The Secrets to Selling a House By Owner Successfully

All you want to do is sell your home in the least amount of time, with the least amount of fuss, at the highest price possible. Fair enough, but what’s your game plan? Selling a house by owner is one way homeowners maximize their selling power.

While not an impossible challenge, managing your own home sale, does require a certain level of savvy. Things usually go better when you’re in the know before diving into the real estate game.

We’ve put together a few tried and true secrets to selling a house by owner. Try them and they could be the key to selling your home faster and with less stress than other traditional methods.

Imagine Yourself as the Buyer

While you can’t know the wants and needs of every person who may look at your home, you can put yourself in their shoes for a minute. The point of this exercise is viewing your home through your prospective buyer’s eyes.

Step back and ask this question: If I were buying this house, what about it doesn’t thrill me?

You may see the many wonderful things about your home, but a buyer sees the flaws. As they walk through your home, they’re ticking off each flaw they notice because, at closing, they inherit the flaws.

Of course, they also look at the overall appearance of your home.

They notice whether it has curb appeal, or not. Does the home have a good flow? And perhaps most important to the buyer, does the home feel right to them?

It’s not easy for a homeowner to look objectively at their own home. If you can’t, ask a neutral person to walk through your home and share their observations. Using those observations consider things you can do to better prepare your home for sale.

The Two Ds

Even though you’re in a hurry to sell, never show your home to buyers until you’ve taken care of two things that can devalue your home in the blink of your buyer’s eye.

Decluttering and deep cleaning may not add much in your favor on the money side but ignoring either one can turn a buyer off in a minute.


If you’re looking for the least expensive pre-listing task to do, get rid of the junk. Don’t make buyers feel like they’re working through a maze when they walk through your home.

When you remove clutter, remove personal items like family photos and other personalized items. Trophies, horse show ribbons, and your collection of refrigerator magnets won’t make a great impression on people looking at your home. Also, don’t just move the clutter to the basement or garage—rent a storage unit.

Deep clean

A clean home is always more attractive to agents to buyers. While dusting, wiping down the bathroom, and vacuuming are all expected before showings, a deep clean is even better.

When you deep clean, you address things like fingerprints on stainless steel and grease film on cabinets. You don’t only dust baseboards and crown molding, you wash them. Deep cleaning should also include carpet cleaning,

The whole de-clutter and deep clean spiel is usually delivered by a listing agent who you pay to give advice. It’s the first secret to getting a buyer interested in looking at your home.

Is Your Home Market Ready?

Now that you’ve done the deep dive into clearing out junk and cleaning, address any issues you (or your neutral home inspector) observed while doing the walk-through of your home.

Taking care of minor repairs now will save you time and possibly money later when the buyer’s inspector hands you their inspection report and a laundry list of things they want you to take care of before closing. The following should get attention before you list your home:

  • Leaky Faucets
  • Slow Drains
  • Loose Door Handles
  • Sticky Windows
  • Electrical Switches
  • Lights
  • Garage Door Opener

This is also the time to freshen up tired interior paint and spruce up the outside. Curb appeal goes a long way toward attracting buyers.

Once you’ve made your home market-ready, you can set the price.

Set a Fair Price

Although you want top dollar for your home, be careful about overpricing. Make your listing price appealing to prospective buyers. If you overprice, your home may end spending way too long on the market, or you’ll need to lower the price.

On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to price too low and risk leaving the sale with less cash than you should. Deciding on a fair and accurate listing price is a balancing game.

Pricing isn’t a solitary endeavor. You have multiple resources you can use to come up with a listing price one is an online real estate valuation site. This resource is a quick and free way you can get an estimate of your property’s value.

The other two valuation resources are comparative market analysis and appraisal.

Ever Heard of a CMA?

One of the benefits of working with a real estate agent is they can help you determine the best listing price. They use a comparative market analysis (CMA), or comps, as one of their tools. The beauty of selling on your own is you, too can run comps.

You’ll use a combination of public records,  and the Recently Sold filter on one of the online real estate websites.

When you run comps make sure you select comparable homes similar to yours. Look at the size, quality, and location (your neighborhood). Look at homes sold within the last three months. Don’t use homes currently on the market.

If you feel unsure of running your own comps you can always ask a real estate agent. The service is usually free, however, agents put together CMAs hoping for your business, so expect a conversation about hiring them to list your home.

The third method, the appraisal is the most accurate, and a good idea to have even if you’ve already determined your selling price.

An Appraisal Makes Sense

A professional appraisal is the most accurate way you can get an idea of the value of your home. An appraisal costs anywhere from $300 to $600 and is money well spent.

The appraiser uses several pieces of information when valuing your home including:

  • Details about Your Home
  • Local Market Trends
  • Recent Comps

Be aware that an appraisal is still an estimate, but far more accurate than the guesswork done by individual home sellers, and sometimes, even real estate agents.

Another appraisal is usually done by the buyer, especially if they’re using financing from a conventional lender. Banks and mortgage companies typically require their own appraisal as part of the mortgage process. The buyer pays for their own appraisal.

Research Peak Selling Time

If you’re not certain when you should list your home, research peak selling times. As a general rule, homes sell faster and closer to asking price when listed during peak selling time.

For example, in some parts of the country, homes still sell during the winter months, while things slow down significantly in other areas.

Another factor to consider is marketing, which we’ll discuss next.

Market Your Way to the Sale

You’ve prettied up your home, decided on an asking price, and determined the best time to list. Now, you must sell it!

When you work with a real estate agent, marketing is their primary job. When you decide on using the FSBO method, marketing is your job.

Since you won’t have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) real estate agents use, you’ll promote your home through social media and word-of-mouth.  People who sell their own homes also use online sites created specifically for private home sales

Another marketing tool you should use is the open house.

You print your listing sheets. You host the party. And hopefully, you grab the attention of your new buyer.

About Those Photos

A huge part of marketing your home is displaying photos of it online.

You might love taking photos as a hobby, but when marketing your home, consider hiring a professional photographer. A professional real estate photographer knows how to put your home in its best light. Some also offer a virtual tour service, which is a fantastic, modern marketing tool.

Hiring a professional photographer may cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s worth the investment.

Interested in Selling a House by Owner?

Now that we’ve shared a few of our secrets, which ones do you plan to use?

Selling a home is challenging whether you use a real estate agent or not. Selling a house by owner comes with a few unique challenges but by using applying the information in this post, you’ll unlock the secrets to selling on your own.

Contact us for more information about selling your home with no commissions!

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