Showing posts with label home selling tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home selling tips. Show all posts

Friday, April 25, 2014

Timing May Not Be Everything When Selling a House

People who consider putting their house on the market are often told that when they list could make all the difference between a quick sale and a long-term process. Paul Lopez says he realizes that the whole timing thing may be significant for others, but when it comes to his own experiences, whether or not it was prime selling season didn't matter much at all.

"Look, when you want to sell your house, you sell your house, just like when you want to buy a house, you buy a house," says Lopez, 49, who sold his three-bedroom ranch in Indianapolis last year, four weeks after first listing it. "I wanted to sell my house in the middle of winter, but the conventional wisdom is that you have to wait until spring or summer. I didn't, and I did just fine."

Relying simply on the time of year means that hopeful home sellers might be missing out on those motivated homebuyers who are already looking for a home. "Let's say you want to get in a new house and a new neighborhood by the fall so your children can start at a new school," says Lopez, a mechanic of high-performance cars. "That means that everyone thinks you don't even start looking until the spring because you don't want to move until you have to. But that's nonsense. If you find a house you like and the price works, you buy it, and then you figure out the details later."

Lopez says in the past, he drove his daughters an additional 45 minutes to and from school for three months because he bought a new home in March. "I could have pulled them and made it easier, but what's three months? We woke up a little earlier, and when the year was done, we moved and my girls were more than ready to start at the new school," says Lopez. "They made some new friends playing softball that spring and summer by our new house and everything worked out pretty well."

But not all circumstances are so easily resolved. That's when buyers and sellers have to show a little extra flexibility when negotiating the terms of the contract. "I sold my house in February but didn't have a place to move to until June," Lopez says. "I mentioned this to the couple who bought my house, and they told me they were just staying with the wife's parents until I moved out. So we agreed that I would actually pay rent to them for three months until I moved. And they didn't soak me or anything. They wanted me to pay enough to cover their first two mortgage payments, which was less than two of my new mortgage payments."

Lopez says it worked out exceptionally well. "They moved some things in slowly, and I did a few little projects around the house. They took off money from my rent, which was great," he says. "Plus, the husband is really into old cars. I had a 1973 Dodge Challenger that I was ready to sell, so when I moved, I sold him that, too. It just stayed in the garage and he took the keys."

Read this: When to Schedule Movers in the Home Selling Process

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Set a Selling Season Plan of Action

This 3-bed home is listed on
Spring brings many things: tax time, Earth Day and home-selling season among them. Here's how to get the most out of a spring home sale. 

1. Capitalize on Tax Time: While buyers will be eager to put their tax returns towards a down payment, you might be doing some home repairs and improvements. Save those Home Depot receipts! Your costs may be tax deductible.

2. Go Green to Get Green: It's spring cleaning time. Recycling or donating items you no longer need makes sense for the planet and could also help come tax time, too. Make every day Earth Day by creating your own natural cleaning products.

3. Strike While the Market Is Hot: As we leave winter in the rear-view mirror, take heart that home buyers will be coming out of hibernation this spring. Get ahead of the competition by taking control of your personal selling timeline.

4. Set the Stage for a Sale: Think of buyers as your audience, and stage your home inside and outdoors as if you're putting on a production. Remove any obstacles that might block buyers from seeing the best version of your home.

5. Capture Your Home's Best Angle: Springtime means flowers in bloom, longer daylight hours and prettier views, no Instagram filter needed. Take advantage of the season, and shoot some new home photos with these tips for taking impressive images that will get your listing noticed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best Lessons Learned from Real Estate Mistakes

One of the perks of selling your own home is the autonomy to make all of the decisions. Of course, with that power comes risk. But even in cases of potentially bad strategies or choices, the buck still stops with you. And when the strategies work out, well, you get to bask in all the success.

That's a lesson that Gloria Menendez learned — eventually. Menendez sold three houses in her life — the first two with a real estate agent and the third on her own. In hindsight, she says she should have learned her lesson sooner.

"I got some bad advice the first two times that I think cost me time and money," says Menendez, who lives in Dayton, Ohio. "When it came time to sell my house, which I did last fall, I pretty much became my own agent. If things went wrong, I could only be mad at myself. When they went right, I got to take all the credit."

Renovate vs. Rebate
Menendez says her biggest mistake was listening to her agent back in 1994 when she and her sister sold their parents' home in Troy, Michigan. "The house was a little outdated and needed some work — basic stuff, like paint and carpeting — but our agent insisted that buyers didn't care about those things. She told us they looked past the interior and kept the bigger picture in mind," Menendez says. "So we sold it as is. When people talked about the outdated carpet or dingy walls, our agent told us to offer money off our asking price so they could fix the house up themselves."

Menendez found that real estate pricing strategy proved to be problematic. "If you tell people you'll take off $1,000 so they can paint the walls themselves, they'll go through every room and want money off for a paint job in every room," she says. "Same goes with carpeting. Tell them you'll give them $1,000 to replace carpeting in the living room and family room, and they'll want $5,000 to do the whole house."

Menendez says the take-a-few-bucks-off approach ended up shaving more than $10,000 off the asking price. "It was a buyer's market at the time," she says. "We could have put less than $2,000 into it ourselves and come out $8,000 ahead, but our agent insisted that it was the way things were done."

Price Pitfall
When Menendez sold her condo in suburban Cleveland in 2004, she used a different real estate agent but again received some advice that she questioned. "The agent was completely stubborn about the price," Menendez says. "He told me it was my decision, but he strongly suggested that I price my unit about $7,000 less than some of the other units in my building so buyers knew that I was serious about selling."

Menendez listened and sold her condo within three weeks. "I was pretty excited," she says. "But then I realized that two other condos sold the same month, each one for $10,000 more than mine. And I had a corner unit with great windows, a much better place than the ones that sold."

Menendez says she learned that the suggested $7,000 drop in her original asking price didn't matter much to her agent but it mattered to her. "He probably lost a few hundred dollars in commission — big deal," she says. "I lost about ten grand. I could do a lot with ten grand."

Lessons Learned
When it came time to sell her house last October, Menendez decided to go it alone. She did some basic home remodeling projects, including painting her walls white, a process that took less than two days thanks to the help of her son and his wife. The next thing she did was set a realistic asking price that allowed her some wiggle room. "I figured I'd go a little high and give myself some room to come down," she says.

But when her asking price was met within a few weeks, she knew she had made the right choice. "You learn to rely on yourself and to trust yourself when you sell by owner," Menendez says. "If there's a mistake, I'll make it and take the blame. But it's not like I need an agent to tell me what to do and what not do. There's so much information out there when it comes to pricing, showing and selling your home. You just have to do your research and trust your gut."

We want to know: What's the worst advice you've ever received about selling your home? What was the best?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is There a Best Time of Year to Sell Your Home?

If you have a "Brady Bunch"-sized brood, spring and summer are absolutely, positively the best times of year to sell your home. The school year is winding down, warm weather will make packing, loading, moving and then unloading a lot easier, and you'll be able to settle the kids into a new nest before classes resume in the fall.

For anybody else, however, it's a mistake to cling to this outdated scenario.

Because more than half of today's buyers aren't married with children, they don't base decisions on school schedules -- which means spring and summer are less crucial for sellers than before, as online real estate blogs such as Zillow like to point out. And while word from the National Association of Realtors is that agents still "boast that over 50 percent of homes are sold during the summer," this really means that the other half of all homes on the market are sold during the rest of the year.

"(Spring and summer) can be a good time of year to sell your home," acknowledges Eddie Tyner, general manager of, an online service that helps sellers bypass real estate agents and their 6 percent commissions. "Buyers are looking, agents are busy and there can be a general sense of excitement in the air."

A rising tide lifts all boats, so FSBO sellers can benefit from seasonal market improvements. Because agents are likely to be juggling multiple clients, a tightly focused by-owner marketing effort can make a home stand out among the season's clutter of listings. And as always, Tyner reminds, by-owner sellers are better equipped than agents to market their home to buyers. "Nobody knows your home better than you do."

So, yes, while some buyers' interest might traditionally bloom with the coming of spring, there are just as many who aren't necessarily tied to the calendar.

In a survey conducted by in early 2014, for example, 62 percent of respondents said now was a good time to sell a home in their area, and 61 said now was a good time to buy.

Those still unconvinced that homes sell year-round can learn from Tyner's experience. In the dead of one of the worst winters in Chicago history, the executive listed his home using an online service and sold it himself.

"I know you can get your house exposed to buyers without going through a listing broker because I just did it," Tyner says. "I sold my house through I closed in mid-January, so I know that it works."

Being a by-owner seller wasn't difficult but did require a time commitment. "Mostly, I had to be willing to go home after work to meet someone to show the house, or be willing to stay at home a little later than normal on Saturday mornings. But it absolutely worked." Tyner estimates that including all the negotiations, he "probably spent less than 15 hours selling my home."

He says he showed his home about 10 times, and none of the showings interfered with his job. "It's reasonably easy for the average consumer to navigate through being a by-owner seller," he says.

The five steps Tyner took to sell his home in winter are pretty much the ones smart by-owner sellers follow in any season: decide to sell, prepare yourself and your home, market and show, negotiate and close.

Pay particular attention to how your home appears online, Tyner says. Because the vast majority of buyers begin their search online, an important part of curb appeal has become Web appeal. Photos can make or break your listing. Tyner's listing featured more than a dozen attractive photos of his home's interior and exterior, all staged to allow prospective buyers to "see" themselves in the space.

Then, if you've done your research and listed your home at a reasonable price, it will sell.

"No matter what the time of year, there is someone out there looking for a home," Tyner says. "Your job is to present your property in the best possible light -- which, as the owner, only you can do. When you do this, your home will find a buyer."

Now that you know that your home sale isn't dependent on the seasons, you can concentrate on the important part: attracting as many serious buyers as possible.

We want to know: Can you guess what days of the week are the best to list your home?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fresh Baked Goods Turn House Hunters Into Home Buyers

Anyone who has ever bought a home knows that there can be small, almost indescribable things that draw you to a particular house. Whether it's a child playing next door in the front yard or a bird chirping happily in a nearby tree, prospective home buyers often tap into tiny details that give them that good feeling about a particular place.

For Kathleen Henon, that tiny detail came almost 30 years ago in the form of baked cookies. "I'll never forget it," says Henon. "My husband and I were looking at houses in Pittsburgh after he was transferred there for his job. We were in a rush to find something because I was six months pregnant and he needed to start right away, and he didn't want to leave me behind in Ohio, which is where we were living at the time, until he found something."

So the Henons went on an open-house blitz, looking at "at least 10" houses on a particular Sunday in the fall of 1984, with the full intent of making an offer on one of those houses the next day. "Most of the houses looked the same -- all very lovely and suited to our needs, which at the time was at least three bedrooms because we knew we were starting a family.

Henon says their search stopped when they entered a home in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood for an open house. "As soon as you walked in the door, you were hit with the most wonderful smell of chocolate chip cookies," Henon says. "I fell in love. I walked around the house and everything looked perfect. I saw myself making dinner for my kids in that kitchen, and I saw myself reading them stories in the bedrooms. The smell of the cookies was the draw into the house, like an invitation to realize its warmth. I felt that warmth when I looked around. It all came together."

Unfortunately, the deal did not. The Henons lost out on the house to another buyer and ultimately found a similar home in the same neighborhood. But the lesson from Henon's initial entry into the "cookie house," as she calls it, stuck with her for years. "Each time we sold a home — and we've moved five times in the past 30 years — I would bake before anyone came to see the house," Henon says. "Sometimes it would be cookies, sometimes bread, sometimes fruit pies. Regardless, it was always something. And as soon as people walked in our house to look around, you could see the look on their face, like they were in a warm place, a place they could see themselves in."

Henon's most recent sale was a home in Wayne, PA, where she and her husband moved to be closer to her oldest son to help him raise a child with special needs. "I think it's important to make a connection with people when you sell your home," Henon says. "You want to guide them a bit, make them see themselves in your home. Baking is one of those things. It's universal. A young couple smells cookies and they think of their family sitting around the table with cookies and milk, or they think of a busy kitchen making cookies for Christmas. If you can get them to make a connection like that, they're hooked."

Tell us in the comments: What's your go-to scent when hosting an open house or showing your home?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What MLS Means for FSBO Sellers

You've heard those three little letters mentioned many times while getting ready to sell your home, but what exactly do they mean? And, more importantly, how can they help you find a buyer and make a sale?

MLS stands for "multiple listing service" — a database owned and operated by real estate agents and their local trade associations. The nation's MLS systems (there are more than 800 of them in the U.S.) are the primary channel for publicizing listings among agents and brokerages. Every day, new listings enter MLS databases and flow to the subscribing agents and services.

Many people think that the MLS is the exclusive domain of real estate agents. The reality is that this essential marketing tool is available to homeowners who want to list their homes for sale by owner (FSBO) through an array of MLS-affiliated websites and brokers. Instead of calling up an agent and promising to pay 6 percent of your property's sale price to put your home on your area's MLS, you can market your property to millions of buyers and real estate agents while pocketing the savings.

Now that you know the meaning behind the letters, let's talk numbers: More than 80 percent of homes are sold on an MLS, according to the National Association of Realtors. Our MLS Enhanced Listing Package reaches more than 40 million buyers through syndication to multiple websites, maximizing your home's online presence. Considering 90 percent of buyers search for a home online, your listing will be right where they're looking.

Think of using the MLS as a by-owner seller as the best of both worlds — you get the same exposure as working with an agent without the added cost and constraints. Marketing your home with MLS means you agree to pay a buyer's agent 2-3 percent commission if you accept their client's offer, but you'll also get more control over the sale. Check out's MLS Enhanced Listing Package to advertise your home on your local MLS now.

Tell us in the comments: Do you plan on using the MLS as part of your home-selling strategy?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 More Myths About FSBO Home Sales

The U.S. economy is rebounding, buyers are looking for homes — and by-owner sellers are in the driver’s seat.

Real estate agents, however, hope you’re afraid to get behind the wheel. According to Derek Morgan, manager of broker relations at, agents thrive by convincing wary homeowners that selling their own home is too time-consuming, too difficult and requires skills only an agent possesses.

“Don’t be intimidated,” Morgan advises. “Online resources give you the same power an agent has, and allow seller and buyer to connect on their own.”

Don’t allow these five myths to shake your self-confidence:

MYTH #1: I could never prepare my home so that it looks attractive in listing photos. That’s why I need an agent who will hire a professional stager and photographer.

REALITY CHECK: There's no reason you can't hire a stager or photographer yourself. Want to DIY? Look online for comparably priced properties and copy the staging and photographic techniques that make homes look the most attractive.

MYTH #2: I’ll never have the confidence to do this. I need an experienced agent to organize a strategy for selling my home.

REALITY CHECK: You can do it. No one knows your home better than you., Not only can you give buyers the little details they crave that really sell the neighborhood, you'll also be able to access to the same listing tools that real estate agents do so you too can sell in a reasonable amount of time at the best market price.

MYTH #3: I’ve heard that only real estate agents have “pre-qualified” buyers.

REALITY CHECK: Just about all potential buyers can be pre-qualified — which merely means they’ll have a letter from a lender stating that yes, the prospective buyer’s mortgage application will be processed. That’s all. It’s like the pre-approved credit card junk mail you receive every month. Because FSBO sellers are not primarily in the business of networking and listing homes, they can go a step further and require prospective buyers to be “pre-approved” prior to scheduling an appointment to show a home. Unlike pre-qualified, pre-approved buyers have a mortgage already OK’d by a lender and can immediately commit to buying your home.

MYTH #4: I’ll need to settle for some cheap-looking “for sale” sign from the hardware store.

REALITY CHECK: A simple online search will show a number of by-owner services that offer a range of options from attractive paper signs for your window to large, professional-looking arm signs for your front yard.

MYTH #5: If there’s a problem with my listing, I’m on my own.

REALITY CHECK: Help is available. In fact, Morgan notes that some websites like offer customer support seven days a week with expert troubleshooters who can help you find answers to any question about your by-owner listing.

Remember: As a by-owner seller, you can do anything an agent can. That includes giving yourself the 3-6 percent commission an agent would normally receive.

Check out our top 5 list of the most common myths about FSBO home sales.

We want to know: Do you have additional questions about selling your home by owner?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Top 5 Myths About By-Owner Home Sales

“If you can use an online service to file your taxes, you can use an online service to sell your home.”

Those reassuring words are from Derek Morgan, manager of broker relations at, one of several online services that help homeowners bypass real estate agents as well as their 6 percent commissions.

“Our goal is to let buyers and sellers connect on their own,” Morgan explains. “You know, there was a time when real estate agents didn’t exist and people still managed to sell their homes. Online technology is changing the way we do things, so why not use those tools?” he asks.

“As powerful as real estate agents say they are, as a by-owner seller you have the same power,” Morgan notes.

All you need to do is overcome some common myths about selling a home yourself. “For by-owner sellers willing to invest the effort — and who treat selling their home as a professional business transaction — it really can become simple and worth the time.”

Here are the top five myths about by-owner home sales:

MYTH #1: By-owner sellers can’t price homes as well as agents can. Pricing is so difficult, only a real estate agent can do it.

REALITY CHECK: Agents have no gifted insight into how to price homes. They simply go online and check the selling history of similar homes in your neighborhood. That’s exactly what you’ll do as a by-owner seller. Some sites offer a step-by-step pricing guide to help you decide on a price.

MYTH #2: I could never market my home. Marketing requires specialized skills and access to a closed network of active buyers.

REALITY CHECK: When you sell FSBO (that's industry-speak for “for sale by owner”), online resources give you more power than you realize. Turns out buyers, like sellers, are taking home ownership into their own hands. More than 50 percent of all buyers started the house hunt online, where 43 percent said they first found the home they bought, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Beyond that, many by-owner sites offer the same exposure, if not more, than agents do.

MYTH #3: All of my friends say that real estate agents provide useful services and a level of exposure that FSBO sellers can’t achieve on their own. Besides, as a by-owner seller, I won’t be able to reach buyers through multiple listing services.

REALITY CHECK: Absolutely untrue. Nine out of 10 buyers use the Internet during their home search, according to the 2013 NAR report. Through online services, by-owner sellers benefit from the same exposure agents provide on the Web. For example, for a flat, one-time fee, discount brokers and websites will put a by-owner seller’s home on the local MLS. As an added bonus, the flat fee you pay for MLS access is thousands of dollars less than an agent’s commission.

MYTH #4: It will be easier for me to schedule an open house or showing if I have a real estate agent.

REALITY CHECK: In fact, it’s harder. When you add an agent to the mix, any showings need to accommodate the schedules of three people: the seller, the buyer and the agent. And even if a prospective buyer has an agent, most by-owner sellers welcome the chance to speak with buyers directly to ensure that accurate information is being conveyed.

MYTH #5: I’ll need to use an agent or broker to coordinate and prepare a transaction for closing. All those forms are too complicated.

REALITY CHECK: Most agents actually outsource this work to lawyers. Any credible by-owner service will insist that you engage an attorney for this important part of the sale. Some by-owner sites offer a network of real estate attorneys along with state-specific contracts and disclosures you’ll need to seal the deal.

Tackle these tasks and pay yourself the 3-6 percent you’d typically pay in agent commission fees. Just think of what you could do with that money instead.

Tell us in the comments: How would you spend the money you save selling your home by owner?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why Selling a Home By Owner Makes Sense in a Digital World

From foreheads offered as advertising space to Justin Timberlake's half-eaten French toast, in today's digitally driven world, it’s obvious that you can buy just about anything online. And with the rise of sell-it-yourself sites like Craigslist and eBay, sellers can post items day and night, and negotiate the best offer.

So why ­— especially with our Internet obsession — do most home sellers still use real-estate agents? Good question, given that by-owner websites offer all the same digital tools that agents use. In many cases both home buyers and sellers are finding they can save time and money by going straight from the Internet to each other, negotiating a price and sale directly — without an agent.

Use of the Internet in the home-search process has increased to 92 percent (from 90 percent in 2012), according to the 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Of the buyers who used the Internet to search for homes, almost 50 percent first found their new home online.

These Internet-savvy buyers are viewing by-owner listings alongside agent listings, because sites like offer sellers the opportunity to use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), as well as automatically advertise their listing on Trulia and Zillow and other popular real estate sites. That way, their homes will get the same sort of exposure as those represented by a real estate agent.

As the real estate market continues to recover, home sellers reported that they typically sold their home for $25,000 more than they paid for it (up from $20,000 in 2012), according to the NAR report. Yet agent commission fees are still a considerable chunk of the seller’s price gain. As an example, on a $300,000 home a seller can owe up to $18,000 in agent fees. By-owner sales costs amount to a fraction of agent fees. By-owner listing costs amount to a fraction of what traditional sellers end up spending. For comparison, a seller may pay $80-$700 to list their home and never owe an agent commission fee.

While NAR claims that “as the market changes and evolves, the need for a professional to help with the transaction has increased,” heavy use of the Internet by consumers suggests just the opposite. As buyers and sellers become more tech savvy, they want more control over the experience and are adept at using online home-selling tools to do it themselves.

Google and NAR recently did a joint study entitled “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate” that concluded: “In today’s complex, rapidly changing and digitally driven media environment, capturing a home shopper’s attention in order to build a real estate business and personal REALTOR brand is tougher than ever.”

In other words, even NAR acknowledges that these days it’s hard to establish a real-estate practice amid the increased online expertise of the buyers and sellers. The importance of Internet home shopping is illustrated by a whopper of a statistic in the report: Real estate-related searches on have grown 253 percent over the past four years.

By-owner sellers are feeling the effects of house hunters searching the Internet. After selling her Newport News, VA, home for $282,000 using, Donna Smith said: “The listing on the Internet also produced a lot of ‘hits’ from people looking to buy a house. The buyers that ask for a tour are more serious than ones led by a real estate salesperson.”

The speed of the digital marketplace also impresses by-owner sellers. They no longer have to wait days for their ads to appear in the newspaper; online listings reach motivated home buyers immediately. Azad Yepremian sold a house in Westchester, PA, this year for $260,000: “We listed it with little expectation of it selling quickly and were thrilled when we received an offer within five days of listing!”

Eliminating the middleman can provide intangible benefits as well, including more direct communication between the buyer and seller. That’s a very good thing. After all, no one knows your home and your neighborhood better than you do. A real estate agent might not know that there’s a great dog walker just around the corner, or where to take your dry cleaning, or who’s the favorite kindergarten teacher at the local elementary school. Buyers value this insider information.

In addition, if both sides forego a traditional real estate agent, there's a chance for the home buyer and seller to negotiate a home price directly without the added costs.

The Internet has helped make many things easier and streamlined many processes. It connects people as never before and opens up a world of choices … and savings.

All that power can be yours when selling your home by owner.

We want to know: What digital solutions have made your life easier?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

5 Big Insights on Selling a Home in 2014

Whether you've already put your home on the market or are just considering it, navigating the selling process can be daunting. A handful of key insights into today's market will help you feel more confident and may increase your chances for a successful outcome.

1. The value of a real estate agent has changed. Why? Because most buyers find homes online without the help of an agent. In 2013, nine in 10 buyers used the Internet at some point during their home search, and more than half of buyers started their home search online, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Additionally, nearly half of recent buyers said they found the home they purchased online, a statistic that has been rising steadily each year since 2001.

2. The average sale price of homes sold by sellers is higher. According to NAR, the median sale price of agent-assisted home sales in 2013 was $230,000, while's average sale price was nearly $20k more. Imagine what you could do with all that extra money in your pocket.

3. More direct communication = better home sales. Because inventory of homes is down nationwide, "by owner" home sellers are more likely to be contacted directly by potential buyers, resulting in simpler negotiations and lower costs. Plus, asking prices are typically reduced fewer times on "by owner" listings, thanks to the direct communication between buyers and sellers.

4. The savings potential is huge. Sellers typically pay agent commission fees that can reach up to 6 percent of their final sale price. If you sell a $300,000 home by owner, you could save $18,000 on agent commission fees. Boom! There’s your new bathroom or fancy deck (patio furniture and gas grill included). Online listing services cost less than $800 and give "by owner" sellers access to the same tools agents use, including the Multiple Listing Service. Beyond that, NAR reports that only 15 percent of "by owner" sellers said they used incentives to attract buyers versus 36 percent of agent-assisted transactions. Trust us, your bank account will thank you.

5. "By owner" sellers are just like you. In fact, customers on are tech savvy, well educated, middle class and comfortable using a wide variety of resources and tools, including social media. Sound familiar?

Selling your home on your own doesn't mean you're all alone. We're all about finding new ways to help buyers and sellers connect. If this is your first visit to our blog, welcome! We hope you'll jump in on the conversation. If there's one thing we’ve got, it's opinions, and we back them up with statistics, studies and research. So stay tuned!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Don’t Wait! 5 Reasons to List Your Home for Sale By Owner in the Fall

Leaves are falling and Thanksgiving is right around the corner — two sure signs that it’s getting late in the year. Are you concerned that you’ve missed your opportunity to sell your home before 2014 arrives? Relax. There are benefits to putting your home on the market before the end of the year. 

Here are five reasons to feel good about listing your home in November:

  1. You’re not intimidated. Others may be fearful of listing in the fall or winter but you shouldn’t be. There are buyers out there in all seasons and fewer homes for them to view in the fall and winter months mean the odds of selling are in your favor. Take advantage of that.
  2. Buyers may be motivated by tax advantages. Some are eager to close before year end to take tax deductions in 2013.
  3. Don’t wait for your payout. Realize the gain on your home sooner, not later.
  4. It’s easier to schedule a move in winter. Moving companies have more availability than they do in spring and summer.
  5. Fall lighting can work in your favor. In summer’s bright sunshine, it can be difficult to use lighting to help create a cozy atmosphere inside your home. In fall and winter, strategic use of soft lighting and candles can make a good impression on potential buyers. And if you have a fireplace, keep it lit.

Bonus Marketing Tip: If your landscape changes with the seasons, take photos of the outside of your home now before the snow starts falling to include in your listing. And when you do list, be sure you have your home staged and ready to show to motivated buyers. Check out these simple tips for staging your home in the fall.

Have you sold a home late in the year? What advice would you give? Let us know in the Comments section.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Need to Fear Home Improvements

Thinking of selling, but afraid your home looks a little like 1313 Mockingbird Lane, where the Munsters lived? It’s probably not that scary, but the last thing you want is for potential buyers to tour your house and get scared away by the amount of work they'd need to do to bring it into the 21st century. If you need to make any repairs before listing, consider getting the work nailed down now. 

Five reasons to tackle frightening home improvement projects this season:
  1. Save on labor. Fall through winter is a slower time of year for most contractors. Get on their schedule now before they get bogged down with a flurry of jobs that drive prices up in the spring. 
  2. Get a jump start on your competition. If you start planning and budgeting for home improvement projects now, you stand a better chance of being Open House ready for the spring selling season. 
  3. Lock in low interest rates on loans. If you’re considering a home equity loan or line of credit to make home renovations or repairs, you may never get a lower rate. 
  4. Prep your home for the holidays. Your family will have plenty of time to celebrate the holidays in your house stress-free if you complete home improvements in the fall. 
  5. Make yourself feel better. Winter can be a gloomy time of year. Giving your home a fresh look just might make the winter months more bearable. 
Not sure where to start, or what projects to plan for? A certified home pre-inspection is one way to assess what needs to be fixed before listing your home. It can also give you a leg up with buyers when they find out that your home has already been pre-inspected by a professional.

Tell us in the comments: What frightens you about home improvement projects?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

For Sale By Owner Customers Sell for More

For sale by owner: Homeowners ditching brokers. Now that’s a headline we love to see. CNNMoney used it in an October 11 story that told the success story of Tara and Brent Anderson of Dallas. With the housing market recovering, more and more homeowners are selling their homes on their own and saving thousands of dollars in broker commissions.

"We have no experience selling but we felt it just makes common sense," Tara Anderson told CNNMoney. "We could give the money away, or pocket it."

Just one glitch in the story: CNNMoney quotes NAR’s oft-invoked (yet inaccurate) claim that homes sold by agents “usually fetch much higher prices.” Our research among successful home sellers indicates that’s not true. customers on average realize 97 percent of their asking price, slightly more than agent sales. To top it off, our customers’ average sale price for the last six months was $247,500, nearly 18 percent ahead of NAR’s 2012 general seller average of $210,000.

With the real estate market percolating and interest rates low, now’s a great time to consider listing your home through and realizing that financial gain that sellers who use agents won’t enjoy.

As you get started, keep in mind that new listings get the most traffic during the first 30 days. Pricing is critical, so before you list find out what similar homes in your area are going for and see how yours stacks up. It’s also a good idea to hire an appraiser who can evaluate your property, identify potential problems, and prepare a detailed report on the estimated value of your home before you list it. Here are 6 steps to price your home right from the start.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

14 Ways to Heat Up Interest in Property Listings Now

Featured home: 201 Seminary Dr., Dyer, IN 46311
Listing ID 23963174

Have you noticed sales in your area have started to slow down? You're not alone. As mortgage interest rates increased, pending home sales dipped slightly in July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the dip is not something to be worried about. "The modest decline in sales is not yet concerning, and contract activity remains elevated with the South and Midwest showing no measurable slowdown. However, higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West."

Keep in mind, mortgage rates are still lower than they've been in years and buyers are eager to make a move before they jump again. These attention grabbers are guaranteed to boost buyer interest in your home now.

1. Give them a sign. Since house hunters tend to scout out neighborhoods before looking at specific homes, and 80% of all homes on the market use yard signs, professional yard signs are one of the most important tools any seller can use. It pays to invest in a professional yard sign to get noticed.

2. Let buyers take your home home with them. A great property flyer will sell buyers on your home before they step in the front door; it can also sell them after the open house. Here are 10 ways to help your sales flyer make a lasting impression.

3. Don't skimp on photos! The first introduction buyers have to your home will probably be through the photos on your listing. Follow a few practical photo-taking tips to make them look their best. We've also found that sellers get more email inquiries when they have 6+ photos.

4. Look at your home in a different light. Pretend you are a potential buyer walking up to your door for the first time. What do you notice? Do you need to wash the windows? Repair small cracks in the sidewalk? Don’t forget: Curb appeal doesn't end when the sun goes down.

5. Put your social network to work. Have you posted photos of your home to your Facebook, Twitter and/or Pinterest pages? Even if your friends aren’t looking to buy, chances are they know someone who is. Try these five quick tips on how to use social media to sell your home.

Keeping reading: 9 tips for a successful showing (and a printable checklist)

What tactics have you used to attract more buyers?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

4 Simple Tips to Help Sell a Home by Summer's End

If you've been watching the news or reading the paper, you know that the last few weeks have seen a pretty significant increase in mortgage rates (Freddie Mac is reporting that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.46%, the highest it's been in almost two years), which means that it's more important than ever to get your home noticed by motivated buyers before the end of the selling season. Here are four simple tips that will help your home catch the eye of interested house hunters and sell by the end of summer.

1. Go green. First impressions are so important, and the first thing that someone sees while driving by or walking up to your front door for a showing is the exterior of your home. Take advantage of the summer season and do some minor landscaping. Perk up your flower beds with bright buds, add colorful plants along your walkway, or hang baskets with flowers and dangling greenery from your front porch.

2. Brighten up. Curb appeal doesn't stop when the sun goes down. Add in some soft exterior lights along your driveway and sidewalks to ensure your house appears warm and welcoming at night. Avoid scaring away potential buyers with these general tips.

3. Make your pics clickable. House hunters expect the photos on your listing to match what they actually see when they visit your house. Now that the weather's warm (and you've added in some nice plants!), you'll want to show off how great your home looks when the lawn is groomed and your flowers are blooming. It's the perfect time to refresh your listing with new photos of your home from the outside.

4. Keep personal history personal. No one knows your home better than you do, but be careful you don't monopolize the conversation during showings with family memories about your house. Buyers want to picture themselves in your home, so let your staging of each room fill them with ideas about how they will use the space. Watch our how-to stage video for more ideas.

We're curious: What home improvement projects are you tackling outside this summer?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Don't Miss Open House Weekend on April 20-21

Here's your chance to be a part of something big this month: Join realtors across the country as they participate in the 2013 Nationwide Open House Weekend on April 20-21. This event couldn't come at a better time. Now that tax season is over, buyers will be exploring your neighborhood with their tax refunds in their pockets. Take advantage of this house-hunting momentum, and invite them in!

"By owner" open houses will benefit from traffic—online and on foot—generated by this nationwide campaign. The National Association of Realtors 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that 45 percent of all buyers use open houses as a source in their home-search process. And 46 percent of buyers who went to open houses found them during internet searches.

This weekend full of open houses offers buyers a stress-free way to tour homes for sale; for sellers, the weekend provides extra visibility with little effort. And there's still time for you to take part in this open house event that brings buyers and sellers together.

Three Ways to Advertise Your Open House Next Week
  • Advertise your open house on your listing
  • Promote your open house using flyers, email and word of mouth—ask your neighbors to help spread the word
  • Use social media to create buzz before and during your open house
Open houses open doors to home sales. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more open house tips all week long.

Will there be snacks and beverages at your open house? Share your favorite tips below.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

5 Steps to Prep Your Home for the
Selling Season

The National Association of Realtors' Research Department recently released their Confidence Index based on home selling data from February. Among the latest information about the state of the real estate market, it was found that the national average for the number of days a home sits on the market is 74 days. The selling season is heating up! Get your home ready to list for sale by owner, and prepare for home-selling success with these five steps.

1. Determine your game plan. Set up a realistic timeline, and allocate sufficient funds for necessary renovations, your future sale and potential move. Use our start-to-finish timeline to help with the planning.

2. Decide what to DIY. Get a professional home inspection done early so you can identify problem areas and decide what you'll repair yourself and what you'll hire professionals to remedy. If you can't fix everything, you can incorporate the knowledge of those problems into your asking price. Tackle these five most-overlooked home inspection problems.

3. Set the stage. Did you know that staged properties generate an 8-10% higher return on the sale price? Staged homes tend to sell in a shorter period of time, which increases your odds of selling at a higher price. Find out which staging strategies will make the most impact.

4. Polish your listing. Review your marketing materials, and consider asking a friend to lend his or her opinion, too. Are you emphasizing the best and most appealing features of your house? Include well-lit photos of every room that make the rooms appear spacious and uncluttered. Use these practical photo-taking tips to create professional-looking listing photos.

5. Assemble your team. You're not alone when you sell by owner. You'll still need to rely on the expertise of these three key experts: appraiser, mortgage lender and attorney or title company.

What tips do you have for getting a home ready to list?

Monday, January 28, 2013

MLS: How FSBOs Use Real Estate Agents' Secret Weapon

Thinking about selling your home by owner? You're not alone: According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 1 in 4 homeowners are selling without a traditional agent. Luckily, deciding to sell by owner doesn't mean you have to skimp on the marketing tools an agent would use to sell your home. One of their most successful secret weapons? The MLS.

"MLS" is the most powerful acronym in real estate lingo and stands for "multiple listing service." Every day, new listings enter regional MLS databases and flow to all subscribing real estate agents and services. MLS systems are the primary channel for publicizing listings among agents and brokerages.

In the past, MLS listings were an agent's "secret weapon," because only agents had exclusive access to the homes in their local database. These days, MLS listings are found across numerous websites, many that often add additional valuable data, such as the most recent homes sold in the neighborhood, taxes, nearby schools and area amenities.

With 90% of house hunters searching for homes online, and more than 80% of homes sold nationwide being listed on the MLS, it's no surprise that sellers want their homes on the MLS. Long gone are the days when you had to hire a local real estate agent to be listed on the MLS—now, you can sell by owner, save on commission and still get maximum exposure.

Instead of calling up an agent and promising to pay 6% of your property's sale price to put your home on the MLS, you can market your property to millions of buyers and real estate agents for six full months with's flat-fee MLS Enhanced listing package. Plus, you get to pocket the listing agent's commission.

The beauty of selling by owner means that you control your listing. Marketing your home on the MLS through means every real estate agent in your area will see it. You'll be contacted by buyer agents who want to show your home to their clients, but you decide whether or not you want to work with them. With your listing agent's commission out of the picture, only the buyer's agent is left to pay—typically between 2-3% of your home's final sale price. Of course, if a buyer contacts you through, you won't have to pay a dime in commission.

Moral of this MLS story? For-sale-by-owner sellers can reach just as many house hunters as sellers using traditional agents. Check out's MLS Enhanced Listing package to advertise your listing on your local MLS.

Questions? We've got answers! Ask us in the comments, or message us on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

4 Selling Strategies for the New Year

You don't have to wait for April showers and May flowers to list your home. Take advantage of the off-season in real estate, when a well-priced, well-marketed home is sure to stand out to motivated buyers. Here are four smart winter projects that can speed up the home-selling process and have you on your way to "sold!" before spring.

1. Think like a buyer. House hunters with resolutions to buy before spring are looking for homes now. To boost your listing's appeal, look at your home as a buyer would. Remember, this is a business transaction. Prepare yourself mentally to remain objective and professional, and stay focused on your goal!

2. Re-evaluate your price. Nothing holds up a home sale more than an inflated price tag. It's a good idea to reassess your asking price every 3–4 months. Read up on the local real estate market, and check out nearby homes that are for sale to see how your home compares. Still not sure? It may be time to hire a professional appraiser.

3. Get pre-inspected. With the economy still recovering, home buyers aren't walking around with a lot of cash for home repairs. Many sellers hire a home inspector during the closing process, but making repairs now could speed up negotiations and get you to closing faster.

4. Stay flexible. Be prepared to entertain all bids—even those you consider too low—and toss in some perks to get the deal done. Being open to negotiate on final price and closing costs will work to your advantage, especially if you're on a tight deadline.

Read more: 10 ways to attract buyers during the sluggish winter months

Tell us: Do you have any tips for selling in the winter? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

5 Reasons to Sell Your Home During the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us. Many home sellers choose to wait until January to list their homes, but listing this time of year can actually give sellers an advantage.

Here's why:

  1. Fewer homes are on the market during the holidays. That means less competition, and the opportunity for your home to stand out.
  2. Buyers searching for homes during the holiday season are serious and motivated. This can translate to a quicker sale.
  3. A home dressed up for the holidays will show beautifully. There’s a coziness that comes with holiday decorations. Just make sure they don’t make it difficult for potential buyers to walk through your home, or hide its best features. Also keep in mind that overly religious decorations may prevent buyers from seeing themselves in the space.
  4. Some buyers want to buy before the end of the year for tax reasons. Have up-to-date tax records, inspections and legal documents ready to enable the buyer to estimate the tax advantage.
  5. Many people relocating will need to find and purchase a home before the end of the year. Having your home on the market will help you capture those buyers. In colder climates, having a flexible move date may be a great selling point.
Homeowners who list their homes during the holidays can have some serious advantages over those who choose to wait.

Happy selling!