Although we strongly advise prospective home sellers to work with an experienced listing agent (especially if you have little to no real estate knowledge), it is possible to sell your home on your own. When homeowners choose to list their homes themselves, they’re referred to as ‘For Sale By Owner’ properties, or FSBOs for short. Because FSBOs are not listed through a professional real estate service, homeowners may need to employ different strategies for marketing the property. In this post, we’ll review some of those strategies.
1.) Create a website for your listing.
With the Internet becoming a household staple and mobile access to the web more widespread than ever, it’s not surprising that 90 percent of home buyers searched online at some point during their home buying process. According to a joint study from the National Association of Realtors and Google, real estate related searches through the popular search engine grew 253% from 2008 to 2012. Just imagine how far it has grown since then!
Start by reserving a domain using your listing’s street address. If you’re somewhat computer savvy, you can probably set this up yourself through a popular site such as GoDaddy.com; however, if you’re not confident in taking on this task, you can hire someone to do it for you. The domain name prices usually range from $12-$15 annually. Once you have your domain name, you’ll need to create a simple website and find a way to host the site on the Internet. Many websites offer a one-stop-shop where you can do all three in one place. GoDaddy is a great example, as they offer domain registration, hosting and simple websites.
Remember to add your contact information or a contact form on your website!
2.) Create a video tour and post it online.
Use a handheld video camera or your smartphone to create a good-quality video tour of your home. Make sure the lighting is good (open blinds/shades, turn on all interior lights) and make sure you do it during the daytime. Also, don’t forget to show the outside including both the back and front yards. If you plan to do a little narrating and talk about your home’s features, make sure the sound is clear. If you want to have a little fun with editing, you can create a title card at the beginning of the video in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and do some simple transitions. Just don’t go overboard – remember, people want to see your home, not your filmmaking skills. Remember to put the home’s address and your contact information somewhere in the video.
Once your video is complete, post it to YouTube or Vimeo and use the link to share on social media. Use the embed code to add it to your website.
3.) Add it to Craigslist.
Craigslist is free to use and free to list, so why not create an ad for your FSBO using one of the most popular online classifieds in the country?
4.) Share on social media.
Once you have your FSBO online (website, Craigslist, YouTube, etc.) start sharing links to it on your personal social media accounts. Your friends and family may not be in the market for a new home, but they may know someone who knows someone who is!
Here’s a sub-tip: When sharing links to your FSBO listings on Facebook, set the post privacy to “public.” That way, if someone you know wants to share your post, other people who aren’t on your friends list will still see it. Likewise, if one of your friends tags one of their friends in the comments, they’ll be able to see the post. If your post is set to “friends only,” then only those people who are on your friends list can see the post.
5.) Hold an invite-only open house.
Some real estate agents say open houses aren’t really necessary in today’s market, thanks to social media and the Internet in general. After all, if you want to get an idea of what a house looks like, you’ll likely find plenty of photos and even videos online. And if a buyer is serious about a home, they’ll probably work with an agent to set up a private showing. Plus, any experienced agent will tell you, open houses tend to attract a lot of “looky-loos” – those people who aren’t really serious about buying and just show up to be nosy. However, we would argue that an invite-only open house might be a great option for FSBO sellers.
If you’ve gotten some hits on your social media/website/YouTube pages, consider reaching out to those people who showed interest in your listing and invite them to your open house. You can create an event for it in Facebook, or simply contact people directly and say something like, “Hi Mary, thanks for your interest in my home for sale! If you would like to see the home in person, I will be having an invite-only open house next Saturday and I would love for you to come! Let me know if you’re interested and I will add you to the guest list.”
This method adds more of a personal touch and specifically targets those people who have already expressed an interest in your property. By contrast, when you place an ad online or in a newspaper, you’re casting a wide net and opening your home up to the masses. This can overwhelm a FSBO seller and make it more difficult to really focus on the people who are truly interested versus the “look-loos.”
The day of the open house, make sure you have some printed material with info about your home, be willing to answer any questions they may have, and be sure to thank everyone for coming. Try not to hover over your guests and follow them from room to room. Point out your home’s best features, but give them space and freedom to look around. Also, make sure you do some cleaning and prep work ahead of time. Remember, you want to present your home as best you can.
For safety, be sure to have a friend or relative with you during the open house and put away your valuables, just in case. You may also want to make a register of your guests before the event. When adding people to the guest list, get their full names, phone numbers, etc.