It is easy to see the advantages of a private house sale – but what is involved in the process?
You can earn more money and avoid a lot of hassle by planning carefully and thinking about things that might seem minor at the moment but do have a major impact in the final outcome. The following guide is taking you step by step through the home-selling process.
Before getting started you want to evaluate your leverages and understand the environment.
Analyse your personal situation
If your sale is not urgent for example due to a job opportunity, medical reasons or because you are under financial pressure, you should consider selling in summer. Not only are people more likely to move in the warmer months, the beginning of the school year does also make moving easier for families. Other factors like your availability due to vacation, skills to undertake renovation work by yourself and your budget for investments in your property prior to the sale might affect the process.
Understand the local market
A couple of months before listing start watching and keeping track of what price comparable houses in the area are selling for. If you are living in a rural area where houses do not get sold as often you may want to start this process even earlier.
Gather documentation and information
Make sure you have all the important paperwork like title, mortgage, insurance and if you have any floorplans and drawings accessible. If you have had major renovation done, you may want to get the documentation.
You can do a lot yourself or with only a small investment to increase the value of your house.
Fix what you can
Take care of all the small issues. Maybe there is a wall that could do with a new paint, a leaky pipe that needs to be fixed, a light switch that should get replaced or a stuck window that could be loosen up.
Upgrade what makes a difference
If you for example have a brand new kitchen but an old oven you may want to replace it even though it still works in order to remove the reason for potential buyers to reconsider. But only undertake changes that are necessary or that will make a difference. You may want to get an inspection for your house from foundation to roof to be sure everything is in good condition and to be able to provide proof to your buyers.
Put your house in its best light
Give your house a major clean and put special effort into the rarely-cleaned spots. You may want to consider hiring a professional cleaning service for carpets and windows and don’t forget to take care of the landscaping. Get rid of clutter and follow the so called staging techniques and rules how to position your furniture to make your house look most welcoming and create a spacious feel.
When it comes to setting the price for your property, there are different factors to include in your calculation.
Know what your property is worth
You should think about your personal price expectations and become aware of the advantages and especially disadvantages of your property compared to others such as view, location (access, traffic), noise hazards or the condition of the house. Especially things that can’t be changed will have a negative impact on the price. For the last couple of months you have been watching what comparable properties have sold for, now try to position your house within this range.
Get an appraisal
An external appraisal is going to do basically the same what you would do if you follow the description above, but with a neutral view. The appraiser will consider the condition of the house, the area it is in, positive and deducting features. Getting this done will cost you some money but can help to know what renovations might be worth doing and to validate your price to potential buyers. Alternatively, check with your local real estate firm as some are prepared to provide you with an appraisal for free.
Be realistic and set your price range
It is quite normal for homeowners to think their house is worth more than the market will actually offer. It is important to take a step back and look at it from a more neutral point of view. Evaluate your house by working through the most common factors impacting property prices; location, market, condition, neighborhood and age. You want to have a price range in mind you are comfortable with.
With your price range in mind, it is time to advertise the property for the buyer to see in it what you do.
Know the sales arguments
Write a list of the points that will help you attract buyers, like school area, view, location, recent renovation. You want to highlight these points in your listing and talk about them when you have people viewing the house. Consider the reasons why you bought the house, as these are likely to be the same reasons that could attract buyers. When taking pictures make sure you use daylight of a sunny day, open the curtains, use a wide-angled camera, panorama or 360° pictures or take the picture from the doorway or a corner of the room to make the room look spacious.
Make your house visible
Use the reach of online property selling platforms to publish your listing and let the world know you are selling. There are different platforms available, some are for free, others you pay a listing fee and/or a percentage when selling through them. Start off with the free options and share the link to your listing additionally on all social media platforms you are actively using and let your friends and family know you are selling. Make sure you include your contact details in your listing and stay available for calls and appointments.
Open the doors
Organising open homes and showing people through the house is time consuming but pays out. Make sure you clean the house properly and secure all valuables before opening the doors to the public. Depending on the weather, open the windows or turn the heater up a little to make it comfortable, prepare fresh coffee and put soft music on in the background for an inviting ambiance. You might be nervous and concerned about answering all questions but don’t forget to be a good host. You want to come across as prepared, professional and polite.
Do your research so you are confident and make the buyer feel comfortable with the private sale.
Negotiate a win-win agreement
When deciding the timeframe the deal is about to settle at, think about the cost involved if you need to move out immediately and find accommodation before being able to move into your new home. Make sure you don’t only negotiate the sales price but include all the contingencies and inclusions of the offer in your decision. Consider to add in appliances that you were not planning in selling with the house or to reduce the price a little for improvements the buyer thinks would have to be done before moving in. Always try to settle somewhere in the middle and aim for both parties to walk out happy.
Complete the paperwork and support the buyer
The Sales and Purchase agreement includes all the terms and conditions of the sale. Read it carefully before signing, if you wish to make changes you should consulate a lawyer. As soon as both parties have signed the document, it becomes legally binding. In between the sale and date of settlement, the property remains in the name of the seller though, which means you are responsible for any damage that might occur in this period. Additionally to the sales and purchase agreement make sure you provide the buyer with all paperwork connected to the house. And last but not least, make sure there are no outstanding bills for electricity, gas or similar and all the address changes are made so the new owners won’t get your mail once they move in.
Settling and celebrate your success
Congratulation for selling your house by yourself! Bring a bottle of bubbles together with the key to the settlement; it is a big day for both you and the buyer! Think about a profitable way to invest your money from the sale until you purchase your next house. Make sure you keep copies of all the paperwork related to the closing and settlement, this is important for tax and legal purposes. The previous months have probably been quite demanding and you deserve some rest. Celebrate your sale success by spending the money you have saved by selling privately for something you like.