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The Cost of Selling Your Home Yourself

It sounds easy, doesn’t it, selling your house on your own.

How hard can it be, right? Clean up the yard, take a few pictures, list the house on Zillow, then wait for the offers to roll in.

You’ve heard that houses are selling like hotcakes these days. If you sell by owner, you figure you can keep all the proceeds yourself. Money for nothin’…

The only hard part might be the paperwork at the end. But you presume there’s a website that takes care of all that.

It all sounds so easy, right?  Maybe not.

KitchenAs with anything, the devil is in the details. There are costs involved, along with the risk that you might shortchange yourself by not getting top dollar for your home.

Thinking of selling by owner? Here are some realities to be aware of.

Selling a Home by Owner Is Not Free and Easy

Selling a house by owner does not come without its costs. Among the financial costs many sell-by-owners don’t anticipate are the following.

Escrow fees: Escrow fees cover property taxes paid in advance to the lender that are held  in escrow. Escrow fees are usually split between the buyer and seller. They generally equate to 1% to 2% of the final selling price.

Title fees: These include a title search to verify the seller actually owns the property being sold and that there are not any conflicting liens on the property. Title fees can range from $300 to $1,500.

Reconveyance fees: Once your mortgage is paid off, you need to obtain a reconveyance deed to prove it. The cost for this can range from $50 to $65.

Recording fees: After obtaining a reconveyance deed, the transaction is recorded so it becomes a matter of public record. Recording fees are generally charged by the county where the transaction takes place, since the county maintains records of all property purchases and sales.  Recording fee costs differ from county to county. The national average for recording fees is $125, according to the Home Buying Institute.

Transfer taxes: These taxes are imposed by the city, county, or state to transfer title and register change ownership of the property. They are either calculated as a percentage of the sales price or as a flat fee. In Michigan, the transfer tax rate, as written into law, “is levied at the rate of $3.75 for each $500.00 or fraction of $500.00 of the total value of the property being transferred.” On a $250,000 home, the transfer tax is $1,875.

Attorney fees: If you have an attorney represent you at closing, you’ll pay for the attorney fees. They attorney may charge by the hour or they may charge a flat fee for a specific set of document preparation or review services.

Seller concessions: Seller concessions are closing costs the seller agrees to pay. They can make a home more affordable for the buyer, and they can help the seller close the deal. These concessions are negotiated between the two parties. On some loan types, there’s a cap on seller concessions. For example, on FHA loans, seller concessions are limited to six percent of the sale price of the home.

Mortgage pay off: As part of the sale, sellers must pay off the remainder of the loan on their home.

Holding costs: As the seller, you will pay holding costs (also called carrying costs), in between the time you accept an offer and the sale closes. You will continue to pay the monthly mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, association dues and utility bills during that time.

Other Potential Costs

In addition to the costs above, other possible costs involved in selling your home include:

Home appraisal: To determine the right selling price, some sellers hire an appraiser to determine the home’s fair market value. The national average for an appraisal is $355.

Multiple listing service (MLS) listing fee: MLS is the listing service professional realtors use, but anyone can list a home there. MLS will syndicate your listing to the major online listing sites. Fees for listing on MLS range from $50 to $500.

Professional listing photos: You might think you can get professional photos on your cell phone, but let’s be honest, you can’t. If you hire a professional real estate photographer to take photos and videos of your home, expect to pay several hundred dollars.

Advertising. Yard signs and a free listing on Craigslist sound great, but to reach a broad audience you’d need to run ads elsewhere. Expect to pay upwards of $200 for a month or two of ads on social media sites. Add in a few more dollars for posters or brochures.

Pre-listing home inspection. A pre-listing home inspection can give buyers confidence. Expect to pay upwards of $400 for an inspection.

Property survey. Again, to help reassure buyers, some sellers get a property survey. The national average for a survey is $550.

Open house expenses. If you decide to hold open houses to show off your home and generate foot traffic, there are costs related to promoting the open house, providing food and drinks (optional) and possibly staging the open house. There’s also the cost of your time to host the event.

Staging. Sellers in some markets hire professional stagers to make their house look the best it can be. Professionals are pricey, charging several thousand dollars. Even if you stage it yourself, there are costs associated with new furniture and other decorations.

The Biggest Risk: Shortchanging Yourself

The biggest hidden cost of selling by yourself is the risk of not pricing your home correctly or not getting as much as you can, especially in today’s competitive market.

Statistics from the National Association of Realtors indicate that For Sale By Owner homes sell for 11% less than homes sold by agents. Similarly, an analysis by the real estate technology firm HomeLight shows that top real estate agents help sellers get 10% more for their homes than average. 

If you are selling by yourself to save a few percentage points in Realtor fees, but you end up getting ten percent less for the house, where’s the financial wisdom in that?

The Value of a Realtor

We work with Realtors on a daily basis and know the value they provide.

Realtors help ensure sellers get top dollar for their homes. They also make sure the seller’s interests are protected. Realtors know experts in the industry like appraisers, surveyors, title companies, attorneys and more. They also get more foot traffic to the home. People often forget that agents work with other agents in their office who represent buyers and can get dozens if not hundreds of showings to a house in a matter of days.

If you need a Realtor referral, don’t hesitate to reach out. We work with some of the best in West Michigan.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1 and originally appeared on www.mortgageone.com. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1. 

Get Top Dollar When Selling a Home

How to Get Top Dollar When Selling a Home

If you are considering making a move, here are 10 ways to get top dollar when selling a home.

Remove personal photos and items. 

Get Top Dollar When Selling a HomeBuyers need to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and most cannot do that if sellers have personal photos up. Don’t make any buyer ask,“I wonder what kind of people live in this home?”

Americans collect an amazing amount of stuff and prior to listing their home, they should de-clutter.

If home sellers have not used something in over a year it is time to consider selling it on E-bay/craigslist or donating it.

    • Remove almost all books from bookcases and coffee tables.
    • Store all knickknacks.
    • Kitchen counters need to be completely clean and polished.
    • Anything you need on a daily basis should be stored behind a cabinet door.

Sellers will be moving anyway and now is a great time to get a start on the move.

All cabinets & closets need to be reorganized and remove ½ of what is normally inside. 

Buyers will open all the closet and cabinet doors. If the buyer sees a clean organized space then they are more likely to see themselves living there.

    • Organize the pantry.
    • Carefully stack dishes and glasses.
    • Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction paints by color and type.
    • Line up shoes and remove all but two pairs for each family member.
Get the extra stuff off the property.

Homes show better with less furniture, keep the minimum amount needed. Reduce the size of your dining room table by removing extra leaves. Leave just enough furniture in each room to feature the room’s purpose but with plenty of room to move around.

Remove/Replace sentimental items.

If the seller intends to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with them they should, remove them before showing the home. Any heirloom fixtures should be removed and replaced.

Make minor repairs.
    • Replace cracked floors or counter top tiles and any holes in the walls.
    • Fix leaky faucets and doors that don’t close properly.
    • Consider painting your walls neutral colors, there is no greater homeowner repair that increases home values than a neat repainting.
    • Replace burned-out light bulbs and get new linens for the beds.
Make the house look brand new with an extensive cleaning.
    • Wash windows inside and out and power wash all outside services.
    • Re-caulk tubs, showers, and sinks.
    • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
    • Clean out the refrigerator and keep it ½ full and organized.
    • Vacuum daily and wax all floors.
    • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades, light fixtures and light switches.
    • Bleach dingy grout and replace worn rugs.
    • Hang up fresh towels in the bathroom.
    • Air out and sanitize any musty smelling areas.
    • Clean and organized the garage to remove any oil stains.
Look at the Home with new eyes.
    • Go outside and open the front door. Is it inviting? Does the home welcome you?
    • Stand in the doorway of every single room and imagine how the house will look to a potential buyer.
    • Carefully consider how furniture is arranged and move pieces if necessary.
    • Make sure window coverings hang level.
    • Tune in to the room’s statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?
    • Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You’re almost finished.
Check curb appeal.

If a buyer won’t get out of her agent’s car because she doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get her inside.

    • Keep the sidewalks cleared.
    • Mow the lawn and keep it weed free.
    • Paint faded window trim.
    • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
    • Trim your bushes.
    • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
Clean out your garage and get your cars parked inside.
    • Remove 90 percent of what is currently inside.
    • Add a fresh paint
    • Remove any oil stains.

We wish you lots of luck! And we hope this list helps you get top dollar when selling a home.

Image showing a home checklist.

Home Maintenance Checklist: Leave Buyers with a Great Impression

First impressions matter!

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average home buyer will look at 10 homes before making an offer. When a potential homebuyer walks in to your home, how will your home make a positive and lasting impression?

Most buyers are looking for a move-in ready home that appears to be well maintained, with ample storage, and it’s the little things they notice when assessing the over-all condition.

Make sure you inspect your home through the eyes of these potential buyers, then fix the most obvious items. Take inventory of all repairs and get to work.

  • Make sure all door hardware is in working order and replace if necessary.
  • Do all windows open easily and have a secure window lock?
  • Reglaze bathtubs if needed. This is a very easy, inexpensive but important fix.
  • Make sure caulking is clean and applied well in bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Repair any cracks in ceilings and walls.
  • Fill in any holes left by picture hangers and wall art.
  • Touch up painting in all rooms.
  • Replace shower head with a new, clean one.
  • Repair any leaking faucets or supply valves.
  • Make sure all outlets and light switches are working.
  • Replace old, dirty and paint covered electrical covers with new ones.
  • Put the correct bulbs in light fixtures and make sure there are no bulbs burned out.
  • Buyers are looking for neutral colors, so if there are boldly colored rooms, repainting in neutral tones will be helpful.

Cleaning and Decluttering

  • Remove clutter. Picture frames, accessories, files, books, small appliances should be removed from counters.
  • Scrub all surfaces.
  • Make sure your home is free of all smells including animals, food, cigarette smoke, etc.
  • Clean all baseboards.
  • Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
  • Clean windows and sills inside and out.
  • Clean all closets and keep them tidy and clean.
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned and/or replaced if necessary.
  • Hardwood floors should be mopped and oiled.
  • Dust blinds.
  • Replace old, moldy shower curtains.
  • Remove grease and grime from kitchen cabinets and appliances.
  • Make sure cupboards and drawers are wiped out and clutter free.
  • Make sure garage can house cars not boxes and junk.

Enlisting a reputable Realtor will insure that your home is in tip top shape to sell. Your local Realtor knows what homebuyers in your area are looking for!

Realtors Who Care logo

#MMGivesBack: Realtors Who Care

Realtors Who Care is the charitable arm of the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors. Their goal is to make our local community a better place to work and live.

Mission Statement: Realtors Who Care shall strive to support Realtors first, people focused local charities, individuals in need and the National Association of Realtors recommended disaster relief.

They often give $300 to support individuals and charities in need and $600 to Realtors in need and disaster relief efforts designated by the National Association of Realtors.

Loan Officer Hayley Woodworth is Co-Chair of the Realtors Who Care Committee and selected the non-profit organization as this month’s #MMGivesBack charity.

Why?

“Realtors give back so much to their clients and communities,” she said. “I think it is important that we support them when they are in need. We meet so many people through this industry, and when you meet someone going through a hardship, it’s such a great feeling to be able to help them.”

The group experienced a very successful 2018 full of giving but has even bigger dreams for the year ahead.

“The goal for 2019 is to raise as much money as possible so we can give more than we ever have back to the local community,” Woodworth said. “We are also striving to gain as much exposure as possible so Realtors, affiliates and the community become aware of our organization.”

“We want to get more people involved and encourage more requests and submissions for donations for people and places in need,” she said.

How can you get involved?

“In May, Realtors Who Care collects toiletries and personal items for local shelters and food baskets,” Woodworth said. The group takes the donated items and assembles baskets for those in need.

Items include: shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, paper towel, feminine products, deodorant, tissues, and other household items used on a daily basis.

More information about Realtors Who Care, their mission and the May Basket charity initiative is available on their Facebook page.

Image of a family and their Realtor during an open house.

Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent to Sell My Home?

There’s a reason nearly 90 percent of sellers use a listing agent: selling a home takes time, knowledge of neighborhood trends, and negotiating skills. So, while eliminating the agent’s commission – 6 percent of the sale price, on average – sounds tempting, try to resist.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts from previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.

The Realtors priority is to help set the right price and then get buyers in the door. Agents have access to the most up-to-date information regarding recent sales of comparable homes and competing homes in your neighborhood. You may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know if that home had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after it fell out of escrow three times.

With a market that can shift weekly, if not daily, it is critical to keep abreast of those changes as they impact your home’s marketability and sale price. Realtors know the market conditions data, such as the average square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on the market, and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a bearing on your home.

Contrary to popular belief, Realtors do much more than put an attractive “For Sale” sign in your front yard. Perhaps the most important exposure is through the MLS because it fans out to so many other sites and reaches most people directly and indirectly through its data feed.
Additionally, the agent will help stage and prepare your home for sale, providing professional quality photos and often videos of your home. Great Realtors promote your property through multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. They will promote open houses, have Realtor walk throughs, and most importantly, vet potential buyers so you only deal with serious prospects.

Once you have found a buyer, the agent will make sure buyers are preapproved and negotiate on your behalf. Your agent will help you evaluate very buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. The initial purchase agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspectors, title, financing – a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent will help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through to closing.

Before skipping a full service Realtor, think hard about the time and effort you want to spend, particularly if the process drags on. The average home takes about 4 months to sell (six in the slowest cities), according to NAR. If costs are a concern, have a frank conversation with your Realtor about what they expect to be paid.

Considering the relatively small cost of hiring a Realtor and the large potential risk of not haring one, it’s smart to find a professional to sell your home.