Selling your house does not have to be a complicated process, but if you don't pay attention to a few things, the exercise might turn out to be tedious and time-consuming. Plus, a home sale transaction gone awry could wreak havoc on your finances, not to mention your reputation and future odds of reselling the property.
Keep an eye on a few things as you hop on the FSBO (For Sale by Owner) train, so you can make it an easy and fun ride. To successfully and quickly sell your home, use the proper channels to advertise it and don't misprice the house. Also, take unqualified buyers out of the bidding process, so you can focus on prospective purchasers who have been pre-approved-or approved, for that matter-by their lenders. Don't forget, though, as you embark on the FSBO bandwagon that you always can seek the help of professionals as diverse as real estate lawyers, appraisers and home inspectors.
Mispricing Your Home
Mispricing a house is a mistake homeowners use to make back in the days, says Peter J., a retired mortgage adviser who has worked on, and completed, more than 5,000 real estate transactions during a 35-year career. He says that the playing field has been leveled nowadays because you have access to technology and a host of other resources, which enable you to correctly price your house. For example, you can use online resources like Yahoo! Homes to properly value your residence. You also can look into local classifieds to find the prices of similarly situated houses and figure out whether you are in the upper range, the lower range, or in the middle range, price-wise.
Thinking You Can Get Any Price You Want
Another blunder you should avoid, says Peter, is to think you can get any price you want. With an economy fraught with the repercussions of the recent recession, the real estate market is still recovering, so it is difficult to sell a residence as fast as in years past.
Keep your expectations at a reasonable level, not low. Unless your property lies in a popular or exclusive area, and the laws of supply and demand play in your favor, you should be flexible with price and constantly check how your asking price stacks up against what owners of similar local residences are demanding.
Not Advertising Properly
If you don't advertise your home properly, you may hit a rough patch on your FSBO ride. In this day and age, technology has made it easier to spread the word about everything from house sale to, say, the prom party your soon-to-be freshman nephew is organizing next weekend.
Start spreading the word with colleagues, friends and relatives, that is, your real-life network. Ask any acquaintance if he or she is in the market for an upcoming property purchase or whether he or she knows someone who is. Drive around town and talk at length about the sale whenever and wherever possible, be it at the worship place, grocery store, yard sale, or at the kids' school. The goal here is to communicate as much as possible.
Next, go online. Peter J., the retired mortgage adviser, says you should use social networks as extensively as possible, taking advantage of the myriad features the networks possess. Plus, they are free! Take and post sleek pictures of your house on platforms as varied as Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Always ask your friends and people in your network to help spread the word by posting the announcement on their own profiles. For example, on Twitter, you can ask your followers to re-tweet the initial tweet in which you indicated the upcoming sale as well the house's photos.
If you have advertising money or want to sell the property fast, consider posting an ad on sites like Craiglist.com or more specialized real estate website portals like Owners.com and Homes by Owner, both of which charge a fee to list your property. Additionally, you can contact your local newspaper to inquire about advertising rates.
Not Weeding Out Unqualified Buyers-Early
Don't waste your time with the wrong kind of prospective buyers-I mean, those who are either unqualified, don't know what they want, or are just "hanging around" to see what is going on in the real estate market. Believe it or not, says Peter J., some real estate investors and speculators often spend days canvassing multiple properties that, in the end, they know they would not buy right away or even in the next three to six months.
So weed out unqualified buyers as soon as possible, so you can focus your energy, resources, and time on prospective purchasers who are worth your time. But how do you do it? First, ask each expectant buyer what his or her budget is. If the budget is below your house value, you know this is one buyer to tick off your list. If a prospective buyer has passed step 1, ask him or her whether he or she has received a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender. Third, ask the buyer if you can get in contact with his or her attorney to coordinate the rest of the sale process. Things that you also can (subtly) inquire about include the prospective buyer's employment history and financial condition, but don't worry too much if you don't have all the answers because the buyer's mortgage lender will take care of that aspect. Remember, all you need is money from the sale, not to get a FBI-style background check on the purchaser.
Not Showing Your Home When Needed
If you don't make yourself available for visits, you are lowering the odds of a quick sale. Believe it or not, you might lose a good sale opportunity if you were busy when, say, an out-of-town investor were in your area and wanted to tour your property. Scenarios like this one are not far-fetched because you simply don't know who is going to buy your house. When you post your property online for sale, you are telling the whole world about it, so don't think only locals would be interested in viewing and eventually purchasing it.
The bottom line is: make yourself available. Carve out some time for visits. If you have a smart phone, use the "to-do list" or another productivity app to schedule house visits. You can do it daily, say, 2 hours, or weekly, such as Monday and Thursday mornings. Next, be professional and punctual. A house sale is a business transaction, so treat it as such.
Wanting a Quick Sale
You know what typically happens when you are in a rush to do anything, right? You make mistakes, small and big. Preparation and patience often do wonders. If you want a rush sale, you might attract the wrong kind of purchasers, those who invariably would exploit your economic urgency to bid low. In other words, wanting a quick sale tells prospective buyers, especially the shrewd ones, that something adverse is going on in your life. They could think that you are in financial straits and need the money fast, or that another emergency is forcing you to leave the house promptly. Either way, you are at a disadvantage going into the transaction.
Selling your home can be a pleasant, fun-filled and enriching experience if you do your homework in advance and seek advice from friends and relatives, particularly those with real estate savvy. Advance preparation helps you avoid operational pitfalls as diverse as mispricing your house, pushing for a quick sale, and not advertising on the proper channels. Other blunders you should avoid include not making yourself available for visits as well as not distinguishing "good" buyers from prospective purchasers who are unqualified.