Selling a house without an agent: your options (part 1)

by Chris Lang on May 25, 2009

For sale by owner sign on a fenceA couple of posts ago we’ve discussed the value of real estate agents in the process of selling your home and the reasons to use them. However, in certain circumstances, estate agents are a luxury some of us simply can’t afford. If the sale wasn’t planned, if it’s due to a separation, divorce, financial difficulties, paying an agent can be out of question.

Consider selling a house for a modest price of 300K. I am taking the lower end of the market on purpose, just to show how ridiculously high the agents’ fees are. The basic commission is 2-2.5% of the house price, which means that a “insignificant” amount of $6000 to $7500 is going out of your pocket and into the agents’. Do you think that 5 pictures of your place, a sign board and a month or two of advertising should cost that much?

I must say that in Australia selling one’s house without an agent is almost unheard of, and the courageous people who dare sell on their own get looked at in a weird way. Not to mention the estate agents, who come to their doors and literally laugh in their faces: “What do you think you’re doing, you never going to sell, not without me!”

The big advantage of selling with an agent is they have everything pre-arranged. They have a photographer on call, they have a sign guy who installs the “For sale” board in your front yard on an hour’s notice, they know the right day for booking an ad in the newspaper and they have all the forms for submitting the written offer ready.

To an average person it will take a week to arrange all that and put the house on the market. This shouldn’t discourage you though – I am writing this with just one purpose, to give you a realistic expectation of the timeframe so that you won’t get frustrated with how slowly things are moving.

So here is what you need to do:

1. Get your own “For sale” board
2. Don’t take house shots yourself – but get a professional to do it.
3. Do your own advertising
4. Do your own negotiating

And here is how to do it:

Getting your own “For sale” board and some pretty photos is not a big deal, but finding the right kind of advertising that will reach the highest number of buyers for the lowest price is not trivial. I have written about the power of online advertising and the bottom line is that you need to put your house on two major websites, domain.com and realestate.com.au (read this post for explanation why).

There are several ways to advertise your home and reach the most buyers. In my next post I will be discussing and comparing them (including the costs). Subscribe to Homeiown via email and be the first to get it.

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Home Builder August 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Many people, buyers as well as sellers, are looking to cut out the middle man and it is possible, a lot of people I know start with the private sale information before carrying on to the agent listings. You do have to have some professionalism but it is not a useless exercise to try for yourself. As well as the sales side you might consider ssome general home improvement or home renovation if the funds are available can really add value to a property without too much expense.

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