According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, nearly 90 percent of people selling their homes decide to work with a real estate agent — However, many people successfully sell their home all on their own.
There can be a lot of work involved in selling a home on your own, but if you’re willing to put in the effort it can happen.
“This is the biggest trend in real estate,” says Sissy Lappin, author of Simple and SOLD. “Middlemen are disappearing all over the place, and there is no stopping the internet when it comes to changing an industry. Look at E*TRADE and Turbo Tax. Real estate is no different.”
She adds that anyone with a laptop can sell their own home. Her company, ListingDoor.com, and other web-based companies are helping homeowners sell their houses without spending too much money or paying a realtor’s commission.
Juan Diaz, owner of Equity Track, a foreclosure investing company in Oakland, Calif., has bought and sold a lot of houses on his own through his flipping homes’ business.
“These properties sell through your networks. That is absolutely the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re putting up your property,” he says. “That is one of the reasons that realtors are so key. They have a lot of networks they can tap into. If you’re well-connected in the real estate world, you can substitute for what a realtor would do. But either way, it’s going to come down to your network for selling your house.”
When Diaz sells a home on his own, he holds open houses, and puts up a bunch of signs around the neighborhood, on main streets and in the yard of the home being sold.
“I’ll also send off an email to all the realtors I know to let them know about the property. If you do those things, especially in a crazy market, word tends to get around,” he says.
Here are a few people telling their stories of selling their homes on their own:
Sold in 14 days
Within two weeks of putting a sign in her yard last year and using a listing service, Stephanie Pierre sold her house in Texas.
“I think I saved myself about $10,000 without using a realtor. These days you don’t need a realtor. They can’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself,” she says.
Her four-bedroom, modern-looking home with high ceilings in Plano got several offers. She accepted the third offer that came in.
To stage her home, she got a storage unit, cleaned out all the closes and storage spaces and put extra furniture in the home. Staging can help homeowners sell their home sooner and potentially for a higher price.
“My house always showed like a model. I am very creative and had large pieces of art and beautiful furniture. So that helped,” she adds.
About 50 people came through the house. If Pierre was ever going to sell a house again by herself, she would ask for more money and have someone else talk to the buyers.
“I got personally involved, and it bothered me when they would say something negative about my house. I would get a friend or someone to talk directly to the buyers – not a realtor.”
To price her house, she used the internet to see what other houses were selling for in her neighborhood. Pierre wasn’t afraid to go into the transaction because she had owned an art gallery for 18 years, and had sold cars and plenty of things on Craigslist.
She had bought the house for $129,000 and sold it for $290,000. She had gotten married, and her husband didn’t want to live in her house but instead in a house they found together.
Using a service made it a success
Walt and Sandy Kondratieff on Coverdale, Calif., read Lappin’s book before venturing into selling their own house.
“We got a good sense of what we were in for from reading the book, which also introduced us to her website, ListingDoor.com. We took advantage of all the services they offered from the listings on a number of real estate sites to the professional writing of descriptions of our home. And it all paid of extremely well for us,” the couple says.
All of it gave them the confidence they needed to tackle the job and get it done without an agent.
“We never felt that we were out there all alone, not knowing what we were doing. The experience was like having a coach always available to guide and encourage us. We would do it again in a heartbeat,” they say.
Realtors didn’t assess properties high enough
Randy Gunter, who owns a marketing agency – The Gunter Agency in Belleville, Wis., — sold both a home and an office building on his own, and he’s not a realtor.
Both times, we had realtors come in and give us an assessment. Both times, we felt the realtor significantly undervalued the buildings,” he says.
He sold the house for $60,000 more than the realtor was thinking he should list it for. And he sold the office building for $250,000 more than the realtor thought he should list it for.
“We created our own sheet to hand out with all the photos on it. We created a website for the house for sale with the photos,” he adds.
When they had open houses, they baked cookies and had them available.
“We knew we were going to sell the house in advance of the actual sales date. We were building a new home with a new move in January,” he says.
So they took pictures in the summertime with the yard full of flowers, the deck, etc. We knew that over the winter months when the home would be listed that he yard would not be an asset, he explains.