For Sale By Owner: How to Market Your Home Sale

for sale by owner.It's hard enough to sell a house in today's market without taking a substantial loss. If you then have to skim the cream off the top to pay for a sales commission, you're digging an even deeper hole. A real estate agent is supposed to relieve the stress of selling a home, but the process of choosing an agent is its own considerable headache.

Will the realty agent charging a 6 to 7 percent commission really be able to deliver? Will the agent charging a 4 to 5 percent commission really offer a competitive advantage? There are no easy or definitive answers. But you have options -- you don't have to hire a Realtor for your home sale. We'll tell you who else to hire to help you with your "for sale by owner" (aka FSBO). And give you some tips for selling you home quickly.

Alternative real estate professionals

From social networking and online referral services to easy-access research and limitless pools of knowledge and advice, the Internet has made conducting your own home sale a more plausible scenario than ever. That said, perhaps the biggest misconception about real estate professionals is that it's an all-or-nothing proposition. You may not need to hire an agent on commission, but you don't need, nor should you try, to sell a house on your own. Here are four of the most common and valuable real estate professionals that can allow you to circumvent the need to lose a large, commission-based chunk of the final selling price.

Home inspectors: Many people mistakenly view home inspections as an afterthought to the home-selling process. An evaluation of your home's condition can be a valuable resource as much as a legal hoop to jump through. By identifying any systems or structures that are in danger of failure and getting them replaced upfront, you can offer a stress-free property to the market. It also makes you look like an honest FSBO dealer, an asset that should expedite the process. (Find highly rated home inspectors in your area.)

Home appraisers: You need to know how much you can ask for, aim for, or expect your house to sell for. In other words, you need to know roughly how much your home is worth. As such, hiring a home appraiser is a great resource for moving forward with the FSBO process. Unlike the inspection, you may want to play the appraisal closer to the vest, especially if you have reason to think you can get more for your home than the appraisal suggests. (Find highly rated home appraisers in your area.)

Home stagers: You probably know that it's advantageous to start cleaning out the home before you show it to prospective buyers. Small, personal items and clutter detract from the impression your home will give, in subtly damaging ways, but it's a good idea to leave the "bare bones" of a living arrangement. Home stagers know where to draw this line and how to put your home's best foot forward. If you don't want to take on this expense, you may still want to farm out some of the typical house chores. Time-consuming lawn maintenance, for example, is critical for home staging.(Find highly rated home stagers in your area.)

Real estate attorney: Transferring the title of a home is not the same thing as transferring the title of a motor vehicle. Most likely, you'll need to hire an attorney to make sure the legalese is in order and properly filed. That said, if both the homebuyer and seller are on the same page, you can often get this taken care of without the exorbitant fees that most people associate with extensive legal action.

Home-selling tips and strategies

Even if you hire all four of these real estate professionals, the fees are unlikely to approach the expense of a typical real estate commission. But neither will the home sell itself, as it may with a real estate agent on the job. Here are some of the most useful FSBO tips and strategies to sell a home, especially in this unique, slumping housing market.

Emphasize value: Bank-owned foreclosures and short sellers will be emphasizing rock-bottom prices. Yet these properties often suffer from structural flaws, resulting from years of neglect. At auction, homes may be sold "as-is" without letting buyers even see the interior of the house. Consider offering this perspective: "Look, I know you can go down the street and find a house selling for twenty thousand less, but you may need to invest twice that in the next five years on new roofing, flooring and water damage."

The proof is in the paperwork: As a counterbalance, you should emphasize and show how your home has been well-cared-for. Of course, if you're going to make this point, you better be sure your home can withstand the extra scrutiny. Have the paperwork for the home inspection and improvements on hand. Prove to homebuyers that the hardwood flooring is only three years old. Show them the fine print of your roofing warranty to demonstrate that it will transfer to the new homeowner.

Be realistic about price. The No. 1 reason that people can't sell their home is because they're unwilling or unable to absorb losses. Understandably so. If you're in a position where you don't have to sell your home, you should think about renting the property out for a year or two in the hopes for a strong rebound in the housing market. Unfortunately, many people don't have this option. You should consider lowering your initial asking price in the hopes of generating interest and, ideally, a bidding war, but you can't expect this single and widely-advertised strategy to be a silver bullet.

These AOL Real Estateguides can help, no matter whether you choose to buy or sell:

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.
Get property tax help from our experts.


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