Psst. There’s a new video up on our YouTube channel today honoring Mitch’s 26th Birthday! Click HERE to see it!
Guys. This post is WORDY. Just to let you know.
Over the course of the last month, as the news of our move has come out, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about how we sold our house and what the whole process was like. So today, you get the story! Let’s start with the beginning…
We bought our first house in June of 2013 and lived there until March of 2016… almost three years! We always knew that our first love would be a stepping stone for us. It was the equivalent of our “first apartment” together, but we bought it so that we could get some equity in the game for when it came time for step two. With buying the first house, we used a realtor and had a wonderful experience. Our realtor’s name is Kay and if you are in the Philadelphia area and looking for a realtor, EMAIL ME and I will definitely send you her info. She’s a rockstar.
Of course, when we made the decision back in October that we were ready to move again, the first person we called was Kay. Just a heads up- when you begin working with a realtor, don’t expect your first meeting to be them showing you listings. I know it’s exciting and all you want to do is start looking at houses right away, but the first meeting will be going over your finances, goals, etc. Hang in there, the house hunting will come! Kay came over to our house and showed us some of the financial break-down: what other houses in our neighborhood were selling for, what our budget for purchasing was, what a reasonable monthly payment would be, etc. Over the next month or so, we went looking at properties with her and saw a whole slew of possibilities, but nothing that made us want to whip out the checkbook and stake our claim right on the spot.
Fast forward to the very beginning of November… my parents were driving around after church, just to see if they could find any properties to swing by. They passed a faded, hand-lettered FOR SALE sign on the side of the road, followed it into the development, and that ended up being the house we bought! The thing is, the house was definitely at the top of our budget (something we were willing to do for the square footage, the land it came with, and the school district). So much so that we had to get a little crafty with finding some extra cash to make it happen. Enter the For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) route.
Now, let me start by saying… we sold our house AND bought the new house on our own with no help from realtors because we needed to save the money that would have otherwise gone to paying commission in order to purchase the new house. I will say this: we managed okay and it worked out fine in the end, but it was by no means easy. We love our realtor and had always said that if we tried FSBO for some time and it didn’t work out, we would go back to her in a heartbeat. This decision was purely financial. Looking back, if we could do it over, we’d do FSBO again, but it is definitely not for everyone. If you’re thinking about, just understand that essentially you will be taking on the role of the seller AND the agent- not impossible, but not a walk in the park either.
That being said, if you’re into DIY and figuring out how to do things on your own, here’s how we went about it…
First of all, you’ve got to start at the beginning and that means setting some goals and priorities… check out our last post about finding the right house to buy. Once you start that process, it’s time to think about selling your own house.
LISTING: To list our house, we went through an online company who listed our house on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), which then feeds into the smaller databases such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc. Word to the wise- you absolutely need to get your listing on the MLS! This is what all of the realtors use to find properties for their clients.
WORK WITH REALTORS: I know, I know… this post is all about how we did all of this without a realtor BUT you can’t completely write them out of the equation! In a sale, the seller is responsible for paying the commission of both their own realtor AND the buyer’s realtor. The standard percentage of commission (at least for us) is 2.5% of the sale price. When you list your house, you’ll have the opportunity to write in the percent you are willing to pay the buyer’s agent in commission. As the realtors are the ones who will bring their clients to see your house (or not!), it’s a really good idea to work with them and agree to pay them commission! Think of it this way… why, as a realtor, would you spend time bringing your client to a property that you know you’re not going to be able to make any income off of? So, bottom line, make sure you offer commission- it’ll be what gets realtors to bring their clients in the door! Even though you’ll be paying the buyer’s agent commission, you’ll still be saving the percentage that you would have paid an agent for your side of the equation.
MAKE A FLIER: We made a good-quality flier with plenty of pictures and some of the basics of the house that we had available for anyone who came to see the house. We also posted them in local stores, but don’t really think that helped us at all… our prospects came almost exclusively from the MLS listing. However, a flier for prospective buyers to take home with them after they visit is a MUST because you are giving them something to remember your property with, take notes on, and look back on pictures of the house.
SHOWING THE HOUSE: It’s up to you how you handle the showings. You can do the lock-box option, which provides more flexibility for people to come and see the property at any time of the day. We opted to have people contact us directly (I had my cell phone number on the listing for people to call) and set up an appointment to see the house. That way, we could make sure we were home, clean and prepare the house beforehand, and make in-person contact with potential buyers (which is a very important step in the sales process!).
*Stay tuned for a post coming SOON about the process we used to show the house, plus some tips and tricks we employed that ended up helping us get full asking price!
BASIC FORMS: Ok, so you’ve listed the house, made your flier, have been showing the house, and now have an interested buyer! Congrats! The next step- and the way to make things official- is to get some paperwork going and a deposit paid. The two basic forms you’ll absolutely need for this are the following:
- Seller’s Disclosure: If a buyer is interested in the house, their realtor will ask you for this. Essentially, it’s a document that you fill out with ALL of the details about the property… you’ll need to disclose the ins and outs of the house. When certain things were updated, the age of the heating and AC systems, when they were last maintained, what type of water do you have, etc.
- Agreement of Sale: This is the document that the buyer will provide, stating that they want to purchase the house and all of the terms (how much the deposit will be, the price of the house, commission %, any Sellers Assist if they are going to ask for it, and anything they want included in the sale). Once both parties sign this document and the deposit is paid, you are technically UNDER CONTRACT and working on the steps toward closing on the property.
These two forms, we found on an online resource called PDFfiller… we bought a month’s membership and used their pre-made (and official!) forms that could be filled out and e-signed online.
INSPECTION AND APPRAISAL: The inspection is something that the buyer pays for… it is a professional inspection of the property to make sure that things are up to code. If there are issues, these are often used as bargaining chips or may be required to be fixed before closing. The appraisal (also paid for by the buyer) is the process of determining the value of the house- something that your lender will require before they will front you the money to purchase it!
FINDING A LENDER: Speaking of, one of the most important things we did was find a lender. The lender is the company that is going to approve you for the loan (if you’ll need a loan to purchase the property). My tip for finding the right lender is to shop around and get a few options before deciding. They will all have different rates and you want to find the right one for you. At this point in the process, you’ll be able to turn over most of the reigns to your lender- they will make sure all of the paperwork is in place for closing and will be able to offer you options for Appraisal and Title companies to use.
And that’s the basic, stripped down version of how we sold and bought our houses by ourselves! Again, the moral of the story is that it is do-able and should not be written off, especially if you need a little extra cash. BUT, be prepared… it’s a lot of work! Just remember, you’ll be doing the entire job of someone who does this for… well, their job! Best of luck to anyone out there going the FSBO route. Hope this was helpful!
PS. Don’t forget!!! Yesterday was Mitch’s 26th Birthday! We’re celebrating over on our YouTube channel (click HERE to see the video) with a fun Birthday Cake Challenge… oh, and while you’re there… SUBSCRIBE! That way, you’ll never miss a video (we post things every week there that are not shown here on the blog).
Happy Weekend, everybody!