While the average real estate commission hovered at 5.1 %, more sellers are choosing the FSBO route – For Sale By Owner. Pronounced “fisbo”, this method has saved thousands of dollars in fees for sellers all around the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the 2007 median home selling price was $247,900, creating a real estate commission of $12,642.90. It is small wonder that so many sellers are trying FSBO.
One of the most important means to selling a home is permitting potential buyers to see the inside of the home. When a property owner lists their home with a realtor, the listing agent generally schedules an Open House shortly after listing. The open house is a way to get as many possible buyers into the home in as short a time period as possible. Therefore, the FSBO seller should employ the same tactics.
The FSBO Guide To Hosting An Open House
Before a seller ever schedules an open house, they should take a long, critical look at their home. This is the most important step, and engaging the help of an honest friend will go a long way toward reaching the desired selling price. It is necessary to truly understand the reasons for wanting to sell. Potential buyers in the same socio-economic group may find the same objections with the property. More importantly, a list must be made of anything that is not working or needs repaired.
After determining the property’s shortcomings, it is time to make some corrections. Many relatively inexpensive yet time-consuming do-it-yourself projects can go a long way toward increasing a property’s selling price. The cost of painting walls a neutral color to hide individual expression increases a home’s sales potential. If necessary, use a product designed to cover crayon marks. If there are leaks, they must be repaired as well as any water damage that may have occurred. Repairing screens in storm doors and windows is a minor fix for a major issue if a house is not equipped with central air-conditioning.
Once cosmetic repairs are made, window treatments should be washed or dry-cleaned. Windows should also be cleaned. Kitchen cabinets and woodwork should be cleaned with a material-appropriate product.
Extensive cleaning is a major step, but it may not be enough. This is the time to rid the property of clutter. Use this time to hold a yard sale instead of waiting until the few short weeks leading up to a move to a new home. Donate unused items or outgrown clothing. By cleaning out unnecessary items, valuable closet space will appear more spacious and appealing.
In my experience, it is well worth the money to pay a carpet-cleaning service. These professionals are well-trained and have the correct equipment and chemicals to give an almost-new appearance to even very old carpeting.
The outside of the home is the first impression a potential buyer will receive. It is not enough to simply mow the lawn. Sagging gutters, shutters and window boxes should be secured. If the exterior paint is peeling and cracked, a FSBO seller should examine the cost of painting the outside. An asphalt driveway that is recently sealed gives a fresh appearance. If there are flower beds, they should be kept neat and weed-free. Often, a few bags of mulch will go a long way toward increasing “curb-appeal”. Keep in mind, once the advertisement for the open house appears, buyers will drive by the property to determine if they want a closer look inside.
After all of the cleaning and repairs have been made, the date and time for the open house can be set. The open house should last no longer than two to three hours. The FSBO seller must advertise the event. Yard signs announcing the upcoming open house are not enough. Newspaper advertising, while sometimes costly, will reach a broad audience. If the property is located in a town within commuting distance of a major metropolitan area, the best advertising dollars may be spent in that city’s newspaper.
The day before the open house should be a final cleaning. The lawn should be mowed and extra care taken to be sure there is no clutter inside or out. While it is not necessary to provide refreshments during this open house, any baking should be done the day before.
FSBO sellers who are parents of small children may wish to look into having the children stay with friends or relatives. This is a business event and should be handled as such.
It is important to have on hand several blank copies of the state-appropriate Offer to Buy Real Estate Form/Real Estate Purchase Contract and Federal Lead Paint Disclosure. These forms may be obtained from your attorney, many office supply stores or online. Having these forms on hand makes it possible for potential buyers to make an offer immediately, rather than allowing for an overnight cooling-off period.
Using the FSBO method to sell a home is a lot of work. That work pays off when money that would normally go into a real estate agent’s pocket as commission becomes the down payment for a new home.