Welcome to the “Complete Guide to Selling Your House For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) in Maryland in 2021!
Thinking about selling your own house during 2021to save money?
Quite a few Maryland homeowners give it a try every year!
Perhaps you are you already in the process of trying to
For Sale by Owner in Maryland!
(Don’t miss the FREE download at the bottom of this page)
This FREE guide provides all the information you need to successfully sell your house without a real estate agent in 2021!
*** (Caution: Don’t make the ONE big mistake other homeowners have made when selling their house by themselves!)***
Table of Contents:
Sell Your Own House in 7 Steps:
– Step 1: What to Research & Determining a Price
– Step 2: Getting Your House Ready to Sell
– Step 3: Pictures, Video & Disclosing Defects
– Step 4: Marketing Your House to Buyers
– Step 5: Scheduling Showings
– Step 6: Negotiating a Contract
– Step 7: Settlement
Bonus FSBO Tips:
Top 3 Reasons Home Owners in Maryland Decide to “FSBO”
- They Believe They Will Save Money $$$ (and don’t realize they will have FSBO Closing Costs to pay)
- They Don’t Believe Realtors® Are Worth It
- They Don’t Know the Many Things a REALTOR® Can Do For Them
CAUTION: Homeowners who put their house up for sale on their own will face various obstacles during the process
Be Aware of These 5 Biggest Obstacles:
What’s a big mistake many homeowners make when selling their own house themselves? For-Sale-By-Owners tend to sell their homes for lower prices than homes sold through traditional real estate agents. These homeowners try to avoid commission costs by trying to sell on their own. A FSBO sale, on average, nets nearly a 6% lower price than a house listed by a licensed real estate professional for a similar property.
- Setting the right price
- Understanding the paperwork
- Selling within a specific timeframe
- Preparing the house prior to selling
- Avoiding being sued.
Ask Yourself These 8 Questions Before Getting Started:
- Do I know how to make sense of the market data and the entire selling process?
- Do I have time to devote to scheduling and managing showings, and obtaining feedback?
- Do I know how to properly prepare my home for sale? Do I know what it needs and doesn’t need?
- Do I know the buyer demographics for my home and neighborhood? How do I market my home so these specific buyers know my home is for sale?
- Do I know what to look for in offers and how to negotiate them?
- Do I know how to handle items flagged by inspectors?
- Am I able to manage the entire transaction? This includes things such as dealing with inspections, dealing with the appraisal, ensuring your property meets the criteria for specific types of financing, and various other steps throughout the process.
- What are the closing procedures? Do I know how to handle last-minute issues that may arise? Do I know how to interpret the settlement sheet to make sure it’s correct?
Follow the instructions in this guide to have the best chance of
selling your house on your own!
Super Important BONUS Tip:
Whether you’re trying to sell your own house today or in the future, it’s important to understand it’s easy to get sued when you “sell your house on your own” in Maryland.
Download the FREE checklist:
“TOP 7 WAYS TO AVOID GETTING SUED”
when selling your house on your own…
How to “For Sale By Owner” in 7 Steps
Step 1: RESEARCH
Here are the first things you need to know before putting your own Maryland house up for sale:
–Prices of recently sold homes that are similar to yours (these are the comparables, or “comps” as they are known).
Many Maryland homeowners believe the “tax assessment” for their property is the same as the value, and use that assessment as a guide to pricing their home. In reality, the assessment has nothing to do with what a house can sell for. The assessment is based on a mathematical equation. Likewise, many homeowners in Maryland rely on automated valuations provided by Zillow and other resources. These valuations, while nearly accurate at times, are typically either too high or too low, and are therefore inaccurate and misleading.
What is the best and most reliable way to determine a home’s true value?
Compare your home to other similar homes that have sold. If you own a rancher, be sure to compare your home to other ranchers that have sold in the past 3-6 months. The same principal applies to split-levels, condos, colonials, townhouses, cape cods, split-foyers, and other types of houses. Be sure to make adjustments for things such as fireplaces, garage spaces, decks, patios, porches, square footage, seller concessions, finished vs unfinished basement space, and the other factors that were part of these previous sales. All of these items are key to setting the right list price for your home, and selling it quickly.
–Know the average days on market for your area
How long is it taking homes to sell in your area? That number that will tell you how long it is taking to sell homes in your area, on the average. Ideally, you want to sell your home faster than that number.
–Compare the original list prices to the sold prices for your area
What percentage of the original list price are sellers receiving on their homes? That percentage will help you learn how much you can anticipate you might get for your home, provided your home is price correctly. Sell your home faster by selecting the right list price, making necessary repairs, staging, decluttering, updating, and marketing your home in every way possible.
–Know where buyers are coming from, so you can market your house to the right areas
Are buyers primarily moving from within the same area as your house? Or are they moving from other counties or states? It’s important to advertise in the areas where they currently live. You will reach more buyers when you research and market to those areas.
–Know the types of financing your house is eligible for
There are a variety of loan programs that consumers use to buy a house in Maryland. Not only must buyers meet the requirements to buy a house (for example: minimum income and credit scores), but houses must meet the requirements for each type of loan, too!
Many homes in Maryland qualify for Conventional Financing. But, does your house meet the criteria for FHA, USDA or VA financing? These 3 types of loans are have the strictest criteria that a house must meet. IS your house even located in an area that is eligible for USDA financing? Location matters for that type of loan!
Will a buyer be forced to use a 203K loan because the other types of loans won’t be approved for your house? When this is case, you need that buyer who can either pay in cash, or who is willing to take the extra steps (and expense) to obtain a renovation loan.
Each type of loan has different requirements. It’s important to know if your house meets the standards of these different types of financing. If a buyer makes an offer on your house, but your home isn’t eligible for that type of financing, guess what? The sale will fall apart and that buyer will NOT be buying your house. Understanding the different types of loans and the requirements for each are things you should know before you put your Maryland home up for sale.
–Determine what your closing costs will be
This approximation will help you determine how much profit you can make on your house. Your portion of the transfer taxes is one component of your closing costs that you will want to know in advance. Other components may include your payoff (if you have one), seller concessions, HOA and/or condo fees (if you have them), front-foot benefits, taxes, a home warranty, and more.
Take the guesswork out of deciding what your home is truly worth!
Get a FREE report at:
STEP 2: INSPECT & REPAIR
Today’s buyers typically include inspections in their offer to buy a house in Maryland. A home inspection is common, along with a radon inspection. Other possible types of inspections can include roof, chimney, mold, well, water quality, wood destroying insects, and septic.
Inspecting your home before you FSBO will help you find anything that might need repairing. Perhaps you have a leaking faucet that drips, or a few loose (or missing) shingles. Anything that needs to be fixed will be pointed out when your buyers have their inspections done, so you might as well fix the things you can in advance. It’s also a good idea to make sure your mechanical systems have been serviced.
In Step 1 of this guide, we discussed the need to understand the different types of financing. This advice is especially important when it comes to repairs. Different loan types have different requirements for repairs. Making sure you are familiar with the requirements for conventional loans, USDA loans, FHA loans and VA loans will greatly assist you in knowing what you will be expected to fix and repair. If you don’t meet the requirements, your buyer will not have their loan approved. And if their loan isn’t approved, they will not be buying your home. You will need to put your home back on the market and start over.
After making those repairs, don’t forget to:
- Clean from floor to ceiling
- Create curb appeal
- Remove any signs of pets
- Stage your house
STEP 3: PHOTOS, VIDEO & DISCLOSURES
Today’s buyers search for homes online. As a matter of fact, they start searching way before they are ready to buy. Buyers like to get an idea of what is available at different prices. They quickly learn which homes are priced appropriately and which ones are overpriced. When selling your own house in Maryland, photos can make the difference.
As a result of the online searching, exceptional pictures are a must. If buyers don’t like your pictures, they will NOT consider looking at your house, they will move on to the next one.
Hi-definition pictures are absolutely necessary. Hire a professional photographer if you aren’t able to take pictures yourself. If you’re able to take your own, make sure the angles are ideal, the lighting is right, and your home is shown in the best way possible. Be sure to remove items attached to your refrigerator, extra items on countertops and floors, personal items and general clutter.
There’s a reason why model homes look the way they do. Make your house look like a model home to obtain the best results.
Like photos, video is an integral part of a home buyer’s online shopping experience. Houses that offer fantastic hi-definition photos, in addition to a video tour, receive much more interest from buyers. Buyers want to experience what it feels like to walk through your house. Their online experience determines whether or not they will make an appointment to see your Maryland FSBO. Make sure all of your advertising includes both your pictures and video. Providing a QR code is a great way for buyers to see your photos and video in your marketing materials.
Maryland is known as a “disclosure state”. This means you have a legal obligation to divulge any and all latent defects, as well as material facts, regarding your house.
Are you in compliance with the Maryland Smoke Detector Law that went into effect January 1, 2018? If you aren’t, it must be disclosed to potential buyers. Do you knowledge of any leaks, lead paint, mold, or other deficiencies in your house? If you do, they must also be disclosed to potential buyers. Failure to do so can easily result in legal action.
Be sure to disclose on the proper forms so you are protected. This is a common mistake Maryland homeowners make when selling For-Sale-By-Owner. Reduce your chances of being sued by preparing those disclosures.
STEP 4: MARKETING
Marketing is what sells your home. Expecting someone to drive by and want to buy your house is unrealistic. Today’s buyers are online, on a variety of websites. Online is where they decide which homes to go see in person.
The pictures and videos provided online make a huge impact. That’s where you need to be! When deciding to FSBO in Maryland, you need to provide what buyers are looking for, you need to market in ways that attract the most potential buyers.
– List your house on all the major home buying websites
Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Homes.com. (Be advised, your home will never appear on all the different brokerage websites, such as Coldwell Banker, Long & Foster, Sotheby’s, ReMax and others. In addition, real estate agents will not find your house if it isn’t in the multiple list. Real estate agents often have buyers looking for a particular house, if they don’t see your home in the multiple list, they won’t know about it). There are a slew of other websites that show homes for sale. Decide which of those you want to put your home on and do it.
– Put a “For Sale” sign in your yard
Make sure it’s eye-catching, legible and waterproof.
– Prepare flyers
Highlight your home’s best features, and include some photos. A QR code is also good to add so the buyers can easily reference your house.
– Hold open houses
Plan several on different days at different times so you can accommodate the various schedules of buyers.
– Advertise in print
Even though print advertising is less effective, there are still buyers who look at homes for sale in print, instead of online.
STEP 5: SHOWINGS
Buyers want to physically look at houses. Even though they first look at homes online, they narrow down their choices and then look at their choices in person, As someone who is selling their house “For Sale by Owner in Maryland” you need to be accommodating. Obviously, you have no seller representation by a real estate agent, you have chosen to sell your house by yourself. However, be prepared to work with and pay a commission to a real estate buyer’s agent.
The majority of today’s buyers are represented by a buyer’s agent. The buyer’s agent only assists their buyers. When a real estate agent wants to show your property, it is for 2 reasons: the buyers are highly qualified buyers who have been pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan, AND those same buyers are likely serious buyers who want to buy NOW.
How to Accommodate Showings:
- Be available to provide access to your house whenever prospective buyers want to preview your property. Do not hover over the buyers or their agent. Allow them to freely roam. The best advice is to go outside or to a neighbor’s house during the showing.
- Return and phone calls, emails or texts promptly.
- Separate the “lookers” from the qualified buyers.
- Install a lockbox for those times when you can’t personally provide access to buyers.
- Offer a commission to real estate buyer agents. A real estate agent who is representing an interested buyer will prepare an offer on your house as long as you are offering a commission. Not willing to offer a buyer’s agent commission? Then you are missing out on offers. Most buyers have their own personal buyer’s agent for their own legal protection and for expert advice. Why would you want to exclude those real buyers who have already been qualified for a mortgage loan?
STEP 6: NEGOTIATING
Depending on how long it took to receive an offer (or offers) on your house, you need to know the latest data. It could possibly be time to do more research. You need the most up-to-date data.
How to Negotiate Price as a Seller
- Is the offer reasonable?
- Take into consideration the offer price, any seller help requested, the inclusions and exclusions, the types of inspections requested, the closing date, downpayment offered, type of loan, and any other concessions. Will your house meet the criteria for the buyer’s type of loan? Or will you be expected to spend monies you aren’t prepared to spend?
- How will the offer affect your “bottom line”? It’s time to prepare another “net sheet” to see if the offer will work for you financially.
- After your buyer has their home inspection and any other inspections completed, are you prepared for the things they want you to fix? Did the radon results come back higher than the recommended limits? If so, you can expect your buyer will insist you install a radon mitigation system. And if you don’t? You will need to disclose elevated radon levels to future buyers. Did the home inspector uncover an issue when he removed the cover of your electrical panel box? If so, you can expect your buyer will want a licensed electrician to fix the problem. No matter what else was uncovered, you can expect your buyer will insist you have a licensed professional fix the problem. Are you prepared to negotiate these (and other) issues by yourself?
You’ve Negotiated and Agreed to the Offer, Now What?
After you have reached an agreement with your buyer, are you prepared for what’s next? There’s more to do!
- Make sure you have a legal contract, including the local addendums, financing addendum, inspections addendum, lead-paint addendum and other required Maryland documents. Why is this important? You want to make sure your buyer can’t change their mind, “find a loophole in the contract”, and “walk away”
- Additionally, you want to make sure the contract protects you 100%, to reduce your chances of being sued.
- Make sure the buyer provided an earnest money deposit, and ensure it’s been deposited into a non-interest bearing account.
- Make your home available to any inspectors and the appraiser at their convenience.
- Be prepared to deal with the results of all inspections, and subsequent negotiating of repairs.
- If your home doesn’t appraise for the agreed upon price, be prepared to re-negotiate. Just because you thought your house is worth a certain price doesn’t guarantee the appraiser will agree. There are times when an appraiser will assign a lesser value. Are you prepared? Do another net sheet to see how it will affect you and if you can afford to sell for a lower price.
- In Maryland, buyers select the title company, and prefer working with a title company as opposed to an attorney. Attorney’s are capable of handling the sales of FSBO homes. In some states, using an attorney is required. In Maryland, buyers typically want to use a title company. The title company not only prepares all the documentation, but also researches the title to the property. They are the experts in performing this vital element of your home sale. Be prepared to provide the requested documents to your buyer’s selected title company. Documents typically requested include the contract of sale, payoff information, home warranty information, tax record, front foot benefits, public utility info, HOA information (when there is an HOA or condo association) and anything else the title company requests.
STEP 7: SETTLEMENT
Congratulations! You have successfully navigated the many steps to selling your Maryland home by yourself! Selling your own house is not an easy task. As you have discovered, there are many more steps involved than most people realize. There are ups and downs, easy times and difficult times, happy days and frustrating days. However, you are almost there!
- First, unless you have a signed agreement to remain in your house for a certain amount of time, you need to move prior to settlement. Be sure to leave behind all the “inclusions” in your contract, and remove all trash & debris.
- Next, make sure you received the “clear to close” from your buyer’s lender.
- Provide access for your buyer’s final walk-through
- If your buyer isn’t pleased with their final walk-through, be prepared to take the necessary actions to comply with their expectations.
- Attend settlement so you can sign your portion of the documents, provide all keys to your buyer, and provide any documents your buyer’s title company requested.
YOU’RE ONE OF THE FEW LUCKY HOMEOWNERS WHO
SOLD YOUR HOUSE BY YOURSELF!
Bonus “How to FSBO” Tips!
Do These 2 Things EVERY Week
While your house is for sale, there are 2 critical things to do EVERY week, consistently, so you have the best chance of selling your house on your own.
– Advertise Your House Consistently
Your want as many people as possible to know your house is for sale. If buyers don’t know your house is for sale, they won’t make an appointment to look at it. And that means you won’t be able to sell it! So, be sure to advertise as many places as possible, to reach the greatest numbers of buyers.
Some of the best ways to advertise each week are:
- Keep the yard sign out and visible
- Keep flyers distributed in local businesses
- Set up weekly paid ads on Facebook
- Make sure your house can be found, every day, on Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and as many other websites as possible. Most buyers look for houses online, and different buyers look at different websites. Keep in mind, your house will never be found on real estate brokerage websites.
- Post about your house on Instagram, IGTV, and Twitter.
And most importantly, be sure you don’t violate any of the fair housing laws in your advertising! Why? Because fair housing violations can easily result in lawsuits.
– Monitor the Market in Your Area
The real estate market constantly changes, so it’s very important to keep track, every week, of certain key items. Research and ask yourself these questions every week:
- How many new listings are there (your competition)?
- How does the price of your house compare to the others for sale?
- How many houses went under contract?
- Of the houses that went under contract, how did they compare to yours?
- If no houses went under contract, is it because buyers think they are all priced too high?
- Did any houses for sale lower their price? If so, should you consider lowering your price, too?
- Did any houses close? If they did, what did they sell for?
- Have the recent sold prices affected what yours will appraise for?
Real estate changes from day to day, week to week, and month to month. When selling your own house, staying aware of your local market data will give give you best chances of competing with the other homes for sale in your area. You want a buyer to pick your house instead of one of the others for sale.
Top 5 Reasons: Why Some FSBO Sellers Give Up & End Up Listing with a Realtor®
- It takes up too much of their time. Selling a house is extremely time-consuming, and homeowners who give up on selling their own house realize they MUST be available morning, noon, and night, every single day! Most homeowners who try to sell “For Sale By Owner” quickly learn they can not be available all of the time. They have difficulty handling calls and showings due to their own time constraints. They realize real estate professionals take care of it all so they don’t have to.
- They get frustrated by the nosy people who want to look at their house but aren’t interested in buying it. FSBO sellers often have nosy, “lookie loos” who want to see their house. These people often have no intention of buying their house! These sellers quickly become frustrated because the real buyers are not the ones looking at their house. They can also have intentions of causing harm or stealing. A real estate professional does not bring these types of buyers to preview their house. Rather, only serious buyers who have been pre-qualified by a lender will be shown their house. This is a MAJOR reason why many FSBO sellers decide not go it alone.
- They give up after realizing they don’t have the ability to market their home as well and extensively as they thought. Simply placing a sign in the yard isn’t merely enough! Extensive marketing is a MUST to attract every buyer who is looking for a house like theirs. They realize a real estate professional has a BETTER MARKETING PLAN than they will ever have.
- Homeowners who try to sell their house themselves become frustrated when they are lucky enough to receive an offer on their house. These offers are often”lowball” offers, from buyers who might not even qualify to buy the house! They realize having a real estate professional in their corner will get them a BETTER OFFERING PRICE from a buyer. This happens because buyers have a higher perception of THEM as the homeowner when they have professional representation.
- Homeowners quickly realize they do not have the experience, expertise or knowledge to negotiate effectively, and become overwhelmed. Negotiating an offer and subsequent repairs takes skill, lots of skill. They realize a real estate professional will provide BETTER NEGOTIATING than trying to work out all the little details themselves. This is another way to also avoid lowball offers!
SELLING FSBO: THE BOTTOM LINE…
- It makes all the sense in the world to try and sell your largest asset on your own.
- Actually, research has determined that people who try to sell their largest asset on their own do it for one reason – they are trying to save money.
- The same research all shows that 95% of the people who try to represent themselves will try it only for a certain period of time. WHY? Because they realize the process is extremely overwhelming and they need help.
FREE Home Selling Guide!
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