If you want to sell your home without using a real estate agent, there are two different ways how you can go about it. Depending on the amount of work you want to take on and the time you want to spend to sell the house, you can either put your house up on the market yourself or sell directly to a professional house buyer.
Here are the 21 steps when selling your house without an agent on the traditional retail market:
- Determine the market value
- Get your inspections done
- Start with the repairs, if necessary
- Declutter and stage your house
- Take great pictures
- Advertise it online
- Advertise it offline
- Let your family and friends know you’re selling
- Determine if you are going to have “open house(s)”
- Be ready and able to show the house at any time
- Adjust your asking price, if needed
- Negotiate the sales price
- Set the closing date
- Ensure the buyer has the money (proof of funds)
- Write up a contract and sign it
- Start the title work
- Buyer’s inspections
- Make additional repairs, if needed
- Stay in touch with title company
- Stay in touch with the buyer’s lender
- Close sale and collect your money
Or if you want to go the easy route by selling your house to a professional house buyer there are only 8 steps with an “if needed” step:
- Request a free consultation from ‘sell my house fast’ or ‘we buy houses’ companies
- Negotiate a selling price
- Decide a closing date that works for you
- Ensure buyer has the money (proof of funds)-
- Read your contract offer and sign if it is acceptable to you
- Preparation of title work
- Address title issues (if needed)
- Show up to the closing and collect your money
Both methods will save agent’s fees of around 6%, but using a professional house buyer saves you the trouble of repairing the property, marketing it and even moving out stuff. Professional house buyers offer a contract on the spot and buy the house as-is. You can take whatever stuff you want and leave the rest for the buyer.
Selling to a traditional buyer will usually involve preliminary repairs before you put the property on the market. Then there will be marketing involved and finally, before the deal closes, the buyer will reserve the right to inspect and ask for repairs. In such cases, can be very expensive and it is all paid by the seller. As it seems, when using professional house buyers, the amount you receive is equal to net income from selling your property using traditional means. As an added advantage, professional buyers take care of all the responsibility and can close the deal in as less as 7 days.
Traditionally, selling a house on the open market, negotiating, and closing a deal can take up to six months or longer if it sits on the market. But with professional house buyers, it can be done in as less as seven days.
Selling your house yourself
- Determine the market value – First and foremost, you need to start by getting your property valued. There are a few ways to go about it. You can hire a professional appraiser, or have a real estate agent help you with the comparative market analysis (CMA) that will consider recent prices for similar properties and arrive at a realistic amount. You can also start researching yourself on sites like Zillow.com to get an idea of what similar houses are selling for. Accordingly, you can set your price.
- Get your inspections done – If you want to command the best price for your home and know that you have the money to put into repairs, you can get full inspections for the property. This will help you market the property better and ask for a higher price. The full inspection will point out all the issues that might need to be repaired.
- Start with the repairs – Similar to the inspections, if you want to market your house for a higher price, you would need to list down all the possible fixes and start allocating budget for the repairs. However, do note that this can turn out to be expensive. You’ll need to understand if you’ll be able to make the money back from the sale. If the cost is too high, it might end up inflating the price beyond the market price. Otherwise, you can create a list of repairs which take the highest priority (fixing the HVAC, paint job etc.) and just work on them. This will reduce your initial outlay and keep the property price within reach for buyers. One way to know how far to take the fixes and updates on your house is to go to neighboring open houses and to look at the pictures of houses selling in your area and price range online. Are the kitchens all updated with new appliances? Do they have granite countertops? Are the bathrooms full of ceramic tile? Do they have open floor plans? What type of siding? How much landscaping do they have? What about decks or patios?You will want to fix / update your house to compete with other properties on the market, but not to spend so much money that you will never see a return when you sell.
- Decluttering and staging your house to show better – Selling your house on the open market requires a lot of promotion. One of the key phases is the staging. This is where you declutter the property and make it presentable for prospective buyers. You can start by listing stuff which hasn’t been used for the past six months and moving them to a local storage for the time being. Additionally, remember to remove any personal photos from the rooms so as to make it seem more relatable for the new buyers.
- Start taking pictures – People can’t buy what they can’t see. The majority of the buzz generated these days is from online sites. You would either need a professional photographer to take good pictures of the property or you can use your own smartphone. Either way, remember that people will only contact you when they like what they see. So, ensure that the first impression is good. Better the pictures, higher the chance of you getting some responses.
- Advertise it online– Once the pictures are taken, upload them to online real-estate sites. Don’t put your hopes on a single site. Post them on as many forums and real-estate sites as possible. Remember to give accurate information regarding the property, neighborhood, nearby schools and hospitals. These kinds of information help people decide whether they like the locality and see a future there. If there are any changes to the price, make sure that you update them on the sites as well. Finally, use an email address that you regularly check. Online buyers tend to have the short attention span and can move on to the next option pretty fast, so you will want to reply as fast as you can.
- Advertise it offline – newspaper, bandit signs, sign in the yard, flyers, and directional signs. You should even think about sending out postcards to a radius around your house to see if any neighbors might want it or know someone that might.
- Let your family and friends know you are selling – Talk to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues and ask them to refer anyone looking to buy a new house. Referrals through the personal network are easier to deal with since it will be through a mutual acquaintance and can help with negotiations. Using your personal network also helps to add credence to your property and helps to get the ball moving fast.
- Determine if you are going to have “open house(s)” – Open houses are typically hosted to allow interested parties physically inspect your property and drum up responses. Typically, one-on-one tours can take time to start getting responses, but open houses help in creating a buzz and allow you to talk to more than one party in a single day. Alternatively, they are cumbersome to host and can take up your entire day. That’s why you need to decide if it’s something you want to do. Usually what happens is real estate agents host open houses in order to find more buyers to work with rather than to actually sell the house. So don’t just assume that you “have” to host an open house.
- Be ready and able to show the house at any time or day – Listing the house on the open market means that you have to be available to show the house at any time. Typically, a real estate agent takes care of these things, but if you’re doing it without the agent, you would need to shoulder those responsibilities yourself. Postponing or taking a rain-check can make a huge difference to your sale.
- Adjust your asking price – A house can be on the market for a long time. If it does not sell within the first one or two months, you need to start thinking about lowering your asking price. You can take feedback from relatives and friends regarding the price range and think of a lower valuation. However, if you don’t want to do that, you need to understand how long you want to keep the house listed at the inflated price.
- Negotiate the sales price – Once you have received a offer for the property, it’s time to negotiate. The negotiation does not only include settling on a final price but various clauses as well. The buyer might want you to take on additional inspections and pay for repairs if the current state of the property is not to his liking. Depending on whether you have enough room in the price to make a profit, you can either agree to the repairs or provide a small discount. It’s important to ask for a contingency clause during the negotiations to help protect yourself from any untoward situations that arise during the final settlement. Some municipalities legally require the agreement to contain a contingency clause. It’s best that you ask for them since buyers might not offer it themselves.
- The closing date – The closing date is generally decided by the buyer and the lender. The lender is usually a bank that offers the money on behalf of the buyer. The date usually varies between 45-60 days. As soon as the loan is disbursed, the buyer will want possession for the property. This is one of the areas that the seller has little control over. As a result, you need to be able to move at a short notice. Keep your things packed and ready to move when the deal closes.
- Ensuring buyer has the money (proof of funds)- If the buyer is taking on a loan, it can be helpful to stay in contact with the lender to ensure that the deal goes through. There are plenty of instances when the loan falls through even in the latter stages. The target should be to get a loan commitment within 10 days. If the buyer is interested in doing a cash deal, then verify the sources of the fund first to ensure availability and legitimacy. A loan deal typically takes longer than a cash deal. Usually, it takes up to 45-60 days for the deal to close.
- Write up a contract and sign it – You will need to provide a contract in most cases in which you will put all the details are just as discussed. This part usually takes place with all the parties assembled together to get the documents signed. The escrow money will be mentioned in the contract. The funds for the money will be held by the title company and once the sale closes, the escrow will be released.
- Start the title work – Once the agreement is in place, deliver the contract to your title company so that they can start work on it. The buyer and the seller can use the same title company or 2 different ones, depending on their preferences. The job of a title company is to ensure that the transaction is carried out legally and without any glitches. It helps with the research, title insurance, and coordination to ensure that the legal rights of the property transfer from the seller to the buyer without issue.
- Buyer’s inspections – Prior to taking possession of the property, the buyer will want to visit the property and have inspections. You can either choose to fix the issues that come up in the contract or renegotiate the contract terms. The buyer will have inspections and you will have to either fix the issues or renegotiate the contract. But remember, that renegotiating the contract terms can push the closing date back. Which means it will take more time before you can access the funds.
- Make repairs, if needed – once the buyer’s inspection is completed, you will have to make any repairs that you said you would do in order for the deal to go through.
- Stay in touch with title company – Keep in touch with the title company to ensure the process is smooth and there are no hiccups. If there are any problems, it’s up to you to be proactive and get them sorted. Help the title company with any kind of information needed to keep the deal on course.
- Stay in touch with the buyer’s lender – If the buyer is using a mortgage to purchase the property, you will need to stay in touch with the lender to make sure everything is on schedule.
- Close sale – Finally, it’s time to sign off and close the sale. Read the HUD statement that breaks down where are final funds are dispersed. If all the numbers seem correct you will simply, sign the papers and receive your check for the proceeds.
Selling your house to a professional house buyer “As Is” and without an agent
A professional house buyer is a person or company that purchases homes as-is and for cash as a profession. They help people that need to sell homes fast, that are outdated, need repairs, or people that just don’t want to deal with strangers parading through their homes. And many other reasons.
- Request a free consultation from ‘sell my house fast’ or ‘we buy houses’ companies – Search online for ‘sell my house fast’ or ‘we buy houses’ companies like FasterHouse and then request a free consultation from them. It doesn’t cost you anything and they’ll be happy to set a date for a site visit.
- Negotiate a selling price – Once they have a look through the property, they’ll be able to put a value on the property. You can now negotiate with them regarding the sale price. Remember that unlike the traditional method of selling properties on the open market, you do not need to make any repairs, inspections or anything off the sort. In fact, you can leave all your stuff in the house and they’ll be happy to deal with that. As a result, any and all expenses that are generally borne by the seller are non-existent in this case. That’s why they buy the house ‘as-is’. Meaning they’ll take it in whichever state it is.
- Decide a closing date that works for you – Generally, when selling to a buyer who uses a lender or financier, the closing date is settled by them. Unlike that, when selling to a professional house buyer, you have the freedom to choose the closing date. The deal closes as soon as the title work is done, which can be in as less as 7 days. If you want, you can decide on a further date.
- Ensuring buyer has the money (proof of funds)- Normally the buyer will be doing a cash deal, so verify the sources of the fund first to ensure availability and legitimacy. This is not to say that the buyer may never use a loan, but normally they will not have a “finance clause” in the contract.
- Read your contract offer and sign if it is acceptable to you – Once the negotiations are completed, you are offered a contract. Be sure to read through the terms and conditions well. If the contract seems viable to you, you can now sign it and the deal will be in place. The money will be placed in escrow and once the deal finalizes, it will be released.
- Preparation of title work– As with any real estate transaction, title work has to be completed by a title company or attorney depending on your state. Normally the professional buyer will have a title company that they prefer to work with, but you can select your own title company if you prefer. Usually, the closing works easier if they are at the same title company
- Addressing Title Issues (if needed) – The professional buyer will work with you and the title company if there are any issues with the title work – In case there are any hiccups or glitches, the professional buyer will coordinate with you and the title company to iron out the issues. All you have to do is help them with whatever information they need and the rest will be taken care of by the title company.
- Show up to the closing– On the date you decided, you will visit the title company to sign the closing documents. They will review the HUD statement which shows where all the funds will be allocated, such as any mortgage balances, taxes, insurance, sewer bills, etc… If the numbers seem correct to you, all you have to do is sign the closing documents and collect your check from the sales.
If you are looking to sell your home without a real estate agent / broker then you do have options. You will have to decide if you want to put your house on the “retail” market just follow the steps. While you can save money doing it yourself, it does take a lot of work and attention to detail.