How to List Your Home for Sale by Owner

™You’ll find lucrative real estate markets all over the United States. North Carolina is one of those markets. Despite some of the challenges faced by home buyers and sellers over the past two years, investors are still excited about buying properties here.

That’s great news if you need to sell your home in 2022!

If you want to sell your home without hiring a professional real estate agent, you’ll want to read this guide on how to list your home for sale by owner.

A few minutes of reading will help you make informed decisions when you’re ready to put your home on the market.

What Exactly Does for Sale by Owner Mean?

It’s hard to miss when one of your neighbors puts their house up for sale. The realtor’s sign appears overnight in the front yard, and buyers begin streaming in to view the home.

More and more home sellers are opting to put a different sign in the yard—For Sale by Owner.

Selling a home by owners is also called FSBO, pronounced /ˈfizˌbō/for people who love acronyms. When a homeowner decides to use the for sale by owner method, they take on the responsibilities of listing and marketing. It’s all done without the help of a real estate agent.

The motivation for a DIY real estate transaction is two-fold.

First, selling a home yourself can save you a significant amount of money. When you hire a licensed real estate agent, you pay a commission. The national average commission earned by real estate agents is between 5% and 6% of the sales prices of the home.

Second, in many cases, when a seller opts out of using a real estate agent, they can sell the house faster.

The commission doesn’t come out of your pocket directly in most states. Instead, the closing agent subtracts the commission from the sale proceeds at closing.

Is Listing Your Home for Sale by Owner Right for You?

Before you commit to selling your home on your own, it’s wise to consider whether it’s your best option.

Selling a home is a complex, time-consuming endeavor. You’re acting as a real estate agent without extensive training.

You prepare your home for showings, write up the listing, market your home, and show it. You’ll also take care of all the paperwork and make sure you’re meeting the legal requirements of selling a home in your state.

Even if you choose not to hire a real estate agent, that doesn’t mean you won’t pay other services providers.

For example, in North Carolina, it’s a requirement to use a real estate attorney. You don’t need the services of a title company, but you will need to lawyer up before you list your home.

If you decide to perform a pre-listing home inspection, you’ll need to hire a licensed home inspector. While it’s not a legal requirement, a pre-listing assessment often reveals issues that you weren’t aware of and allows you to decide whether you want to make repairs.

If you decide you’re ready for the challenge, you’ll want to have a plan that includes each step in the sales process.

How to List Your Home for Sale by Owner

One of the more challenging aspects of selling a home is pricing it correctly. Real estate agents usually provide the seller with a comparative market analysis (CMA). The CMA looks at the condition and features of a home, then compares it to other properties recently sold in the area.

You can do your market analysis for free using one of the online real estate resources.

Selling a home can stir up many emotions. After all, this is the place you raised a family, or perhaps it’s your first home, and you’ve invested a lot of sweat equity. If you’re selling the house because you’re dealing with financial issues, the emotions can run even higher.

Most homeowners tend to over-value their homes. It’s understandable, but over-pricing your home will discourage buyers from even requesting a showing when you list it.

When you set the asking price, leave some room for negotiations. Most buyers don’t expect to pay the listing price. You don’t want to miss out on a sale because you’re willing (or able) to negotiate with your buyer.

Setting a reasonable asking price gives you a better chance of attracting sincere and qualified buyers.

Stage Your Home to Sell

You might assume that once you’ve decided on your asking price, the next step is to create a listing. Hold off for a minute on writing your eye-catching sales copy.

After pricing, your next move should be to ready your home for showings.

The point of staging a home is to make it attractive to buyers. Staging in the formal sense could mean buying or renting new furnishings and strategically hanging artwork.

You don’t need to go to that extreme!

Clearing out clutter goes a long way toward making your home look like a place someone else might want to live. If your home needs minor cosmetic improvements, such as fresh paint or holes patched, go ahead and take care of that before you list.

You want to show your home’s potential without misleading buyers and investors about the property’s condition.

Create Your Listing

Listing your home for sale by owner puts you in control of how and where you market your property. You’ll have free and paid options.

If you’re hoping to save on costs, you can post a free ad on social media.

The problem with free ads is the lack of visibility. Unless you put your home on the multiple listing service (MLS), your house won’t appear on any online real estate sites. If you choose to include your home on the MLS, it will broaden your potential buyer base, but you’ll probably need to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent.

You can set up a website dedicated to selling your home if you’re tech-savvy.

Here are a few tips to wow buyers with your listing:

  • Describe your home accurately
  • Highlight unique features
  • Avoid red flag words
  • Use adjectives wisely
  • Include value words

Red flag words include TLC, fixer-upper, and cosmetic. Using adjectives to describe your home is fine, but comments like dazzling, gorgeous, and stunning can make it seem like you’re trying too hard. Describing a home as updated, spacious, and move-in ready inspire buyers to schedule showings.

Flexibility and Responsiveness Matter

Listing your home for sale by owner means playing several roles. One of those is a tour guide. While it’s easy to let your emotions show, remaining neutral when showing your home is better.

Of course, you should talk about the home’s features, but if you focus on only the things you find attractive, you can put off the buyer. Buyers come with their own expectations and must-haves. For example, you might adore the weeping willow trees in the backyard, but a buyer might only see extra yard work.

It’s best to keep the emotions out of the home selling process. If you can, look at the process as selling a house rather than selling your home.

Flexibility is something you must embrace. You’ll need to be ready to show the house when prospective buyers want to see it.

You also want to respond quickly. Buyers will likely have several homes they want to see. If you wait too long to respond to emails or phone calls, they may move on to the next house on the list.

Should You Make Home Repairs?

Sellers usually make at least a few home repairs before finalizing the real estate transaction.

Your pre-listing inspection revealed needed repairs. If you can, try to make the repairs before listing your home.

There are ways to avoid making minor and major home repairs, including:

  • List the home in as-is condition
  • Negotiate a lower price
  • Offer to leave money on the table at closing

Offering to leave money on the table doesn’t mean you cut a personal check made out to the buyer. What happens is you subtract the agreed amount from the sale proceeds.

A Few Words About Selling a House As-Is

To clear up any misconceptions about selling a house as-is, let’s look closer at this type of real estate transaction.

When you list your home as-is, you indicate that you want to sell it in its current condition. You’re letting buyers know that you don’t plan to make further repairs or improvements.

Maybe your home is in pristine condition. If that’s the case, you want to list it that way. 

Some—but certainly not all—homeowners use an as-is listing for homes in disrepair. Often banks list foreclosure homes this way as well.

If you decide to list your home to sell “as is,” that doesn’t change the buyer’s legal rights. You may still have a legal obligation to disclose major problems. And the buyer can still negotiate an offer contingent on a favorable home inspection.

Understanding Closing Costs

It doesn’t matter which method you choose to sell your home. You’ll pay closing costs.

Buyers and sellers both bring funds to the closing.

One (the buyer) brings a check. The other (seller) covers closing costs from the home sale proceeds.

In most cases, the buyer pays more closing costs than the seller. A buyer usually pays around 2%-5% of the final sales price. Sometimes, sellers pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs.

If you still hold a mortgage or loan on the house, you’ll pay it off from the proceeds. The same goes for any liens against the property.

Sellers also pay pro-rated property taxes and, if applicable, pro-rated homeowner’s association fees.

Title Search and Title Insurance

Another component of for sale by owner real estate transactions is the title search.

A title search uncovers title defects or claims against the property and includes a chain of title. When the chain of title is in order, the new owner receives a clear title for the property.

In North Carolina, either a real estate attorney or a title company performs the title search.

If your buyer is financing the transaction, their lender may require title insurance. The buyer usually pays the cost of this insurance.

Consider a Cash Buyer

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to sell your home, why not look for a cash buyer? Whether you need to relocate quickly for work or you’re at risk of foreclosure, selling your house fast is an attractive option.

Accepting a cash offer comes with several benefits. Advantages of cash offers include:

  • Faster closing
  • Fewer fees
  • Less paperwork
  • No marketing required
  • Showings not necessary
  • Limited negotiations
  • No financing issues

Usually, a cash home sale is less stressful than a traditional real estate transaction. Finding a cash buyer is as easy as searching online.

Cash buyers include private investors and companies specializing in buying homes for cash. Generally, cash buyers are ready and able to make you an offer within 24-48 hours of seeing your home.

Instead of the usual 90-day closing, you’ll likely close in around ten days.

Ready to Sell Your Home?

We’ve covered the basics of how to list your home for sale by owner.

As you can see, selling a home on your own doesn’t cut into your profits as much as partnering with a real estate agent would. If you work with someone who pays cash for houses, you’ll have less stress, and you may even end up with more in your bank account.

Sound enticing? Here at Smith Liquidations, we pay cash for homes every day. We love making the process as stress-free as possible. Contact us today to sell your house!

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