A typical real estate commission on a $330,000 home (Capital Region average price for all existing homes as of August 2021) is over $23,000. In many areas, the cut a real estate broker gets is much higher. A homeowner can easily save that money by selling on their own. All that is needed is a basic understanding of the real estate market and a touch of marketing sense. Here are the "Big Five" of selling any home.
The best way to do this is to have three or four real estate brokers provide a free market analysis. Yes, you will be wasting their time if you sell on your own. But don't worry; real estate brokers are used to having their time wasted. If we earned a $20,000 commission every time we went out we'd arrive at your home in a limousine. Fact is, nine out of ten outings are a bust for us. It's the main reason why commissions are as high as they are. In any event, you may end up listing with one of them. Fact is, selling by owner really isn't for everyone. But pricing your home correctly is the first step in a successful transaction.
If you choose not to have a market analysis from your local Realtors you will have to do your own calculations. To do that you will need a fresh batch of comparable sales. The best place to get these is from your local assessor or municipal records. You will need between three and five recent comparable sales. Make sure they really are comparable. They must be in the same location (ideally within a half-mile) they must be the same style and size as your home (number of bedrooms, baths, garage, etc.) and they must be in the same condition as your home. Drive-by each. Take pictures. The hard part is when you can't find exact comparables. You will then have to make adjustments for the differences. The best way is to ask your assessor how much an extra bath, for instance, influences the market value. Hopefully, they will provide an approximation.
If you can't come up with an accurate dollar amount consider hiring a professional appraiser. They can be found in the yellow pages or online. And while the service costs several hundred dollars it's a small price compared to what you will save by successfully selling on your own.
Avoid pricing your home based on how much you paid, how much you owe, the amount of the municipal assessment, the cost of improvements you have added, or what a friend or neighbor thinks it's worth. The market doesn't care a bit about these factors. However, you arrive at a price it will usually be expressed as a price range. Aim for the upper end of the range if your home is generally in better condition and has nicer amenities than the competition. Aim for the low end if you need a quick sale. Otherwise, stay in the middle and prepare to be flexible.
Now step inside. See your home as if for the first time, as buyers will. A fresh coat of paint, new draperies, and new carpeting (or professional cleaning) will do wonders for your sales appeal. Again, consider what you would be paying a Realtor. Remove all clutter and excess furniture. The only items in a bedroom should be a bed and a dresser. Anything else makes the rooms look smaller. Next, evaluate the kitchen and the baths. These are the single most important rooms in the house in terms of buyer appeal. Again, clean, paint, and consider replacing the flooring with something light and bright. Wash the windows. If your appliances or fixtures are old consider replacing them. Most buyers these days are including a contingency in their offer to purchase contract for a professional home inspection. If an appliance or fixture is a problem it will be noted and the buyer will expect it to be replaced--or void the contract. Might as well get that part out of the way upfront when it can boost your marketing efforts. This is true of any structural, mechanical, electrical, foundation, roof covering, or plumbing system, etc. in the house. If there's a problem it's best to take care of it beforehand. In many areas, state and federal disclosure laws mandate that an owner reveals any problems they are aware of, including the possible presence of lead paint, mold, radon, or asbestos. Be aware of these laws. A good way is to hire your own inspector before the house is put up for sale.
Use free word-of-mouth advertising. Tell everyone you know, neighbors, friends, family, coworkers that your home is for sale. Invest in a professional yard sign. Note the basic features of the home as in your ad as well as "By Appointment Only" but don't list the price. Be available to make appointments when your ads are running. Don't rely on voice mail. Consider a Flat Fee MLS listing. For a fee typically between $99 and $995 a broker will list your home on the Multiple Listing Service where the vast majority of qualified buyers find their homes. Many Flat Fee Brokers also syndicated the listing across the web on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. The scope of this topic is best presented in-depth elsewhere. See the link at bottom of the page for additional Flat Fee Realtor information.
When the buyers arrive give them a warm welcome. Have the dining room table set with your best china. Place fresh flowers. If you have a whirlpool tub put out a bottle of Champaign and two glasses. Bake bread or cookies, or just put a little vanilla and cinnamon in the oven at low heat.
Do not, under any circumstances, become emotionally involved in the negotiations. This is the one area owners are never as good at as Realtors (except when it's the Realtor's own property in question). Consider only whether you can realistically do better and that the amount you will net will allow you to proceed with your move.
When price and terms are agreed upon get everything in writing. Do not fail to use a qualified real estate attorney.
Finally, the closing day comes and it's on to your next dwelling. It's been a hard road--much harder than most people expect--but the extra money you save will go a long way towards easing your pain in your new home. Enjoy!