Monday, March 12, 2018



         In my last blog we finished covering real estate forms, and now you are ready to receive that first offer. Assuming that you were the one to provide the forms necessary to sell your house, allow the buyer to fill in the details about the offer such as price and terms throughout the contract. You might offer some guidance, but never tell the buyer up front that you will not accept his price or terms without trying to negotiate the deal. You know that you will probably have to negotiate that deal if your going to succeed in the Ultimate DIY Challenge- Selling Your Own Home. If you still need forms, go to USLegal forms at the following link: Make sure to have copier available to make copies for the buyer. Once you have that first offer from the buyer, you will need to have several blank copies of the Addendum Form handy in order to counter that offer. Remember that every part of negotiating with the buyer has to be in writing. This is where the art of negotiations begin.

          There will be more to the negotiations then just price, there may be a need to place conditions on the sale based on whether a buyer needs to sell another home, time frames for inspections, and even a higher earnest money deposit based on some of these new conditions. One addendum form can be used to identify any number of changes, but as each new addendum is added, it should only identify the specific change sought after and not repeat items that are already agreed upon. The addendum form is the form used for all counteroffers, and other issues. How to do this will become obvious as we get into actual negotiations and how to present them in writing.

         Since the buyer has the advantage of knowing your selling price and assumes that it is your highest price, you can be confident that the buyer will come in at a lower price.This does not mean you should be asking for more than the market value to cover a possible lower offer. If you do this, you probably won't get that initial offer, however, if you did that appraisal to determine fair market value you will be able to show the buyer this information before the buyer writes that first offer. Whatever you do, don't play the halve offer game in negotiating your best deal. Let me show you how you the seller will give up the most in that game. Let's create an imaginary deal so you can see how you would lose. Assume you are asking $300,000 and you receive an offer of $280,000, that's a huge difference of $20,000.You counter at halfway at $290,000, you both give up $10,000. They counter back at $285,000, now you are giving up $15,000 and they are giving up $5,000. I think you see where this goes, only the seller will lose when you  play the meet in the middle game. I have never played this game nor should you. Consider coming down a little such as $1,000 and force the buyer to come back up to reason. There were a couple of times, as a sellers agent, when receiving a low-ball offer that was unreasonable, that I actually had the sellers counter at a higher than asking price, just letting the buyers know that we could go up and we were serious about our price. In one case the buyers bolted, the other we actually got more than the asking price. You don't have to negotiate or accept a bad offer, you can just decline it and walk away from the deal. Don't let your emotions take over the transaction, instead use your ability to stay calm and use business logic in negotiating your best offer. Always try to make it a win-win for both parties.

          Sometimes you will need to negotiate other terms and conditions that will make the deal happen.  Often the buyer will need to sell and close before they can buy your home, this is known as a contingency. If a buyer has to sell their home then you need to negotiate a "72-hour kick-out clause" in the contract stating that you the seller has the right to continue to show your home and entertain additional offers even though the buyer has a legally binding contract of sale. This important clause allows the seller to give the buyer notice that their is a second acceptable or better offer on the table and that they have 72 hours to prove that they can close the deal on the agreed closing date.  This will put the original buyer in an awkward position of having to find a way to come up with the funds necessary to close. Often times this means the buyer will need to seek financing rather than sell his home.  Most buyers don't want two mortgages and the sellers now have a new contingency in that  the financial institution might not commit until the end of the deal. There will always be a clause in the contract that allows a buyer to get the earnest money back if they can't get financing. Keep in mind that this is a business transaction and your goal is to sell to a qualified buyer. Thus, sellers should include, at the very least, the following language in the 72-hour kick-out clause: "The parties agree that sellers' property shall remain on the market during the above contingency period. If the purchaser does not remove the above contingency and provide evidence satisfactory to seller in their discretion of ability to perform under the terms herein within  72 (or any specific number of hours) hours after receipt of written notice that seller  has accepted a secondary contract, purchaser's earnest money shall be promptly returned in full."  I am not an attorney and the language I am suggesting is for reference only, seek help in this area from an attorney or find the language as written in your local real estate contracts. You might even be ale to find proper language on the Internet. Any time you accept any buyer that places any form of contingency in the sales contract, please place this kick-out clause in that contract, this is just a good business practice. The clause is a win-win for both parties. 

          Now let's put a twist in how you determine if you have a solid deal or not. This is known as the Domino Effect of transactions and should be a consideration in how you approach accepting an offer. Start with your transaction in that you accept a contingency from the buyer that they need to sell their home first to buy yours, they accept an offer on their house with the same contingency from their buyer that they need to sell their home first to buy your buyer's home so they can buy your home, and so the list goes on. Assume the last buyer in line cannot buy because they could not sell their home, here starts the Domino Effect and ultimately you will be the last man in that domino line to lose your buyer for that same reason. There is no real way to guarantee that everyone in the domino line will comply, but you can certainly be hesitant about how many buyers and sellers are involved. Simply put, limit the number of transactions that need to happen before accepting the offer. You can ask your buyer if they would accept a similar contingency on their home, if they would then I would be cautious in accepting their offer, this small element weakens the whole deal and would probably be a waste of your time and effort. Try negotiating with them in asking if they would consider approaching back-up financing in case the contingency failed, which would put you in a better position in  accepting the contingency of your buyer needing to sell first. Limit the number of transactions to you and your buyer as the only two in the Domino Effect. If your buyer has a buyer for his home and cannot complete the sale in time to buy yours according to the agreed contract date, suggest to your buyer that they might approach their lender for a Bridge-Gap Loan using the sale of their home as collateral for the temporary loan to purchase your home in a timely manner. Often the proceeds from their sale will be collateral enough for a lender to commit to the loan. Of course this is only a temporary loan for your buyer as he will need to commit to the permanent loan in the near future. This works very well if the buyers home is selling for more than the purchase of your home. In a future blog I will discuss how each type of loan affects you the seller and how you will need to comply with lender requirements when you agree to the type of loan in the contract of sale. 

          We are currently in a Sellers Market, which means that the seller should be in the drivers seat when negotiating the sale. As part of teaching you the important parts of negotiating you should consider the market you are in and maybe play a little hardball in how you approach your negotiations. First of all when you receive an offer and you feel it is a low ball offer, then make a conscious decision to not counter-offer. When you counteroffer you are in binding legal negotiations and you must deal with the other party. Try to keep them in the game by asking them to submit a new offer. If they are honestly interested and you haven't turned them off,  they will submit a new offer. This is a gutsy move, but has proven to be effective. By asking this way you have told the buyer that his offer is not acceptable and you will only entertain better offers. You are now not legally bound to negotiate. As I have stated before, when you get a low ball offer, you might want to counter with your asking price or above, this sends a message that you know what your property is worth and you intend to get the money you deserve. Another negotiating skill is to have you shorten the counteroffer reply time. Often there is a stated time of 3-4 days to reply to counteroffers, shorten that to 1-2 days to get the other party to commit. You could offer to pay some of the closing costs but explain that you will need to raise the asking price to do so, this is a another way to finalize the deal. Remember that you are trying to keep your equity. Basically negotiating is the art of getting what you want without giving away the farm. You want to sell but you don't have to give away your equity in the process. You just did all the work to get a buyer to offer, now close the deal and get into escrow.

In review, learn the basics of negotiating your best deal;

First: Listen to what the buyer and offer are attempting to convey. Make sure to address all the elements that you will be dealing with,  price, contingencies,  time frames, inspections, closing date, possession, etc.

Second: Decide how you are going to approach a counter offer if any, make sure to include all the elements above.

Third: Come up with a plan to have alternative approaches to the offer, such as shortening response times, offering to pay closing costs by raising the price, etc.

Fourth: Make sure that everything in the contract becomes a win-win for both parties. You absolutely want a happy buyer because a happy buyer will make you a happy seller. 

Fifth: You are in a stronger position if you keep your true feelings in check, you do not want to give the other party the advantage of working on your emotions as a way of maneuvering you into an awkward position of decision.

Sixth: Never go down in price as fast as the buyer is going up, let them move closer to your goal, not the other way around.

Seventh: Always put everything in writing and make sure that you fully understand the offer before writing a counteroffer. 

        You are now ready to negotiate your best deal. If you are worried about this part, you might feel more comfortable with having an attorney help, or hire a real estate agent to fulfill the contractual portion. These types of agents are Transaction Agents and offer their services for a flat fee. You can go to any real estate firm and ask if their office provides an agent for that service, not all do.

         If you have any questions about what we just covered, please email me at or ask in the comment section below. I am always here to help for free, just ask!

The FSBOAnswerman



Sunday, March 4, 2018



This info graphic was posted on Pinterest by a Texas real estate agent. I believe that it was created by a company that works for real estate agents who are members of their group and agents can purchase or use these info graphics for their own benefit. This particular ad is the very reason I am writing this blog - For sale By Owner the Ultimate DIY Project. There are multiple misstatements made in the ad about what a Realtor© does for his client including a claim that a Realtor© can net you more money.

First, let's revisit who negotiates with who. As a FSBO seller you will definitely negotiate with the buyer directly and maybe even his agent if you chose that route. There will never be an occasion when you will enter into negotiations with a bank, the loan is the sole responsibility of the buyer. If you could negotiate with the inspection company then you could be accused of the new popular and now familiar term called collusion combined with setting yourself up with a lawsuit, especially if you were able to convince an inspector to hide a major defect from his report. Appraisers are hired randomly by banks and never negotiate their fee or their results. They are as isolated and independent from buyers and sellers as you can get. As I have stated in my previous blog, you don't negotiate with Title Companies, the buyers chose them, both parties hire them to determine and insure clear title to the property, that's as simple as it gets. If for some reason you can't give clear title to a buyer, then you would be negotiating with the buyer for a resolution to the problem, not the Title Company.

How do buyers look for a house- the statement of 88% Online is fairly accurate and the reason I encourage FSBO sellers to have as much a presence Online as possible including a property website that advertises their property features. When you combine the other statement of 21% look for houses in newspapers, the total for the two is 109% and does not include any mention of signs or word of mouth. Only in providing effort can you give more than 100%, not in actual statistics proving this ad claim. The next fact states that real estate agents have a Internet strategy which will produce a buyer, but the fact stated that only 43% actually buy from the Online presence is not a justifiable reason to use their strategy. 9% buy from yard signs is probably right, yard signs do work well when they convey the right information, not by advertising the agent over the value and amenities of a house. 

Now for my favorite misstatement of all- Using an agent can net you 13% more. Allow me to repeat my previous blog statement- properties sell for market value and no real estate agent has a magic wand that could change that number. As expected, there is a disclaimer under that fact which states that FSBO sellers are usually in a market that is lower than those represented by a real estate agent, therefore this is the reason for the difference in selling price, and not because you hired an agent. There is every reason to believe that all sellers can sell as a FSBO in any market range. Believe it or not people are selling this way every day. Now if you want to trust the info graphic above, then hire a real estate agent, but if you believe in yourself and want to accept the Ultimate DIY Challenge then I'm here to help.

As promised in my last blog post, we will continue with forms and how to fill them out. If you still need forms, please visit USLegal Forms.  They provide forms needed by sellers to legally complete the sale. Here is a link to their website: In my last post we stopped at Title Companies and the role they play. There will be a section in the contract that will spell out whether a buyer wishes to have a property inspection and within what time limits (usually 10 days) the buyer will perform that function. A buyer can delay that time frame by stating in that section of the contract that it might be contingent upon receipt of an accepted contract of the buyers property. There will also be a place on the form to write in a time limit for placing written notice of disapproved items from the home inspection and a time limit for correcting these items. Every state will be different, however, you can  always get clarification of these time limits from an escrow officer or attorney.

A Lead Paint Disclosure statement will definitely be in every purchase contract. This is a federal disclosure requirement and is defined as "Target Housing". Homes built before 1978 are in that target housing law. There could be other required disclosures, such as Radon, Mold, Flood, etc.  Subdivision Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R's) are usually given to the buyer by the title company but should be discussed prior to signing a purchase agreement and should include any subdivision homeowner association articles and bylaws.  There may be a section outlining who will pay for what, often this is mandated by state real estate law. There may any number of state required sections that will usually be self explanatory in their purpose. Often there will be multiple paragraphs describing the meaning of terminology used in the document.

If there is an agent involved with the buyer, then he must provide an agency agreement showing that he represents the buyer. Now we are coming close to the end of form filling, stating the actual closing date and when possession will take place. Since every contract has a time is of the essence clause, it becomes important to comply with all time frames and time limits in order to preserve the contract from ending for just cause.

We are finally at the most important part of any contract, the actual signing of the agreement. When signing it is important to use legal names and not nicknames, all parties must sign, always date and put in the time of the signing. It may also be necessary for all parties to initial each page so as to confirm that each page was read by all parties to the contract. 

Most states now require a lengthy Seller's Property Disclosure Statement, disclosing everything the sellers know about the property and its condition. This is a very important form and should be carefully filled out to the best of the sellers ability and knowledge. I will caution you as a FSBO seller or any seller that this form has been the reason for the majority of lawsuits in real estate.
It is imperative to be honest in disclosing and if you have absolutely no knowledge of an item then and only then state that in the form. These undisclosed items have a way of showing up after the sale is complete, do not rely on an inspector to find everything that is wrong, assume he missed it and Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!!

You can use an Addendum form to change anything in the contract by being specific as to what is being changed to what is now agreed upon. You can create as many addendum as necessary, number them in sequence, such as 1,2,3- and make sure it is timely signed by all parties otherwise it is not an effective change in the contract. It can be used to make time frame changes, inspection agreements, repair agreements, moving of the closing date, and even the price if necessary. Never trust anything to memory but put everything in writing to clarify and legalize the agreement by addendum.

If you have specific questions please email me at or ask me in the comment section below. As always my answers are free. Let's talk. My next post will be directed at "How to Negotiate Your Best Deal". it will include tips and tricks I have used in the past, some of which might surprise you!

the fsboanswerman

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Everyone seems to think that filling out the contract forms and subsequent forms can only be done by a real estate agent or broker. A recent conversation I had with a Realtor© friend provided me with more insight as to why I am writing this blog. I have a lot of respect for Realtors© that go the extra mile for their clients, but most don't  and are in it for only the money. Allow me to spend some time on what we talked about, I think you will find it enlightening.   

The conversation started with filling out forms and quickly escalated into multiple subjects. First the forms, he indicated that a FSBO seller was setting themselves up for a lawsuit by using improper forms not approved by their state association of Realtors©. I indicated to him that his forms were developed by the state association to primarily protect the realtor from any illegal action and that the seller benefited from the same protection. A set of contract forms that covers the legal selling of a home had to cover the states legal transfer of the property and did not have to contain all the clauses protecting the real estate agents interest in the sale. He did finally agree that they had a number of clauses in the state approved contract that went beyond the legal needs, but still insisted that no other forms could be used. UsLegal forms provide its users with the proper forms needed by sellers to legally complete the sale. Here is a link to their website:

He then switched the conversation to stating a fact that the National Association Of Realtors© (NAR), recently reported that as compared to selling with an agent FSBO sellers on the average sell for $41,000 less and take 19 more days to sell their property. I was prepared for that statement, my research was already done long before he made that statement. Taking 19 more days to sell is not a big deal for anyone. I assume it takes a little longer because a FSBO seller does not have placement on the exclusive MLS site. However there are plenty of internet sites that provide similar services and that the MLS is not the only internet presence out there. As far as the statement about the $41K difference, there is always a disclosure on that statement that reads similar to: " FSBO sellers generally sell at a price point lower then that of Realtors©".  They want you to read that statement as meaning that Realtors© will sell your house for $41K more than as a FSBO. The real meaning of that statement is that FSBO sellers have homes that are in a lower market value than the ones listed by real estate agents. Real estate agents cannot get $41K more by simply listing the property with them.- market value is market value and they have no magic wand to change that fact. Since the MLS does not list for sale by owner properties without being represented by a broker, there is no creditable data that can be gathered to justify the claim that by listing with real estate agents will net you more money in your pocket or sell any faster. When establishing a market value all real estate agents gather that information from the MLS and generally not from any other source. They refer to this as a CMA - Comparable Market Analysis and never includes For Sale By Owner properties.

From here we started talking about how, he, as a real estate agent justified his commission. He stated that he was educated in real estate law, had a marketing plan to get the home sold, be present to show the home, and handle the escrow and title companies on behalf of the seller.  If questions about real estate law is a concern, then I suggested that a real estate law attorney would be best qualified to answer any legal questions that arise. A real estate agent cannot give legal advice under any circumstance, especially without permission of the designated broker in charge. Next as far as marketing, I told him that a FSBO could plant a sign in his front yard with the same or better quality than a branded company sign, hang a printed flyer box and insert quality flyers rather than one of the generic flyers used by them and definitely have a significant presence on the internet. Since most Realtors© stopped using printed ads in newspapers and real estate magazines as their best marketing effort,  they instead, rely on the internet and so can a FSBO seller. A well disciplined seller knowing that the sale of his home is a business transaction can be as good as any real estate agent in showing his home. After all, selling your home is a matter of developing a sales pitch, like an agent, pointing out the unique features in the home, usually something an unfamiliar buyers agent cannot do properly. More often than not a sellers agent is NOT present for the showing making this a mute point. If a sellers agent shows the home to a perspective buyer, and writes the contract for the sale, then he is violating his fiduciary responsibility to you, the sellers, and your best interest by putting himself in a bad negotiating position for either party. A real estate agent cannot be a servant of two masters.

Once the contract has been negotiated and signed by both parties, it is time for the buyer to designate which title company they want to use for guaranteeing clear title to the buyer. Most often the title company will also provide escrow services. A quick explanation of escrow service; they represent both parties in the transaction equally, have no opinion about the transaction, will follow up on the lender, if there is one, will calculate all the costs and fees necessary to make the deal balance for both parties, collect all monies from buyers, lenders, pay from the proceeds all outstanding liens or taxes on the property from the funds, and when the recording of the new deed is complete, they will dispense new tile from the title company and disburse all funds as necessary. Although they cannot give advice or provide forms, they can tell you what is missing in their escrow as far as forms and agreements to make the transaction complete for both parties. I know this was a mouthful, but escrow services perform the most important part of the process by keeping the transaction as clean and smooth as possible. Always use their services, this will provide a major safeguard for you as a FSBO seller. Avoiding the escrow services and guarantee of title would certainly be disastrous for any real estate transaction. 

Now for the details of filling out a complete contract. Using the form you provide to the buyer, you will generally start with naming the buyers involved. If married then both should be named at the top. The description of the property will be found in the recorded deed and often on the property tax statement, it usually appears as a subdivision, lot & block or tract and lot numbers, and map position such as 0751N03W. Use this type of description as it is deemed more legal than just an address in a city. Both can be placed on the purchase agreement, lot and block AKA (also known as) 1234 ABC street, anywhere, any state, 88888. The purchase price will need to be written out in words and numerals. The need for this is obvious, it prevents any discrepancy in understanding the amount agreed to. Speaking of purchase price, read my next blog on how to negotiate that purchase without giving up some ,if any, of your hard earned equity. Whenever you are filling out any legal and binding form it is always a good idea to fill out every blank spot with an answer or write in N/A if it does not apply. Not only does a blank spot create a potential discrepancy between the parties as to what the agreement stated in the form, but will provide an opportunity for a buyer to add a statement or clause that is to his benefit. Remember, you want to avoid any "He Said, She Said" scenarios always put it in writing on the form.

Generally, the next section will be how the buyer will pay for the purchase. It will usually state an amount of EARNEST MONEY (more commonly called "Good Faith Money") that will be deposited into an escrow account. This is the amount of money a buyer is willing to give up if they decide to leave the deal for no legitimate reason. Legitimate reasons can include but not limited to; refusal by the seller to repair something found from the home inspector, the loan applied for will not be funded, lack of good faith by the seller to have disclosed material facts that would have affected the offering price, etc. As you can see the seller must be upfront on disclosures and always act in good faith when selling a home. Following the earnest money, the buyer will disclose how they intent to raise the funds for the purchase. The buyer needs to state if it will be all cash,  if they intent to get a first mortgage including stating the type of loan sought, such as FHA, VA, CONVENTIONAL, or OTHER. The buyer will usually state as a condition of the sale that he will put a limit on the highest loan interest rate he  is willing to pay, or and any other loan condition that would be just cause for terminating the transaction. All this will help you understand the loan position the buyer is willing to accept, very necessary for you to review and understand that if the buyer cannot qualify for a loan then you have lost valuable time in marketing your home to someone else, as well having to return the Earnest Money. That is why it is important to understand the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved for a loan. Pre-qualified means that a lender is willing to consider a loan for the amount stated in the Pre-Qualification Letter and that there may still be factors affecting final loan approval. However, a pre-approval means that the buyer will be able to purchase a home up to the limit stated in the letter, this is the best guarantee that a lender will follow through with the purchase. It is advisable to try and enter into a conversation with the buyer indicating that since he is pre-approved for the loan, that the buyer should not make any large purchases that will affect how the lender will look their ability to pay back the loan. If they want a new car, boat, or additional credit cards, they should wait until after the home purchase so as not to affect their credit position to obtain the loan.

Most often the next section will include terminology that will be similar to: "Other Terms and Conditions". This is the section that you would use to clarify that a buyer might need to sell a property prior to completing the sale, that 
an inspection of your property might not happen until their property is in escrow, any term of the sale that could affect the sale, and any condition of the property that needs to be handled prior to completing the sale. This might include paying off a future improvement lien or a major repair agreed to in the negotiations. Following the above section, there is usually an area for stating items that are included or excluded from the sale. This is always a difficult area, as most buyers that viewed a special item like a unique refrigerator, a free standing bar that appears to be permanently installed, or workbenches on hidden wheels. When showing, it is important to state in the showing what items are included and not included , then restate that in this section. Remember to always put it in writing. This is the one area where most discrepancies occur and often end with cancellation of the contract.  The rule of thumb used by most courts in deciding whether an item should have been included or not included is very simple- "If it attached permanently then it belongs with the sale. As an example a picture is hanging on a wall, not permanently affixed, nor is a refrigerator permanently attached, however, a cook top installed in a counter, or a microwave built in would be considered attached.  Drapes could go either way and should be negotiated and written into a contract, while attached blinds would be considered permanently attached. I think you get the idea.

Water rights, mineral rights and title conveyance are generally not negotiable sections of contract, and simply discuss state law pertaining to ownership rights. There will be section on Title insurance whereby you will be following state guidelines for inspection of title and title transfer. Generally a title company can guide you in filling out this section as it pertains to them. Again they will not give legal advice but can provide you with information in this area.  This is the section that the buyer states which title company they desire to use. You can suggest a company to them if they are not familiar with any, but you cannot designate one. Only the buyer can decide that. I suggest that you investigate a couple of them so your suggestion might be a couple for them to choose from.

We have covered a lot of area in real estate forms. My next blog will show you the last of the items that are usually on the form. It will also cover any necessary other forms and their completion, and most importantly cover "How To Negotiate Your Best Deal" as a For Sale by Owner. 

This blog has had a fair amount of page views from all over the world, but oddly enough no one is actually following me. So if you like what you are reading and I am doing you some good in helping you do the ultimate DIY project by selling your own home, please click on the follow button to let me know that I am providing some good answers. You can reach me at or Comment below.

The For Sale By Owner Answer man

Wednesday, January 31, 2018



Disclaimer: It cost time, effort, and money to operate a blog like this one, so I have partnered with select affiliate advertisers to help defray the costs involved in blogging. I will earn a small commission each time a purchaser buys from these affiliates. 

The statement above says it all. If you follow your plan to sell your house as a For Sale by Owner, complete the plan of preparing the home for sale, getting a buyer interested in putting in an offer by showing your house, and negotiating the sale, these come with some risks that can be avoided by placing your safety in focus during the process. The principles of being safe that are used by real estate agents apply to you as a homeowner as well. The showing process is part of the business transaction of selling and not a social or bragging event. The suggestions that follow are common sense ideas that will create a safe and professional environment while you get to the finish line of the selling process.

Just because you have a for sale sign in your front yard does not mean that your house is available to show right now. It is imperative that you place "By Appointment Only" on all your advertising. There is a saying that "Buyers are Liars" in this industry, because some buyers will tell you anything to get to see a home, even lie as to whether or not they can afford the home, or if they are  truly ready to buy, or anything else in order to satisfy their curiosity about the inside of the house. You can avoid the curiosity seekers by asking them questions on the phone prior to allowing them into your house. Here's a list of questions you should ask before setting up that showing appointment:

          1. Are you looking to buy now or in the near future?
             (This might reveal their need to buy right away)

          2. Are you represented by a real estate agent?
             (If they are, you will need to determine if you are willing to 
              pay a commission to the buyer's agent, this sort of defeats 
              the reason you are selling as a For Sale By Owner.)

          3. If they are unsure about that representation, then ask
              Have you signed an agency agreement with an agent?   
              (If they have not, you should be Ok in setting up a showing.)

          4. Are you Pre-Qualified by a Lender or Bank or will this be cash?
             (If they are pre-qualified, ask them to bring it with them just in
              case they like the home and wish to put in an offer. Being positive 
              about a potential sale indicates to the buyer that you have something                 worth writing an offer for.) 

          5. When you are satisfied with the answers, and your gut feels good                       about the way they responded, your next question should be:
              What day and time would you like to see my home?
              (Remember to allow yourself enough time to stage the home and set                  up your security for the showing.)   

You feel good about the upcoming showing, so let's get it ready and set up some security measures that will ensure that it goes well and safely. The first thing to do is hide all valuables, medicines, and heirlooms in a safe place. I have often told my clients to purchase a decent sized flat tote box with a snap-lock lid and put all these items into it and place it under the master bed. This way you can keep them safe and have access to them between showings without having to constantly gather and hide these items. The large tote is hard to steal by itself and awkward for a thief to manipulate while the showing is going on. This is just a precautionary measure and is not to assume all buyers are thieves, most are not interested in your stuff.

Make sure the home is back to its staged look and do a walk thru for your own peace of mind knowing that everything is ready. This will give you the confidence you need in showing your own home. After a couple of showings, you will know what to expect a buyer to ask about, and you will be better prepared to answer their questions. It is unusual for the first showing to become the new homeowner, but it can happen. As a matter of fact, our last home that the wife and I recently sold, the first showing was our buyer, they made a full price cash offer. That deal was done within 24 hrs. By the way, our home was decluttered and staged to sell, our market price was right on, and the buyers indicated they were ready to buy now and they were paying cash, however they needed to close on two other homes to have the cash. We were willing to wait after we contacted their agent and he said that he felt confident that both of their houses would close in our time frame.  We were prepared to sell, but feel that we were extremely lucky that our buyers were prepared to buy as well.

Let's hope that you are as lucky as we were and your first showing will be your first buyer, however, let's assume that you will need more showings. Whenever you have a showing you have to place your personal safety above the need to show. There are steps that you can take minimize your risks. First, never have a showing one on one with a  lone buyer. Make a commitment that you will not show your home by yourself and that you will have a spouse or friend at the home with you. You can ask the buyer to bring another person to the showing to provide moral support and give a second opinion. Again, never show one on one. Next, let someone that lives close to you know when you are having a showing and ask if they would call you after a reasonable amount of time to make sure the showing went safely. If they don't hear from you, then they should check on you or call someone to check up on you.  Even better, ask them to be present, but silent during the showing. Their opinion would be considered bias and not supportive of the buyer.

What if a real estate agent calls and says, my buyer saw your sign and wants to see your house. His next comment will be this question: "Are you willing to pay a commission to a buyers agent?"  What you say next will determine if he will bring out a potential buyer. If you say you will pay a commission, then expect it to be half of what you would have paid to a selling agent. In simple terms, you can expect to pay 3% of the selling price to the buyer's agent. You have to be prepared to answer that question, however, you can ask similar questions to the agent like, do they need to list and sell a home first, are they pre-qualified, are they ready to buy now. These answers will help you decide if you want to show them the home. What if the buyers show up and want to deal without the agent involved. They can deal with you without an agent, but it will put the buyers at risk of a lawsuit by the agent and broker for violating their agency agreement, if there is one. You as the seller will not be bound by any agreement that the buyers previously entered into, only the buyer will be at risk. That is why you need to ask that question when you talk to a potential buyer, they need to understand the risk of violating that agreement. To protect yourself, never get into a conversation that you would suggest they violate that agreement and you would reduce the selling price instead of paying the commission. This is a definite path to a lawsuit involving you. Keep it clean and honest!  
After all is said and done, the majority of home showings go easily and are safe.
I am not trying to scare you, but being prepared is better than being sorry.
Speaking of being prepared, there are a couple of things you need to have available during the showing. First, as you are decluttering, grab all the appliance and utility manuals that you possess and put them in a three-ring binder individually in plastic sleeves. Now contact your gas and electric utilities for a month by month yearly usage, put that in the same binder. Next, put a recent property tax statement in the same binder. What you are building with this binder is a property binder that stays with the home and can help answer all the questions about utilities, appliances, heaters and a/c units in one simple to look at location. I always got creative and put a printed picture of the house on the binder cover, used tab sheets to identify the pertinent sections, and provided a list of area attractions in the book.  Again, get creative with this project,  the items in the book could make the deal happen. Place the binder in a conspicuous spot. Remember you are the one selling the home, you would be providing that information to a buyers agent if they had one.

The next thing that you will need on hand is a set of legal documents that would include a Purchase Agreement, Seller's Disclosure form, Lead Paint Disclosure form, and any addendum. Sounds complicated, but actually the only form that is a little difficult will be the purchase contract, the others are a very easy to understand and complete.  Every time you entertain an offer all these forms will need to be used. The purchase agreement will need to be completed at the time of sale, however the sellers disclosure and lead paint disclosure can be pre-filled, copied, then signed at the time of the sale. Addendum's come after the sale. If you have a good printer, plan on making copies of the blank purchase agreement, and filled out but not signed other documents. There are probably several companies that you can order these forms from, however, I recommend as a reliable source of accurate forms to use. You can view these forms by clicking this link Then type in "Real Estate" in the search button. It is important to identify the state you are selling in, each state has different requirements. Basically, they are the same with special nuances unique to that state. In almost every state you will need to provide copies to the buyer at the time of sale. Having a good reliable copier/printer is essential for this process to go smoothly.

Some states require that you use a real estate attorney to complete the real estate forms and then send them to an escrow company. You can always use a real estate attorney in completing the forms, but this could get complicated as most buyers don't want the same attorney that the sellers use. I am not an attorney nor am I giving legal advice, but this type of service is available in every state. Do your own investigation as to whether or not you need attorney

In the next blog post, I will provide as much information on completing the forms as I can without giving any legal advice. Again, these forms are not as complicated as they appear and in most cases they can be easily filled out. This was always the tedious part of selling real estate, but usually meant we were close to the end of the process. Future posts will include information about escrows, title commitments, and escrow closings- what to expect and what to do. 

Here's hoping this information helps and I am looking forward to your comments and email questions. Email your questions to or comment below.

The For Sale By Owner Answerman
(The fsboanswerman)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


There are many easy and professional ways to get a buyer to look at your house first. If you have cleaned, decluttered, staged and created good curb appeal, then you are ready to create signage, take professional photos, and create a marketing plan, just like a real estate agent would do. 

Starting with photos, a professional real estate photographer would be the best and easiest way to go, however with today's cell phone cameras you should be able to put together a great photo presentation. Here are some picture taking suggestions: First take several photos of the same room from different angles using varying camera heights, (knee high shots aiming upwards tend to be very good) then pick out the best representative photo of what you are trying to sell about that room. In the picture below, you are selling the majestic front entry that leads right into an impressive and bright dining area. Take these photos with lights on and usually ceiling fans turning. 

Secondly, take specific area pictures, like kitchen islands, appliances as they relate to the kitchen, laundry room setups, attractive ceiling fans, etc. Third, Make sure to include pictures of the landscaping and certainly one from the curb showing your best curb appeal shot.

If you have or know someone that can use a drone to capture your view from the air, use a couple of these for sure. Fourth, be very careful not to take pictures of open mouthed toilets, open closet doors, and any area or room that is not staged or decluttered. As these will become your marketing photos, they must show exactly what you are selling in the best light. Now that you have some great photos to use, let's put them to work. You will be using them on internet sites, flyers, and signs.

Using the generic red and white For sale By owner sign that you can obtain at any hardware store is probably the worst idea for signage. A better way would be to order a proper sign that would look like a real estate brokers sign. There may be a sign maker you can use in your local area or you could create one from several reliable online sign producers. One that I have used in the past with great success is, they can provide you with a single sign, one customized by you, or you can use one of their generic For Sale by Owner signs with your information on it.

Having a sign like the one on the left is ideal for a potential buyer. It shows everything that is needed in a nutshell. It shows pictures of the home, price, an area to promote the home, owner name, contact information by phone, fax and email, and the very important website to view a more complete listing about the home. I particularly like the bed, bath, and garage icons. This sign tells a buyer that you have a home worth selling. Challenge yourself to design a similar sign and stand out from the crowd of broker branded type signs. I suggest a size of 18"x24". The sign shown was not created on but depicts a great marketing sign. Let your creative juices flow in creating something that is both informative and pleasant to view. By the way, since you probably are going to place the sign in your front yard, try to avoid putting a front picture of your home on the sign, they are already seeing that great curb appeal. Use indoor or backyard photos to entice them to call you or look at your website. Placing a listing price on the sign will usually weed out buyers that can't afford your house.

Creating a printed flyer and placing it next to the sign is very important. Buyers like to have something tangible to take home and review. After all, the flyer is the best way for you to get buyers interested right now as well as provide them with information they can take with them.  There are a number of websites that can provide you with printing good looking flyers at reasonable prices, even your local office supply store can help you build that flyer. They might even have the flyer boxes to place next to the sign. Search "printed real estate flyers" for a great list of vendors that can help.

Speaking of websites, you can create a free website by using, or and use that address on your signs and flyers. If you want to pay a small fee you can go to and get your site or upgrade into a listing that will get you on and, the largest real estate listing site on the market. Any way you do it, you have to use the internet as your marketing tool or you will not succeed as a For Sale By Owner. 

Try to avoid sites like Craigslist, they are unsafe, and unreliable in providing a bona fide buyer. They as well do not share their listings with any other site. Do a little internet research and you should be able to find lots of sites and places to put your information on and get your home sold fast.

The only printed media you should consider is a newspaper ad, especially if your going to hold open houses. Magazine ads are a lost cause thanks to the internet. Make sure that you have that website available to put in the ad before attempting any print media. Local ads have a very small success rate as compared to flyers and signs. You can place directional signs that lead to your property only if you have permission from the locations property owner. Cities and counties often have ordinances that prevent using public lands for signage except for temporary open house signs.

Although I have referred to many different websites in this blog, they are representative of the types of available resources that you can find on the internet and are not the only or best resources to use.  No sites listed above have provided me with any form of payment for mentioning their site in my blog.

You might have noticed that in every blog posting I have used real estate agent or broker instead of Realtor©. The Realtor© name is copyrighted and can only be used by members of the National Association of Realtors who have paid their dues and members in good standing. Since I am not a member anymore I know to avoid its use. 

Here is hoping you find this blog useful and informative. If you have a question, email me at, or leave a comment below. I will respond as quick as possible. I check my site often.

The For Sale By Owner Answerman
( the fsboanswerman)



Friday, January 19, 2018


Buyers make their first decision in wanting to see the inside of a house by what they see on the outside.  Neatly trimmed bushes, mowed and maintained yards are the best way to make that presentation. Give a buyer a reason to want to see inside your home. It goes without saying that maintaining your front and back yards are important. Start feeding your lawn weeks in advance of putting it on the market, paint railings, decks, etc. if they need it. Trimming and even removing some ugly bushes may be necessary. Don't wait until someone wants to see your home, get it done before they show up. Buying potted flowers is one of the tricks that I have used in the past. Place them along walkways, in front of planters, around trees, you get the idea. Colorful hanging plants always draw people in.  The advantage of using potted plants and hanging baskets is that you can take them to your next home, technically they are not attached and therefore can be removed.  

Spending a few hundred dollars will definitely pay off in a better offer even though the potted plants won't be staying behind. Take the time to step out onto the street and take a hard look at your curb appeal and you decide what steps you need to take to convince a potential buyer that your house is worth taking a look at on the inside. 

Now for the part of preparing your home that nobody wants to deal with- DEEP CLEANING. Whether you do the deep cleaning or have it done by a house cleaning service, make sure that certain obvious areas are definitely taken care of. It is most embarrassing for you as a For Sale By Owner, showing your own home, having to explain why something is stained or left dirty. You really don't want to give a potential buyer a reason to suddenly want to leave your house before your showing is complete.  Bathrooms are usually the worst and often the most forgotten. Take extra time in cleaning bathrooms to completely clean, the floors, toilets and tubs. Stage the bathrooms with rolled towels and make sure hand sanitizer bottles are near the  sink. Have a non-staged  hand towel available for the buyer to use, inevitably someone in the buyers party will need to use a bathroom. 

Toilets are the most common overlooked areas for deep cleaning. A savvy buyer will check this area and will immediately draw their own conclusions about what they expect to find in the rest of the house. When you see a buyer drawing the shower curtain to one side, they are looking for tub stains and if the fixtures are clean and shiny. While we are in the bathroom, remove all medications, especially protected drugs form any cabinet and put them away in a safer place, like a dresser drawer, this is essential even if a real estate agent was doing the showing. 

Getting family and friends involved with the deep cleaning process can save a lot of time, but hiring a good cleaning service can be less stressful on you. Pay particular attention to areas that you would not normally clean like inside closets, behind doors, pantries, ceilings and laundry rooms. These tend to gather dust bunnies and are often overlooked except by the buyer. Make sure that wall pictures are dusted along with window trims, door trims, and ceiling light fixtures. There is something to be said for the "white glove test" when deep cleaning a house. 

After all the deep cleaning is complete, have the carpets cleaned, or do it 
yourself with a rental carpet cleaner. Of course the best will be a carpet cleaning service, as they will move furniture and do a complete job. Keep in mind that it is custom for the seller to do a final cleaning of floors before the new owners take possession of the house.

In review, you now have a price to get on the market, you have
de-cluttered and staged your home, and have completed the deep cleaning process. You are now ready to develop some signage and a marketing plan to implement, which will be the subjects of my next blog.

I did get an email asking me to clarify the part of my last blog that talked about  the seller getting and paying for an appraisal and a home inspection. I know that a buyer is the one that traditionally gets a home inspection done, but having one done is important so you the seller will know what to expect in repairs  beforehand is to your benefit. Being able to offer this inspection to a potential buyer is again to your benefit, so why not show that you, the seller, has taken the initiative to be prepared for the buyer and now that an inspection is done the buyer will no longer have to pay for one. As far as the appraisal, it was recommended because it will be the best way to get a fair market value and to prove to a buyer a realistic value for the house. A buyer that will need to borrow money from a lending institution will need to pay for a new appraisal. 

If you have or want a question answered, please contact me at or leave a comment in this blog. I check this blog often.

The For Sale By Owner Answerman
( The fsboanswerman)

Sunday, January 14, 2018


You have decided to sell your home as a For Sale By Owner, now it's time to change your home back into a house. The principles of preparing your home to sell are universal and have proven over and over again to be the difference between a success story and failure. Since failure is not an option lets review the principles of decluttering, staging and basic showmanship when presenting your home.

Decluttering is the key to Selling Success

There isn't a single buyer out there that wants to see your family pictures, plate collections or how many stuffed animals you can put on a bed. Buyers want to see open space so they can figure out where their family pictures, paintings, beer bottle collection, and furniture can go. They cannot do that if they can't see the space available. Decluttering is the basic principle in selling any property. You can start by removing all unnecessary and personal, wall items. Do not stuff these into closets as they must also be clean and organized.  In my last two moves, I had to rent a storage unit to house all my stuff that had to be packed away in order to declutter. This helps in three ways, you pack only the items that you intend to move,  secondly you can sort out the items that you no longer want and either donate them or have a massive moving sale (even at moving sales you have potential buyers show up), and lastly you now have the opportunity to stage the house for sale.   

As you can see in the above picture, they decluttered and staged the room at the same time. Staging is the simple act of taking away distracting items from view, in this case, the pictures on the wall and replacing it with an
attractive item such as a generic painting. Turning lights on for the showing is important to demonstrate how bright and cheery the room can be. Do not try to set a mood for the room by using dimmed lights and soft music. Try to envision yourself working for a furniture store and you are solely responsible for setting up displays. If you can do that you will be able to stage your home. 

Clutter can occur in all rooms, don't forget that men will gravitate to the garage and basement. Men want to be able to see the same available space and see themselves at that workbench, minus the clutter, and see the basement as a potential game room or man cave. If you are taking selling as seriously as a For Sale By Owner should, then this vital step in staging and decluttering is as important as any marketing plan you could develop. After all, if the house isn't ready to be sold, why would you expect a buyer to consider your home over one that was ready to be sold?

Assuming you took my advice and spent the money to get an appraisal, which is the best way to get a real market value if your having trouble getting to a market value, then I will also suggest that you get a home inspection done prior to putting your home on the market. A reliable home inspector will give you an honest opinion on the health of your home. The inspection should include electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC systems check, roof, and any obvious structural issues. The inspector will generally not comment on cosmetic issues nor will they judge the home on a new construction basis, but will let you know on the basis of its age and normal use which items that need immediate attention. Keep in mind that a buyer has the right to perform due diligence before buying the home. Due diligence is the right to inspect and ask for repairs based on that inspection. You don't want a buyer to back out of the deal because they discovered something was wrong with the house and they are now hesitant about the purchase. You want to be able to convince them that you have maintained the home, even to the point of discovering and fixing anything that would have posed a problem to the health and safety of the buyer. Trust me they will find some reason to cancel the contract if they don't have that trust in your endeavors to maintain your home.   

Assuming that you get the inspection done, you should plan to remedy the most severe issues before a buyer can find them. You can offer to show a potential buyer the report and show that you took care of the serious issues and offer to remedy the minor issues or leave money in escrow to cover the cost of repairs. Often times this is the best way to remedy things like bad carpet or roof repairs, this allows the buyer to make their own choices as to color and style. This will definitely impress a buyer knowing you took the time and expense to find and remedy house issues, or cover the costs of issues found about the home. I know that if a seller showed me an appraisal and a home inspection that I would believe the seller was not trying to hide anything and that entering into a contract of purchase was in both parties best interests. Buyers tend to accept the sellers offering price when presented with real and honest numbers. Negotiations from the Buyer for a better deal on the home are almost non-existent.  

In a nutshell, decluttering and staging are just as important as marketing,  getting an appraisal and home inspection will satisfy a buyer's concerns of the market value and health of the home. 

As you can see from the items we have already talked about, you the seller will have spent money on an appraisal, home inspection, storage unit, and repairs. These items will always be expensed by you, the seller, so why would you,  want to pay an agent 6% commission on top of these expenses. KEEP YOUR EQUITY- YOU HAVE EARNED IT!! 

My next blog will cover Deep Cleaning and Curb Appeal Inside and Out. If you have any questions email me at or leave a comment in the comment section, I will get back to you shortly. 

the For Sale By Owner Answerman