The reality of selling your own home

Melissa Sprouse Browne, Real Estate School of South Carolina
Melissa Sprouse Browne, Real Estate School of South Carolina

By Melissa Sprouse Browne, Real Estate School of South Carolina

Selling your home can be an exciting, yet daunting task. There are so many factors to consider when you are ready to sell and the first decision to be made is whether or not to use a real estate agent.

There are seven main reasons that you might choose to become a "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO).

  1. You don't want to pay a commission.
  2. You plan to sell your home to a friend or neighbor.
  3. You plan to sell your home to a family member.
  4. You have been contacted by a purchaser directly.
  5. You simply don't want to deal with a real estate agent.
  6. An agent was previously unable to sell your home.
  7. You have a real estate license and are able to represent yourself.

As many sellers have discovered, it is not always easy to sell a home by yourself. The value that is received by engaging the services of a real estate agent may outweigh the potential issues that face individual home sellers.

If you are willing to try selling your home without the assistance of an agent, be aware of these likely issues:

  1. Casual shoppers: People who have no intention of purchasing but are simply looking at homes to pass the time.
  2. Lookers stopping at all hours of day and night: People who don't call for an appointment but knock on the door like it's an all-night convenience store.
  3. Incorrectly setting the price of the house: Homeowners who price their home too high lose valuable time; those who price it too low lose equity.
  4. Lack of information to qualify buyers: Most homeowners are not aware of the requirements to secure a mortgage. Even if the homeowner is knowledgeable in this area, buyers are often resistant in sharing their private financial information with the seller.
  5. Letting strangers in the home: It can be unsettling to allow unknown people inside your home, but necessary if you are serious about selling it.
  6. Negotiating with the buyer: The process of coming to an agreement between the seller and buyer can be difficult without the buffer that the third party agent provides. Inexperience can be quite a detriment to a successful agreement.
  7. Knowing everything that needs to be done: There are important and even critical steps that must be taken in each transaction. Ignorance is not an acceptable defense for omitting them. Example: Every resale home (i.e. not a brand new, just constructed house) must have a residential property disclosure. If you do not provide this form, you are in violation of the law.
  8. Missed opportunities when away from home: A homeowner has responsibilities in addition to selling the home, but if there is no one to show the home and talk to prospective buyers at all times, a sale might be missed.
  9. Buyers wanting the commission savings: The buyer may feel that if there is no agent involved, that they have earned the commission by having to take care of all of the things the agent would normally do.
  10. Buyers who don't like to deal directly with owners: There are many people who just feel uncomfortable talking directly to the homeowner. The agent provides a comfortable buffer and helps difficult sales come together.

In today's world, safety is also an important consideration. Criminals have posed as potential buyers to find out what personal belonging would be worth stealing. By asking casual questions, they can find out when the seller will be gone and whether there is a security system.

Attracting potential buyers is critical to your ultimate success. As a FSBO, you have access to traditional media outlets, such as the daily newspaper, in which to place your advertisement. You will also consider placing a "For Sale By Owner" sign in your front yard. And, you may even hold an open house on a Sunday afternoon to generate interest.

If you select the services of a qualified real estate agent, you will also have the ability for your home to be seen on multiple internet sites, be placed in the Multiple Listing Service, and to be advertised with advertisements by the agent and his/her company in newspapers, magazines, etc. The real estate agent will also have the benefit of contact with past customers, other agents and possibly referrals from a relocation department with names of people being transferred to your area.

Ultimately, the decision to sell and on what terms lies with you. By knowing the potential problems and concerns that you might face on your own, you should be able to either prepare appropriately or make an alternate decision