You’ve made the decision to sell your home — congratulations! While making this decision, you realize this may be something you can do on your own, without the help of a realtor. Getting your paperwork in order is an important first step and will help streamline the home selling process. But what paperwork do you need? Read on to find out what it means to sell by owner and the things you may need along the way.
What does “sell by owner” mean?
A realtor usually carries the weight in a real estate transaction, by walking you through the home selling journey and providing resources and information at each step. If you choose to “sell by owner,” this means you’ll be selling your home without the help of a professional. If you’re looking to tackle your home sale independently, selling by owner may be an option to explore.
To sell your home without the help of a realtor, you’ll need to:
- Determine a price. A realtor would normally perform a competitive market analysis (CMA) to find the best price for your home. You can do this on your own by researching similar local listings, market trends and recent sales near you. You’ll want to find a sweet spot that isn’t undervaluing your home but also isn’t driving buyers away.
- Prepare and take photos. Do a deep clean and repair household items that are worthwhile and not too costly to upgrade. Buy some flowers or décor for aesthetics and make sure the lighting is up to par. You can hire a professional photographer or take the photos on your own.
- List your home. There are many websites out there that are user friendly and do a lot of the marketing work for you. Zillow, Trulia, FSBO, HomeFinder and forsalebyowner.com are all popular options for easy listing by owner. Some sites are free, while others may charge a fee for the listing.
- Hold an open house. Holding an open house will give you a greater opportunity to make the sale. Inviting potential buyers in can get your listing more attention and gives them the chance to experience the home in person and hopefully, get attached.
- Make the sale. You’ve found your buyer and it’s time to seal the deal. This part takes an eye for detail because of the negotiations and paperwork. If you find you need help during this step consider hiring a real estate attorney or an agent to assist you with this part of the sale.
Paperwork for selling a house by owner
Before you start any of the steps above, you’ll want to prepare your paperwork. Remaining organized and prepared is important for your peace of mind and so the buyer remains confident in the deal. Note that the paperwork needed for your home sale may differ depending on where you live, so make sure to check with a real estate agent or your local government websites.
- Original sales contract. This is paperwork from when you purchased the home. It isn’t always necessary, but the buyer may request a copy to avoid title mishaps.
- Property survey. This maps out the property’s boundaries, like what fences are yours, where your land ends and the location of any additional structures. Property surveys are usually requested by the buyer.
- Mortgage statement and other loan documents. Your lender will provide you with a mortgage statement upon request. If you haven’t finished paying off your mortgage, this document will tell you how much of your home sale will go toward paying your lender back. If you’ve taken out any other loans for your home, you’ll want record of these as well.
- Latest utility and property tax bills. This will give the buyer an idea of how much they’ll be paying once they move into the home.
- Certificate of occupancy. A certificate of occupancy is a legal document obtained from your local municipality that states your home suitable for occupancy. Your status is determined by safety measures and following local building code.
- The title. You’ll need this document to prove the house is yours to sell, and to transfer it to the buyer once the transaction is complete.
- Warranties. If you have any new appliances or household items still under warrantee, this will be good for the buyer to know and help add value to the sale.
- Homeowners association agreements. If your neighborhood has rules that govern the area, for example parking, quiet hours or pets this is a document you’ll want to present.
The pros and cons of selling a house by owner
After reading what it takes to sell a house without a realtor, you may be looking for something simpler to help make your decision — and what better than a pros and cons list?
- Since you aren’t paying a realtor, you get to keep 100 percent of sales profits.
- You’ll learn a lot about buying and selling home real estate.
- You’ll have more control over how you market the house and how much you sell for.
- You know your home the best out of anyone and may be more successful than a realtor at getting potential buyers to see its value.
- Without a realtor to help during negotiations, your home might sell for less money.
- Realtors have access to tools and resources to market your home. Without one, your reach will be a bit limited.
- There’s a wide learning curve. You’ll need to learn real estate jargon, how to perform a CMA, how to negotiate and be prepared for anything else thrown your way.
- It can be time consuming. If you have a family or full-time job, it may be hard to put enough time and effort in to making your home sale a success.
Make sure to have everything you need on hand and weigh the pros and cons of taking on this journey solo. Selling by owner is a big task to take on, but one you can handle with the right preparation and determination, as well as all the essential paperwork for selling a home without a realtor. Once you’ve determined a price, prepared your home and list it for sale, you’ll be ready to land that deal.