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Selling house without a Realtor? Steps do you need to take.

When you’re getting ready to sell your home you have a lot of choices to make. When to list and sell, where you want to move to, and how much money you hope to make. If you’re a “do-it-yourself” type, you might be considering another choice — selling your house without a Realtor in Harford County, MD and surrounding areas.

For most sellers, saving on real estate agent commission fees is the biggest appeal to selling by owner. But before you make the decision based on money alone, make sure you have a good grasp of the process and the amount of work involved.

He thinks that for sale by owner, or FSBO, sellers can underestimate all the moving pieces that go into a move, which is why we’re going to break them down for you.

Your three main options to sell a house without a Realtor® include:

  1. Sell to a cash buyer

  2. Hire a real estate attorney to facilitate a sale to a known buyer

  3. Handle the sale yourself via For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

We’re going to identify the pros and cons of each option, and give you some basic steps to follow if you decide to sell your house without a Realtor®.

Option 1: Sell your house to a cash buyer

If you need a fast sale, consider selling your house for cash. Cash buyers — including iBuyers and house buying companies — are individuals or entities that purchase your home outright, without the need for lender financing. Cash buyers offer sellers convenience and a quick sale, but often at the cost of a higher transaction fee and lower net profit.


You can sometimes avoid home inspection delays

Inspection issues account for 16% of closing delays, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you sell your home “as is” to a cash buyer, they may not require you to complete any needed repairs the home inspection found. Some cash buyers could waive a home inspection entirely.

You don’t need to deal with the stress of an open house and home showings

Put away the cleaning supplies and don’t worry about tidying up. With a cash sale, nobody is coming for a showing at a moment’s notice. Imagine how much time you’ll save out of your already busy week if you don’t have to make your kids and pets disappear for an hour!

You can skip the home makeover

Again, because this is an as-is situation, you won’t need to climb up on the roof or repaint rooms or obtain estimates from contractors. You can also skip cosmetic upgrades normally needed to increase your home’s marketability and attract buyers. Forget about decluttering, staging, painting, and updating hardware and fixtures.


The sale price is often lower than you want

As hinted at earlier, convenience comes with a cost. Many cash buyers use a seller’s desire for convenience to leverage a lower price.

Option 2: Sell your house to someone you know with the help of a real estate attorney

If you’re lucky enough to have a buyer waiting in the wings, consider selling your house without a Realtor®. Instead, hire a real estate attorney to help you close the sale.

Attorneys specialized in real estate transactions can help draft and interpret the endless stack of closing paperwork, including contracts and legal documents.

Option 3. Sell your home on the open market without a real estate agent (FSBO)

Sellers are often drawn to FSBO because they want to save on agent commission costs and control the entire process. However, with added control comes added responsibility. You’ll need to advertise and market the listing, price it accordingly, and host walk-throughs and open houses.


You save on real estate agent commission fees

If you sell your home yourself, you keep the 3% commission fee that normally goes to the listing agent. However, note that you may still need to cover your buyer’s agent commission fees, typically 3% of the home sale.

You can still list your home on the MLS

You can advertise your home listing in Facebook groups, Nextdoor, other online neighborhood sites, or on your personal Facebook page. But to reach the widest homebuying audience possible, you’ll want to list your home on the real estate industry’s multiple listing service (MLS), where 9 in 10 sellers listed their homes.

FSBO homes can sell faster

Because it’s not an arm’s-length transaction, sometimes FSBO homes can sell and close faster than a sale in the open market. In 2020, 77% of FSBO homes sold in under 2 weeks. These sales closed quickly because the sellers often sold their homes to individuals they already knew, according to the National Association of Realtors.


Statistically, you’re likely to sell your house for less money than if you hired a Realtor®

Real estate agents sell homes for 6% more than FSBO sellers do, according to Collateral Analytics.

There are many reasons why FSBO homes usually sell for less:

  • Buyer’s agents out-negotiate FSBO sellers.

  • FSBO sellers often miss the mark in setting a competitive listing price. When they price their homes too low, they lose money. When they price their homes too high, their home sits on the market, leading to a lower final selling price.

  • A home inspection report could reveal issues that the seller struggles to address efficiently. They may agree to have too many repairs done and lose money in their home sale. Or they may push back too hard and the buyer leaves the deal.

FSBO is time consuming: You’re in charge of marketing and communications

If you’re planning to act as your own agent, it will feel like a part-time job. The seller must market their home with social media, flyers, and open houses.

As a seller without an agent, you also must be available days, nights, and weekends to promptly respond to inquiries. If you fail to return an email or phone call quickly, you could lose the buyer who finds another home in the meantime.

Photos and staging are your responsibility

You’ll need to hire a professional photographer to take shots of your home’s interior and exterior.

Your personal safety may be at risk

Owens recently met with an older woman selling FSBO. She felt concerned for her safety when she heard about some recent home showings.

You could be scammed

FSBO sellers also need to watch out for wire fraud and online-phishing scams.

Wire fraud is when sellers receive an email from a title company that looks legitimate, but contains fake wiring instructions that actually sends the money to a scammer’s account. Once it’s gone, you typically can’t get it back.

Some scammers will claim that they want to buy your house but can’t come see it in person. They’ll offer to send a money order as a deposit. A few days later, they’ll ask for their money back. After you send the refund, your bank discovers the money order was fraudulent and, again, you typically can’t get your money back.

You have to handle negotiations yourself

Agents are skilled negotiators focused on getting the best deal for their clients. The buyer’s agent isn’t looking out for your interests — and could try to take advantage of your inexperience during negotiations. They could ask for non-standard contingencies or timelines.

Are you comfortable pushing back on requests, and do you know what’s normal in the market? Can you handle the back and forth of negotiations and remain calm, keeping the deal intact but still getting what you need? Before you decide to sell by owner, be honest with yourself about your strengths as a negotiator because it’s a key part of the deal.

14 steps to selling FSBO

If you decide the pros outweigh the cons of a FSBO sale, follow this list to successfully list and sell your home by owner.

1. Research your home’s market value

An agent prepares a comparative market analysis to help potential sellers set the list price — you’ll need to do something similar.

This analysis includes whether or not nearby comparable homes (called comps) sold at, below, or above list price, how quickly they sold, and adjusts for differences between your house and the sold house (such as if the closed sale had a garage and your home doesn’t). When researching your home’s market value, look at real estate websites for closing information and follow the same steps.

For list price compared to sales price, online data isn’t always available. You may have to search records at your county recorder’s office.

Remember — no matter what you think a home is worth, if there isn’t data to support your list price, a buyer could have a hard time getting it appraised for the amount required by their lender.

2. Set a competitive listing price

If a home sits on the market too long, buyers might wonder if something is wrong with it.

3. Prepare your home for sale

Preparing for a home sale goes beyond making sure there aren’t any kid’s toys on the floor. Some experts advise packing up at least half of your stuff before listing your house. Look around and see what easy and quick fixes would spruce up the place — from replacing burnt out lightbulbs to repainting your teenager’s black bedroom.

4. Hire a professional photographer

If you’re trying to maximize your return on investment when you sell, invest in a professional photographer for listing pics. Professional photography stands out on the MLS, and elevates your listing.

5. List your home with a flat fee MLS service

A flat fee MLS service will list your home for you — allowing potential buyers and their agents to find it. Your home will show up in buyer searches when they look in your area and select details that fit your home.

6. Market your property

When you work with an agent, they may have a pool of buyers and network where they can present your house. Without an agent, you need to find ways to reach your buyers.

7. Field phone calls and schedule tour requests

Once your home is “live” on the MLS, you’ll hopefully start receiving phone calls to request showings. Agents use tracking software and online calendars to avoid double booking, and to let sellers know when they need to be out of the house.

8. Follow up with potential buyers

After people have come through your house, follow up! An agent might reach out to the buyer’s agent for feedback, or send a form requesting comments. Call or email to ask if they have any questions.

While you can ask what they thought of the house, they might be sensitive to the fact that you’re the owner and could be reluctant to say anything negative. Strive for professionalism and detachment.

9. Review offers and negotiate with the buyer

Once offers come in, review and compare them. There’s more to an offer than the sale price — look at closing timelines, if the buyer is offering you a rent back period, or other contingencies to find the best overall offer.

10. Manage contract timelines and due dates

After accepting an offer there’s a lot of paperwork to handle. From the purchase agreement to the closing statement, these are legally binding documents. You’ll need to monitor contract timelines such as how long the buyer has to get a home inspection done, to negotiate for repairs, or to walk away from the sale.

11. Prepare the required legal disclosures

States have different legal requirements for home sales. It’s a good idea to involve a lawyer in either reviewing or preparing these documents. At a minimum, you’ll need a purchase agreement and settlement statement.

12. Schedule inspection appointments with the buyer

The buyer selects and pays for the home inspection. While you may want to prepare for the home inspection, your primary responsibility is to make sure that the home is empty and that the buyer and inspector can access the property.

13. Renegotiate with the buyer’s agent based on inspection findings

After a home inspection, buyers can and often do negotiate home repairs. They could ask you to fix items before the closing, or request a credit back at closing to cover the repair’s costs. If the home inspector found serious issues, they could negotiate the sale price down.

Be prepared to handle these negotiations tactfully, and be realistic when deciding if you’ll make concessions. If the sale falls through, another buyer’s home inspector will find the same issues. It could be worth offering to knock a few thousand dollars off the sale price to close the deal.

14. Navigate the settlement process and close your home sale

The settlement process involves working with a title company to make sure the home has a clear title. You’ll have to collect all documents — title, deed, and any homeowner’s association covenants — as well as the mortgage payoff amounts.

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