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Free Money Finance

Selling Your Home Without a Realtor in 2016: A Guide for the Motivated Property Seller

Posted: 12 Jun 2016 02:05 AM PDT

The following is a guest post from Sacha Ferrandi. He has spent the last 12 years funding real estate investments and building his real estate lending firm. As Founder and Principal of Source Capital Funding Inc., Sacha is an expert in both residential and commercial real estate.

Looking to make a move soon? Recent trends have seen homeowners electing to sell their homes themselves by forgoing the realtor middleman, and for good reason. Selling a home can save homeowners around 6 percent of the price of their home. Let’s put some numbers on this: Say your home is worth $500,000—you can save up to $30,000—definitely not chump change.

With this said, selling your own home isn’t always the right decision. This difficult process is a fulltime job; from paperwork to legal regulations, selling real estate takes a lot of time, patience and effort. This guide gives details on the selling process so you can determine if this route is right for you.

Home Preparation

In order to sell your home, you’ll need to work on getting it buyer-ready:

  • Pick a season in which to sell; this can vary based on neighborhood, but generally speaking, homes are sold mostly between spring and summer.
  • It’s important to make sure your home is immaculate, from the inside out. Clean as much as possible, plant in the front to improve curb appeal—it can increase your property value by over 10 percent on average—and apply a fresh coat of paint.
  • Keep your home décor neutral and inviting; allow any shopping families to imagine their own décor and memories being made in the space.
  • Before selling, you may need various certificates, so speak with local county officials and determine exactly what’s required; it could be an occupancy certificate or fire check inspection. The investment of time and money now will definitely pay off down the road when you have an interested buyer.

Before posting your home for sale, you’ll need to do plenty of research on comparable listings and sales in your immediate neighborhood. If you want to be more exact about your home’s value, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional appraiser. On average, an appraiser visit will cost between $300 and $400. We suggest checking certifications and experience when choosing an appraiser, as a false appraisal can impact a sale. A buyer may request an additional appraisal; should a large discrepancy be found, you might find that problems arise with their lending company. Check out this article for more information on appraisals.

Legal Processes

There are many legal ins and outs of the process, so it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer that can help file the proper forms and keep you on the right side of the law. You’ll need to do research on the actual FSBO laws in your town. Regardless of the laws, we suggest you have the following reviewed by a lawyer as FSBO sellers are not often covered by Errors and Omissions Insurance:

  • Disclosure forms such as previous fires, floods, lead paint, etc.
  • Buyer’s Agents agreements
  • Final Purchase Agreement

When it Comes to Listing

You’ll want to list your post online through a site that gets the most traffic—cue the MLS. This is considered to be, by and large, the most comprehensive and detailed list of real estate available in the United States. It’s generally available to realtors, but in some areas, buyers can also access this site. There are certain services that make it possible for individual sellers to post their homes on the site, usually at a fee of a couple hundred dollars. In your listing, be sure to put together a list of updates and improvements you have installed in the home and list by date and cost. This will give buyers the most comprehensive look at the true value of your home.

Market Your Home

Marketing your home is not the same as listing it. Create professional advertisements; if you don’t have graphic design experience, utilize services like Upwork and 99designs that will put you in contact with inexpensive freelance designers. You’ll want to place your advertisements on sites like Zillow and and place physical copies in local neighborhood coffee shops and the like. The more visibility your ad has, the better chance you’ll have at a profitable sale. Before posting your advertisements, prepare important information about the commuting details in your area, the school system, and local amenities. This prepped knowledge will have you ready to field questions when open houses come around.

Hold an Open House

Instead of hosting hundreds of personal home showings, hold an open house once or twice a month. Leverage local newspapers or the popular FSBO sites like Hotpads, Trulia,, etc., to increase turnout. You might be overwhelmed at the aspect of fielding multiple prospective buyers, but remember that competition will make your home more desirable. Channel your inner salesman: highlight the top selling points of your home, such as bedrooms, yards, schools, and privacy factors, but do so without being too over the top. Be polite, use positive words and highlight your home neutrally, and never lie to or argue with a prospective buyer.

Receiving an Offer

Once all goes well with your open home showings, you should get an offer. Do not accept a verbal offer and if a buyer needs a contact, have them ready to send over; you can even print them out and have them available for ease at the open house. When you do receive an offer, you’ll have the option to reject, revise, or accept off the bat. Don’t be surprised if this process requires multiple revisions of the terms between sellers and buyers. Above all, never negotiate without a written offer.

Accepting an Offer

Make sure each offer has a mortgage pre-approval from a lender as well as an earnest deposit check of between 1-2% of the accepted price. Monitor any contingency offers as they can be a headache (contingency of buyer selling their own home, contingency of another property inspection, etc.), and always be sure to include a contingency of attorney approval from your side. Make all 2-3% earnest deposits nonrefundable. There can be exceptions, such as a failed inspection or new information left out of the disclosure, but without a deposit, a buyer can back out at any time and leave you with nothing. Last but definitely not least, always be sure that the buyer has obtained Buyer’s Title insurance.

Buyers Inspection and Bank Appraisal

First time home buyers can be shaky during inspection. Take the lead and talk with them about any issues to help ease their nerves during the buyer’s inspection.

There are considerations to take into account if your buyer is purchasing the home using varied types of loans. If your buyer is taking out a FHA loan, you can’t seek a second appraisal for a period of at least six months, even if you’re later approached by another buyer. If they intend on taking out a conventional loan and putting down 20 percent or less, they will not receive approval for a loan if your home doesn’t appraise for at least as much as they offered. If the bank appraisal is low, you may be forced to lower your selling price.

When you finally depart your home for the last time, make sure it’s in the condition specified in your contract. This might mean having your water meter read one last time, cleaning and wiping down cabinets, running a duster through the blinds, or any other provisions that the buyers might have stipulated.

Finally, make your move and rejoice over your new sale!

Then, if you are looking to buy a new house, do it in a way that allows you to pay off your mortgage in 10 years!

Note: Keep in mind that this article is not meant to represent legal advice. Consider this a jumping off point for making the decision to embark on the arduous journey of selling a home. Make sure you’re ready to sell before taking any additional steps.


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