Mortgage rates are still relatively low, and qualified buyers are eager. Some owners are opting to take advantage of that enthusiasm by selling their home on their own and saving on sales commissions.
With some work and creativity, you can make your for-sale-by-owner listing stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind that you may have to invest some money in the process. Whether you need to hire a professional whose craft will help your home shine, or spend advertising dollars to increase your reach, experts in the real estate industry say it's well worth it — and often still cheaper than paying a real estate broker. Here are some tips:
Price it right. Setting a competitive price is an important first step in attracting buyers to your FSBO. By visiting comparable homes, pulling public records on recent sales, and doing research on the Internet, sellers can get guidance on setting the listing price.
Hire pros for your marketing materials. Posting photos is a major selling tool. Even brokers opt to hire professionals. "I often pay for a professional photographer with higher-end equipment and professional lighting to photograph a home," said Bruce Ailion, associate broker with Re/Max Greater Atlanta.
Hire a graphic artist to create professional-looking color brochures. The copy should be clear and accurate and list all the features of the house.
Expand reach through social media. "Home sellers need to use social media because it's the place where relevant, current and hot information is posted," said Stephen Knuth, founder of Remix Design & Media in Nashville, Tenn.
Knuth advises sellers to use Pinterest, a content-sharing website where sellers can "pin" their FSBO so other users can find it. Like it and pin it to their boards, too. "It creates visibility," he said.
For fans of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Knuth said, sellers can post an image of their home and use searchable hashtags —e.g. #homeforsale as well as the location.
You can also use Facebook's advertising platform, "which is a very cost-effective way of promoting a listing to thousands of people," said Philip Lang, co-founder of Suitey, a New York City-based real estate brokerage.
Use the Web to develop leads. Listing your FSBO on major sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com and creating a website can help you reach more prospective buyers. "Over 70 percent of potential buyers start looking on the Internet, so our way was to convey everything possible on the Internet and rely less on the MLS, other brokers or agents," said Richard L. Houston, owner of the American Business Exchange, a directory of websites on a variety of subjects.
"Because of our experience operating a couple of websites, I established a domain using our street address, 956KnickerbockerRd.com, before we even decided to list our estate for sale," he said of his most recent sale.
Many website developers will do a simple site for about $500 plus domain registration and hosting.
Use relevant keywords in your description to help buyers find your FSBO in Web searches. Free keyword tools are available online to allow you to test and determine the best words.
Provide a visual. Create a video and upload it to YouTube for potential buyers to watch. "Introduce yourself as the owner, talk about why you love the home, showcase key features of the home and answer some questions people might ask," Knuth said.
Make the title catchy and include relevant keywords like the location, amenities or other highlights so that buyers can find it in a Web search. Link the video to social media and websites where you're advertising your FSBO.