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5 Tips to Successfully Selling Your Own Home



This is my house.  Well it's my house until the end of this month when we close and move across the state!  This is the second house my husband and I have owned, that I've sold FSBO (for sale by owner).  The first house we sold in 3 weeks.  This house we sold in 2 days.  Is the market better?  Maybe.  But I think I've learned and perfected some basic techniques to sell a house quickly and for a good asking price (we sold our house over asking!).  Now I will preface by saying I AM NOT a realtor :)  So I'm NOT a professional.  Everything I've learned is all by research and reading.  So here's what I have for you!

1. Do your homework - pricing competitively

This can be tricky, but with tools like Zillow.com you have all the information you need at your fingertips.  You can easily see what homes have sold in your area recently and what homes are currently selling for in your area.  Both need to be researched and carefully considered.  Be sure to look at homes that compare to yours.  This includes things like square footage, upgrades, lot size, neighborhood.  Look at what the homes are selling per square foot.  Special upgrades I considered about our home was that it is on a cul-de-sac, beautiful finished basement, wooded behind (no houses) and a lot of other unique features (stone fireplace, built in banquette etc).

When pricing our house I considered all those things.  It was difficult to price our house because it's the biggest model in the neighborhood.  Because we live in a newer neighborhood, no houses with the same model that we have, have ever been sold.  All the homes were just slightly smaller in square feet, around 2,850.  They all had sold at about $100 a square foot.  Our house is about 3,500 square feet.  Because of our neighborhood I knew that our house would not sell at $100 a square foot.  A neighborhood next to ours has slightly nicer homes with bigger lots and side load garages.  The homes are about the same size as our house, but selling about $20k to $30k more (unfortunately).

What I did find was a house very similar to ours, in a similar neighborhood, same school district and so I based our price on it.  My strategy was to price our house less than that home so that it would draw a buyer and hopefully many potential buyers to check out our home.  In their mind, why pay more for a home that was just as nice (or nicer in my opinion).  Now I also priced lower because I did not want to be across the state, still owning a home I was not living in.  It was in my best interest to sell as quickly as possible.

2. Update your house effectively

Do you ever watch the Scott brother's show Buying & Selling?  Great show.  I don't know about you, but I don't have $14k laying around to update my house to turn around and sell it.  Unless you have a handy husband or are handy yourself, don't spend the money.  Now I'm saying this in the hopes that you have been taking care of your home and updating it a little over the years.  There are projects that can make a house look great without spending thousands of dollars.  A great back splash can turn your kitchen into a real looker.  Our kitchen is very updated.  When we bought the house we put the most upgrades into our kitchen.  Please, please do not put granite counter tops on top of yucky cabinets.  Save your money.  If someone wants a newer kitchen they will want to update the cabinets and they'll have to rip those granite counter tops off anyway.

Our master bath was the one place in our house that needed help.  I had painted and decorated almost every room of my house except the master bath, guest room, and the hall bath.  I decided against doing anything to the guest room and hall bath as any money I spent there wouldn't really matter in the sale of the home.  I made sure they were clean and well kept, but didn't paint.  I wanted to keep costs minimal in the master bath and probably spent about $250 to $300.  I painted it a lovely light gray, bought new lighting from Lowes and mirrors from Homegoods.  The mirrors are more like hallway mirrors so they add a custom look.  To finish off the room I bought bathmats and white towels to change out when we had potential buyers tour the home.  I kept them clean and could switched them out quickly!

3. Stage your house

Declutter, declutter, declutter.  Because I knew that we most likely would be moving some time in 2016 I started to declutter just after Christmas.  I threw out a lot, gave things to Goodwill, sold some things.  It's liberating let me tell ya.  It also saved me countless hours when I had to work overtime to get the house on the market.  I wouldn't have been able to list it so quickly.  

Touch up scratches and marks on the walls.  No one wants to see that.  Buyers want to walk into your house and have it look brand new!  Another thing that you might want to consider spending money on is having your carpets professionally cleaned (if you have them), the driveway sealed and your windows cleaned.

Clean, clean, clean.  Clean like no bodies business.  If you can't, hire a cleaning person to come and do it for you.  No one wants to see dirt, grime, hair, dust.  Yuck.  That's all I have to say about that.

In addition to decluttering, you may want to remove pieces of furniture that crowd a room.  We have a very large armoire, a family heirloom, in our living room.  It's massive!  So I elected to take out a large sofa and put it our finished basement.  This gave the living room more space and it acted like a sitting room.  Move furniture around to see what looks best.  Make your home look like a magazine!  I'm not a proponent of taking down all your family pictures.  I know the professional say to do that, but never did.  People know I live here, isn't it weird if I have NO family pictures around?  Now if you have 50 pictures of your kids on your side table... well?  Get rid of a few.  But then again, you decluttered right? :)

4. Market your house

Take great pictures.  I'm pretty lucky in that my husband used to be a professional photographer.  He has a good wide angle lens which really takes wonderful snaps.  You may be able to rent a camera and lens, not really sure.  But guess what?  Check out that really great place called the Internet! :)  As you have decluttered and cleaned, stage your pictures too.  Buy some flowers, fresh fruit etc.  Need inspiration?  Pinterest!  Take your pictures when there is plenty of natural light but also turn on every lamp, light and chandelier.  It will make your pictures pop!  I also am fortunate to have Photoshop so I was able to edit pictures that looked to dark.  There are many tools available on the internet to help you edit pictures if you do not have Photoshop.  After you have your beautiful and amazing photos, if you're are able, create some flyers and or postcards.  See some of my pictures here:




To market your house you need a sign! :)  They are easily purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.  I also elected to get the plastic bin that held flyers about my house.  This way people can drive by and get an idea of what the inside of your house looks like.  Be sure to include the features of your home on the flyer with bullet points.  List the most important things (chef's kitchen, granite counter tops etc) and any upgrades!

Find websites where you can list your home.  For instance Zillow.com is a great place.  Our first offer came from a buyer who found us on Zillow.  I also found a service in the Philadelphia area that would list your home with pictures on the MLS for a very minimal fee (think under $400).  Unless you are a realtor, you cannot list your home on the MLS which is a big disadvantage.  But to me $400 was a small price compared to paying a Sales Agent 3% of what the home would sell for!  You can also get listed on the MLS through the FSBO website.  However the package was more expensive and included items/services I didn't need.  So I elected to use another company which I was very happy with (NewTrendRealty.com if you live in the Philly area).  When you list on the MLS it will automatically list to Trulia.com and Realtor.com.

When I sold my first house I had to get a little more creative.  You may have to as well depending on how the market is in you area.  Think about businesses in your area where you could post a flyer.  Talk to the HR department in large company near you.  Ask them to keep you in mind if they have any new employees moving to the area who might be interested in buying a home.  Post flyers at hospitals, where a doctor or nurse might want to purchase your home.  Colleges and Universities can also be great places to market.  Craig's List can be a good place too!  The buyers that purchased our first house found us through Craig's List. 

5. Be prepared

Being prepared actually starts before you put your home on the market.  You should definitely complete a Seller's Disclosure.  You can find them on the Internet if you do a search.  This outlines any potential issues or problems with the home (leaks, major stains, the type of utilities etc).  Buyers may want to see this prior to making an offer or soon after they make an offer.  

Keep your home clean and orderly.  Because you're selling FSBO many potential buyers think they can simply "stop by" to get a showing.  This happened twice.  The second time I had a fever and the stomach flu!  Did I show the house?  Absolutely.  NEVER turn anyone away, they could be your buyer!  In fact, that sweet couple I showed the house to when I was sick?  They bought our house.  Above asking.

When you are showing your house, be prepared to talk about it!  Sell it!  Talk about the special attributes, little conveniences that buyers like (closet organizers, pull out drawers in the kitchen etc.).  Tell them where the sun rises and sets, upgrades you put into the house after you bought it and maybe a funny story or two.  For instance the DAY we moved into our house my husband was ripping out the linoleum in our mudroom and laundry room to install tile because we were having a new washer and dryer installed 2 days later!

Lastly, be prepared on what offer you will accept.  What is your bottom line, how much do you want to try to make, will you consider giving seller assist, when is the earliest you could close?  These are all things you should think and talk through with your spouse (if you're married).  When you receive an offer you typically have 24 hours to respond so know what you will and will not do.

When you receive and accept an offer... Now what?

Don't fret, I know you're probably not a lawyer or realtor.  Who does the paperwork?  We hired a Transaction Coordinator from the Buyers Agent to prepare everything for us.  She is charging us $500.  As the seller you're typically also responsible to pay the Buyers Agent.  You CAN negotiate with them, don't be afraid to do so.  3% is the typical commission, but we are paying 2%.  More savings!  So instead of paying upwards of $20k in fees and commissions, we are paying less than $8k.  Is it worth it?  For us, definitely.  Not to mention I love this stuff.

If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to ask.  I'm happy to help!  Happy selling :)

xo Lulu

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Lulu Soler
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1 comment:

  1. These are great tips! Congrats on selling your home so quickly and above asking!

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