100 Tips, Tools, and Legal Resources to Be Your Own Real Estate Agent
Posted by Staff Writers on February 27, 2009
By Courtney Phillips
These days, people in the real estate market can use all of the money they can get. For many people, that means cutting out the middleman and saving on agent commissions. It’s easier to go it your own than you’re probably thinking, and you’ll find lots of great tips, tools, and resources for doing so here.
Follow these tips for great advice on being your own real estate agent.
- Hire a real estate lawyer: Using a real estate lawyer is a very smart move, as a good lawyer’s advice and guidance can help you save lots of money and headaches.
- Invest in marketing: Take the time to develop strong marketing materials, such as an effective for sale sign and an informative flyer.
- Consider every offer from qualified buyers: If the terms of an offer are not what you’re looking for, you wan always deliver a counter-offer.
- Clean and declutter: When taking photos and showing your home, be sure that your home is clean and presentable for potential buyers.
- Get preapproved: Before you start looking at homes, be sure to get preapproved so that you know what you can afford, and so your offer will be more attractive to sellers.
- Visit open houses: Get a look at other homes for sale in the neighborhood, including how they are marketing and what they have to offer.
- Hire your own inspector: Have an inspector give you a report on your home before you sell-you can generally repair problems identified by your own inspector at a lower cost than if they are pointed out by a buyer’s inspector.
- Require pre-qualification: Make sure that you’re only talking to qualified buyers by requiring that anyone who wants to see your home has proof of pre-qualification first.
- Add strategic value before selling: Adding a new bathroom or refinishing your cabinets may help raise your price, but not all improvements will pay off in your final profit.
- Consider offering a home warranty: Provide buyers with peace of mind by offering a low cost warranty that covers major home systems.
- Ask for a comparative market analysis: Realtors do not charge for CMAs, and it’s a good idea to have this information. Just be honest about selling or buying on your own-they’ll be waiting if you decide you need help.
- Sell your home "as is": If you want to avoid inspection problems, or having to deal with repairs, you can sell your home "as is," although at a lower price.
- Get an appraisal: Make a qualified valuation of your home by hiring an appraiser.
- Take lots of high quality photos: Make it easy for buyers to fall in love with your home before they even step foot in it by taking photos that show them everything they want to see.
- Get a homeowner’s report: Be sure to check for liens against your property to avoid trouble before getting into a sales contract.
- Price aggressively: By saving on commissions, you can afford to price your home more aggressively and attract more buyers.
- Give the proper disclosures: If you know your roof leaks, or your electricity is not up to code, you will be required to disclose this information to potential buyers.
- Carefully list what is and is not included with your home: Make it explicitly clear whether or not the buyer will be able to keep items like appliances and chandeliers.
- Consider all of the fees involved: When pricing your home, be sure to factor in closing fees and other selling costs in the final profit.
- Hold an open house: An open house is a good way to attract buyers to your home and allow a lot of people to see it at the same time.
- Consider special financing: Your house may become more attractive if you allow buyers to assume your mortgage, or if you provide seller financing.
- Check references: Before hiring a contractor or accepting an offer, be sure that you can trust who you’re doing business with.
- Prequalify: Instead of opening your home up to everyone who wants to take a look, require that buyers meet certain criteria before they can come in for a showing.
- Know when you need help: Not everyone can handle being their own real estate agent, so know when it’s time to call in an expert.
- Tell your friends, family and neighbors: Get the word out about selling your home-you never know who knows someone in the market.
- Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to go back and forth on terms and offers to get the deal you want.
- Watch out for contingencies: An offer with restrictive or too many contingencies can make it hard to complete a sale, so tread carefully when it comes to these terms.
- Check comparable sales: Be sure to find out what similar homes in your area are selling for.
- Know the market: Pay attention to the selling market so that you can be aware when home sales are hot or when they are slow.
- Write easily-scannable copy: Most buyers will just skim through what you write on flyers and online, so make sure what you write is formatted in a way that’s easy to read.
- Write an effective ad: An ad with the right information is an incredibly powerful tool for attracting home buyers.
- Repaint: Something as simple as slapping a fresh coat of paint on your walls can help make your home more attractive to buyers.
- Get help with marketing: Use an MLS listing service to make sure that your home is seen by a wide variety of buyers.
- Set your price just under a whole number: By setting your price at $249,999, you can make your price more attractive than $250,000.
Here you’ll find lots of great tools for doing your own real estate work.
- Audrie.com: Audrie.com is full of real estate tools, including a flat fee MLS service and web pages.
- Real Estate Glossary: In this glossary, you’ll find helpful real estate terms and definitions.
- Angie’s List: Find a high quality inspector, appraiser, and more using Angie’s List.
- Checklist for Buying a Home: Take this checklist along with you when shopping for a home, and it will help you evaluate different houses.
- Sperling’s Best Places: Sperling will make it easy for you to assess different cities.
- Multimap: Get a bird’s eye view and lots of information about locations using this tool.
- Better Business Bureau: Make use of the Better Business Bureau to check up on title companies, inspectors, and more.
- Glossary of Legal Terms: You’ll be able to look up hard to understand real estate terms in this glossary.
- Yelp: Yelp will help you find good service providers with reviews and more.
- House Buying Checklist: Follow this checklist to make sure you’re ready before buying a home as your own agent.
- Real Estate ABC: Get definitions to real estate terms in plain English from this glossary.
- Google Maps: Google Maps is a great tool for checking out neighborhoods, with street view, local businesses, and more.
With the help of these services, you can get your home seen by buyers.
- For Sale By Owner: You can see your home without commission on this website.
- BuyOwner: Buyers and sellers alike can use this website to be their own real estate agent.
Make use of these calculators to do the math in your real estate transactions.
- Bankrate Mortgage Calculator: Enter your mortgage amount, term, interest rate, and start date, and this calculator will tell you your approximate monthly payments.
- Seller’s Net Cash Calculator: With this calculator, you can estimate the proceeds from the sale of your house.
- Real Estate Calculator Suite: This software will help you with amortization schedules, closing costs, payments, and lots more.
- How Much Can I Borrow Calculator: This calculator will help you determine the maximum loan you can expect to qualify for.
- Simple Mortgage Calculator: Check out this mortgage calculator for a no-frills look at your payments.
- Pre-Qualification Calculator: Sellers can use this calculator to determine whether or not a prospective buyer will be able to obtain a loan.
- How Much Can I Afford Calculator: Find out if your income is enough to qualify for the home you want with the help of this calculator.
You’ll find legal forms, advice, and more in these resources.
- Katkus: Katkus is home to a variety of free and low cost real estate forms, including disclosures, tax forms, and more.
- Legal Home Forms: This website has more than 60 professional fill in the blank real estate forms.
- US Legal Forms: In this resource, you’ll find state specific real estate forms for deeds, contracts, liens, and more.
- Lienfax: With this service, you can look up any and all liens on your home before putting it up for sale.
- ZipForm: ZipForm’s software will make it easy for you to create your own real estate forms.
- All Law: Check out this site to find real estate forms and information.
- Profpub: With this software, you’ll get a variety of real estate forms that you can use nationwide.
- ‘Lectric Law Library: Use this library’s forms room to find all of the forms you’ll need for real estate.
Get lots of great advice from the people in these real estate communities.
- Redfin Real Estate Forums: Redfin’s forums are full of DIY real estate mavens with lots of great information and conversations.
- National Real Estate Directory: In these forums, you’ll find news, advice, and ideas.
- Agents Online: These forums are designed to help both agents and aspiring agents.
Read these articles to learn valuable advice for being your own real estate agent.
- How to Be Your Own Real Estate Agent: This article offers useful advice for selling your own home.
- FSBO Signs for Selling Your Own Property: This article is a goldmine of advice for creating your own sale sign.
- Facts About Real Estate Appraisals: Read this article to find lots of great information about real estate appraisals.
- Negotiating Tips for Selling by Owner: Learn the fine art of negotiation from this article.
- Making an Attractive Home-Purchase Offer: Read this article to learn more about making a home purchase offer.
- The Basics on Lease-Option (Rent to Own): Find out how lease-option sales work from this article.
- 77 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value: Follow this article to get a variety of useful ideas for improving the value of your home before selling it.
- A Simple Guide for Selling a Home on Your Own: This article offers lots of great details to keep in mind when selling your own home.
- Buying a House on Your Own Versus Using an Agent: Here you’ll find out the advantages of buying without an agent, and how you can go about doing so.
- Home Selling Price: Set it Right and Everything Else is Easy: Audrie.com’s article is full of advice for setting the right selling price.
- Be Your Own Real Estate Broker: Rome Neal offers a variety of tips for avoiding pitfalls when selling your home without a broker.
- Closing the Deal to Sell Your House: This article deals with the nitty-gritty details of finalizing your home sale.
- Snagging a Home Buyer: Selling Secrets for Writing a Successful Property Listing Ad: Find valuable advice for writing a successful property listing ad in this article.
- Showing FSBO Homes for Sale: In this article, you’ll find great advice and ideas for an open house.
- Setting a Value on a Home: Check out this article to learn more about determining value for a home.
- What is FSBO?: Read this article to learn the basics of selling your home without an agent.
- Can You Really Be Your Own Real Estate Agent?: This article weighs the pros and cons of DIY real estate.
- Formatting Tips for Home Selling Pictures: This article has advice on lighting, sizing, perspective, and other photo taking essentials.
- United Kingdom: Be Your Own Landlord/Managing Agent: Brits interested in changing the terms of their lease can benefit from reading this article.
- 5 Reasons You Don’t Need an Agent: Read this article to find out why you don’t need an agent to see your own home.
- Prepare Your Home for FSBO by Cleaning and Clearing: Check out this resource to learn about preparing your property for sale.
- Simple Steps to Pricing Your Home: Follow this article to determine a good asking price.
- How to Be Your Own Realtor: This article will provide you with a look at how you can cut out the middlemen and sell your home yourself.
Check out these blogs for ongoing advice and inspiration for working as your own real estate agent.
- Inman News: Inman News discusses the intersection of real estate and technology.
- Bubble Meter: This blog covers the decline of houseing markets in the US.
- Go Beyond MLS: Get lots of tips for smart home marketing from this blog.
Make use of these resources to make working as your own real estate agent easy.
- Total Real Estate Solutions: This website is full of listings, tips, tools, forms, and more.
- Zillow: Zillow makes it easy for you to look up comparable sales, local information, and more.
- HomePages: HomePages is a great resource, including information on buying or selling a home, and obtaining a loan.
- Homes.com: On this site, you can learn about finance, neighborhoods, home values, and other valuable information.
- DoorFly.com: This is a cool reverse auction site for home buyers and sellers with lots of free information.
- Real Estate Wiki: This wiki offers information on home selling, buying, mortgages, and more.
- Foreclosure.com: You can find foreclosures, pre-foreclosures, and more on this site.
- Trulia: Trulia’s website will provide you with advice, news, comps, and more.