Sell your house privately (without an agent)


for sale sign


If your going to sell your house, one of the first questions many face, is weather or not they should use the services of an estate agent or sell the house privately. Obviously a real estate agent should be able to find a higher quantity of interested parties, but they will also receive a (sometimes hefty) commission. This means either your forced to sell your house for more (which may counteract the increase in possible buyers provided by the real estate agent) or you end up with less in your pocket at the end if your sale price (due to market forces) is relatively fixed. Some buyers actually prefer to buy a house privately (many believe they will get a better price).


Also worth considering, is the extra work you might need to do to sell your house privately. This is what you are paying an estate agent for. You need to decide if you have both the time and the inclination before you choose to sell you house privately


Either way there are pros and cons. To help decide if you should sell your house privately or use an estate agent or broker, here are the things you might need to do to sell it privately.


With property, the sales commissions can be enormous. With rising house prices, a few percent commission can amount to big bucks. If you choose the services of a real estate agent to sell your property, then you may need to increase your price by tens of thousands of dollars to end up with the same end profit (cash in your hand). Many people are now finding that they can use this money to advertise and sell their property privately and maybe make some more money and still set their house price lower (thusly making it more attractive to buyers).


To sell you house privately, you should start with the obvious. Advertising.


Most sign writing companies (and in fact copy shops and kinko outlets) have large format digital printers. With these machines they can print you a sign for a fraction of what it used to cost. Make sure you ask for 'solvent ink' and 'a clear cold lamination' to make sure your sign is protected from the sun and rain. All you need on the sign are the words (large) “For sale by owner” and a mobile phone number. Don't get carried away by making it too complicated with lots of phone numbers and other words. You don't need to add things like “4 bedrooms” etc, people with call you to ask, and that (after all) is the purpose of the sign. If you house has an outstanding feature (like a swimming pool) you might want to add that. With a digital print you can add a photo of your outstanding feature so that people can see it from the street. If you don't fell your up to installing the sign yourself then I recommend you go to a sign writer who can also do that for you.


The next thing you will need to do is list it. There are a number of popular Internet sites which will list house for real estate agents and those selling their own home alike. The fees are very reasonable (considering the asset you are selling). You can choose to advertise on just one, but I would tend to put an ad in a few of the top sites to make sure you have a supply of buyers. More buyers = more offers. When writing your ad, you will need to put more than on your sign, but don't loose sight of the fact that the purpose of the add is to get people to ring. Sometime omitting important information will prompt people to ring and ask for it. During their phone conversation the may discover something about the house the piques their interest.


If you have a nice house in a good area, of even a house that may be desirable (for what ever reason) to others, consider having flyers printed and putting them in letter box's. If you have time on your hands and like walking, this can be an excellent way of promoting the sale of your house. Often people in the same area are interested in moving to a better house close by, after all if they live there it's probably because they like it and it suits them for work/schools etc, so you might not have to go too far to distribute your flyers.


Here are some further way you can promote you private sale:

Advertise in a local paper (classifieds)

Put an ad in an Internet classifieds if there is a well known one in your area/country.


At the same time you are organising your advertising campaign to sell your property, you will consider the following ways to improve you properties saleability.


Make sure you house looks as good as it possible can from outside, outside is far more important than inside. A house that looks great from outside, but messy (of even run down) from inside, looks like a great property with renovation potential (a do-upper), on the other hand a house which looks bad from outside will appear to be a bad property no matter how well renovated the inside is.


Which that in mind observe these simple rules for improving property saleability:


  1. Make sure the outside fence (the very firs thing one sees) looks like new. Clean it or even better paint it.

  2. Clear any rubbish you have lying around outside. Rubbish left outside will lower the value of you house and make it harder to sell.

  3. Make wide open spaces. Move anything lying around your yard or house frontage, into a garage or at least to a hidden area or even the back of the property. Try to accentuate the space of the section (lot). Land symbolises value. Try and improve how much land it looks as though you have.

  4. Fix and repair any obvious problems. It goes with out saying the will lower your properties value.

  5. On the inside you don't need to do as much. Once again I remind you to concentrate you energies on the out side (first impressions last). However, keeping a tidy house will tell buyers that its worth keeping tidy. Also a fresh coat of paint here and there will drastically increase the houses value.


What ever you do, remember this. If you plan to sell you house privately you stand to make quite a saving from the real estate agents commission. Because of this (if you in a position to) consider spending a little to raise the value of the house. With property you can often spend a few thousand to put the value of your house up by tens of thousands. Here is a list of my favourites (for making the most profit) – they are list in order of preference:


  1. Put in a new fence. If you don't already have one, put in a nice permanent fence. One out of nice brick or slate, will sky rocket the value of your house.

  2. Upgrade your facade. Consider putting new bricks or slate on the front of your house, or giving it a fresh coat of paint or a nice cement render. The front of your house (of the part of the property that people first see is the single most important facade, make it look big bucks and that will set the value of your house)

  3. Put in a garage if you don't yet have one.

  4. Put in a car port. If you don't already have a double garage, put in a car port to provide shelter for a second or third car. This improves property value immensely.

  5. Landscape the access side of the property and upgrade paths. Again the first part of the house you see is the most important, make sure that to get to the front door is an enjoyable experience.

  6. Put in a new kitchen. If the outside is tip top, then most real estate agents and property investors agree that a new kitchen will greatly improve the value of a house.

  7. Renovate the bathroom(s) this is another one property investors love to do.


Getting the right price. Getting the right price for you house is very important. Many people sell their properties without a real estate agent and accept a price for the house that is less than they would have got after the commission if they had a real estate agents advice. This is because most of us (and I include myself) have no idea of the market value of a house or property. You can't simply pay to have the house valued because valuers are generally conservative as their service are mostly used for supplying banks with a property valuation. You can get a valuation, but make sure you explain fully to the valuer what you want it for. Don't use a valuation as the only reference to the houses value (oh, and make sure he/she values it after you've done any improvements).


To find the right price you need to do some research. Go down to a real estate agent and look at other houses in the area. If you feel cheeky enough, you mike even ask them for their opinion (I wouldn't tell them at this stage you plan to sell, just that you were thinking about it).


Once you have a reasonable idea of the price consider one last thing. How soon you need to sell the property. If you have time, than choose a good price for you (on the high side), if you don't have as much time you might want to start a bit lower, but remember there is no harm in changing it after even a short while. You never know who might accept your price. Also if your price is a little on the high side, then you are likely to receive offers that might be acceptable. Whatever you do, if you are desperate to sell, never let it show!


When selling your house privately, find a good lawyer to handle sale of the property. You may want to save on the commission of a real estate agent, but don't be too skimpy on a lawyer. After all you are selling your most valuable asset.


As a last thought, don't be afraid to tell a local real estate agent that your house is for sale, often they will make a note of it and they might find a buyer looking for something only you have. If you get the price you were after in the end it never matters anymore, how you got it.


Happy house selling.



Posted in You too can (how to articles)