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Selling a home is complex and time-comsuming. It involves countless details, long hours and exhausting legwork. Still, many home sellers opt to take the "For Sale by Owner" route. To help you determine whether you can successfully sell your home yourself, carefully preview the following steps.

Step One - Thoroughly research information regarding the price and terms of sales in today's real estate market. Investigate recent sale prices of properties similar to your in your immediate area, or consider hiring an appraiser to determine the value of your property. Know lot size and current tax information. You'll also need existing loan information and property disclosure forms, plus regulations regarding disclosure of lead-based paint and radon.

Step Two - Meet with local lenders and determine financing alternatives for prospective buyers.

Step Three - Conduct your own mini walk-through inspection or hire an inspection service. Jot down all items that need repair or improvement. They may include fresh paint, clean windows and window coverings; lawn and yard, plumbing and appliances, sealants, roof and gutters. In short, make sure no repairs are needed.

Step Four - Make all necessary repairs and improvements before you begin to advertise the property.

Step Five - Profile the prospective buyer for your property and establish a marketing budget to enable your message to reach this buyer.

Step Six - Prepare a plan to reach out-of-town buyers, who account for the major portion of today's home purchases.

Step Seven - Determine where and how you will be advertising and promoting the property and which media will best do the job. Call them for rates and deadlines.

Step Eight - Prepare a professional camera-ready, attention-getting advertisement that will attract the right buyers to your property, and schedule your ads. Make sure they run on the correct dates and in the proper location.
Step Nine - Purchase an eye-catching and weatherproof yard sign; put it in front of your property.

Step Ten - Purchase a brochure box or flier box and attach to the sign.

Step Eleven - Prepare a flier with features and information about the property.

Step Twelve - Purchase special "open house" signs and install them in paths leading from main roads or thoroughfares, through the neighborhood, to the property. Put these signs out each time you hold an open house.

Step Thirteen - Prepare a "home book," which outlines specific features of your home and the corresponding benefits to prospective purchasers. Include information about inclusions, exclusions, utilities, schools, parks, shopping, etc.

Step Fourteen - Be available at all times to walk through the property with prospective buyers. Are you sure you want to show your home to any stranger who comes to your door?

Step Fifteen - Learn how to separate the "lookers" from the qualified buyers. Ask for names and phone numbers, and be sure to follow up with telephone calls.
Step Sixteen - Be prepared to negotiate with the buyer(s) as though you are an impartial third party. Remain calm and refrain from any emotional outburst that might spoil the sale.

Step Seventeen - When negotiating, be prepared for the fact that most buyers will want to share in the savings of not having to pay a real estate broker. Or, if the buyers do have a real estate broker, they may expect you to pay the co-op brokerage fee.

Step Eighteen - Obtain all forms necessary for the legal sale of real property such as deposit receipt and offer to purchase, buyer's cost sheet and seller's disclosure form (in our increasingly Jitigious society, it is imperative to disclose all known defects to the buyer(s).

Step Nineteen - While marketing your current property, locate and negotiate to purchase your next home. Attempt to schedule both transactions to close simultaneously so you and the buyer can move at the same time. If you are not using a real estate agent to assist in the purchase of your next home, don't forget the loan application, home inspection, appraisal, final walk-through and any negotiations involved.

Step Twenty - Determine the type(s) of financing you are willing to consider, such as FHA, VA, Seller Carryback, First Loan, Conventional Loan w/Seller Carryback Second Loan or the "Wrap Around" loan.

Step Twenty One - Negotiate with the buyer(s) all final terms of the sale including price, financing, contingencies, inspections, date of possession and other pertinent considerations. Have an attorney review contracts if appropriate.

Step Twenty Two - Qualify the buyer(s) to make sure they can afford to purchase your home.

Step Twenty Three - If the contract is contingent upon the sale of another home, you will probably want the option to continue to market your home and the ability to bump the first offer if you receive another acceptable offer.

Step Twenty Four - Find and interview and negotiate with a title and escrow company to provide title insurance to the buyer and to provide the closing and escrow services.

Step Twenty Five - The buyer(s) will probably schedule a home inspection. Be prepared to negotiate any items that may require repair or replacement. If any thing needs to be fixed, arrange to get it done prior to closing and be prepared to provide receipts.

Step Twenty Six - Be prepared for the appraisal, which will be arranged by the buyer(s)' or the buyer's lender. The appraiser may wish to talk with you and may ask you for the comparables you used to price the property.

Step Twenty Seven - Stay in touch with the buyer's lender regarding the loan approval process. Make sure they are getting all of the information they need, including title work.

Step Twenty Eight - Plan a final walkthrough with the buyer(s) in order to resolve any dispute. Have a witness present.

Step Twenty Nine - If everything is on schedule, attend the closing for sale and the closing for purchase. Don't forget the packing, moving and unpacking. If the buyer(s) need to delay the closing or if your next home is not ready, be prepared to negotiate a change in closing dates and times. This may involve penalties, hotel rooms or other conditions.

Many home sellers initially feel comfortable in the "For Sale By Owner" role. They certainly know more about the property and its features than anyone else. But it is the emotional involvement and all of the details and the negotiating that take the time and energy, and most people may be better suited to partnering with a real estate professional. You should then be assured you are asking a fair price for your property and that you are doing everything possible to attract all potential buyers to the property.

The bottom line is that if you do it yourself and achieve only a savings of 50% of the brokerage fee and you have had to invest all of the time and incur all of the expense for marketing plus other costs. A more efficient use of your time and effort would be to let a professional manage the process and steer it toward a successful conclusion.

Step Thirty - Call the real estate professional, Wayne Newsom.


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