How To Sell Your Home Without An Agent

Over 95% of homes for sale in RVA are listed WITH a Realtor. Here’s how to compete with the Pros.  

Strategy: identify your priorities

Maximum net sale price? Minimum days on market?  Least hassles? Best contract terms? Smooth inspections? Whatever is most important for you should guide you throughout the process, from how you prepare your home, through your marketing plan, price decision and negotiations strategy.

Marketing: make your product attractive   

Your home is a product competing with others in the marketplace — so make it as attractive as possible:

  • top notch condition
  • no clutter
  • furnishings that don’t distract
  • neutral colors
  • depersonalize

Once your showcase home is ready, take photographs that compete with the  pros:

  • spacious, bright and clean
  • feature the house, not furniture
  • focus on unique features
  • all the main rooms
  • kitchen, bathrooms, master
  • outside front and rear  
  • landscaping

Syndicate your listing to the leading public real estate websites, including a well-written description. Be compelling but honest, to avoid failed showings, broken contracts or even lawsuits later on.  

You may want to consider using brochures, newspaper ads, social media, email and mail campaigns. One South’s marketing materials and campaigns build on the experience of billions of dollars worth of sales by our agents — at no extra charge for our clients. 

Communication   In the traditional sales model, the Listing Agent plays a crucial role as the communications hub on the Seller’s behalf, acting in the interests of the Seller within the constraints of a complex regulatory environment. The penalties for missteps can be serious — loss of a potential sale, fines and other legal penalties for missed deadlines or failure to comply with regulations concerning disclosure, fair housing and real estate contract law. You should familiarize yourself in advance with the forms and regulations online to avoid future complications. 

Pricing   FSBO homes are always in a Buyer’s market.  Buyers’ stronger negotiating position results in downward price pressure and a bigger gap between list and final sale prices.  Listing agents help sellers set their price based on a Comparative Marketing Analysis starting with recent selling prices of similar homes.  Agents also have access to a broad range of additional data to guide their pricing, such as current market conditions, inventory, seasonality, absorption, home style and condition.

Scheduling and Feedback   FSBOs get fewer qualified shoppers; so you can’t afford to pass up any opportunity to show your home, no matter how inconvenient. Be sure your visitors have a mortgage pre-approval, and aren’t just bargain hunters or curious neighbors. Helpful feedback is often conveyed between agents — don’t expect a potential buyer to be so frank while standing in your living room. 

Negotiations and Transaction Management    After you get an acceptable offer, transactions can easily fall apart on the way through negotiations, inspections, financing, appraisals, and title searches. Many Buyers’ agents won’t show FSBOs at all due to the greater risk of transaction failure when the seller doesn’t have a professional agent. In the rare situation where neither of you has an agent, you and the prospective buyer are in uncharted territory. Be sure you don’t trip up on any regulatory or legal requirements.  Mortgage lenders, home inspectors and appraisers may seem to transform unexpectedly from your best friends to  your worst enemies. There are lots of opportunities for misunderstandings between you and the buyer. On the other hand, if your buyer has an agent, you will be at a significant disadvantage since the knowledge, experience and skills of the agent are solely dedicated to the buyer’s best interests. That agent also knows there are lots more houses out there, and your best bet may be to sell your house at a bargain price.

The Truth About Commissions    Your buyer will almost certainly have an agent.  So you’ll have to pay that agent’s commission.  You’ll also have some out-of-pocket marketing expenses that you wouldn’t have if you had your own agent.  In the end, you need to ask yourself the question whether that “saving” might have made a better “investment” in a listing agent who would likely give you:

  • 20-fold increase in prospective buyer pool
  • best possible price
  • lower likelihood of deal falling apart in transaction management
  • greater net payoff (even after commission)
  • much less work for you
  • a faster sale

The Bottom Line    If you decide to continue your efforts to sell your home on your own, I hope the tips in this piece are helpful. Of course I encourage you to explore the alternative of working with me as your agent! In any case I’d be happy to address any questions you might have about this piece. 



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