The Unique Way We Sell Our Homes

I realized when writing the headline and inserting the “Pending” photo it may seem we have a buyer on our current home. Not true, although I wish it was! Lots of traffic and interest but no buyers yet. We are on showing #6.

Aaron’s House in 2013, which we sold FSBO

We are selling our home “For Sale By Owner” but it’s a much different process than the traditional “For Sale By Owner” that many people think of. Think of our approach as FSBO on speed. Before I begin, I want to make it crystal clear that we love and respect all realtors. We recognize their value and importance. In fact, our approach actually involves a realtor. Keep reading… I’ll get to that.

The traditional For Sale By Owner process is pretty dreary. The biggest barrier working against you if you go this route: you aren’t able to put your home on the MLS. Only people with real estate licenses are able to post on the MLS. Without a doubt, no matter what anyone tells you, putting your home on MLS is going to sell your home infinitely faster than without it. The exposure you receive from your local listing service is hard to match. You want your home to be visible to buyers and buyers are searching on the MLS.

You might wonder: why would people want to ever sell their home by owner? It all comes down to money. Many times, by not having to cover realtors’ commissions, owners are able to price their home more competitively with the comps in the neighborhood. Or in our case, we want as much money as humanly possible to come directly to us. We don’t want to give up any of the equity we’ve worked really hard to increase over the years. In other cases, people cannot afford to pay a realtor commission—they might be at risk of a short sale or some other type of financial hardship. But probably the most popular reason to avoid realtors’ commissions: people need a certain amount of cash from the sale of the first home to cover the down payment on the next home.

A QUICK SHOUT OUT TO CURRENT AND FUTURE BUYERS: Do not believe it when someone tells you, “But using a realtor doesn’t cost you anything!” Yes, it is true, that at closing, you do not owe any cash to your realtor. The seller pays that cost. HOWEVER, the seller raises their listing price to cover all realtor costs, including yours. For example, the home we are about to buy, the seller reduced the listing price by nearly $10K automatically because we came realtor free. For Aaron’s home, we had two prices: One for a buyer with a realtor (3% more) and one for a buyer with no representation (3% less). So yes buyers, you absolutely pay for your realtor via an inflated listing price. 3% of the home’s listing price in fact. And because it’s embedded in your listing price, that means that if you have a home loan, that 3% becomes much, much more as your loan matures. No thanks!

Ok, ok back to my point. Selling your home FSBO on speed. Here’s how we do it. We pay a real estate agent a flat fee of $200. For US folks, you can use the service, MLSmyhome.com, to find your flat-fee real estate agent. If you are in northern Kentucky/Louisville area, you will be referred to the amazing Chuck of Busy Bee Realty.

For the $200 fee, our real estate agent does several things: He puts our home and photos up on the MLS, he posts all necessary documents to the MLS (like agent remarks, seller disclosures, etc.). The agent will also field any offers (in the state of KY and likely your state too, the seller’s agent must be the party that receives the offer, not the actual seller). He will also aid in the negotiations, schedule your appraisals and inspections, coordinate with the title co, etc. So basically, for $200, he provides everything to you that a traditional seller’s agent would minus the marketing of your home and the showing of your home. At closing, this realtor is not owed any percentage of your home’s sale whatsoever.

It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

The responsibilities left to us—the showing and the marketing—those things are a piece of cake. For showings, we clean and we leave the home for about 30 minutes. That’s it. 99% of the time prospective buyers come with their agent, who is normally the one who shows the home. We literally do nothing when it comes to showings (except maybe creepily drive by a bunch of times).

And marketing? Most of us belong to this super powerful marketing engine called… Facebook! Social media plus some flyers out by the sale sign is about all we do.

If all of this still feels overwhelming, many realtors often provide a la carte services too, such as consultations and staging tips, to help you feel a little bit more prepared about going it alone.

And quick tip: If you can, still offer the buyer’s agent a commission of 3% (which around here, is half of the total agent commission). This will generate much better feelings towards your property (meaning agents will be more inclined to show it). Buyers’ agents should not have to work for free!

So yea, that’s how we do it. And it’s worked really well for us. Aaron’s home sold just before the 6-month mark (when Aaron bought it, it had been sitting on the market for 9+ months) and my home has received a ton of traffic. Thank you MLS!

Whew. I think this is the longest post I have ever written. Would love to hear any questions or experience you may have with this approach!

xo,

emily

A quick legal note. In most states and especially in Kentucky, if your home is on the MLS but you are not using a traditional agent, you are no longer legally allowed to say, “My home is For Sale by Owner” because technically, you are using an agent to sell the home. If someone catches you, it’s a $500 fine in our neck of the woods. Our sign in front of the house has the “By Owner” part removed and we’re sure to not mention “By Owner” in any of the marketing materials we put out. Instead they say, “Listed by Busy Bee Realty.”

A Show-Ready Home

When we sold Aaron’s house a year and a half ago, the home was more or less empty. We spent a lot of time getting the home show-ready up front (like updating the bathroom, putting in faux wainscoting), but once it was ready, it stayed ready. There was no one there to mess it up!

We don’t have that luxury in this house. We feel a little like the Bluth’s living in our showhouse… careful not to mess with any of the staging or getting anything dirty. Everything has become 1000% more fragile. All of this is aggravated by a really awesome thing: showings have been coming fast and steady. We live in a constant state of clean, cleaning and prepping to clean. No complaining here… just stating the facts!

20_1832Holman_frontyard1

To help us keep our home show-ready, we threw together a task list. These are the things that must be completed before every showing, if possible. We’re strict about it, but we’re not crazy about it. Here’s the list, which we keep copies of so we can mark out as we go.

Outdoors

  • De-poop the backyard
  • Sweep the backyard patio
  • Clean up any debris/trash in the front yard and street
  • Water the mums

Indoors

  • Empty the kitchen and bathroom trash
  • Make sure closets are clean and organized (we learned the hard way)
  • Make the bed
  • Dust and wipe down all surfaces
  • Light a candle (our favorite for this time of year is Yankee Candle’s Autumn Wreath)
  • Heat foil-wrapped cinnamon in the oven at 250 degrees until oven is preheated, then open the oven door (the smell is amazing!)
  • Remove any clutter from countertops, office desk
  • Set up “info station” with seller disclosure, listing flyer and fact sheet
  • Make sure toilet lid is down
  • Store dog bowls and dog food
  • Vacuum
  • Hide any unfolded laundry :)
  • Remove any bath mats and accent rugs
  • Clean and shine up the floors

Floors are a big deal to us. We want them to SHINE during showings. I think we have baggage as pet owners, where a normal, not-on-the-market day around here means dog hair on the dull floors. Here’s how we approach our floors for showings.

First, we vacuum them. This removes the hair so that we can get to the shine part. We’ve gone through a ton of mops: the Swiffer WetJet, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser mop, the wet tshirt draped over the Swiffer duster mop, etc. The mop we are loving currently is the Libman’s Freedom Spray mop.

Show-Ready Home

We love it for a couple of reasons, First, the Libman’s mop has a refillable chamber you can fill with whatever you want… your solution, their products, whatever. This is where I give the side eye to the WetJet, which makes you use their solution. On the Freedom mop, no batteries are required (it sprays via hand pump) AND there is no need to spend money on expensive mop head refills… side eye to you Magic Eraser Mop with your $11 refill heads! It is so easy to just throw the fabric mop head in the washer.

Show-Ready Home

I thought I would show you our floors pre-scrub with the Libman’s mop and multi-surface cleaning solution.. Not too bad, but a little dull too.

Show-Ready Home

Here’s the after (wet)….

Show-Ready Home

And here they are afterwards totally dry… no streaks, no hair and a lot of shine.

Show-Ready Home

So yea, if you need me these next few weeks, I’ll be here.

Show-Ready Home

 

Keep your fingers crossed for us as we work through these showings. Hopefully one of these appointments will be the ONE!

xo,

emily

 

Libman’s provided free product to me to try. Because I was pleased with the product and its effectiveness, I decided to write this post. I love this mop, no doubt.

The End of the Sofa Saga

Let’s go back to this summer. Back in June I was the winner of the Small division in Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest. My prize was $1000 to Joybird Furniture.

I used my credit to buy this pretty little loveseat, called the Calhoun.

And if you recall from this post, the loveseat I received 6 weeks later was all wrong. It looked a little uhm… different. (I would insert a Renee Zellweger joke here but honestly I just feel terrible about that whole situation.)

Anyways, I tried to return the sofa. Key word is TRIED. Joybird outsources their furniture delivery to local providers, depending on the location (most of them do) and lucky for me, my area furniture delivery company was terrible. I mean the WORST. Never called me, never scheduled a return pick-up. They didn’t listen to me or Joybird. We were 100% virtually ignored. Lots of calls, emails, voicemails and apologies transpired between Joybird and I. Joybird was mortified.

This went on for two months. Keep in mind we live in a very small house, where a misplaced sofa isn’t exactly easy to ignore. The longer it took, the angrier I became. I was mad at Joybird for not stepping in and fixing it. I was mad at the delivery company for being so, so terrible.

So I sold that damn loveseat on Craigslist. For $800. After the sale, I let Joybird know that I needed to cancel my return request. As a peace offering, they threw me a gift card for $500, the difference between the Craigslist sale and the price on the sofa, which I appreciated. Especially considering I had very little actual money of my own in the deal.

Anyways, I talked so much about it here that I wanted to close the loop. With the loveseat sold, we moved our Lubi daybed from the office out into the living room and it’s a good enough solution for now.

The end. Thank you Joybird for being sincere and apologetic with me. I appreciate it. Maybe I will use that gift card one day.

xo,

emily