TIPS: FOR SALE BY OWNER (FSBO) Selling real estate can be a challenge. We applaud your willingness to undertake that challenge – and we are here to help. Whether you are just beginning the process, or have been trying to sell your property for some time, we offer you the following FSBO tips:
AVOID TWO COMMON (MISTAKEN) ASSUMPTIONS
1. I cannot afford to hire a real estate professional… In many cases, a real estate agent will offer services in exchange for a commission that is paid when your property is sold and only if it is sold. In addition, studies have shown that properties listed and sold by real estate agents tend to net a higher sale price than those sold by owners directly. So… not only is it possible to avoid upfront costs, but also, the final sale price may offset the cost of hiring a real estate professional.
2. Selling real estate is nothing more than marketing… Considerable work and skill is involved in the time between contract and closing. A typical buyer’s offer to purchase will include numerous contingencies – for example, a loan with acceptable terms, a satisfactory inspection and appraisal of the property, review and approval of covenants, title work and a survey. Each and every contingency has the potential to derail the deal. An experienced professional can handle challenges that may come up along the way and keep the transaction on track. For most sale transactions, we believe it is wise to hire a real estate professional. But, we acknowledge special circumstances and we know that there are property owners with the patience and skill to handle a sale on their own.
You can determine the price for your home from two directions:
A. Ask yourself – WHAT IS MY PROPERTY WORTH? Generally, a buyer’s offer will be based on an analysis of recent sales of like properties in the surrounding area. When determining a price, you may want to take the same approach. As a practical matter, a professional appraisal often dictates whether a transaction will cancel or close. A purchase offer may include a specific contingency related to appraised value (e.g. “this offer is contingent on an appraisal showing value of at least…”), or the contingency may be indirectly tied to value. For example, contracts often provide that the buyer can terminate if he or she fails to obtain satisfactory financing for a specific percentage of the agreed price. If the buyer’s lender appraises the property and the appraised value is less than the agreed price, the lender may be unwilling to make a loan that will cover the buyer’s financing needs. You may want to have your property professionally appraised to arrive at a sale price. There are internet tools and websites available to analyze market value. Just be careful. As with everything, what you read on the internet may NOT be accurate. We believe that the best tool is an experienced real estate professional, familiar with the area in which your property is located. If you elect to utilize the internet, we encourage prudence. Seek to understand the criteria used to arrive at a value. Beware of faulty or inadequate criteria and make certain that valuation data is current.
When thinking about the worth of your property, avoid two price traps:
i. Avoid injecting emotion into your list price determination. Your warm memories and sentiments will have little impact on a buyer who can purchase a nearly identical property for a lower price.
ii. Beware the siren song of a no contingency cash buyer. Pricing on the hope of finding such a buyer is not a recipe for successful selling. Though it is true in the end that a property is worth what a buyer will pay, most buyers will not rush to purchase even the most desirable properties without some value research.
2. Ask yourself – WHAT WILL IT COST ME TO SELL? Generally, you will pay a portion of closing costs and you will have to pay off existing liens (mortgages, etc.). If you believe that your cost of selling exceeds the value of your property, you may be a candidate for a short sale. When approaching a list price from this direction, you may want to consider adding a buyer’s agent commission to your calculation. Buyer’s agents are typically paid a percentage of the total home’s price. In other words, the seller pays the buyer’s agent. Local media outlets, signs and the internet are all good marketing tools, but the most effective tool may be real estate agents working with buyers. And although a buyer may be willing and able to pay his or her agent for services rendered, it is not common. It is possible to find buyers who are not being represented by a buyer’s agent, but more and more the buyer’s have signed agreements with a buyer’s agent to find them a house.
UNDERSTAND THE PURCHASE & SALE CONTRACT
The Colorado Real Estate Commission has promulgated a standard real estate purchase and sale form used by real estate agents across Colorado. Though the contract form you use may not and need not incorporate all of the terms of the CREC contract, the standard form can be instructional because it addresses many of the common elements of real estate transactions. Familiarity with the CREC form will help you understand many of the contingencies involved in a purchase offer and as a result, you will be better prepared to review and evaluate the offers that you receive.