Want Advice About My House
May 15, 2018 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone. I want to sell my house and move. It's my first time doing so. I've only had this house 2 years. I have thought about selling it myself through HelpUSell or Redfin or both. Details inside

As far as the paperwork went, I could do some of it myself with the help of a brokers and/or an attorney, I'm supposing. FWIW, I was one of the first buyers to look at this house and made a cash offer and after a bit of negotiating bought the house. It's in a desirable price range and has a nicely landscaped yard, a big master bedroom and a cathedral ceiling, among other things. It's deficits are a small kitchen and two smaller bedrooms. I'm in the middle of de-cluttering and will hire people to come and #1 do some pruning and general maintenance on the yards and #2 do some home fix-its. I plan to have the house staged too. Has anyone done something like this and have some advice for me? I'm mostly interested to hear your experiences/advice you can give me so I know what to expect along the way!
posted by DixieBaby to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I initially listed a house in Chicago by owner. There is no downside to trying first by yourself. I hired an attorney who actually sat at the open house I had so I did not have to. Interestingly, I sold the house to someone who looked at it when it was listed by me, but who bid AFTER I had listed it with a broker and raised the price by about 15%. They paid up for some reason.

I also listed a house in NY with a broker and hired a consultant to help me declutter, to help me stage it, and to help me sell off a lot of my furniture, possessions, etc. I was very happy with the results and the experience.

The listing by owner was harder than the declutter and staging. It meant that I had to deal with all sorts of strange people with unusual requests. People calling me at 9:00pm asking to see the house right then because they were driving by and saw the sign. Also, you need to get used to hearing criticism about your house, your decorating style, your everything. It is amazing what people will say to your face rather than simply saying, "Thank you, we will call you if we are interested." Also, a lot of brokers came by trying to get the listing. I do have to admit that there were two couples that gave me great feedback on the pluses and minuses of the house after seeing it.

Ultimately after buying and selling 3 houses each in a different market, I would say that I would use a broker if I did it again. The right broker. To me, their services, if done right, and their contacts make the ~5% fee well worth the cost.
posted by AugustWest at 8:10 AM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Real estate agents will be extremely happy to come, look at your house, and talk to you about the market, sales process, and why you should hire them to sell your house. Find a few and invite them to do so. You'll learn a lot and will be under no obligation to hire them. You could, but don't have to, mention that you're considering a FSBO when you first contact them.

In theory, you could save the full 6% fee. In reality, you'll probably have to pay the buyer's agent fee anyway, and if you list through Redfin or another discount broker, the fee won't be that high. So you might save 1-2 percent, and that's assuming you could sell it for the same price as an agent. Agents will tell you that they will be able to get a better price, which will more than pay for their fee. Whether that is true depends on your knowledge and willingness to do work, their ability, and luck.

I successfully sold a condo by myself, but it was a cookie-cutter unit, so I had a very good idea of the value. Houses are more complicated.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:31 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you choose to use a broker, when interviewing them be sure to ask how many houses they have personally sold in the past year. If the number is not at least twelve, move on. This question brought to you by our agent who has sold 48 and is something of a shark. Tip: you want a shark.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I sold our last home myself but was an agent previously so felt pretty comfortable with it.

Things that I did included:

- I listed the unit through a flat fee MLS system. It was $400 and they entered the listing in several local MLS systems which also pushed it to Realtor.com, Zillow, etc. I offered a co-broke of 2.5% if an agent brought me a buyer which was the typical buyer agent/office commission in my area. I was saving plenty by doing it myself and did not want to rule out the buyer pool that was not willing to go without an agent or were unwilling to pay their agent out of pocket.

- we had a good photographer friend take pictures. They were much better than anything we could do with our iPhones.

- we ordered a lockbox online so that agents could show and we had them call me to set up appointments.

- I followed up with each agent after showings to find out what their clients thought and got feedback. This helped us to understand how other people saw our home and we could make adjustments as necessary.

- We got two offers and both did not require the sale of their current place to buy ours. I made the people we selected have their mortgage broker update their pre-approval to note that they did not have to sell to buy our place.

- I had a good handle on our local market and felt good about being able to price it. You can check Realtor and Zillow to see your competition. I also bookmarked those so I could see when they went under deposit and what they sold for when they closed. It was helpful because even if square footage and acreage is the same, finished and upgrades can make a big difference in price so you need to be realistic when comping against other homes.

- I met the appraiser there with a list of recently sold homes that I knew would be good comparables and support my sales price. They were all within a mile radius and had closed in the last six months.

- If there is an inspection contingency and the buyer asks for items to be repaired/replaced, I was accommodating on things that were structural, electrical or mechanical but not cosmetic. They should give you a copy of the pages of their home inspection that shows the issues they are requesting resolution on. In my state, as an owner, oncs you know of a problem, you have to disclose to
Future buyers so we took that into account on the requests. They were all largely fairly minor. Remember the difference between a repair and an upgrade.

- i preferred NOT showing the home and liked when agents took their clients in. As much as I knew I needed to be impartial, it’s hard when someone doesn’t like the place you purchased, what you did with it, etc. I was happy to not deal with that and I was able to get the agents unemotional feedback.

- for paperwork, I didn’t have to worry about much. The agents submitted offers on the standard contract for our area. I mostly made sure I was comfortable with the terms (I wanted a mortgage commitment in 30 days, Home inspections in 15 days, but was ok with a 60 day closing). I had to fill out some disclosures beforehand and if you google your state or city, you can probably find out what’s required, or ask a real estate attorney.

Good luck!! All of this was based on my experiences in CT. Your area may call for different things.
posted by polkadot at 10:42 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

There is a slight downside to trying first by yourself, and that is days on market. If you are not good at marketing the house yourself over the course of a few months, and then later go with an agent, the total days on market may cause some buyers to shy away, or make a lower offer believing you may be anxious to sell. But I wouldn't let that be a break-point in your decision. Just something to think about.

You haven't mentioned the value of the home, so for staging make sure you are staging appropriately. Lower value, less staging and more "this is where a bed would go, this is where a couch would go" while in upper brackets you should think about a full on staging with decor. Staging does help, even the tiniest little bit, as potential buyers visualize what the place would like like with furniture in obvious places.

I am not a realtor but I would never sell a house without a realtor. Remember, you can negotiate commissions, demand certain marketing, and never ever mistake that you have to treat your broker like you would your best friend - they're a business partner in a six-figure business transaction first, nice guy second.

Good luck. Market is primarily a sellers market.
posted by lstanley at 10:43 AM on May 15, 2018

I just recently sold my house with an agent. The buyer's inspector found what he described as a major structural problem in the basement, and suggested a fix that would have cost $89K (this is on a house listed at $227K). My realtor suggested getting the opinion of a structural engineer, which we did, and I did the fix he recommended (cost of around $12K). I'd have had no idea what to do without the realtor, and it was easily worth the commission to me.

I also ended up selling the house several months later (after the first one backed out despite my doing the fix) for just about 6% over the listing price, which essentially paid the commission. I might have been able to sell it on my own, but I doubt I'd have gotten as much.

I know people who have been happy doing FSBOs, but I'm pretty sure I made the right decision for me. It was not a simple enough process for me to have tried it on my own.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:11 PM on May 15, 2018

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