How to Sell Your Home By Owner (FSBO)
The majority of buyers now research a property online prior to touring it, so your MLS listing is an essential piece to the FSBO puzzle. But fear not, you don’t have to be a professional writer to create a home profile buyers will like. You just have to know the right photos and words to use and the best features to highlight.
How to Sell a House by Owner
First Step: Quality Photos
Most people are going to look at the photos of your home first and the description second. So it won’t matter what glittery language you use if the pictures make the space look dark, dingy and oddly-shaped.
If you don’t have a quality camera, consider buying one that has at least five megapixels. Then clean, declutter, and stage your home. When it’s camera-ready, turn on all the lights and open every blind and curtain so that you utilize as much natural light as possible. If you can, avoid using the flash as it tends to create dark corners and odd-looking shadows in photos. If you want more direction, check out To Sell Your Home, Get The Lighting Right.
Second Step: Decide What to Highlight
MLS sites give you a limited number of characters so you need to be judicious with your words. Your pictures are going to be the main factor drawing prospective buyers to your home, but you can use the property description to highlight any features you want them to notice. Typical things people highlight are: large windows with a view, walk-in closets, a stone fireplace, vaulted ceilings, an open floor plan, gourmet kitchens, hardwood floors, and over-sized yards.
[tip]If you’re unsure of what buyers will find attractive about your home, attend an open house nearby. Pay attention to what the agent points out to prospective buyers and then how they react. This will give you insight into what prospective buyers will like about your home.[/tip]
Third Step: Write
The first thing a prospective buyer will read is the headline for your listing, and if it doesn’t grab their attention, they will move on. So that’s where you put the feature you want to highlight. Let’s say your home features a large open living room and a pool, you can say, “Spacious Living Room and Pool, Perfect for Entertaining.” Whatever you do, DO NOT write the headline in all caps. It’ll be more difficult to read and can come across as if you’re yelling at your audience.
When you get to the body of the listing, don’t waste precious characters describing anything that’s covered in the pre-populated fields (e.g. a number of bedrooms and bathrooms). Instead, use this space to tell the reader about the unique features of your home. Do you have sliding shelves in the kitchen? How about walk-in closets? Have you remodeled a bathroom or the kitchen or updated anything? You may want to read How to Write Real Estate Property Descriptions.
[tip]You should also tell readers if you’ve made any major improvements like replacing the roof or heating and air conditioning. These are high-cost repairs that prospective buyers are likely to view as adding value to the home.[/tip]
Zillow studied the language of real estate listings and determined that property descriptions containing the following words were the most popular:
- Stainless (in reference to stainless steel appliances)
- Gentle (in reference to the location of the home amongst gently rolling hills)
Now obviously you have to be accurate in your description and shouldn’t say you have granite countertops when you don’t. But as you look at this list, do you see any words that apply to your home? What about a beautiful staircase? Or a captivating picture window?
Also, make sure you mention brand name appliances. If you happen to have a Viking stove or a SubZero refrigerator, and these appliances are staying with the house, buyers will see these as attributes of the home.
Before sending off your MLS listing, read it a few times to make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly and written in complete sentences. Then make sure you haven’t violated the Fair Housing laws by mentioning national origin, race, gender, disability, or familial status (e.g. divorced or single parent).
So here you learned some tips about how to sell a house by owner. Even if you don’t consider yourself a skilled writer, you can still write a property listing buyers will find enticing. Just make sure to point out the unique features of your home, use a few of the above Zillow-recommended words and display flattering photos of the property.