Tips for sellers
|These tips are taken from FSBOPrimer.com, a how-to website developed by Lori Alden, an economist who is co-owner of FSBOContraCosta.com.
Step 1: Preparation
- Start visiting open houses in your area so you can get a sense of what your home's worth.
- Unless your home is fairly new, hire a pest inspection company to check for damage. The company will give you a bid if any work that needs to be done. If lots of work needs to be done, get bids from other contractors. (Hint: Buy a combination lockbox from us so that inspectors and contractors can gain access to your home when you're not there.)
- Rent a storage locker and move lots of your stuff into it.
- Clean and tidy up the landscaping.
- Paint, if necessary.
- Repair anything that's broken.
- Replace inexpensive items that are worn out, like toilet seats and switchplates.
- Remove and replace anything attached to the house that you want to take with you, like light fixtures and drapes.
- If you're aesthetically challenged, hire a professional stager to offer advice.
- When your house is ready, take photos--or hire us to do it. We also create virtual tours so your home can be "visited" 24 hours a day.
Step 2: Set a price
- Get appraisals of your property from several sources, like electronicappraiser.com (for $29.95), zillow.com (free), ditech.com (free), and realestateabc.com (free).
- Do your own appraisal by looking at comparable homes that have sold recently. Get comparables from zillow.com, realestateabc.com, and realestate.yahoo.com.
- Hire a certified appraiser if you're still unsure.
- Look at other homes that are for sale in your area and visit them during open houses. Try to price your home so that it's one of the two or three best values in your general price range.
- In setting your price, consider whether the market is hot or cool. Set a slightly lower price if (a) the market is slow, (b) there are similar properties on the market, and/or (c) you're in a hurry to sell. Set the price higher if (a) you have the time to test the market, (b) there aren't many similar houses in your neighborhood, and/or (d) it's a hot market.
Step 3: Decide whether to cooperate with agents
- As a FSBO seller, you're cutting out the seller's agent (also called a listing agent). But we recommend that you agree to "cooperate with" buyer's agents and offer them a commission of 2.5-3% of the sales price of the home. Click here to learn why.
Step 4: Start marketing
- Set up a free webpage on FSBOContraCosta.com.
- If you're cooperating with buyers' agents, use a flat-fee MLS listing broker to create an MLS listing so that your property will be listed on Realtor.com and EBRDI.com. (We can refer you to a good one. We do not charge or collect a referral fee.)
- Install quality signs. (We rent and sell them.)
- Place ads in the newspaper (and refer people to your FSBOContraCosta--or FSBOCoco.com--website for more information).
- Keep a supply of flyers in a brochure box outside.
- Distribute flyers to buyers' agents in your area (or hire us to do it)
- Place free classified ads on Craigslist and other places.
Step 5: Show your house
- "Stage" your home before visitors come. Turn on all the lights, light a fire in the fireplace, bake cookies, put out fresh flowers, light candles, and shoo away the kids and pets.
- Host open houses on Sundays (1-4 pm is the standard time).
- Obtain a lockbox if you'd like buyers or agents to gain access when you're not home. (Buy a combination lockbox from us, or rent an electronic lockbox if you sign up for an MLS listing with a third-party broker.)
Step 6: Be patient
- Economists Steven Levitt and Chad Syverson studied 100,000 home sales, and found that agents who were selling their own homes kept them on the market an average of almost 10 days longer and got an average of 3.7% more for them. (That comes to $18,500 for a $500,000 house.)
- The housing market has slowed. Click here to view statistics on price trends by zip code in the Bay Area and click here for general information about prices and inventory in Contra Costa County.
- If your home isn't attracting much interest, consider lowering your price.
Step 7: Respond to offers
- We recommend that you seek out the help of a discount broker or lawyer before signing any contracts. We can set you up with one who will offer full representation for $3,400--and get paid only if escrow closes.
Step 8: Escrow
- It's usually up to buyers and lenders to select appraisers, pest inspectors, and home inspectors.
- Sometimes homes fall out of escrow because contingencies fail (inspections, loan, appraisal, title, or other contingencies) or because buyers back out. In other words, don't assume that you home is sold until escrow actually closes.
Step 9: Move out