Selling your home yourself can be a rewarding and profitable experience, but it also requires a lot of work and preparation.
Ensure your home is in the best possible condition to attract buyers and receive the highest offer. Additionally, handling all the legal and financial aspects of the transaction can be complex and daunting.
To assist you in navigating the process of selling your home by owner in Illinois, we have prepared a comprehensive checklist of the most important steps you need to take before listing your home.
By following these tips, you will be well on your way to achieving a successful FSBO sale.
1. Declutter and Depersonalize Your Home
The first step in preparing your home for sale is decluttering and depersonalizing it. This entails removing any excess or unnecessary items that may make your home appear crowded, messy, or outdated.
The goal is to create a spacious, clean, and neutral environment that appeals to a wide range of buyers.
Here are some actions you can take to declutter and depersonalize your home:
- Donate, sell, or discard any items you no longer need or use.
- Store away personal items such as photos or keepsakes that might distract buyers.
- Organize closets, cabinets, drawers, and shelves.
- Clean and dust all surfaces, appliances, fixtures, and windows.
- Remove any odors or stains from carpets, curtains, upholstery, etc.
2. Make Minor Repairs and Improvements
Addressing minor repairs and making improvements enhance the house’s appearance and functionality.
While major renovations aren’t necessary (or cost-effective), fixing issues that may deter buyers or reduce your home’s value is essential.
Consider these minor repairs and improvements:
- Fix leaks, cracks, holes, or damages in walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, etc.
- Replace broken or outdated fixtures, hardware, knobs, switches, outlets, etc.
- Paint the walls in a neutral color to brighten up your home and make it feel more spacious.
- Replace worn-out or stained carpets/rugs with new ones or consider installing hardwood floors.
- Update the kitchen and bathroom with new countertops, cabinets, faucets, sinks, etc.
- Enhance curb appeal by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and planting flowers.
3. Stage Your Home
Staging involves arranging furniture and accessories to showcase your home’s best features and create a positive impression on potential buyers.
This practice helps buyers envision themselves living in your home and fosters an emotional connection.
Here are some tips for staging your home:
- Maximize space and flow in each room by arranging furniture appropriately.
- Remove excess or bulky furniture that may make rooms appear smaller or cluttered.
- Add accent pieces like pillows, throws, lamps, and plants to add color and warmth.
- Ensure each room has a clear purpose matching its intended use.
- Highlight unique or attractive features such as fireplaces or bay windows.
- Create cozy bedrooms using fresh linens, pillows, and blankets.
- Make bathrooms clean and spa-like with white towels, candles, soap dispensers
- Make the kitchen appealing by clearing countertops and cleaning appliances; consider adding fresh fruits or flowers.
4. Obtain the Necessary Paperwork
When selling your house by owner in Illinois, it’s important to ensure that all the necessary paperwork is taken care of. Here are some of the free paperwork needed for sale by owner:
- Property Disclosure Form: Provide potential buyers with important information about the condition of your property, including any known defects or issues.
- Sales Contract: This contract outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, payment details, and contingencies.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: If your home was built before 1978, federal law requires you to provide buyers with information regarding lead-based paint hazards.
- Title Documents: These include the deed to your property, which proves your ownership, as well as any relevant title insurance policies.
- Home Inspection Reports: If you’ve had a professional home inspection done, make sure to provide these reports to potential buyers so they can assess the condition of the property.
- Closing Statement: This document provides an itemized breakdown of all financial transactions related to the sale, including closing costs and prorated expenses.
- Mortgage Payoff Letter: If you still have an outstanding mortgage on the property, obtain a mortgage payoff letter from your lender that states the amount needed to satisfy the loan.
Remember that it’s always wise to consult with a real estate attorney or seek professional guidance throughout this process to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations in Illinois.
5. List Your Home
Alright, now that you have done all the necessary preparations and gathered the required paperwork, it’s time to get your home listed for sale.
This step is crucial as it involves promoting your home to potential buyers and agents actively searching for properties in your area. The goal here is to generate interest and exposure for your property.
The most effective way to list your home is by utilizing the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a comprehensive database used by realtors and buyers across the country.
- It offers great reach by connecting you with a wide audience of buyers and agents specifically looking for homes similar to yours.
- Moreover, the MLS syndicates your listing to popular websites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and more.
To get your home listed on the MLS, you have two options:
- Hire a flat-fee MLS service:
- With this option, you pay a one-time fee ranging from $99 to $499. The flat-fee MLS service will take care of listing your home on the MLS.
- However, keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for managing other aspects of the selling process such as marketing, showing the property, negotiating offers, and closing the deal.
- Hire a full-service realtor:
- If you choose this option, a realtor will handle everything for you – from listing your home on the MLS to taking care of all other aspects involved in selling your property.
- But note that they usually charge around 3% of the sale price as their commission.
Which option should you go for?
Well, that depends on factors like your budget, available time, and expertise. If saving money and having more control over the process are important, then a flat-fee MLS service might be suitable.
On the other hand, if saving time and receiving guidance throughout the selling journey sounds appealing, hiring a full-service realtor could be worth considering.
6. Market Your Home
Listing your home on the MLS alone isn’t enough to sell it quickly or at its highest potential price. You’ll also need to implement effective marketing strategies to attract more buyers and generate offers.
Successfully marketing your home involves understanding your target audience, highlighting its unique selling points, and creating a compelling message that resonates with potential buyers.
Here are some ways you can effectively market your home:
- Craft a professional and captivating listing description that showcases the best features of your home while appealing to buyers’ emotions.
- Capture high-quality photos and videos that present your property from various angles and under different lighting conditions.
- Provide a virtual tour or 3D walkthrough of your home, allowing potential buyers to explore it online from anywhere.
- Establish a dedicated website or landing page for your home, offering additional information, photos, and easy contact options for interested buyers.
- Create eye-catching flyers or brochures containing basic information and visuals of your home. Distribute these in your local neighborhood or nearby businesses.
- Leverage social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to share your listing with friends, family, and followers.
- Utilize online platforms such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, etc., to reach local buyers by posting your listing there.
- Take advantage of online advertising tools like Google Ads or Facebook Ads to target potential buyers who are actively searching for homes in your area or have similar interests/preferences.
- Host open houses or private showings that allow interested buyers to experience your home firsthand and ask questions.
- Utilize signs or banners that provide directions toward your property or website.
7. Negotiate the Best Price
Once you’ve successfully marketed your home and received offers from potential buyers, it’s time to negotiate the best price for your property. Effective negotiation involves obtaining the highest possible offer from a qualified buyer while ensuring favorable terms and conditions.
Negotiating the best price may seem daunting if you lack experience in this area.
However, several tips can help you navigate this process:
- Remain realistic and flexible about your expectations and goals, ensuring that emotions or attachments don’t cloud your judgment.
- Conduct thorough research on the market conditions, competition, and the buyer’s situation so you can accurately assess your home’s value and what buyers are willing to pay.
- Respond promptly and professionally to each offer, providing feedback or counteroffers within a reasonable timeframe.
- For sharing with buyers or agents, stay organized by having all necessary documents and information readily available, such as listing agreements, disclosure forms, title commitments, etc..
- Be open-minded and creative when considering possible solutions or compromises in order to address concerns or requests from buyers.
- Stand firm and confident about your bottom line. Determine the minimum acceptable price and maximum concessions you’re willing to make.
8. Close the Sale
The final step in selling your home by the owner in Illinois is closing the sale. This involves completing all legal and financial formalities required to transfer ownership of your property from yourself to the buyer while receiving payment for your home.
Closing a sale can be complex, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with real estate laws and procedures in Illinois. Take care to ensure that all documents are accurate and complete, funds are transferred securely, and any contingencies or obligations are met.
To successfully close the sale:
- Schedule a home inspection and appraisal to identify any issues or repairs that need attention.
- Order a title search and obtain a title insurance policy to clear any liens or encumbrances on your property.
- Review the closing disclosure and settlement statement meticulously to verify the accuracy of costs and fees.
- Sign relevant documents such as the deed, bill of sale, affidavit of title, etc., that legally transfer ownership rights to the buyer.
- Collect payment for your home through means like cashier’s check, wire transfer or escrow deposit.
- Provide keys, garage door openers, manuals, warranties, or any other items pertaining to the property that belong to the buyer.
- Cancel or transfer utilities, insurance, security system services, etc., and inform relevant entities of your change of address (e.g., post office, bank, credit card company).
Congratulations on successfully selling your home by owner in Illinois!
Not only have you saved a significant amount in commission fees but you’ve also gained invaluable experience throughout the entire process.
From preparing your property for sale to listing, marketing, negotiating, and closing the sale, you’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge.