Tips To Stay Organized When Selling Your Home For Sale By Owner


Decided to sell your house for sale by owner (FSBO)? While selling your home on your own can save you a ton of dough in the right circumstances, it also can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Here are some ways to stay organized, relieve stress and come through the process successfully.

Assemble Your Squad

A real estate agent is just one professional who can make the process go more smoothly. So if you decide to forgo their assistance, there are others you can call on. First, you’ll want to connect with an inspector to find out what repairs might make your home more appealing, and more importantly, which ones you need to fix or disclose. “If there are any issues potential buyers need to know about like mold or water and fire damage, they have to be included in the property disclosure form,” says Debra Carpenter with REthority. “Disclosing issues protects you from legal problems if the sale moves forward.”

You can then use the positives an inspector shares to help you during negotiations, notes REALTOR® Benjamin Ross. He says, “Worst case scenario, if you do a home inspection first, you won’t be surprised and end up with a buyer demanding you make major repairs or insisting you drastically lower your asking price.”

In this case, you should work with a reputable title company to have a preliminary title report done, says Ross. “If you have title issues such as liens or encumbrances, you can fix them now. You don’t want to wait until you have a signed contract for these things to jump up and bite you.”

Also make sure to build a relationship with an escrow officer. “When an offer comes, include the use of that specific escrow officer in your counteroffer,” Ross suggests. “A competent escrow officer can make the transaction a lot smoother and happier.” You also may want to call on an attorney to look over the paperwork.

Lauren Carden, a real estate agent in New York, says that another smart investment most people don’t think of is a professional photographer. “Not only will your listing show online in the best light, you will also slow down brokers who might be seeking your business if they see that you know what you’re doing.”

Stay Organized With The Inquiries

It can be challenging to track interest once people start calling. Carden advises trading names and contact information with every caller and also inquiring about a few details up front such as whether they’re preapproved for a mortgage and where they are in their own selling process (if they’re trying to sell their house before buying another).

Becky Beach, a finance blogger who recently sold her own home, suggests using a project management software likeTrello to stay on top of the process. “I organized each home showing along with the prospective home buyer’s contact information and other pertinent details. Then I followed up with each person a week afterward to see if they were still interested in the home.”

You’ll also want to set a schedule of times when you’re willing to show the home to potential buyers, recommendsNick Disney, owner of Sell My San Antonio House. “This will keep you from running back to the house and trying to get it ready every time someone asks to view it.”

Based on your availability, he suggests a schedule like Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. “This will help to keep your showings schedule organized and relieve the stress of trying to keep the house picture-perfect at all times,” he says, adding that most buyers who are seriously interested in the home will make themselves available to view it during your set times.

Get Your House Prepped For Prime Time

While there are always last-minute things you might need to do (e.g., hiding laundry, sweeping crumbs and gathering errant toys), your life will be a lot less hectic if you start by taking care of several key tasks for the long haul.

Declutter, declutter, declutter. Donate what you don’t want and move the rest to a storage area. You can consider it a head start on your packing.

Remember to then remove particularly personal items, including photos. “The buyer should be able to see their own life here,” Carden says.

Ginny Underwood, a professional organizer in Virginia’s Easy Living Solutions in Bluffton, S.C., says that once your listing is live you have to be ready for showings with minimal notice. “Although it’s inconvenient, it’s better to live an organized life for a short period and leave the house clean and tidy each day, ready to show in its best possible light.”

That includes simple tasks such as running the dishwasher at night and emptying it each morning so dirty dishes can be out of sight at all times, keeping counters uncluttered and staying on top of on laundry. It’s also smart to compilea list of what to do before each showing such as opening blinds, turning on lights and making beds.

Get Your Paperwork In Order

Procure all the necessary legal documents, including a current tax bill. Maintenance records are handy too. Carden also suggests having utility bills available so prospects have a clear picture of the cost of ownership.

Next, create a house fact sheet (also known as a “show sheet”) that people can easily access near the entrance as they wander around. “Even though ‘everything is online,’ people don’t always remember what they saw by the time they get home,” says Carden.

Price It Right

If you want the home to sell fast, then pay attention to pricing. “Don’t make the mistake of equating how much you love your home with how much it’s really worth,” says Carpenter. “Research local home sale prices– not just the listing prices– and make sure to factor in upgrades and any issues with the home or property.” A well-priced property should generate interest and hopefully sell itself.

Have you ever sold a FSBO? What were some tips that made the experience more organized and less stressful for you?