Should You Figure Out How to Sell a House By Owner?
In the Kansas City metro area, the cost to list your home with a real estate agent can be anywhere from a cut-rate fee plus 3% to just get it on the MLS to 5% to 8% to get a full-service listing with a real estate agent. With the median value of a resale home in our metro being $250,000, that would mean a home seller would be paying from $8,000 to $20,000 to a real estate agent. This is a huge chunk of change, which causes many home sellers to sell by owner.
Selling a home by owner or selling “For Sale By Owner” otherwise known as selling FSBO, can save a home seller a large chunk of change, but it will take some work and some time.
Do a little research and you will find articles, put out by the National Association of Realtors that will tell you that selling a home by owner or FSBO will net you less. In fact, according to a 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, “FSBO homes sold at a median of $217,900 last year (up from last year), and signiﬁcantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $242,300. But keep in mind s “FSBO homes sold more quickly on the market than agent-assisted homes. 77% of FSBO homes sold in less than two weeks—often because homes were sold to someone the seller knows.” Or they were selling directly to a buyer like Kim at kcmoHomeBuyer who is able to buy in 10 days to 2 weeks.
How to Sell A House By Owner
Since you have found your way to our article, we are assuming you are considering selling your home by owner or For Sale By Owner and you want to learn “How to do it”. This article is here to help you navigate the process on your own.
Key Benefits of Selling a Home By Owner
- Complete control of the entire selling process from pricing to showings, to negotiations.
- No listing commission could save you big unless you opt to offer a minimum of 3% to attract buyers agents to show your home.
- And as studies show, you could save considerable time.
Rules and Regulations Around Selling a Home in the Kansas City Metro
|Is an Attorney Required?||No, you can sell a home without an attorney, however, consulting with one on your contracts might be a good idea. You can find some great DIY home sales forms online.|
|Disclosure Required?||By state law, you are required to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability, so that buyers are not unpleasantly surprised after moving in. Federally you need to disclose about Lead-Based Paint if your home was built before 1978. And there may also be disclosures around asbestos, meth, or flood zones.|
|Put a Sign in the Yard?||For the most part, you are allowed to put a for-sale sign in your yard. But do check with your homeowner’s association about specifics and if you are in a condo complex, they might be prohibited altogether.|
|Is Title Insurance Required||By law, no title insurance is not required. However, any buyer who knows anything about buying houses or who is getting a loan from a traditional lender is going to require it. Plus, by closing with a title company and providing title insurance, you make sure all the paperwork is complete and that all your debts associated with the house are paid off, saving you the potential for a lawsuit should anything be missed.|
Responsibilities of the Seller of a Home in a For Sale By Owner Situation
- Getting Your Home “Ready” to be sold by making repairs, cleaning everything up, and staging it so it shows its best.
- Pricing Your Home correctly so you are able to sell in a timely fashion without leaving any money on the table.
- Marketing Your Home to its fullest from writing up the description, taking good photos of the home, listing it online on all the best sites, sharing it on social media, and making sure it is everywhere it needs to be so potential buyers can find it.
- Qualifying your buyer to make sure they are financially able to buy your home. You don’t want to waste your time accepting an offer only to find at the last minute that they don’t have the money or can’t get a loan.
- Negotiating through the whole process: sales price, repairs, closing date, concessions, and all the little details that go into a real estate sale agreement.
- Properly writing up the paperwork from the disclosures to the contract. We highly recommend consulting with an attorney for a small fee to make sure you get it right the first time and don’t end up with a very expensive “gotcha” down the road during the sales process or even years after you sell.
Getting Your Home Ready to Sell
There is a multitude of articles on the internet that will detail what you need to do to get your home ready for sale. Many agents will recommend getting a home inspection first followed by making repairs. Then once everything is fixed, clean everything to sparkling including behind the closet and cabinet doors. Then staging the home, maybe with rented furniture to make the home “show well.”
Now all of this is well and good if your home is in great shape. But what if it has not been updated in the past 20 years and the repair and maintenance have been neglected over that same time frame? It might take a lot of time and effort to “get it ready to sell” and you might want to not only sell a house by owner but also sell a house “as-is.”
Pricing Your Home To Sell
Determining the right price for your home is one of the keys to selling it quickly. You don’t want to leave money on the table by pricing it too low. At the same time, you don’t want to price it too high and have it set with no offers which will ultimately force you to lower the price, which can often result in you losing out.
Realtors and anyone in the housing market price homes by looking at comparable homes for sale or that have recently sold in the area.
Pricing strategy is often is where a lot of for sale by owner sellers get tripped up. List your home for too little and you leave money on the table. Price it too high and the listing goes stale, forcing a price drop that could make buyers wary of the home.
There are numerous websites you can look at to compare your home: Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, or even Trulia. You want to look at homes, preferably in your same subdivision, that are of similar size, style, and age. If you can’t be in the same subdivision, then look within a quarter of a mile.
Realtors and appraisers do this all the time and look for similar models and ask themselves a lot of questions to adjust the price up or down.
- Are we in the same subdivision?
- Is this the same model or style of home or a better or a lesser style?
- Does the subject house have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, are they above grade (not in the basement)?
- Is the basement finished?
- Has the house been renovated more recently than the subject?
When your house is better than the comparable, your price might be higher. When your house is not as nice as the comparable it might be a lower price.
Learning how to come up with an optimum price can sometimes be easy if there are several identical homes in the area that have recently sold. More often than not, however, it becomes very subjective because most recent homes sold might be in much better or worse condition, or there may not be any comparable homes nearby to look at.
Writing Up the Best Description of A For Sale By Owner Home
Once you have determined your price, the next step in getting your home sold is to write up a description of your home to use in all the marketing. Beyond the basics of how many bedrooms, bathrooms, age, and square footage, there are a lot of little key details to keep in mind.
|School Districts||Many home buyers have school-age children and want to make sure they are buying a home in a good school district. So having those details about the schools and their ratings can be helpful.|
|Updates Made||Unless your home is under 5 years old, most buyers are going to be interested in what updates you have made to the home from those you can see like new kitchens and baths to those that are not so readily apparent like a new furnace and ac, new windows, or an upgraded insulation package. So gather and write up everything you or a previous owner has done. Be sure to include when the repair or update was made, what it cost, and if it was done by a professional with a license and permit if required.|
|Photos||Get online and look at a few homes listed for sale and you will take note that some have great photos that show off the house and the rooms at their best and others . . . are . . . well, . . . total crap. You can take great photos with your cell phone, but it does take some work to get the lighting right, the angle right, and make sure you are showing the room. You want a photo of the master bedroom, not the bed or the dining room, not the dining table.|
Marketing Your Property for Sale by Owner
If we go back to that 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, that often when a house is sold by owner, it is sold to someone the seller knew. If this is the case, then marketing your home may not be in your cards. But if you are not selling a home to a friend, a family member, or to us here at kcmoHomeBuyer, then you will need to figure out how to market your home, and that same report tells us that “for 43 percent of recent buyers, the first step that they took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale.” So, showcasing your home online will be a key component to marketing your home. At the same time consider that quite often here at kcmohomebuyer, we purchase a home and ultimately end up selling it to the neighbor, so yard signs are helpful too.
Here’s How We Market a House
Yard Sign: This is one of the first things we do whether we list the house or sell it by owner. We put a for sale sign in the yard that has the words “For Sale” at the very top. On that sign, we include our name and in really big letters our phone number and our website. This lets the neighbor know the home is for sale and how to contact us. It also lets someone driving by know that they can go to our website and get more information.
(We sell a lot of houses to the neighbor.)
Property Flyer: We also like to create a home for sale flyer with the write-up we so painstakingly put together. We put a few key photos on the back. And again we include a phone number for them to call and include a link to a website. You can attach a flyer box to your sign.
(A lot of neighbors will show this flyer to a friend who is looking in the area for a house to buy.)
Website: Now if you are selling FSBO you may not have the time or expertise to create a website, but you can and should post detailed information online somewhere and you can provide links to that information on your flyer. There is a website designed to help for sale by owners sell their homes that include a website that you can access at Fizber.com
Zillow: Listing your home for sale as the owner on Zillow is getting harder and harder, but it can still be done with a little bit of work. It is one of the most prominent sites that home buyers look to when they go online, so getting your home listed here is vital.
Online: We also ran across a great resource as we were writing this article that outlines 50 websites where you can list your home for sale. By no means do you need all 50, The first 3 would probably suffice.
Offering a Buyer’s Agent Commission
You are going through all this work to save the money you would pay to a Realtor. But while you may be selling your house by owner, it might be to your benefit to offer a commission for a buyer’s agent.
How Realtor Commissions Work
When an agent lists your home for sale they typically will charge you somewhere between 5 percent and 8 percent. This is 100% negotiable and does often differ from agent to agent. Out of this commission, the listing agent who is working for the seller gets paid half and then the agent who is working for the buyer gets paid the other half. If the listing agent finds a buyer that does not have a buyer’s agent and then sells the house to that buyer, the listing agent usually keeps ALL of the commission.
Offering to Pay the Buyer’s Agent
If you already have a buyer in mind great, but if you are marketing your home by owner and have to find a buyer, including the words “Buyers Agents Welcome” in all your marketing and offering a 3% commission to them gives them the incentive to work with you and show your home to their buyers. In that 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, we find that 84 % of buyers in 2020 purchased their home through a real estate agent, which is a very good reason to offer to pay a buyers agent.
So what does this all mean?
It is important to remember that real estate commissions are 100% negotiable. What you pay as a seller is 100% between you and your listing agent. You could for example list your home and only offer to pay your listing agent and not agree to pay any buyer’s agent. But if you are not offering to pay a buyer’s agent, in the way commissions are structured right now, you may not get very many buyer’s agents showing your home for sale and it might take a lot longer.
For the most part, the following outlines your costs.
- Sell Your Home By Owner, No Agents Involved, no Commission Paid
- Sell Your Home By Owner, Buyer has an Agent, Pay Buyer’s Agent Commission
- Sell Traditionally with an Agent, Pay Listing Agent & Buyer’s Agent Commission
Let’s Put Some Numbers to This Example using the current median sale price of a used home sold by an agent of $242,300 vs the $217,900 of a home sold by the owner. Keep in mind there are other costs besides commission when selling a house and the chart below just looks at the commission. And consider that this median price is for an average home. If your home is in need of major repair and updates that it would be less than average.
|List with a Realtor||List FSBO, Buyer Represented||List FSBO, Buyer Unrepresented|
|Listing Agent Commission||$7,269||0||0|
|Buyer Agent Commission||$7,269||$6,537||0|
|Seller Net After Commission||$227,762||$211,363||$217,00|
Showing Your House for Sale as the Owner
After getting your home ready, pricing it correctly, and marketing to the fullest, you next have to take phone calls, answer questions and show your home. Showing a home when selling by owner can be tough. If you listed your home with an agent, they would advise you to leave the house while buyers go through the home. New Home Builders leave their model homes unlocked during specific times to let buyers walk through alone, just today we visited a new model home and there was no agent or owner or anyone in the home. It was fully furnished and unlocked. But do you want to open your home to complete strangers and leave them alone to poke through everything with no supervision?
Agents do take a few steps to qualify a buyer before bringing them to see your home. This is partly to make sure they are not wasting their time showing homes to people who can’t buy your house. But the main reason they qualify a buyer is for their own safety. They will typically first meet a potential buyer in their broker’s office or another public place to find out what the home buyer is looking for in a house. They will often require the buyer to provide a prequalification letter from a lender. And sometimes will ask for identification.
What you ultimately decide to do in showing your home is up to you. We do have a few tips to keep you safe:
- Don’t show the home to anyone that does not have a prescheduled appointment.
- Lock up valuables and important papers or remove them from the home.
- Lock up prescription drugs.
- Put away bills, bank statements, and other personal papers.
- Shut off your computer.
- Consider installing security cameras.
- Consider installing and using the Noonlight app on your phone
Negotiating and Writing a Contract
You can often buy a for sale by owner package of contracts at a local office supply store, however, they may not cover everything. We highly recommend consulting with an attorney to help you put everything on paper, but if you want to buy contracts and forms that can be used here in the KC Metro, an Attorney friend of ours has a DIY Forms Store online that has most of what you need at a reasonable price and they are written for the KC metro area.
Below is a list of what documents you may need to sell a home:
|A Valid ID||You don’t need this until closing, but if you do not have a valid ID, you will not be able to close the transaction.|
|Sale Contract||Copy of your sales contract, all your disclosures, any addendums (additions) or amendments (changes) in writing and signed & dated by all parties.|
|Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Addendum||If your home was built before 1978 a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure is required by federal law.|
|Seller’s Disclosure Addendum||While not required by law, completing a seller’s disclosure and including it as part of your sales contract is a good idea.|
|Bill of Sale||If you are including something other than your home in the sale, for example, the lawnmower or perhaps a freezer, you would want to document that part of the transaction on a bill of sale.|
|HOA Forms||If the home is a part of a Home Owner Association you will need to provide the buyer documentation on the covenants, codes, restrictions, financial history, fees and there may be a fee involved for you to sell. So assembling these before you start marketing is a good idea.|
|Survey||You don’t typically have to provide a survey when you sell a home. You can allow the buyer to make one at their own expense. If you have completed one, be sure to include it as part of your seller disclosure.|
|Inspections||You do not need to pre-inspect, although agents often suggest you do. If you have had a formal home inspection or have had bids on home repairs, provide those to your buyer as part of your disclosure.|
|Proof of Repairs||If you have made any repairs or renovations or changes to the home, providing a receipt, warranty, and proof of permits is a good way to prove quality repairs and gives your buyer a person to reach out to should any repair fail.|
|Warranties||If you have any home warranties or warranties on repairs, improvements or appliances, proving those to your buyer, even if they are not transferrable also will be beneficial to your buyer.|
|Authorization to Sell||If you are helping a loved one sell a home or are selling an inherited property, having copies of the relevant power of attorney, wills, trust, approval by the probate court, and or death certificates will all be needed at some point by the title company or attorney closing the transaction.|
|Title Insurance||While not required, it is customary for the seller of a home in Kansas City to provide an owner’s title policy for the buyer. If the buyer is getting a loan, the buyer would then pay for the lender’s title policy.|
|Closing Statement||The Title Company will collect all funds and pay all expenses, at the same time they prepare all documents including the Closing Statement to outline all the money.|
|Signed Deed||The last item that the title company will prepare is some sort of deed that you as the seller will sign and the title company will notarize that transfers ownership from you to the buyer. Typically this will be a Warranty Deed.|
What About iBuyers?
We have been focusing most of this article on selling a home by owner. We have also compared this to listing with an agent. We have mentioned selling direct to a cash buyer like Kim here at kcmoHomeBuyer. But this article would not be complete without mentioning a new option: the iBuyer.
We don’t have a lot of information on this type of sale here in KC as iBuyers are fairly new, and we really don’t know anyone that has sold to an iBuyer. We have reviewed a lot of articles, mostly written as marketing for the iBuyer and found that they typically want homes in good condition. They typically offer less than what you would get by listing with a Realtor. And while they don’t charge a commission, they often charge a transaction fee of between 5 to 10% of the sales price.
We did a little research on Opendoor, a local iBuyers a while back when one marked to us for one of our homes that needed a lot of repairs, it was not favorable.
What about Selling to kcmoHomeBuyer?
Kim and the family here at kcmoHomeBuyer have been buying homes in the KC metro direct from owners since 2000. They pay cash, they can close in a week to 10 days. And for the past several years they have been listed as a Top 10 cash home buyer. If you are considering selling your home by owner, give us a call at (816) 408-3600 or fill out the form below to tell us about your house. You can learn more about how our process works and find out what we would offer.
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I’ll be only too happy to refer you to others.
It was great not having to go in and clean up that unholy mess and worry about disposing of everything. I hope you guys make a good sale on the property, I’ll be only too happy to refer you to others.