We sold our house! For Sale By Owner! (Which you already know because we moved into the new house over a year – I’m a little behind in posting!) It took us 5 weeks, which is great when you’re doing it For Sale By Owner. I’ve driven by houses in our town that have been on the market for months – and that’s with a realtor!
We actually had 3 people/families that were really interested. In fact, when it had been on the market for just 9 days, I thought we had it sold. A gal made an offer, we accepted it, but she backed out when it came time to sign a contract. I think she just panicked – even though she went through it twice, brought parents, sisters, nephews and had her grandfather review the contract. (Which, before a contract is signed, is the best/easiest time to panic.)
Here’s how we did it.
Price it well
This is the first thing that everyone will tell you to do. If you price too high, people will just write you off and not even walk through. For us, we looked at houses that had recently sold and set a price. When we were setting the price, there was a house literally 2 doors down with the exact same floor plan that was also for sale. It had been a foreclosure that sat empty for over a year and a half, bought by a renovator and fixed up a little. They had it listed with an agent and we knew we wanted to be just a little less expensive than they were. So we went 1-2% less than they were asking. We were blessed to be in a position where we didn’t need to get absolute top dollar for it. It was more important (to us) to have a buyer than an extra couple of thousand dollars.
But literally 2 days before we put our For Sale sign in the yard, they removed theirs. We thought it had sold, but we learned much later that they really had rented it out instead because they couldn’t find a buyer.
Get it cute
We spent a lot of time making it look as cute and clean as we could. We rented a storage unit between the 2 houses and just started packing boxes. We filled up about 3/4 of a 10×10 foot storage unit. Stuff we wouldn’t need in the next few months. We had lots of bins of baby clothes that no longer fit, baby clothes that don’t yet fit, toys our son has yet to grow into along with tons of diapers, personal care products, and canned goods (I’m a couponer!) plus holiday stuff. It made moving that much easier, but it also made selling that much easier.
We gave some attention to the yard, putting down new mulch and planting a couple of hosta plants in areas. We focused on watering for a couple of weeks to get the grass nice and green.
I touched up places where paint may have gotten scuffed off on inside walls or outside where it was chipping off a little bit.
I got rid of furniture that wasn’t critical or often used. Make it look as big as possible.
I organized pantries and closets, sending a couple of tubs of stuff to Goodwill. (In hindsight, I wish I would’ve done more!)
Since we moved in, we knew our wood floors needed refinishing, but didn’t really want to do it. We thought we’d just acknowledge the scratches and stains and tell people that we lowered the price $1000 (about the cost of refinishing them). But, in the end, we figured a first time home buyer would be intimidated by that and it ruined the cute factor – in a key area of the house. So, we bit the bullet, slept in the basement for a few nights (so that we didn’t walk on the floors) and had the work done.
Advertised on zillow.com
As I cleaned each room and prepped it, I took pictures and then created a page on zillow.com. I chose that as my primary place to hold house information. Cost: FREE!
Offered a Referral Bonus
Since we didn’t have a seller’s agent finding leads for us, I knew that word of mouth was going to be our biggest asset. So, we offered a $500 referral bonus to anyone that found a buyer for us. Turns out we didn’t need it, but there was no telling where our buyer was going to come from. It definitely generated some buzz for us and I’d totally do it again.
Create a flyer
Our flyer wasn’t anything fancy, but we needed one for the Info Box in our yard and for sending to people. I mimicked the format that I had seen realtors use.
Email & Facebook
Once we were ready, I sent an email to friends and family with the flyer and link to zillow.com. Then I announced on facebook, making sure to stress the referral bonus. One of our strong interests came from this route (via a facebook friend), but they were interested just a little too late – we had already accepted an offer.
Since Craigslist is free, we advertised here. We did have 1 person come through before the Open House as a result of this ad, so it was worth the 10 minutes it took to set it up. The person who found us this way was actually a real estate agent who also checked craigslist…you just never know who is watching it!
Listed in the paper
Our hometown paper has a program where you get an online ad and you get your Open House listed in Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s paper of that week. Since our big push was the Open House, we ran for a weekend. Cost: $100 or so.
Advertise to neighbors
I created a postcard, had it printed at overnightprints.com and mailed them to 150 of our neighbors. I don’t know most of them, but they got a postcard anyway. Getting the addresses was easy thanks to our county’s assessor’s website. It listed the features of the house and said that we were also offering a referral bonus if they referred the buyer. Most importantly, it directed them to the website. I put a bright sticker on there, announcing the Open House as well. I was careful to not put the price on the postcard in case we decided later to change it. Cost of postcards and postage: Less than $100. I’ve removed some critical information, but here’s what it looked like:
What we didn’t do, but would have:
There are a few ideas that I had, but never implemented. I figured we’d get past our Open House and if there wasn’t any nibbles, then I’d look at doing these things:
- Listing on ForSaleByOwner (or something similar). There’s a cost to this though.
- Creating a youtube video of pictures or even a video walk through of the house to give people a better idea of the house.
- Make our own signs for the yard and direction signs. Something bright and eye catching just made with plywood.
That’s how we did it!