb appeal. Painting the exterior of the house is one way to add instant curb appeal. Clean up and green up the landscaping, wash the windows repair torn screens and clean out the gutters.


Homebuyers that search the Internet for homes overwhelmingly want to see photographs. Post photos of the home at no charge on online classified ad websites. Consider creating a dedicated website for your home, post videos of the neighborhood and photos of the home on it and use the URL in your marketing efforts.

Question Homebuyers

The first question to ask a buyer that calls to view the home is if he will be paying cash. If not, ask if he is pre-approved for a mortgage. If not, ask him to call you back when he is. It’s vital not to waste time on those people who are just looking and only spend time with serious buyers.

Paperwork Requirements

Hire a real estate attorney before you receive an offer to purchase. Before the transaction begins, have the lawyer explain each form in detail, give you details on how to complete them and advice on what to watch for. When you have accepted an offer, take the paperwork back to the lawyer and have him review it.

About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.

Photo Credits

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