Summary: One of your primary jobs as a FSBO seller is to market your home. You need to determine who is the most likely buyer of your home and then target them specifically. Be realistic about the current state of your home, and your willingness to make repairs and updates. If you are, this will help you decide who is your target audience and how best to appeal to them.
Come Up with a FSBO Marketing Plan
If you’ve decided to sell your home For Sale By Owner (FSBO), you probably understand that you’re going to have to handle marketing your property yourself. While more and more FSBO sellers are paying small fees to have their homes listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) – and this is definitely something you may want to consider – you also want to be sure you’re marketing your home directly to both consumers (homeowners) – and to investors.
Depending on the condition of your home, you may want to target one group of potential buyers over the other. Homeowners tend to be looking for move-in ready homes. So, if your home is in great shape (or you’re willing to put in the time and money to get it into great shape) then you probably want to focus your efforts on people who would want to buy your home to make it their home. However, if you’re home is older and in need of updating – and you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to do all the work that it needs — then targeting investors might make more sense. Investors are looking for money-making opportunities. For them, a “fixer-upper” might be a good thing – as long as your price is realistic and reflects the work that’s going to need to be done.
Create a FSBO Marketing Package
Regardless of your target audience, the venues for marketing your FSBO are much the same – and for all of these, you’re going to need to create an eye-catching FSBO marketing package. Here are the key components:
A Sign Up in your Yard — You want to get an eye-catching sign in the yard. Both consumers and investors will drive through neighborhoods they are interested in. They need to know your property is available!
An Ad in the Local Paper or Home Magazine – Yes, it’s very old school, but people do still look at print ads and the throw-away home magazines you find in grocery stores. Generally, the rates for these are pretty inexpensive. In your ad, made sure to give the basic details of your home (bedrooms, bathrooms, recent upgrades), as well as the address or at least the precise neighborhood. Location is pretty essential in real estate, so even though you value your privacy, you can’t be too vague about where the house is, or no one is going to contact you! Even more important, make sure you’re using professional-quality photos. You don’t necessarily have to pay a professional to photograph your home – but it should look like you did. You will need these photos for the next two marketing options as well.
A Flyer for your House – You will need a flyer for Open Houses and all other showings of your property, but you should also have a supply of them with the above-mentioned sign in your front yard. The flyer should include a few key photos, as well as all the important details about your home (see below).
An Online Listing – There are a number of services that will (for a fee) get your home listed on your local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). If you really don’t want to spend money, though, there are also quite a few FSBO websites that will allow you to list your property for free (Fizber.com has both a free option and an MLS listing service). Whichever option you choose, make sure you’ve got professional-level photos of your home to post, as well as a top-notch description of your home, emphasizing all its virtues:
- Name-check any impressive appliances or fixtures (e.g., a Viking stove)
- Mention recent upgrades or remodels (up-to-date bathrooms and kitchens are particularly appreciated)
- Talk about the neighborhood’s advantages. Is it close to shopping, the beach, hiking? Are the schools in the area noted for being particularly good? Are there trendy restaurants within walking distance?
A Social Media Campaign – Often times there are people within our social network who are looking for homes, or know people who are looking. We don’t always know who they are, but by getting the word out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., your posts have the possibility of finding them. Again, utilize your great photos and the key details of your home.
A Video Tour – You will have a definite advantage if you can create an impressive-looking video tour of your home. And these days, you probably have access to high-quality cameras that can show your home to good advantage. Of course, thoroughly clean and declutter your home before you film it! This video (keep it short, no more than 2-3 minutes) can then be used in both your online listings and your social media outreach.
FSBO Tip: Emphasize different things about your home depending on which audience you think would be most interested in it. Investors are going to be much more interested in an “as is” property, while a homeowner is more likely to want a turn-key home. An investor may want to know that homes in the area get a high rental rate, whereas a homeowner may want to know that there’s a pleasant park just a block away. While you don’t want to chase away any potential buyers, you always want to tailor your marketing efforts to your intended audience.
So how do you know which audience you should target? There are definite advantages and disadvantages to each.
Advantages of Selling to a Real Estate Investor
Most homeowners need financing. This takes time, and most buyers will put in a contingency clause – if they can’t get financing, they can withdraw from the deal without penalty. Most investors pay all-cash, so no delays and no contingencies.
Most investors will take a property “as is.” If you know your home needs significant work and don’t want to do it yourself, this can be a huge plus.
Investors often are not working with a buyer’s agent, so there is no commission fee to worry about (usually 2-3%). Some investors will even cover all the closing costs!
Disadvantages of Selling to an Investor
You may not get as much money. Investors are looking to make a profit on your house. They do this by paying under-market prices (or low-end of the market, at any rate). The investor may plan on fixing up the property right away and “flipping” it. The idea that a new owner may make money off a house they just sold irks some homeowners.
You don’t necessarily know who is buying your house. Investors can use agents or intermediaries and are not required to reveal who they are. While this can be a little disconcerting, the bigger concern is that you are vulnerable to a scam, so you’ll have to do extra research to vet the investor.
Selling a home For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is rarely an easy prospect. But in today’s world, there are more marketing opportunities than ever. If you know your target audience, you can create a FSBO marketing package that will maximize your chances of getting your home sold.