Real estate agents really understand how to sell real estate. If you want to do the work of one yourself, understand that you will be doing a lot more work than only posting an ad (that’s the easy part). Be sure you have the time to invest in the process, so you can get top dollar for your home.
Step 1: Getting The Property Ready
Before you sell, you should get your property appraised, as well as get a home inspection to flag all potential issues that might arise later. Knowing what a similar home in your neighbourhood sold for 1 year ago is no substitute for an appraisal, as there could be many other factors at work that you are unaware of (maintenance of the home, renovations) as well as changes in the market condition. An appraisal is a great thing to share with serious buyers, as well as a great way to have confidence in the price that you set.
If there are some projects that could seriously distract potential buyers, you should deal with them before you start the selling process. If your deck is rotting and falling apart, get rid of it. If your backyard or shed is full of junk, do a major purge. Anything that has a high chance of scaring away buyers should be dealt with early on if it is possible. If you don’t have time to get rid of things, rent a storage unit and deal with it later.
Step 2: Staging and Photography
Selling a house for a few hundred thousand dollars (or more, in many markets) is going to require a much more sophisticated ad than selling your winter coat. The first step is going to be getting some amazing pictures to showcase your house. If you are not skilled with a camera, this may be a step that is worth the investment to bring in a professional photographer. You want to ensure that your pictures showcase a house that has been staged for a photoshoot, and that your photos showcase the best parts of the house. Checklist:
- No personal clutter or effects are visible (you may want to rent a storage unit if you don’t want to purge the items completely).
- Home appears clean and well maintained (a fresh coat of paint and/or a professional cleaning service may be necessary).
- The home, not the decorations, are showcased (you may have to remove any eye-catching décor items).
Step 3: Writing the Best Kijiji Ad Ever
This ad is your sales pitch, and your chance to really set your house apart from the rest. Write down a list of everything that might be a selling point, and try to incorporate as much of it as possible in your ad copy. Make your ad the best you can, because after step 3 is in progress, you should not repost or delete your ad, as links will not carry over to the new URL.
- Remember to use realtor style vocabulary, minimizing potentially bad qualities by creating a positive story or association (your house isn’t “small”, it’s “cozy”).
- Write several drafts of your ad, and ask a friend or family member for constructive feedback or editing help.
- This is a sales pitch, do everything that you can to stand out (in a good way). What will get the attention of the reader? What is amazing about your house? Now is your chance to tell everyone.
Step 4: PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!
Now that you have great photos and a great ad, get them in front of as many people as possible. The more people who see them, the more likely you are to find a serious buyer. Some things you might want to try:
- Promote your ad on social media. Share it on Twitter and Instagram with relevant hashtags (at the very least, you should have a location-based hashtag like your city or neighbourhood), on your Facebook feed, Pinterest page, the subreddit for your city or community. You might even want to email your contacts (don’t do this more than once).
- Promote your house in your neighbourhood. This could involve making up flyers, open house signs, a sign in front of your house with a shortened link or QR code leading to your Kijiji ad, seeing if some local blogs will share your listing (if your ad is interesting or entertaining, you have a much better shot at their being interested).
- Buy some upgrades for your Kijiji ad. These will help get more eyeballs on your ads in your local area, and among people already wanting to find a house for sale by owner on Kijiji.
- Prepare a printout or pamphlet to distribute to those who come to view your home with all the key points and important information.
- Speak to your neighbours and people in your neighbourhood. They may know people looking to move into the area.
- Consider offering a finder’s fee to anyone who brings you a lead that results in a sale. When trying to motivate neighbours to share, or getting your ad to go viral, money talks.
Step 5: Be Flexible and Ready for Anything
A frequent issue with for sale by owner properties is that they are less flexible for viewing than those with a realtor at their disposal. If you have a day job, it could be hard to schedule showings. If you have a trusted friend or family member with a more flexible schedule, you might consider enlisting their help to schedule daytime showings. As an owner trying to sell your own home, you have a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with those serious enough to have hired a realtor, as real estate agents are unlikely to bring their clients to a for sale by owner home (unless the client specifically asks to see one in particular). You can’t afford to not follow up on potential leads
As an owner trying to sell your own home, you have a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with those serious enough to have hired a realtor, as real estate agents are unlikely to bring their clients to a for sale by owner home (unless the client specifically asks to see one in particular). You can’t afford to not follow up on potential leads quickly or to make it hard for people to see your home in person. Make up for the decreased exposure from realtor clients by being ready to hustle at a moment’s notice. At this stage, remember:
- Keep your house clean at all times. Having a messy kitchen is a bad reason to miss out on a viewing (and having a mess during a viewing just makes it seem like you don’t care to maintain or take pride in your home). Consider keeping small valuables, cash, and prescription medication locked away or hidden so you don’t have to scramble to put those away every time.
- Have a plan for last-minute child care or pet sitting. As cute as your kids and your dog are, it is not professional to have them around for showings (and they are wildcards that could cause some issues and distract you at an important time).
- Speak to a real estate lawyer about the process before you are responding to offers. Get your ducks in a row as early as possible to prevent delays later.