By Robert Irwin
Lots of people these days are selling their home "by owner." Many are successful; some are not. Here are three of the biggest mistakes made by those who take up the challenge.
Failure To Get Help - Selling "by owner" does not mean selling entirely on your own. It means that you will do some or all of the work involved in finding a buyer and completing the transaction in the hopes of saving all or part of an agent's commission. But, it does not mean you'll go about the task blindly.
Today there are numerous sources of information and help available to those who sell by themselves. And to not take advantage of these is to hamstring your effort. The sale of a home, though not usually complicated, can be tricky. And unless you're a savvy seller, you should seek aid where you need it. Here are 2 key areas where help is available, often at a very reasonable cost:
Marketing - It may be true that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. But, if you put your own home up for sale, don't expect buyers to suddenly descend en masse. You'll need to do marketing. Many books out there, including one by this author ("The FSBO Kit"), can help you come up with a successful marketing plan. Online websites, such as Owners.com also can offer help as well with signs and promotion.
- You need professional help in preparing a sales agreement and in interpreting and/or creating the other paperwork involved in a transaction. In many areas of the East Coast, attorneys will provide this for what amounts to a nominal fee. Elsewhere some agents will offer this service for a discount commission, or even a set fee. To learn how to select help, see our title and escrow section
Pricing Too High - Many times the real reason that a person wants to sell "by owner" is because real estate agents have told him or her that the price they want is unrealistic. In an "I'll show them!" attitude, the seller then attempts to get his price on his own.
Bad mistake. It doesn't matter if you list with an agent or list with yourself, the price is what the market will bear. Buyers really don't care how much money you've expended on your home, how big your mortgage is, or what you think the place is worth. Value to them is only derived from the market.
Besides, "by owner" sellers come with a built in advantage. Since they're not paying a commission, they can offer the place at a discount of a percent or two. This has the effect of luring in buyers and helping to get a quicker sale.
Not Fixing Up The Property - Unfortunately, most of us are our own worst enemy, here. We tend to see things as we want them to be, not as they are. Few of us can objectively look at our home and determine what should be fixed, painted, cleaned and removed.
On the other hand, any good real estate agent can walk through our home in ten minutes and quickly tell us. After all, that's what agents do for a living.
Therefore, take advantage of an agent's services. Most agents would be happy to come by and give you their perspective on what to do to fix up your property. They'll do it freely in the hopes that in the event you don't get a buyer on your own, you'll list with them.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal
online and is introducing a new weekly column forOwners.com
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.