Gimme a Giveaway Winner: Lucius Art & FSBO Tips

It’s a very happy Friday for us.  My family is coming to visit.  Lucky us!  Amber K, you’ve got a lucky break to remember now, because you’re the winner!

Now for the last (very word heavy) installment of our home selling posts.

Selling a home is a big task.  Whether listing with an agent or for sale by owner, here’s a quick list of our tips and experiences to help ease the process.

  • List your home on the MLS and Realtor.com
  • Take high quality, bright photos
  • Load your flyer up with color photos and pertinent information {more on these three points here}
  • Be flexible with your time
  • Call buyer’s agents to ask for feedback about the house
  • Set the right price
  • Host open houses
  • Make contact information prominent and accessible
  • Take kids and pets out of the house during showings  {more on that here}
  • Show off selling features
Now let’s expand on these points.

Tip 1.  Be flexible with your time.  If you are planning to sell by owner, this is especially important.  Buyers have a schedule, so you need to be willing and able to work around their timeline.  Be ready for calls asking to see the house in an hour.  If your schedule isn’t flexible , due to work, living situations, etc., consider a lock box for buyer’s agents to use.

If you are using a lock box, here’s what I’d do when someone calls to schedule a showing:  write down the agent’s name, company, cell and office phone numbers, and time of showing.  Before giving out the lock box info, call the office number (or Google the agent and brokerage firm) to make sure that person actually works for the company.  Keep track of every showing (write it down on a master list) and you’ll have an idea of who was there at what time if anything goofy does happen.

Our Experience:  Most showings were scheduled a day in advance, but we had a few showings set up an hour before.  I expected to have at least one knock on the door asking to see the house right then.  Glad that didn’t happen.

Tip 2.  A day or two after showing, call the buyer’s agent for feedback.  Don’t be afraid to ask what the agent and buyer thought of your home.  All feedback can help sell your home.  New eyes might see something you missed.

Our Experience:  Most everyone had nice things to say about our house.  A few people commented on the garage door or asked questions about our price, but everyone liked the level of finish.  It was wonderful for Ben to hear this as he is his worst critic.

Tip 3.  Set the right price, but remember everything in real estate is negotiable.  If you’re wondering how to price your house, ask a local agent for a free CMA (comparative market analysis).  This will show what similar houses in the neighborhood are on the market and what they sold for.

Our Experience:  We asked an agent to do a CMA and set our price a little higher than the CMA price range simply because a few of our homes features don’t fit the comps.  Ben actually received a call from a local agent questioning our list price.  He had recently sold a few houses in our neighborhood, but each was priced nearly 100k under our list price.  Ben informed him of our updates including the remodeled kitchen, geothermal heating and cooling, tankless water heater, central vacuüm, and such.  Then he understood our pricing, but it was an interesting conversation.  Be ready to answer questions about your pricing.

Edit:  We are not encouraging you to lie to or deceive an agent to get a CMA.  Explain your situation and wish to sell your house by owner to an agent.

Tip 4.  Host open houses on weekends.  Sure you’ll get traffic from curious neighbors, but you need to get people through the door.  Bonus points if you buy flowers and/or cookies.

Our Experience:  We planned to host open houses, but never did.  We spent the first weekend on the market finishing up a few projects.  If we hadn’t received an offer on Friday, we would have hosted an open house the second weekend.

Tip 5.  Make your contact information prominent.  If a buyer or agent doesn’t know how to get in contact, how will they see your house?

Our Experience:  I bolded Ben’s phone number and had it on the MLS, the for sale sign, and both sides of our flyer.  Always double up.

Tip 6.  Get kids and pets out of the house.  Make the experience as professional as possible.

Our Experience:  If your kids are anything like ours, they’ll chat to anyone, but buyers are not there to see your kids.  They’re there to see your house.  So the boys and I stayed away until Ben called to say he was leaving after each showing.

Tip 7.  Show off selling features.  Large closets, built-ins, flooring, lighting, anything nice.

Our Experience:  Ben showed off the accent lighting in the kitchen and master bedroom.  We pulled up bathroom rugs to show off the marble floors.

We also had a question about home improvements and resale value, so here’s our policy:

Bottom line, when making updates to your home, I would highly suggest choosing materials you would like to live with; not necessarily the cheapest materials you can find.  Chances are, if you like higher quality materials, buyers will too, and that can increase your bottom dollar.

Please remember, we are not house flippers and did not make any of the improvements to our home with the sole purpose of selling.  We simply chose items we liked and wanted to live with and it has helped increase the value of our home.  Every situation is different and you have to do what works for you.  

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12 thoughts on “Gimme a Giveaway Winner: Lucius Art & FSBO Tips

  1. I am so pleased you were able to sell yourselves , we tried for 4 weeks doing lots of open houses and dealing with constant calls from agents trying to get our listing. I just couldn’t handle doing the work ourselves and I refused to give our house and all the work I had done away , so we called in an agent. We actually set a new record for pricing in our neighbourhood, but we live in Canada outside of Toronto and things are really thankfully very stable here and values have steadily climbed over the last three years. We were able to get three offers all on the same day 2 weeks in with our agent . We had to part with a big chunk of money but don’t regret going with our agent this time. Last time we sold ourselves .
    It is amazing you sold so soon , that is pretty rare for FSBO .
    I’m having such a hard time hearing your price, its so hard to believe someone can get such a nice house for so little money , amazing , but I guess everything is relative.
    Good for you , have fun starting over.

  2. I think it’s great that you sold yourself. I do take issue with you suggesting people get a “free” CMA from a local realtor. Agents don’t get paid for their time so pretending to be interested in having them list your house just to get the info seems wrong to me. 😦

  3. I have to agree with Kristin. I was actually thinking the same thing, and then saw her response. As a Realtor myself, I can say that CMAs take a good amount of time and effort to prepare. Not only did your Realtor not get paid for the time spend providing you with a CMA, but that was valuable time lost that could have been spent with other customers and clients.

    1. Hi Kristin and Jamie!

      Before we had made an offer on the new house, we went to a few open houses to see other homes in the neighborhood. We met an agent at one of those open houses and explained our situation. She kindly offered to do a free CMA of our house. She knew the situation before she even stepped foot in our house and chose to do it anyway. And, though we didn’t list our house with an agent, specifically her, we did let her bring a buyer through before our house officially went on the market. So, we gave her every opportunity to get the buyer’s agent commission. Furthermore, if we decided to use an agent after trying FSBO, we would have used this agent.

      I’m not encouraging my readers to lie to an agent just to get a CMA, but if an agent knows the situation before hand and still goes through with it, that’s their decision. Ultimately, agents prosper from word of mouth, and if anyone I know asks if I know a good agent to use, I would happily recommend this agent without hesitation.

      I hope that clears things up.

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  4. Hi Kristin, Jamie and Amanda. In Amanda’s defense, I have done a few FSBOs myself. I had agents calling me offering a free CMA just in case I decided to abandon the FSBO route and go with an agent; they wanted my business/listing.

    I also had agents call me and ask me if they could tell their buyer(s) that the sale price was actually more than I asked so they could get more commission – I said no- and one of these agents even attended my open house and told his buyers that my house was MORE than the asking price. I found this out because I had made listing sheets and put them on a table and the buyers wanted to know why the listing sheet price was less than the price they were told. This could have been very detrimental to the sale of my home, because if I entered into a P&S and the home did not appraise for the agreed upon price, I could have lost the sale and probably would have turned down other potential buyers in the process that may have offered me a higher price than the inflated price the realtors wanted to present to potential buyers.

    Granted, it was a pretty hot market when I sold, but the appraisal did not meet the inflated price the realtors wanted to sell it at, so they could get more commission.

    Amanda is right, a lot of agents get business (or not) by word of mouth. I was sure to warn people against the deceptive agents I worked with and refer people to good agents I knew.

    I used a buyer’s agent when looking for my current house, and it was also a FSBO, that I found on my own. I did not involve the agent I was working with in this transaction, but I sent her plenty of business after.

    1. Hi Annie! Thanks for your input. Glad everything worked well for you, despite those agents inflating the price. 🙂 I fully intend to refer this agent to anyone I know looking to buy or sell a house. And that’s what agents really care about, because their reputation is their livelihood.

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  5. Hi Amanda,
    I was wondering the same thing too! Most of the realtors in our area offer a “free CMA.” We met the nicest realtor this weekend at an open house and chatted with her for a while, before deciding that we wanted to wait through the summer and also do some more work on our house. However, I would love to get a realtors opinion on our house before we do more work on it. We’re contemplating granite and new flooring in our kitchen but I’m not sure if it’s worth it at our price point. Honestly, you got me thinking about “trading even,” we found a house we love in worse condition than our current house but in a better neighborhood with more land, but I don’t know if our house would be worth it. I’d consider trying to sell our house ourselves but I’d also like to use a realtor to buy the next house (after how bad our last one was). What does realtor etiquette say about that?

    1. Hi Nora, I think being upfront and honest is the best route. Talk to this agent before having her come to do the CMA; just let her know your situation. I think it’s totally fine if you want her to look at your house before installing counters and flooring. Ask her what she would price it at in its current condition and what she would price it at if you made those upgrades.

      You’re sweetening the deal if you’re willing to use that agent as a buyer’s rep. But explain your situation, timeline, and that you want to try FSBO first. If she’s willing to do the CMA, that’s great.

      We’re really excited about trading even. Our soon to be new home wouldn’t have been in our price range if we didn’t have this house, so we’re really happy to get a bigger, better house in a nicer neighborhood for the same price. If you can do it, especially if you thought about moving before this, I’d say give it a shot. See what your house could reasonably sell for (I say reasonably because you should plan worst case scenario) and see what you could get a new house for. 🙂

      Hope that helps! Good luck!
      Amanda

  6. I can’t believe the house prices!! I would kill for a house like that in that price range. I have been perusing your blog all night. I love the Kitchen!! It truly is inspiring. I have never thought of doing an all drawer bottom and I LOVE that idea! Wishing my husband was handy…

    A

  7. Hi Abby,

    I agree with your comment. It had been a pleasing sight to see the design of the house. This a real great place for living. Even as it may seem as though it is an external cost, the reality of the issue is that most buyers will ultimately see that a house investment is a useful points.

  8. I know this is an old post, but how did you list your home on the MLS? There are a lot of sites out there that claim to do it for you, but I have also heard a lot of horror stories, so I was wondering how you did it? Thanks!

    1. Hi Haley!

      I was hesitant to use a listing service, too. I’m happy to reporty MLS My Home worked. Here’s a link: http://mlsmyhome.com/ They have the flat fee service. You’ll get an email from one of their agents in your state, fill out paper work, send back, and then they add that info to the MLS and Realtor.com. Simple and we didn’t have any issues. I hope that answers your question, but feel free to ask if you have more. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Amanda

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