The Ultimate Guide on How to Sell A House By Owner
Congratulations on being a Philadelphia homeowner! It is time to move on but perhaps you are not thrilled about paying a real estate agent again. Or maybe you want more control over where and how the home is sold. Could it be that you are curious about the pros and cons of selling a house by owner?
No matter what brought you here, we are going to go over everything you need to know about selling a house by owner in Philadelphia.
Q: Do I need to hire a real estate agent to sell my house?
Q: Can I save money by selling a house myself?
A: Potentially. We will dig into this area in detail below.
Q: Which is faster, selling by owner or using an agent?
A: Lots of people find that selling a house themselves is faster. However, do it wrong, and it will be longer and more painful than with the help of an agent.
Q: Is it hard to sell a house by owner?
A: It won’t be with the help of this guide!
Selling a house by owner is not for everyone nor for every situation. So, let us dig into these questions and more. We are going to look at each step of the process!
Welcome to our Selling a House By Owner in Philadelphia guide. Let’s dig in!
What is selling a house by owner?
Quite simply “selling a house by owner” or FSBO (“For Sale By Owner”, pronounced fizz-bow) is to sell your home without help from a listing real estate agent.
Traditionally it has been heavily encouraged (if not completely mandatory in some cases) to hire a real estate agent to get a home sold but to quote Bob Dylan.
Market data is no longer confined to the in-crowd. With a little bit of research and tools like Zillow’s Zestimate, it is rather simple to know the estimated value of a home.
You can view recently sold homes in your areas (also known as “comps”)
Get rental price estimates
History on the property
Ratings on near-by schools
Cost of taxes
And many more
Ok ok, you get it. There are lots and lots of tools on the internet. What’s my point and how does it relate to “what is selling a house by owner” mean?
What this means: You, the owner, can now handle every step of the house selling process, handle none of it, or somewhere in between. You get to decide!
Now let’s look at some of the pros of using these tools to sell a house without a realtor.
Pros of selling a house by owner in Philadelphia
#1 You are in Control
Almost everything below could be wrapped up into this one point. For the sake of clarity let us expand what this means a little.
#2 No one cares about your House more than you
There are thousands of phenomenal agents out there that will bend over backward for you in the house selling process. But honestly, it can be difficult getting another person on the same page with your goals, needs, and wants, right?. If an agent gets 3 offers on 3 different properties in a single day that is going to spread them thin. When selling a home by owner in Philadelphia, speed is crucial. This can be a great opportunity to seize control of your schedule.
And trying to find that phenomenal agent? Just thinking about getting involved with a lackluster agent is about as fun as a trip to the dentist.
#3 Save Money Selling Your Home by Owner
No one likes the idea of handing money over, and you can expect to pay 5-6% in realtor commissions as the seller of a home. Did you know that you are technically paying both realtors?
That’s right! It is typically on the seller to pay the commission of your listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
According to redfin.com, the average home value in Philly over the last month is at $250,000. That would equate to you paying $15,000 in realtor commissions!
$250,000 * 6% = $15,000
#4 Operate Everything on Your Schedule
Cut out the middleman.
Consider this, you have your home listed and a qualified and highly interested couple see the listing and jump at the opportunity to tour the home. Awesome! You are one step closer to getting a fast and full value sale! But hold on, your realtor had back to back showings all evening and was unable to coordinate with the buyer’s agent. The couple goes on to see other homes and falls in love with another. You missed out!
By having the property listed yourself, you can prioritize and expedite showings.
#5 You decide where, how, and when to list the property
Have you ever looked at an online listing and found missing bits of information? Ever wanted it to be easier to get more information on that home?
You are not the only one and you can bet buyers for your home are thinking the same thing. You can take this into your own hands and make sure the listing is exactly how you want it the first time.
Preparing the home, listing the home, showing the home, reviewing offers, negotiating offers, and closing can all be faster when you have control every step of the way. By eliminating the middleman you can expedite each step and be as flexible as your schedule allows.
Now we have a nice list of the benefits of selling a house by owner. Now you may be thinking, “These benefits all sound terrific! I am going at it on my own!”
I love the enthusiasm and drive but slow down for just a second. I would be remiss if I did not highlight some of the cons as well.
Cons of selling a house by owner in Philadelphia
#1 You are in control
Wait.. isn’t this the same thing listed first under the “Pros” section? Sure is! Having full control can be a blessing or a curse.
When something goes wrong in the process, who gets to handle it? You
When you have 3 competing offers, who gets to sift through the details of each one? You
Who do you rely on if you get overwhelmed? You
You simply will not have the support of an experienced professional.
A big part of a Real Estate Agent’s job is to have experience and skills in Negotiating, Marketing, Legal, Financing, etc.
Do you know the time difference between closing on a VA loan versus a Conventional loan? Do you know how to stage your home and take top-quality pictures? Do you know a bad contingency when you see it?
This is just a small list of things you will have to understand if you choose to list your house for sale by owner.
#3 Difficult to be objective
Most people are emotionally invested in their homes. It can be difficult to push your emotions aside when negotiating a deal for your own home. Will you get offended if an offer comes in 20% below asking price? Will you lose sleep stressing if you do not get as many showings as you want?
These are a small part of the game. Be prepared to take the brunt of the emotional toll! You will not have an agent running interference for you when selling a house by owner.
#4 No MLS support
Some companies and some brokers will allow you to pay to list your house on their site. However, it will not be added to the MLS without an additional cost. Cross-posting can quickly rack up significant costs and time to list the home.
We have weighed pros and cons now we will dig into the process of how we go about getting that house sold.
How to go about selling a house by owner?
At a high-level, here are the steps you will go through to get that home sold:
Determine the market value of your home
Get the home ready for sale
Market the home for sale
Negotiate the sale
Close the sale
Step 1: Determine the market value of your home
There are two ways I recommend you get an accurate value of your home.
First, you can use online real estate sites, such as Zillow, Trulia and more
Using one or multiple of these resources is certainly the most convenient way to evaluate your home. However, they all have their limitations and are estimates at best. They could be many thousands off or not up to date for current market conditions.
Second, you can hire a real estate appraiser.
These professionals provide a real-time valuation of any given property. This route will cost you, typically $300-$500. That may seem a little painful considering the first option is free. But are you willing to spend $500 to make sure you are not over or under listing your property? It is something to seriously consider when you do not have a realtor to help with that piece.
Here is a list of highly rated appraisers local to the Philly area.
Lighting, sticky windows, clutter, smell, paint touch-up, staging, and more all play a part in
making the most memorable and positive first impression to a buyer.
You want a potential buyer to walk in and immediately see themselves living there. There are many ways to improve this area but I would consider the most important ones to be:
Everything should work: Anything that is supposed to open, turn on, or light up should work flawlessly!
Maximum declutter: Remove as much from the home as humanly possible. The fewer items remaining, the more spacious and inviting the home will feel. It will also allow the buyers’ imagination to be a little more active.
Great Lighting: No one wants to live in a dimly lit home. They will imagine it as they see it (or fail to see it).
Smell: I cannot stress this enough. Remember those Febreze commercials?
the best tips out there on how to tackle this issue
Step 3: Market the home for sale
Almost there! The home is staged, now you need to find potential buyers. We have already talked about some ways that you can pay to be added to the online space and these can be invaluable if you have the cash to spend. If the budget is tight then consider the following at a minimum
Put up a good yard sign
List the home on the free websites at your disposal (think Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist)
Tell everyone you know that you are selling your home! Friends, family, neighbors, add a post to all of your social media platforms, then ask everyone to share those posts for you.
You never know where the buyer will come from so do not hesitate to use the full power of
social media and of your network.
Step 4: Negotiate the sale
At this point, you have your for sale by owner home priced correctly, staged beautifully, and you have all the power of the internet pointing buyers towards your home. Because you have done everything correctly, the offers start coming in. You now have to decide which offers you reject, counter, or accept.
You will need a contract specific to selling a home in Philadelphia. Now with a template in hand, you will add every detail of the sale including any seller or buyer contingencies, the sale price, the closing date, and which legal office you will use for the closing.
Read and do not assume anything. Put everything in writing that either you or the buyer wish to happen.
Step 5: Close the sale
A title company and/or lawyer will handle most of this portion. Just make sure you and the buyer have agreed ahead of time where and who will manage this step. Keep in close communication with all parties and this will be the easy part!
Selling A House By Owner Contract of Sale
You have successfully sold a house in Philly without a realtor. As your prize, you hopefully earned a large profit. Additionally, you get to go home with your contract. I am proud of you for sticking to the end.
When deciding to use a realtor or not, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons when thinking of selling a house by owner. Selling without a realtor is not easy but if you commit, it can save you thousands of dollars and go much quicker.
This guide was compiled by Richard Stover of the Brotherly Love Real Estate team.
Selling a house by owner does not need to be hard! For more information on how to sell your house fast you can explore our guides. Our goal is to provide homeowners in Philadelphia with options.
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