If you've ever sold a home, signing over that commission cheque for 6 to 7% of the selling price to your realtor is probably still a painful memory. Given the high commissions that real estate agents make, it’s not surprising that many people think about selling their homes themselves. Unfortunately, most decide it’s either too complicated or too time-consuming. My mom Linda, who was a stay-at-home parent, wasn’t sure if she would be able to do it herself either, but she quickly realized the process was a lot simpler than she expected. Her story of how she sold our family home in less than four days for just a few thousand dollars below the asking price shows that it’s possible for anyone to sell their own home. Here's her story:
Why She Sold It Herself
The cost of hiring a real estate agent was a big factor in my mom’s choice to sell her home herself. She also felt like she was uniquely qualified to sell the house since, “nobody knew it better than I did - having lived in it for years,” she recounted. At the time, we lived in a highly desirable area and homes usually sold quickly. What’s more, our house had been professionally decorated and so she knew it would show well. She didn't expect it to be on the market for long or for it to take a lot of effort to sell.
Step One: Price Your Home
Setting the right asking price can be key to ensuring you get a good offer and that your house doesn't linger too long on the market. So, how did my mom price her home on her own? She didn't. “I decided that it was better to have an appraiser come and look at the house and help me figure out the value and set the price,” Linda recounts. Given that the average cost of a home appraisal is just $300-$500, she would recommend that anyone selling their home use an appraiser to avoid mistakes when pricing.
Step 2: Market Your Home
Because my mom’s house was in a location that was in demand, she didn't have to do a lot of marketing to sell it. In fact, all she did was create a flyer and post it around town. “I put the flyer up at the grocery store, the library, and near our community mailboxes,” Linda says. That was enough to get four couples interested and an offer. While taking great photos and creating an attractive flyer and brochure is a good place to start when it comes to selling your home, you’ll probably have to do a little more marketing. For some, that might mean open houses or using a fee-for-service company like Property Guys or For Sale By Owner Canada, both of which offer services like online listings, and marketing kits. These services are cheap and help potential buyers find out about your home, but I would also suggest using free sites like Kijiji.com or Craigslist. If you live in a high traffic area, you might also want to invest in a waterproof box to put flyers into for people passing by.
Step 3: Show Your Home
Be sure to put some thought into how to best show your home. That might mean staging your house to make it look better or making a list of the attributes you want to showcase while showing your home. Linda also suggests to, "try to keep your house looking its best at all times so that on a moment’s notice the house is ready to show."
Step 4: Bring In A Lawyer
One of the biggest worries when it comes to selling your own home is ensuring that the paperwork is done properly. For that reason, my mom was glad she got a real estate lawyer to help her draw up a counter-offer, finalize the paperwork for the sale, and make sure she was compliant with all laws that govern selling a home. Said Linda, “it was definitely worth the money to have a lawyer for the peace of mind.” The cost for these types of services are usually around $500-$1,000, which is relatively cheap in comparison to a realtor’s commission.
Is Selling Your Own Home For You?
My mom had such a great experience selling her own home that she sold another home herself a few years later. Selling your own home can be a quick and easy way to save a lot of money on a real estate agent, especially if your home is in a desirable area and will show well. While the process might seem overwhelming, if you have a good strategy and the right people helping you then you should be able to successfully sell your own home. After that, the only thing you’ll have to figure out is what to do with all the extra money.
About the Author: Amanda Reaume
Amanda is a freelance writer and the creator of the blog Millennial Personal Finance. After graduating from university with no debt, and $40,000 in savings, Amanda wrote the book The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education. She is also the author of a personal finance book aimed at Millennials called Money Is Everything.