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For Sale by Owner Guide

Guide for Sellers

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Showing Your Home


Don’t discriminate! Treat every prospective buyer the same, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, family status, or national origin. Discrimination is against the law!


Open houses are a traditional way of showing a house to prospective purchasers. Basically, you put up a sign and/or run an advertisement and invite people into your house to look around. They are usually held in the afternoon on Saturday or Sunday. As popular as open houses are, few homes are actually sold through an open house. They tend to be a vehicle for real estate agents to pick up new buyers as clients and to show the owner of the house that they are working on their behalf. Many by owner sellers choose not to hold open houses because the chance of attracting that one interested buyer is very low. Generally, open houses attract lookers and neighbors. Nonetheless, open houses are a means of exposing the house, so if you decide to hold them, here are some basic rules of thumb.


  • Either advertise the open house in the weekend real estate section of your local paper or, if there are several homes for sale in your neighborhood, you could simply put up directional signs to your house and expect to pick up some traffic from other open houses in the area.
  • Have house information flyers and financing sheets ready.
  • When buyers come through, let them look around without you. Introduce yourself at the door, shake hands and tell them you’re available to answer questions. Then, let them look.
  • Before they leave, ask if you can answer any questions. Also, ask if you can tell them anything about the neighborhood or schools.
  • Always have the house ready to show when you have made an appointment. Turn on lights, build a fire, and send the pets and kids out for walk if you can. The smell of hot tea, a new pot of coffee, or other pleasant aroma will make a buyer feel like they are already home.
  • When buyers arrive, greet them warmly, tell them you’d like to answer any questions, give them a flyer and then LEAVE THEM ALONE TO LOOK AT THE HOUSE.
  • Keep a written log with name and phone number for each potential buyer who sees your house. Follow up a day or two after each appointment to see if they were interested. Remember that even if buyers are interested, they might not understand what the next step is.
  • Don’t negotiate verbally with a buyer. For instance, if your home is priced at $240,000, the buyer may ask if you would take $235,000. If you say yes, you’ve just given away $5,000 and you don’t know any of the terms of the contract! Respond nicely that you will consider written offers by qualified buyers.
  • You will get drop-ins even if you say "by appointment only." You will have to gauge each drop-in individually. Don’t let a drop-in into the house if you are alone and NEVER let a drop-in in after dark.

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