The ultimate guide for selling your own home without a Realtor.
Learn how to for sale by owner (FSBO) in Massachusetts.
If you sell or rent your own Massachusetts home (single-family, condo, land, multi-family property) without the assistance of a real estate professional, you’re known in the real estate industry as a For Sale by Owner or FSBO.
So, how do you sell your house without a Realtor, or more simply, how to FSBO?
While there’s a loud and clear voice, namely coming from the National Association of Realtors (an advocacy group for real estate professionals compensated on a commission basis), telling you that you cannot sell your home without a Realtor, listing and selling FSBO is getting more and more popular.
No one knows a home better than its owner, and no one is more vested in the sale of a home than its owner. A homeowner’s primary residence is oftentimes their single largest asset, and on the sale of a $400,000 home, listing and selling without a Realtor can save a homeowner almost $12,000 in real estate agent commissions and fees.
How to Sell For Sale by Owner (FSBO)
Take a disciplined approach to ensure you get top dollar when you sell your own home without a Realtor and close on it in a timely manner. Consider these steps when looking at how to sell FSBO.
Prepare to FSBO
Consider this, it can be difficult for a property owner to look at their home objectively, with the same discerning eye that a buyer looking to pay the lowest possible price for a home is going to have. However, taking an unbiased approach will get a Massachusetts FSBO pointed in the right direction.
Home Inspection Before You Sell – consider obtaining a professional home inspection before you sell. A home inspection during the FSBO prep period exposes potential issues with a home that can be corrected immediately, rather than later on. A buyer is going to do their own home inspection after an offer to purchase has been accepted, so why not uncover and remedy issues now versus giving a buyer negotiating power later on in the transaction, or worse yet, creating a scenario where the buyer walks away from the sale entirely by invoking the inspection contingency that was agreed upon in the offer to purchase.
Determine FSBO home list price – keep in mind that pricing a home is like making a first impression, you only get one chance to make it right. Real estate professionals spend a fair amount of time deriving an optimum list price, for good reason, it can make the difference between sitting on the market and quickly entertaining multiple FSBO offers to purchase.
FSBO Real Estate For Sale Sign – if your homeowner’s association (HOA) allows for the placement of real estate signs when selling or renting, by all means, take advantage of that free advertising. Pay particular attention to regulations for real estate signs – the Massachusetts MLS for instance has a regulation that does not allow for sale signs that carry the words “for sale by owner” – learn more about FSBO real estate yard signs. Order your yard sign early, give yourself ample lead time to have a sign made and shipped to your home so that on the day you list your property for sale in the MLS, you can put the for sale sign in your yard – this subtle timing piece of advice is why this tip is in the “Prepare to FSBO” rather than the “Market & Promote Your FSBO” section!
Massachusetts FSBO Paperwork & Massachusetts Real Estate Forms – get to know the various forms and pieces of paperwork that you will need to use during your FSBO transaction. Know and leverage the same Massachusetts real estate forms that Realtors use!
According to studies, the most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers are:
- Determine the right FSBO asking price
- Understanding and performing real estate paperwork
- Attracting potential buyers
- Preparing/fixing up a home for sale
- Helping buyer obtain financing
- Selling within the planned length of time
- Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale
Market & Promote Your FSBO
A For Sale by Owner seller needs to think about the things that a listing broker would do for them if they were paying a traditional real estate brokerage a full commission to list their home for sale. It’s these tasks that should drive the marketing and promotion of a FSBO listing.
Flat Fee MLS Service – focus on listing your home with a flat fee MLS listing service in Massachusetts. These services need to be backed by a licensed real estate professional, can get a property into the MLS for a one-time flat fee, and give a home the exposure it needs comprehensively online (which is where nearly 100% of buyers start their search today).
Determine the correct Buyer’s Agent commission to offer – one of the most frequently asked questions from FSBOs is how much commission do Buyer’s Agents get paid? Entry Only New England conducted first of its kind research to reveal precisely how much – the full Buyer’s Agent real estate commission report is available for free to clients who list FSBO on the MLS without a Realtor using Entry Only New England’s flat fee MLS realty service.
Staging your FSBO – the aim here is to de-clutter and get the home ready for the public to see.
FSBO Photography – with nearly 100% of buyers starting their home search online, a professional photographer should be considered, or at a minimum, a high quality DSLR camera to capture professional FSBO property photos.
FSBO Open Houses – open houses are one of the fundamental ways that buyers can touch and feel a home in a no pressure environment. Open houses are typically held on Sunday afternoons, and need to be submitted for advertising purposes to your flat fee MLS realty service the week before the open house is to take place.
FSBO Real Estate Flyer Templates – licensed real estate agents and brokers use professionally designed real estate flyers for both private showings and open houses, and you should too! As a FSBO, you need real estate flyer templates that you can edit with either Word or Mac, and they need to look professional – here’s an opportunity for you to very easily look just as good as a full commission Realtor.
FSBO Real Estate Paperwork & Closing Your FSBO
Hire a real estate attorney – oftentimes for a one-time flat fee, a real estate attorney can carry a transaction through to closure on behalf of a FSBO. The other parties in a real estate transaction, including the buyer and the buyer’s lender, will almost certainly be represented by legal counsel in addition to having a licensed real estate professional (i.e. buyer’s agent) on their team, so don’t go it entirely alone. We actually recommend that you engage a real estate attorney before you ever list your property for sale, so they’re with you the whole time and can guide you in a legally sound manner.
Download state-specific real estate forms & contracts – written contracts dictate your entire real estate transaction and lay out all the key events that will transpire over the course of the sale. Study and leverage the same forms that Massachusetts Realtors use throughout a transaction.
Negotiating FSBO Offers to Purchase – only accept offers from pre-approved buyers. When offers are received, you can accept, reject, or make a counteroffer (oftentimes called a “counter”) – learn more about when an Offer to Purchase terminates. In Massachusetts, an Offer to Purchase should be accompanied by a lending pre-approval letter and a $1,000 earnest money deposit check.
Home Inspection and Appraisal – most oftentimes, there will be contingency clauses in an Offer to Purchase and forthcoming Purchase and Sale Agreement that will allow the buyer to conduct (at their own expense) a home inspection. As well, the buyer’s lender will conduct an appraisal of the property. Be prepared for these events to take place and go out of your way to help facilitate them happening smoothly – inspections and appraisals are two areas where real estate deals can easily fall apart.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Inspection and 6D Certificate – a FSBO is responsible for passing a smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspection conducted by the city. A FSBO must bring the pass certificate to the closing table, something that many FSBOs can easily forget! Ensure that you order the inspection far in advance of your closing, and follow the guidelines associated with the inspection in terms of both equipment and payment, as you don’t want to fail the certification test and then have to reschedule. For FSBOs with a HOA, a 6D certificate will need to be obtained prior to closing and brought to the closing table – a 6D certificate is used to confirm all HOA fees and assessments have been paid through the date of closing, thus protecting the buyer.
Tips for Selling Your Home FSBO
Because FSBOs are taking on the work of a typical listing agent / seller’s agent, there are duties that the FSBO must follow through on that they might not otherwise think about. What are some further Massachusetts for sale by owner tips that are critical to the FSBO home selling success?
FSBOs must find a balance between qualifying potential buyers and opening the door to them. Meaning, when selling your own home, your time is valuable, scheduling and coordinating showings takes time, effort, and cost a FSBO money, and that said, a FSBO only wants qualified buyers walking into their home. Striking a happy medium between qualifying buyers (i.e. asking if there is a lending pre-approval letter in place upon scheduling a private showing for example) and driving as much traffic through the property as possible, is challenging yet necessary.
Studying and understanding the Massachusetts real estate forms is important. A FSBO needs to understand the three (3) main points in time that a buyer can get out of an Offer to Purchase with no penalty, and the reasons for it. When a FSBO accepts an Offer, the home is taken off the market, and should a transaction fall through, the FSBO will need to re-enter the market, not from scratch, but it will be a significant set back. A real estate attorney can help with this area, but a FSBO is quarterbacking the deal.
How to Do Massachusetts For Sale by Owner
Selling your home for sale by owner is not for everyone. But if you’re comfortable performing some of the duties that a licensed real estate listing broker would do on your behalf when listing with a traditional real estate brokerage, selling FSBO is absolutely worth considering.