I've Sold 3 Homes Without a Real Estate Agent. Here's What I've Learned

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  • In the past 10 years, I've sold three houses without hiring a professional to help.
  • I learned about the importance of setting the right price.
  • I've also discovered some tricks to help ensure houses sell faster.

If you're thinking of selling a house yourself, here are some things that could help make the process easier.

Over the past decade, I have sold three homes without help from a real estate agent. These included two vacation homes that we purchased to upgrade properties, as well as my dad's home when he decided to move out of it.

During the process, I learned a lot about how to maximize the chances of a successful sale for top dollar. Here are four key lessons I learned by selling the homes myself.

1. Pictures matter a lot

The most important lesson I learned was that most people will not come to see a property unless you have professional quality pictures.

I tried taking photos myself the first time I listed a place and garnered very little interest. I ultimately hired a professional photographer for a few hundred dollars and immediately got tons more showings because the professional pictures made the house look much more enticing.

Since everyone shops online first to find properties nowadays, good pictures can make all the difference in finding the right buyer and getting a good price.

2. Your home needs to be on the MLS

Another major lesson I learned was that I had to get the house put onto the Multiple Listing Service if I wanted to get it in front of the maximum number of people. The MLS is used by real estate agents as well as by most online home search websites as the ultimate database of properties for sale. If you don't have your house listed in the database, many potential buyers will never see it at all.

You need a real estate agent to list your home on the MLS for you, but you can hire a flat-fee agent to do so for a small sum. That was ultimately what I ended up doing, and it was well worth it. The downside was that I also had to offer a commission to the buyer's agent in order to list on the MLS, but since most people are represented by agents and I would probably have had to pay commission anyway, this was a necessary cost to incur.

3. It's crucial to set the right price the first time

I also learned it is really important to price your home fairly the first time it goes onto the market. While you can lower the price later, you won't get the new listing buzz if you do that. And when people see that a house has sat on the market for a while before having the price drop, this can make them either wary about what might be wrong with it or it can convince them the seller is getting desperate and that they can come in with a lowball offer.

4. Always look for contingencies when evaluating offers

Finally, I discovered that it's really important to carefully consider contingencies. When we received multiple offers, one of which had a financing contingency and one of which did not, we ultimately decided to go with the latter offer. That's because the first deal could have fallen through after we took the house off the market if the buyers weren't able to get a mortgage.

Some contingencies, or conditions on the sale, are inevitable, but the fewer pre-conditions listed in your contract, the more likely it is that your home will close.

Ultimately, selling your home yourself can come with a lot of responsibility as well as providing savings on a real estate agent's commission. I learned a lot during the process, and if you decide to sell on your own, you may need to be prepared to make some mistakes that you will learn from as well.

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