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How to Market Your Home Like an Agent

Ever wonder how you can market your home like an agent? Many home sellers are intimidated by the idea of marketing their home for sale, which leads them to sell with a Realtor. In fact, statistics from the National Association of Realtors shows that the primary reason sellers hire a real estate agent is to help market their home to potential buyers. You don’t need to hire an agent to market your home like one and to prove it we’ve compiled the top 10 methods used by agents to market your home, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

1.Multiple Listing Service

The biggest weapon in the real estate agent’s arsenal is the MLS. Multiple listing services are private databases used by licensed agents to find homes for buyers. ForSaleByOwner.com offers an MLS Enhanced package that gives you access to the most powerful marketing tool for your home sale at a fraction of the cost of working with a seller’s agent.

2.Yard Sign

That’s right, the second most popular method used by real estate agents to market a home is a simple yard sign. A yard sign is still a great way to attract house hunters out looking in your neighborhood and are a simple tool that’s included with many of our listing packages or one that can be purchased directly from your local hardware store or online at the ForSaleByOwner.com store.

3. Real estate agent/company websites

Many real estate agents and brokerages use their own websites to market the homes they list. The ForSaleByOwner.com website receives over 3 million visitors every month, far more than a local agent or brokerage website.

4. Open house

Holding an open house is an excellent method of giving multiple potential buyers the opportunity to see your home in person during a time that is convenient for you. You’ll want to take a few days (or weeks) to stage your home before opening it to the public. Most importantly, you want to learn the details every seller needs to know about holding an open house.

5. Realtor.com

Realtor.com is one of the most popular real estate sites on the web among home buyers and a great opportunity for sellers that are comfortable working alongside buyers’ agents to get their home in front of 30 million monthly visitors. ForSaleByOwner.com allows you the ability to include your listing on Realtor.com with certain pacakges.

6. Third party aggregators

Third party aggregators include websites like Zillow and Redfin that pull listings from multiple sources. All of our listing packages include standard listings on Zillow, Yahoo! Homes, Redfin and HomeFinder with additional services available to receive featured listings on these websites that generate tens of millions of views from house hunters each month.

7. Flyers and other direct mail

Making great property flyers available to interested buyers is a terrific way to market your home even when you’re not around. When you list on ForSaleByOwner.com you are provided with the ability to turn your online ad into a 8.5″ x 11″ property flyer that is professionally-designed and can be easily printed at home.

8. Video

Creating a video tour of you home allows buyers to see what your home has to offer before they visit your home in person for an open house. Whether you decide to film your video yourself and upload it to your listing or you use the Video Showcase tool included with some ForSaleByOwner.com packages, video is an easy way to market your home.

9. Social networking websites

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest present fantastic opportunities for home sellers to market their homes. We love sharing our listings on social media and it helps the houses we select as our #HomeOfTheWeek on Facebook be seen by tens of thousands of users.

10. Online classified ads

A classified ad on Craigslist.org can help sellers generate a lot of additional exposure for their property. While you can post to Craigslist on your own, ForSaleByOwner.com has created a simple tool to post a listing along with your great photos, description and link to your listing that is included with all paid packages.

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5 Tips for Building Good Relationships with Agents

Just because you’re selling a home FSBO doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your relationship with real estate agents. They are very involved in their community and could be in a position to bring a lot of buyer traffic your way. Our suggestion? Treat agents with respect and you’ll reduce the chances that you’ll face unexpected obstacles to your sale. Here are five tips to build and maintain good relationships with real estate agents:

  1. Cultivate friendships and referrals by treating agents with respect. They are not the enemy, they simply have a different approach to doing business. And remember, when you sell by owner it is a business transaction.
  2. Accept that if you list with MLS, agents will want to bring their clients to your home and you will pay a buyer’s agent commission if you accept their offer. That’s part of the deal.
  3. If you are listed on the MLS, invite local agents to your open houses. They are motivated to bring buyers to your home and will likely want to see it for themselves before recommending your place to their clients. You may even want to ask your MLS broker about scheduling a Broker’s Open, which is an open house just for agents held on Tuesdays.
  4. Keep your guard up. Agents may make their way to your open houses (whether you invite them or not) or even call your home to try to convince you to change your mind about selling by owner and list with them instead. If you are already listed on the MLS it is illegal for them to solicit your listing, but if not they can try to sell you on their services. Be resolute, but polite when you turn them down. You never know, they might just bring you your perfect buyer down the road so keep the door open.
  5. Don’t disrespect agents on social media sites. Negative reviews about a previous experience with an agent have their time and place. Resist the temptation to make blanket statements about agents on the Internet. Keep your listing positive and you’ll attract like-minded buyers.
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Expert Home Staging Tips to Avoid Deal Killing Criticisms

If you think that home staging isn’t important, or if you’ve left it off your “to do” list entirely, you may want to rethink that position, and here’s why:

Staging your home to sell before you list gets you prepared to sell and gets you better photos for your listing, which will create more views for your listing online. In turn, you drum up more interest in your property, which can translate into multiple offers and a greater chance that you will get the price you want. Getting the price you want equals a faster closing and a faster closing means… Well, you fill in the blank of what it means to you.

Today, 90 percent of home buyers search for homes online before ever actually setting foot on a property. Just imagine if you listed your home for sale today and you uploaded and posted pictures of your home right now. What would your photos reflect? What might the feedback from prospective buyers sound like? What opinions would they have of your home’s condition, upkeep, cleanliness and space? Would your home move to the top of their “must see” list, or would they decide that you’re asking way too much for far too little?

Not staging your home to sell or at a minimum consulting with a professional home stager to get advice may cost you more in the end, but following these 5 expert home staging tips can help you avoid any deal-killing criticisms.

Staging Tip #1: Decluttering

They say a happy home is a messy home but no buyer wants to see your cluttered counter tops and kids’ toys everywhere. If you think you can get away with decluttering by simply shoving things in your closets, drawers and garage you could be vulnerable to a deal-killing criticism.

Here’s how to cut through the chaos and declutter your home:

Pre-Pack
Pare down your possessions by packing away items that are out of season or used infrequently. If you are listing during the summer put away your winter clothing and vice versa if you are listing during the winter. You should also pack any unnecessary kitchen items such as holiday dinnerware or flatware.

Use Off-Site Storage
If you have big, bulky furniture or personal items that are cluttering up your home, consider utilizing a self-storage space. Often you can find a provider that will offer you the first month free or at a discounted rate without a deposit.

Organize for Open Spaces
There are probably plenty of objects around the house that you want to part with. An effective way of decluttering and removing unwanted items is to organize them by where you plan to take them – whether that’s the document shredder, an electronics store for recycling or a charity for donation – can be highly effective.

Staging Tip #2: Depersonalizing

Make sure that you separate the concept of decorating from staging. Decorating is personalizing while staging is depersonalizing in order to help the buyer visualize your home as their home.

These tips for depersonalizing your home will help buyers fall in love with your home:

Neutrality
Depersonalization is all about neutralization. From a neutral color palate to storing away your personal collections such as posters and memorabilia, you want to make your home a blank canvas that any house hunter can paint him or herself into and discover where they will add their personality.

Room Overview
The most important rooms to focus on are your living room and bedrooms as they will be the most personalized areas in your home. The kitchen and bathrooms are more utilitarian and functional, but you should still make sure that you are removing personal items from countertops and cleaning out cabinetry.

Staging Tip #3: Odors and Aromas

Smell is the sense with the strongest connection to emotion, which means an unpleasant smell can send potential buyers running for the hills. Make sure that you cast out evil odors and incorporate pleasant aromas.

Odors to Eliminate
Home shoppers will be able to detect all of the unique smells in your home from the smell of the previous night’s dinner to your dog or cat. Some specific odors that you should be on the lookout to eliminate include:

  • Smoke
  • Strong Cooking Scents
  • Pet Odors
  • Body Odors

Aromas to Add
After cleaning and eliminating any unpleasant scents, you can rely on the following 5 smells that have almost universal appeal:

  1. Lime
  2. Grapefruit
  3. Bergamot
  4. Orange
  5. Peppermint

Baked goods can also be an inviting smell for homebuyers as long as you avoid overly complex scents. Stick to simple chocolate chip cookies, bread or cupcakes to entice house hunters.

Staging Tip #4: Cleaning

A deep cleaning that covers every area and item of your home is a crucial staging technique. You need to make sure that you are as systematic and thorough in cleaning your home as a potential buyer will be at inspecting it. Follow these tips to keep your home clean for staging:

  • Dust from ceiling to floor including ceiling fans and light fixtures, furniture, archways, overhangs, walls and baseboards.
  • Deep clean your carpets.
  • Clean your wood and tile flooring.
  • Make sure that you give your kitchen and bathrooms special attention and don’t skip over a single detail.

Most importantly you need to make sure that you continue to clean throughout the time your home is for sale. Don’t risk all of your hard work coming undone because you let your cleaning routine slip.

Staging Tip #5: Use a Professional

To avoid deal-killing criticisms when selling your home, get professional home staging advice or hire a professional home stager before you list.

Decluttering, despersonalizing, eliminating odors and cleaning are essential steps in properly staging your home. If your busy scheduling is keeping you from completing any of these essential elements then it may be time to call in a professional home stager.

Whether you utilize a home staging expert for their services or just for their advice, you can avoid making any crucial mistakes while focusing on communication with the buyers a beautifully staged home will attract.

Darlene Parris is Interior Redesigner, Organizer and Home Stager with Upstaged!, based in Los Angeles.

This article has been republished for additional educational purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

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Consider Offering Home Warranty to Your Buyer

A home warranty is a one-year protection plan to cover major appliances and systems so your buyers have peace of mind once they take possession of the home. For a few hundred dollars, a home warranty will cover the repair or replacement costs for appliances and systems like these:

• Heating System
• Air Conditioning and Ductwork
• Internal Plumbing System
• Internal Electrical System
• Ceiling and Attic Fans
• Dishwasher/Refrigerator
• Range/Oven/Stovetop
• Built-In Microwave
• Water Heater
• Septic Systems

Although home warranties are available to both buyers and sellers for purchase, offering a home warranty to a potential buyer who is teetering on an offer might be enough peace of mind to tip the balance in your favor, especially if the heating and cooling systems or major appliances are not brand new.

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8 Easy Home Selling Tips

Why sell your home yourself? Selling a home by yourself, without an expensive real estate broker, is easier than most people think, but it will take some work on your part. You will be doing a lot of things that a real estate agent might normally do. Follow the ForSaleByOwner.com step-by-step selling guide, and you’ll not only save lots of money, but we’ll help you make the house selling process as easy as possible.

1. Make Your Home Look Great
Presentation is everything. Home buyers are attracted to clean, spacious and attractive houses. Your goal is to dazzle buyers. Brighten-up the house and remove all clutter from counter tops, tables and rooms. Scrub-down your house from top to bottom. Make it sparkle. Simple aesthetic improvements such as trimming trees, planting flowers, fixing squeaking steps, broken tiles, shampooing rugs and even re-painting a faded bedroom will greatly enhance the appeal of your house. Also, make sure your house smells good. That’s right, clean out the cat box and light mildly scented candles.

Invite a neighbor over to walk through your house like a buyer would. Get their opinion on how it “shows.” The stuffed donkey in the family room may have to go to your in-laws for a while.

 

2. Price Your Home Right
Careful not to over price your home. Over-pricing when you sell a home reduces buyer interest, makes competing homes look like better values, and can lead to mortgage rejections once the appraisal is in. Over-pricing when selling a home is the single biggest reason why many “for sale by owner” (FSBO) home sellers don’t sell their homes successfully. The home selling market dictates the price (not what you think it should be worth).

One of the best ways to correctly price your house when selling is to find out how much other homes, similar to your own, recently sold for in your neighborhood. Talk to home sellers, buyers and check out the real estate listings in your local newspaper.

Typically, if you set the price of your home at 5 to 10 percent above the market price, you are likely to end up with an offer close to your home’s true value. Also, you may try calculating the cost per square foot of your home compared to the house selling prices in your area (divide list price by square footage of livable space). If your house has more features or other desirable qualities, you may want to set a slightly higher house selling price.

The easiest way to accurately price your home is to contact your local home appraiser.

Finally, set your house selling price just under a whole number, such as $169,900 rather than $170,000.

 

3. Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
Even though it’s an additional expense, it may be wise to hire a lawyer who will protect your interests throughout the entire transaction. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you evaluate complicated offers (those with a variety of conditions), act as an escrow agent to hold the down payment, evaluate complex mortgages and/or leases with options to buy, review contracts and handle your home’s closing process. They can also tell you what things, by law, you must disclose to buyers prior to a sale and can also help you avoid inadvertently discriminating against any potential buyers.

In some areas, title companies will handle all aspects of the transaction and have in-house legal departments that can assist you with legal issues that may arise. To locate a title company in your area, visit our Find a Pro page.

Unless you’re significantly experienced in the home selling process, having a real estate lawyer at your side provides peace-of-mind. You know you’ve got someone looking out for your interests, not just the buyers. To locate a lawyer in your area, visit our Find a Pro section.

 

4. Market Your Home for Sale
Exposure, exposure, exposure. That’s how sellers sell their home fast. ForSaleByOwner.com provides extensive listing exposure because hundreds of thousands visit the website every day. In fact, ForSaleByOwner.com is one of the top 25 most visited real estate websites in the U.S. getting millions of visitors looking to buy or sell a home every month.

 

Write Your Listing Ad
While For Sale By Owner.com allows you a longer description of your house than you could afford that in a newspaper ad, your advertising copy should be thorough yet short, simple and to-the-point. Long, flowery prose will not make your house sound more appealing. It will simply make it harder for the home buyer to read. Make sure to provide the critical facts buyers are looking for such as the house’s number of bathrooms, a re-modeled kitchen, etc.

Most home buyers quickly scan ads, so it is important that your house stands out. For example, you may want to add a theme-line such as “Priced below market” or “Great schools.” Stay away from industry jargon and use language that makes home buyers comfortable. Survey our web site and see how others have written their ads. You will quickly see which are “buyer friendly.” Copy their approach for your ad.

 

Home Photos: Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words
If you are taking a photo of your home, be sure that the home’s yard/driveway is uncluttered. Remove bikes, garbage cans and parked cars. The same applies for interior shots. People are looking to buy your house, not your possessions. Think of furniture as props and the room a stage. Move things around if you have to. Also, take lots of house photos. Film is cheap…your home deserves quality. The more you shoot, the better the odds are that you’ll get a few really good shots.

 

Yard Signs
Lawn signs are one of the most important marketing tools for home sellers. They attract attention to your home. Professionally-produced yard signs (like the ones we can send to you) telegraph to home buyers a “quality” image of your house. Directional signs also help drive buyers to your property, especially if you do not live on a busy street.

 

Open Houses
Open houses are sometimes a good way to attract buyers to your home. Typically, real estate agents conduct open houses for two reasons; 1. Clients expect them 2. They are a good way to attract buyers, not just for the open house but for all houses for sale in the Real Estate Agent’s area (yes, your competition). The fact is that very few houses sell due to a open house itself.

 

Home Brochures/Information Sheets
It is a good idea to create an information sheet (with a photo) about your home to give potential buyers. Consider printing copies of your ad from For Sale By Owner.com to give to people who visit your home.

 

The MLS
The MLS or Multiple Listing Service can also help market your home, particularly to real estate agents who may know of buyers seeking a property like yours. The MLS is a directory used by real estate agents to announce to other agents that they have a home for sale. In many selling markets, For Sale By Owner.com can put your house on the MLS (for an additional fee). However, if a real estate agent finds you a buyer after seeing your home on the MLS, you must usually pay that agent a 2.5% to 3% commission (the law states that all commissions are negotiable, however).

You are your home’s best salesman. As every salesman knows, to be effective you have to really know your product. And who knows your home better than you? Certainly not a real estate agent, who, in all likelihood, has spent only a few moments in your house before showing it to prospective buyers.

Sell your neighborhood as well as your house. Show enthusiasm, but don’t get caught-up talking too much about how “your daughter spent the best years of her life in this very room.”

 

5. Negotiate and Accept an Offer
When a home buyer makes an offer (this is often presented to you directly from the buyer or through their lawyer), you should consult with your attorney. Buyers and sellers have an Attorney Review Period, which is usually three days, to cancel or amend the offer. The offer becomes a contract at the end of the Attorney Review Period, and is binding. Many of your home’s offers can be complicated and contain special clauses that favor the buyer.

 

Purchase Price Isn’t Everything
Carefully consider the purchase contract’s other terms and conditions. Too many contingencies can leave loopholes and cause a deal to collapse. Especially avoid contingencies that favor the house’s buyer, such as linking the escrow closing date to the buyer’s sale of their current home. If the buyer insists on such terms, include a so-called kick-out clause in the contract that will allow you to consider other offers if the buyer isn’t able to sell within a certain period of time.

 

Assess Your Buyer’s Financial Qualifications
Is the buyer pre-approved? How much of a loan is the buyer seeking? Unless you are in an active market, lenders tend to shy away from underwriting a deal in which the purchase price is higher than the nearest comparable sale and the buyer is putting less than 10% down. If this is the case, your buyer may not be able to obtain financing.

 

Know the Home Selling Market
How you judge an offer also can depend on market conditions. If the selling market is slow, you may feel vulnerable, especially if circumstances are pressing you to sell. Make sure any offer you accept does not keep you in escrow longer than 30 days. In a hot market where multiple offers are likely, be wary of countering more than one offer at a time (you could end up in legal trouble if two buyers both accept your counter offer). Also be wary of offers that promise more money but contain poor contract terms (long escrow, multiple contingencies, etc.).

If you feel the home’s offer is insufficient, make a counter offer. Rarely is a first offer the buyer’s absolute highest price they are willing to pay. Negotiating is part of the home selling process.

Again, your lawyer should review the details of all offers.

 

6. Home Inspections
All standard real estate contracts are going to give the prospective home buyer the right to inspect your property – so be prepared. Under a general inspection you are obligated to make major repairs to appliances, plumbing, septic, electrical and heating systems – or the buyer may cancel the offer. The inspection will also include your property’s roof, as well as a termite inspection (in some states, house sellers must provide proof that the home is termite free).

If you are concerned about how your home will fare when inspected, you may want to visit your local inspector. They can conduct an inspection for you before a potential buyer has one done. This way, you can address the problems before a buyer stumbles upon them.

Once the inspections are complete, the buyer makes an application to a mortgage lender.

 

7. Buyer Appraisals and Other Details
The mortgage lender will order an appraisal of your home to make sure they are not paying more than the house is worth. They may also order a surveyor to make sure that the property boundaries are properly laid out. They will also order a title search to determine if there are any liens against your property. These tasks are all the responsibility of the buyer and/or their attorney.

At this point too, the mortgage company will issue a commitment. Again, the buyer (and their attorney) must complete all conditions listed on the mortgage commitment.

Prior to closing, you should notify your lender that you will be paying off your mortgage. After a closing date has been agreed to, you should contact your utility providers and advise them of your final billing date.

 

8. Closing Time
The day of the closing, the home’s buyer will do a “walk through” of the property to make sure all agreed repairs are completed and that the home is in the same condition as when the buyer made their offer. If problems arise at this point, the closing can still take place with funds held in escrow to remedy the problem.

Closings usually occur 30 to 45 days after you have signed the sales contract. Depending on what state you reside in, you may close with an attorney, or with a title company. At the closing, all monies will be collected, any existing loans or liens will be paid, the deed will be transferred, and insurance will be issued insuring a free and clear title. The home seller will receive the proceeds of their home in one to two business days after the closing.

 

Don’t Forget to Do Your Home Work
This step-by-step home selling guide is a general overview of the process when selling a home. Each state has slightly different laws and customs as they relate to the transaction process.

Selling a home yourself can be time consuming, but the financial rewards can be tremendous. With help from ForSaleByOwner.com, the process of home selling a home by owner as easy as possible.

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Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff [Infographic]

Before you call the contractor (or pick up the hammer), find out which home repairs, renovations and remodels reap the most rewards.

Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff

To view, download and print Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff [Infographic] as a PDF.

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The New Path to Homeownership [Infographic]

Most property purchases now start on the computer (or tablet or smartphone) screen. Here’s the data you need to know before sharing your home listing with the world.

The New Path to Homeownership

To view, download and print The New Path to Homeownership [Infographic] as a PDF, click here.

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5 Signs of a Savvy Negotiator [Infographic]

Got an offer? Great. Now it’s time to negotiate with the buyer to reach a deal that you both can agree on. Here are five ways to be professional and prepared in your discussions.

5 Signs of a Savvy Negotiator

To view, download and print 5 Signs of a Savvy Negotiator [Infographic] as a PDF, click here.

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Broaden Your Buyer Audience with Social Media

If you are selling your home by owner, you are the primary marketer of your home. One of the best ways to broaden your appeal these days is communicating through social media.

Facebook is a great place to start. You probably already have a Facebook account, and it’s a place to instantly recruit your friends and family to help you get your message out. The keys are to post often about your home and to do it in interesting ways.

Just posting a link to your home’s listing isn’t going to be as effective as posting a picture with a great caption and then the link.

Even better, you can tag pictures and posts with your friend’s names. Tagging gets you more exposure because now their friends will see your posts in their news feeds too. For example, you could take a picture of your back deck, tag a few neighbors and say something like: “This deck is one of my favorite things about our home. Hey David, remember when we had that neighborhood cookout back here? Great community, great neighbors for whoever buys our home.” (Add a link to your home’s listing at end.) Now your friends and David’s friends know your house is for sale, and that it has a great deck and great neighbors.

Be creative and don’t just limit your reminders to pictures of your home. Maybe there’s a local event coming up, so comment about it. For example: “One of my favorite things is our city’s fireworks show on the 4th of July. I love that I can sit on my back deck and have a spectacular view.”

Also, advertise your open house on Facebook – take pictures of balloons or snacks and say, “Having an open house this Sunday 1-3 pm, everyone’’s invited to come by and visit the house and even have some yummy treats.”

A tip: If you post regularly on Facebook about your home, be sure that your privacy settings are set to public on those posts. And always include a photo or video in your post plus a link to your home’s listing page.

Carrie Richardson is Director of Client Development for South Oak Title, located in Birmingham, AL. Learn more about South Oak Title and the services it offers.

This article has been republished for additional educational purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

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7 Steps to Closing the Sale [Infographic]

From accepting an offer to signing on the dotted line, here is a step-by-step guide to make closing on your home sale an easy and efficient process for everyone involved.

7 Steps to Closing the Sale

To view, download and print 7 Steps to Closing the Sale [Infographic] as a PDF, click here.