For Sale By Owner Check List

Many people believe that in order to get the best price for their home they need to sell it themselves. Why pay thousands of dollars to a broker for a job that they can do themselves? Even though close to 25 percent of the homes sold last year were sold by owners, at least half said they would hire a professional the next time around.

This is not to say you cannot complete a successful sale without a professional, but a homeowner needs to understand the risks and be as organized and as knowledgeable about the sales process as an agent. Here are some of the main points to consider before you make your decision to fly solo:

Property Value

Realistic pricing of your home is crucial to the successful sale of your property. If it’s priced too low, you could potentially lose money. If its price is too high, you may also lose money due to accumulated costs from the home remaining on the market for an extended length of time. Two years ago, when I sold my last home, there was a sale by owner in the same neighborhood. The property was priced much higher than it was worth, and last I heard, the place was still for sale. 

Determining the value of your home involves an in-depth understanding of your market area. You can begin by doing comparative studies of similar properties that are for sale or that have sold recently in your area. It’s probably a good idea to hire an appraiser to give you an accurate market value. 


A good realtor will advertise your home on their own website, the MLS website, in print, as well as through word of mouth. You have to compete with this strategy in order to effectively promote your property. Your home needs to stand out amongst all those realtor listings and the longer it remains for sale, the more it will cost you in marketing. 

A good place to start is with one of the numerous online ‘sale by owner’ type sites that offer reasonable advertising packages. You may also want to promote a cash incentive for a sale initiated by a realtor; otherwise, you may experience some sparse open houses. 


One of the key contributors to a home remaining on the market longer than necessary is the owner’s lack of commitment to show the home regularly, and this includes organizing and promoting open houses. A certain amount of time needs to be dedicated each day to selling your home.

Dealing With the Customers

One thing realtors do very effectively filter out the serious buyers from the window shoppers or lowballers. You will have to learn how to deal with these people and not fall for an offer that you’ll regret down the road.

Providing useful information to the potential buyer will lend to your credibility. A realtor is always waiting in the wings to field questions on financing options, costs of home repairs related to the purchase, recommendations for house inspectors, lawyers, etc. 

Meet the Professionals 

Get familiar with any inspectors, lawyers, or title reps involved in your sale. You don’t want a delay in the process because you’ve chosen the wrong people to deal with. 

Knowledge of the Legal Process

Many closings have fallen apart due to inaccurate or incomplete paperwork. Have the necessary legal documents ready and know the process inside out. Any financial incentives or inclusions need to be documented, signed, and dated; verbal agreements don’t count.

If this all sounds like a lot to think about, it is. Don’t worry, many successful sale by owner transactions are completed every year, by homeowners who took the time to educate themselves on the process and details of an effective property sale.

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