Have you ever stopped to think about how much you could save if you do not use a realtor every time you buy or sell a residence?

Assume, for example, that in future years you sell three residences at an average price of $150,000.  If you do not need to pay a commission of 6% on each of the three sales, you will save $27,000.  Of course, the average price of the residences that you sell could be higher, so your potential savings could be even greater.  Furthermore, if you wisely invest the entire amount of the commissions that you do not need to pay, the total amount could grow to a much larger figure.

And, if you are purchasing a residence, you may be able to save by purchasing from a homeowner who is selling their residence without using a realtor.  Homeowners who do not use a realtor to sell their residence may be willing to sell you their residence for less than homeowners who will need to pay a realtor’s commission.

If you do decide not to use a realtor to sell your residence, it would be prudent for you to take the following action as part of your strategy:

If you are selling a residence, there are several things you can do to facilitate its sale.

1. Prepare copies of a sheet of paper that provides relevant information about your residence that you can give to potential buyers.  Include the following:

    • Total square footage of the residence. Be sure to indicate that the figure is   approximate, since an exact figure is difficult to determine.

    • Size of each room. Again, use approximate figures.

    • Average monthly bill for electricity, gas, and/or oil, based on at least 12 months of your most recent statements.

    • Annual property tax, based on the most recent information

    • Dates when you made major replacements such as the roof, the air conditioning system, and/or the heating system

    • School districts for your neighborhood

2.  Obtain copies of standard forms for purchasing or selling a residence:

    • Offer To Purchase And Contract

    • Residential Property Disclosure Statement

3.  Make or purchase several “For Sale By Owner” signs and place them at locations where they will do the most good. For example, place a sign on a heavily traveled street near your neighborhood, another sign on a corner of the street where your residence is located, and a third sign in the front yard of your residence.  Be sure to check with the other homeowners before placing a sign on their lot.

4.  Make sure your ad contains sufficient information if you place an ad in the newspaper, on the Internet, or both, The more information that you provide, the fewer telephone calls you are likely to get from people who are looking for a residence with different features than yours. For instance, if you advertise your residence as a two-story, you are likely to avoid a lot of unnecessary telephone calls from people interested in a ranch-style residence.

5.  Plan to take potential buying on a guided tour of your residence when they come to visit and be sure to emphasize the positive features of the residence, especially the “extras” that may not be obvious. Also, be prepared for them to subsequently go back through the residence by themselves.

If you are seriously interested in purchasing a residence, it would be prudent to have it inspected by a licensed residential inspector hired by you.  The standard terms of an Offer To Purchase And Contract allow a buyer to get such an inspection done before the closing, so matters involving repairs can be resolved on a timely basis.

Regardless of whether you are buying or selling a residence, there are several things you should do.

  • It is generally a good idea to get at least one written appraisal on the residence by an independent appraiser. If you are the buyer and the seller already has a written appraisal, you probably can rely on it if it was done by an independent  If, however, the appraisal was done by an appraiser for a realty company that it involved in selling the residence, you may find it beneficial to rely more on an appraisal done by an independent appraiser.

    Even if you decide to use a realtor to help you sell your residence, you may nevertheless want to get an independent appraisal, rather than rely on an appraisal by the realtor’s appraiser.  Since realtors have an incentive to sell houses quickly, so they can get their commissions faster, their appraisers may tend to appraise residences somewhat lower than independent appraisers do.

  • Make sure the terms of the Offer To Purchase And Contract protect your interests. Therefore, be sure to state on this contract that your final acceptance of the terms of the contract are contingent on the approval by your lawyer, especially if you are the buyer.