This is a case-study and step-by-step guide that one of our customers has drafted for us after their own success in selling their house when using our service. Being a blogger, they happily put this together for us and with a few minor edits, this 2400+ word guide should help you when it comes to the seemingly “scary” or “daunting” task of selling your own home. It is extremely detailed and it’s from a real life customer with a real life success story when it comes to selling a home privately using our service. So, without further ado…
Although many Australians choose to use a real estate agent when they are selling their houses, I have managed to successfully sell my house without an agent. It wasn’t very hard either. That’s why I am sure that you can sell your own home if you use the comprehensive tips that are listed here. Follow them step by step and you will be able to sell your own house in a short amount of time, with the smallest outlay and the biggest return possible.
1. Get A Notepad & Write Down A Dot-Point List Of The Selling Points Of Your Home
This means that you write a list of the features in your home that would make it attractive for a buyer. What would make them like it more than any other home on your block or within your neighbourhood? Go around the inside of the house and then around the outside of your property. If you have a swimming pool, a garden and a driveway you should include them. Don’t leave anything out.
You can ask a friend to come and look at it with you because they have fresh eyes and they may eliminate any bias that you have. If there are features in the vicinity that would make your house more attractive to people reading your listing and potential buyers, you should obviously list them. If, for example, you live in close proximity to a school or shopping district, you should definitely mention it.
2. Take Those Dot-Points, Elaborate & Write Enticing Sales Copy For Your Listing
It is now time to expand on the points in your list and make them sales copy. It isn’t very hard to do but if you don’t have experience writing sales copy you can look online – there are many websites that give information on how to write good copy and there are also writers that provide a professional copywriting service for real estate listings.
Make the copy relaxed but compelling. If it helps, just try and remember the kind of talk that a real estate agent gave you to convince you to buy the house in the first place. Refine your sales copy and make sure that it reads well and is accurate.
3. Find A Friend Who Is Good With A Camera & Get Them To Take Photos
Your selling points in this case are all the things that you listed and expanded upon earlier. You want to get good photos of them. If you don’t have a very good camera you should find a friend who as one and possibly try to twist their arm into taking them for you. Take the best photos you can. Make sure that you don’t take any wide angles and be careful to make every shot as clear as possible. Download them from the camera onto your computer and then you will be able to upload them when you need to; like when you’re creating your property listing.
It may also be a good idea if you can make edits to the photos using a program such as Adobe Photoshop etc. Professional Real Estate photographers typically use image editors to input a new sky background or remove any litter that may be caught on camera.
4. Visit “Home Value” Sites To Get Comparable Sales Data To Help You Value Your House
You want to make sure that you get the correct value for your property. Many people who decide to sell privately in Australia have a hard time selling as they have an emotional attachment to their home or over-value their homes due to unrealistic expectations or a lack of understanding when it comes to the current market statistics and sales data.
You also don’t want to sell if for less than you should. When selling your house privately, you can get away with under-valuing by about $5K-$10K and still come out in front due to the savings you are making but to avoid this, there are several websites that allow you to search latest sales data so that you can find similar properties in nearby areas and make an educated judgement call yourself based off these figures.
The prices will vary depending on what is happening in the current property markets, the kind of property it is, where it is located and it may even come down to what time of year it is. One that I used was onthehouse.com.au, which can be found here. All they ask you is to input the address, the street, the suburb, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and then it provides you with all of the most up-to-date data in and around your neighbourhood.
Alternatively, you can get a valuation expert to come in especially if you have recently made installations that made the house more valuable and you are unsure of what these additions or upgrades may add-on to your final price estimate. Keep in mind that the condition of the property determines how fast it sells and how much you get for it so it is worthwhile to spend a little money and return it to top condition as it may just end up bumping up the value and putting that little bit extra in your pocket.
5. Find A Website That Will Help You To Advertise Privately On The Big Property Sites
To sell a house, you have to get people to see it and in this day and age, that means that you need to A) advertise it online B) put it on a website that people go to to find properties. RealEstate.com.au is by far the most dominant with a MASSIVE four times the exposure of some of the other real estate portals in Australia and over 3.8 million visits per month as of April, 2012. Whilst other portals provide some exposure and a trickle of enquiries, this is the one that you want to be listed on.
There are also numerous “FSBO” websites in Australia that allow you to list privately on these websites without an agent. When I was looking to sell my house, I looked at the ones that seemed to have the most sold and leased properties. The sole purpose of these websites is to expose your property on the biggest real estate websites in Australia and assist you with the marketing process. Some people may ask though, “why not just list on these websites directly myself?”. When I was selling my house, I found out that to list on these big websites, you need to be selling in conjunction with a licensed real estate agent to be able to list on them OR, through an FSBO website like For Sale For Lease.
What these listing websites do is act as a bridge between you and the big sites and provide that platform for you to be able to list on them without the need for an agent. Most of these sites have real estate agent licenses across Australia and they can list on your behalf but forward on all enquiries to you so that you can completely cut out the middle man.
Listing on these websites has an additional advantage; they allow you to take control of the entire process of selling your property which you don’t get when you use a real estate agent. The reason why I decided to go the private sale route in the first place is that I was frustrated with my real estate agent; he had been sitting on my house for months, we didn’t have any leads, he undervalued the house and he was asking a pretty hefty fee to sell, if and when it did happen (which it didn’t). I later found out that he had a large portfolio of properties more valuable than mine and that’s what he was focusing on. I would advise you to go the private sale route straight away and advice this kind of time wasting.
6. List Your House & Take Enquiries Yourself Via Phone & Email
Once you have found a website that allows you to list privately on the major Real Estate portals, you can go ahead and list. Most listing sites have at least 2 packages that you can choose from. They are differentiated by price and some may come with additional upgrades (such as signs or featured listings) included or free of charge. Choose a package that suits you and typically you will be asked for your contact details (name, email address, phone number). You then choose the sites that you want to be listed on and then you go ahead and pay. You will be directed to a page that allows you to upload all the details of your property and this is where you take all of the information you put together earlier and upload it online, such as your copy with your selling points, your photos and potentially, your floor-plans etc.
Go over the selling points one last time and make sure that they are correct and then submit. The site and their staff will typically look at your listing to make sure that everything is okay as well to ensure compliance and then submit or “export” it to the big real estate websites. Generally speaking, these FSBO websites will provide you with a dashboard to manage your listing and your listing can be viewed and edited it any time you want. When enquiries start coming in, they will be directed to you and you can start showing your property to potential buyers. Usually, to make an enquiry, the interested party will fill a form on the main property websites that is directed to your inbox and which you can then reply to.
A copy goes to the website that you listed with for their records. In case someone calls to make an enquiry, they get a voice message telling them to go online and fill the enquiry form. For each enquiry, send back an email asking them when they can be available for inspection or even pick up the phone but it is best to keep most conversations documented. Try and do inspections as soon as you get the enquiry. Remember, these are people who are looking to buy and already have the money; the potential that they could find a different property is real so get them to see yours quickly before they can look at more properties.
7. Conduct Open For Inspections & Open Negotiations With Interested Parties
Be ready to be available for inspections at all times. To prepare for them, make sure that you have cleaned every room and all around the property. Arrange every room neatly and get rid of all clutter. If painting is needed, get it done. If your house is old, you may want to do renovations on anything that is falling apart. In case you have small children who could distract you when you are doing inspections, get someone to take care of them. A babysitter is a small price to pay rather than lose an interested buyer who is willing to meet your asking price.
For inspections, open all windows so that you let in as much fresh air and natural light as possible. Take your time to show all areas and don’t forget to show the yard. You should prepare refreshments to ensure that all potential buyers are refreshed and catered for. There will very likely be more than one party that’s interested and if there are, be sure to put aside times to sit down with them separately in a quiet room to discuss pricing and terms. Remember, do not try to ask for too much as you may scare potential buyers off and always ask them for their opening price first, you could get lucky.
8. Narrow Down Your Buyers, Negotiate A Fair Selling Price & Shake Hands
Narrow down your list of prospective buyers by gauging their interest through-out the inspections, find the best few to negotiate with and sit them down one by one. Discuss how the deposit payment will be made and for how long it will take for the final settlement to occur (some buyers will specifically ask for a 30 day, 60 day or 90 settlement). If you are happy and the prospective buyer is happy, it’s time to close the sale and get your lawyer or conveyancer in to draft agreements, contracts and get the legalities out of the way.
9. Visit Your Local Solicitor, Attorney Or Conveyancer To Draw Up Agreements
At this point, you need the help of your lawyer to help you seal the deal. They know all about property transactions and their job is to help you prepare a watertight contract. They will also advise you of any legal issues that may surround the sale of the property. There is quite a lot of paperwork that you need to fill in after you sell your house and they should help you with that as well. Be sure to always have your lawyer or solicitor close-by when handling any paperwork.
10. Organise To Have The Deposit Transferred & Look Forward To Settlement
It is time to watch the money role in. Let the buyer know where they can transfer the deposit to and find out from them when they will do it. Many are able to do it on the same day. The only thing that’s left is to look forward to the rest of the payments.
If you follow these 10 steps exactly;by rights, you should be able to sell your own home in record time and save a truck load of money in the process. Depending on what part of the world you are from, some of the legalities and formalities may be different but the bare principles are the same. In Australia, you may save between 1-3% commission on the sale of your property and in the USA, you may find yourself saving between 5 and 10% which could add up to $10,000, $20,000 and anywhere up to $50,000 depending on the price of your home.