Monday, April 1, 2019

5 Safety Steps for Showing Your Home FSBO

Thanks to Peter Foster on Unsplash for photo

This short version is anybody can.

As a For Sale By Owner, you have less flexibility to narrow the search down to just Realtors accessing your home.  It is very common for people driving by to stop and knock on your door, interested in your house.  It can happen during your morning shower, meal times or even right before bed.  You do have a few options to keep this from happening:

  • Don’t answer your door.
  • Put a requirement that all buyers must be accompanied by agents to view the home.
  • Let anybody in at any time.

Except for the last option, you are going to be limiting your exposure.  Because there is no 1 good location to find legitimate homes for sale by owners, buyers have limited access to this information.  Agents are sending them listings that are found in our MLS.  Some buyers will either drive a neighborhood they are interested in and come across your home or they may be searching the internet on their own and come across it that way.  Your home will still not be seen on the over 50 different websites it would be if you were listed with me.

So….be very cautious about who you let in.  Here are some of the worse case words of warning and some safety practices.

  • Never leave out any valuables, guns, money or prescriptions that someone might see in an initial pass through and want to come back and take at a later time.

  • Make sure your doors and windows are locked at all times.  After a showing, double check your windows because it has been known that people will unlock a window to be able to enter at a later time.

  • It is always a great idea to be able to catch people on video as they enter your home just so you can have a face recognition in the future if it should ever be needed.

  • Before you let them in your home, feel free to ask to see their driver’s license.  If you can snap a quick picture of it with their car in the background, that would be a very good deterrent for the bad guys.  If they have nothing to hide then they shouldn’t have a problem with this step.

  • Never, never, never, never let someone in your home if you are there alone.  Always have someone there with you as a precaution.

It absolutely sucks that we have to talk about these negative aspects of what may happen inside our own homes.  But it is a reality.  I would rather arm you with some basic things to think about than to see you on the 10 o’clock news.

Happy showings!

Monday, March 25, 2019

But they're pre-approved!

It is such an exciting feeling when you receive an offer from a buyer and they tell you they are already pre-approved.  This is a friendly note to not hang your hat up on those words.

When the market is hopping and multiple people are looking at your home, it is a seller’s desire to take the highest offer with the least amount of contingencies.  So a great offer comes in and they present you with a pre-approval.  What does that really mean?

A pre-approval is a letter of intent, so to speak, from a lender that simply states based off of the initial conversation and the information the buyer has provided to the lender, this is the amount they should be pre-approved for.

Once the buyer starts working with the lender more, they will have to provide hard documentation to validate the information initially given.  The lender will then confirm income, monthly debts, credit scores, money in the bank, down payment availability, etc.  This is an initial underwriting process that will then produce a pre-qualification.  This is the type of letter that you want to look for!
Some lenders are actually starting the pre-qualification process before the buyer finds a house and has it contingent on the house information.  This is being done to give that buyer a leg up on their competition because the housing market is so tight at some price points.  The informed seller knows that benefit of this type of buyer because it drastically minimizes the risk of a deal falling through because of loan issues.

So before you get super excited when that offer comes in, make sure that you are asking lots of questions about where the buyer stands in the lending situation.  This is what I do for my clients.

Monday, March 18, 2019

5 Things To Keep In Mind as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

Selling a home on your own takes a lot of commitment, dedication and patience.  If you don't have all 3 of these and more, it might be time to re-think this possibility.  You will be taking on a job that Realtors get special education to start and continue in this job.  But I understand it is a very hot market for sellers right now and it might just be that easy.  

However, before you jump in with both feet, take a minute to think about these 5 things....

If you change your mind or would like help with any of these items, no strings attached....I'm just a phone call / text away!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Buyers Make Sense ~ Tips, Tricks & Advice

Okay, so we know that the buyers are going to be looking around the house and at some of the very specific things around your house.  But did you realize that they are going to looking at things within the house too that you need to be prepared for?

There are no perfect buyers nor perfect agents that will be bringing the buyers through.  We try to watch them very closely and absolutely discourage them from being like this picture!  But, Buyers will look:

  • In your closets
  • In your cupboards
  • Inside your refrigerator
  • Inside the stove
Make sure these areas are clean, organized and there's nothing there that you don't want someone to see.

Also, buyers sometimes have children with them.  And not all parents watch them very closely.  Here are a few tips that will keep you, your stuff and others safe:

  • Put away any collectibles that you don't want broken or to come up missing
  • Make sure there are no prescription drugs around the house
  • ABSOLUTELY NO GUNS in the house that are not inside a locked case and out of site

One last quick note.  Because you are not going to holding the buyers' hands as they walk through your home, make notes and tell them why things in your house are special.  Or create one sheet that has everything on it that they can look for as they go through.  Is that chandelier one-of-a-kind?  Has the carpet or flooring been replaced in the past few months?  Is that a new deck on the back?  Any of these items would be great information for a buyer to know about your home.  Share it!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Buyers Make Sense ~ What They Smell

Everything is great according to the eye.  Now it is time to make sure with the nose.

Can you close your eyes and remember different places because of the smell that they had?  I remember that smell of Grandma's and Grandpa's or going to the pool in the summer.  And a quick sniff can take you right back there.

Every place and every person has a different smell.  It could be attributed to the perfume / cologne that they wear, the foods that they cook, the animals that they keep.  Most people don't know what their own smell is because they are always with it.  It takes an outsider to come in and make a comment to know that there is one (good or bad).  Do you know what your smell is?

When it is time to start showing people your house, invite friends and family members over for a first look.  Ask them if there is anything noticeable in the house that an outsider would comment on.  Because you are openly asking this question, hopefully they will give you their opinion and you won't get mad at them if they answer it.

Here are some things that you are going to want to watch out for:

  • Make sure that all animal areas are ALWAYS cleaned up including crates, litter boxes, bedding, etc.
  • Don't go overboard with air fresheners.  Some people have a sensitive nose and this will be a turn off to them.
  • Be aware of what you cook and how it could affect the house.  Some items such as fish, onions, etc. have a very lingering smell.
  • If you clean with a bleach product, don't go overboard with it.  This may cause a buyer to assume that you are covering something up.
  • Appeal to their sense of taste.  If you want to put a good smell in the house, bake a pie or cookies.  Who can turn those smells long as you don't burn them lol.
  • Make sure the trash is taken out.
  • If the weather is nice and you have windows open...make sure that dog poop is cleaned up outside if you have a dog.  This smell does come into the house.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Buyers Make Sense ~ What They See

You've started marketing your property and hopefully you've had some interest.

It's time to talk about what you need to do around the house, inside and out, to be appealing to a buyer.


  • Curb Appeal.  You may usually pull into a garage to park the car, but one time pull in front of your house and look at it as a buyer would.  Check on these things:
    • Do you see any peeling paint?
    • Is your roof & gutters in good condition?
    • Is the walkway accessible or are there obstacles in the way?  Make sure it is clear and easy to get up.
    • If you have a concrete walkway, are there any major cracks or breaks that could cause someone to become injured?
  • Front Door
    • It needs to be clean.
    • It needs to look freshly painted.
    • It needs to be a good color and not something crazy.
    • No peeling paint around the door frame.
    • Does the doorbell work?
  • Front Stoop
    • The buyers are going to be standing here waiting for either you to open the door for them or for an agent to let them inside.  They are going to be looking all around the front to see if they see any issues before they come inside.  
    • Make sure that cobwebs are swept away.  
    • There should b no dead leaves, flowers or others that need to be cleared away.
    • A nice welcome mat is always a nice touch.
    • If the weather is warm, take the time to power wash the siding to give it a clean, crisp look.

  • De-Clutter
    • You know that you're going to be moving anyways, so now is the time to start getting rid of some stuff.  If you're not going to be using it anymore, give it away or throw it away.  If you're not going to be using it right now, box it up.  That's one less thing you will have to do later!
  • De-Personalize
    • It is wonderful to walk into homes that have 1,000 baby pictures on the walls or amazing accomplishments and awards...but those things become distractions.  Buyers are more busy looking at these items instead of at the house.  Put those things away.  It is also a great idea to put away any religious items.  You wouldn't want to offend someone, or turn off a buyer because they didn't have the same belief as you do.
  • Paint
    • If you have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint or need to be neutral, it is always a good idea to do this before showings begin.  DON'T PAINT ALL WHITE!  
  • Clean Carpets
    • Sometimes a perspective buyer will look at a house and think that it needs new carpet when all it really needs is a good cleaning.  By doing this one step, it could save you some money because buyers will try to lower the price with the thought that new carpet is going to need to be installed.
  • Run the Sweeper
    • Before a buyer comes to look at the house, run the sweeper.  This assures that everything is nice and clean.  They know that you have put an effort into the house and that you really care.
  • Close Toilets
    • You would be surprised at how many homes I go into that they have not done this...and some of them don't even flush!!!!  That is just a gross thing.  Most buyers are not going to lift up a lid or look at the inside on an initial showing.  When they stick their head inside a bathroom, you just don't want the inside of a toilet bowl to be the thing that they remember!
  • Take Out Trash
    • This means for the kitchen and the bathrooms.  Trash in the kitchen can lead to odors that you wouldn't normally have or that you would want a buyer to smell.  And in the bathroom, things are usually put into there that you don't want strangers to see and that they really don't want to see.  Dump it before they get there!
  • Change Light Bulbs
    • You want the house to be flooded with light when they come in.  Because you are going to go around the house and turn on all the lights anyways, make sure that all of the bulbs are working.  If they are not, change them.
  • Dust
    • During the showing process, you will want to make sure that the normal areas are dusted.  But about once a month, make sure that you get those areas that you don't normally think about like ceiling fans, plant ledges, light fixtures, etc.  These are things that you may not normally look at, but a buyer will pick up on them quickly.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What's Your Marketing Plan?

I understand that the process of selling your home on your own is difficult.  There are a lot of parts to it that you may not have realized are even a part of it.

We've already discussed about Market Value, which leads to pricing your property.  I will assume that you already have that part under control.  The next question is HOW WILL BUYERS KNOW YOU'RE THERE?

There are a few different areas that my help you get a little bit of extra exposure.  I have included the good and the bad on them to help get you thinking if this is the right marketing avenue for you.

  • FSBO websites
    • The good:  Some people know these sites are out there and will search to find FSBO homes
    • The bad:  Most buyers don't know they are there and are using an agent to look for a home.
  • Craig's List
    • The good:  Everyone knows about Craig's List.
    • The bad:  People are afraid to contact owners off this site because all of the scams.  This opens you up as the homeowner to scams and people that target FSBO for other reasons.
  • Newspapers
    • The good:  This could give you exposure to people that are browsing that paper.  Plus they sometimes have an online version.
    • The bad:  Not many people look in the newspaper for homes for sale any more.  Plus this can get expensive.
  • Sign in yard
    • The good:  Anybody that drives down your street will see your sign.
    • The bad:  Only people that drive down your street will see your sign.

How would a Real Estate Professional market my property?  Because each agent has a different way of working their business, I am going to give you just some general ideas.  Most of these are something that I offer, and others I don't.  But again, this gives you a general idea as to what we do to get exposure for your home.

  • MLS
    • Why?  This is how agents "talk" to each other.  It's our first location that we go to when we are setting buyers up with homes to consider and these get emailed directly to the buyers.  This is also where we look when we are setting up houses for the buyers to look at.  We generally don't have time to search out FSBO homes to include in that list.
  • Enhanced listings (Trulia, Zillow,, etc.)
    • Why?  We know that buyers are looking on these sites for homes even before they speak to us or while we are working with them.  As a seller, you are able to place ads on Trulia and Zillow to let buyers know that your house is available as well.  Zillow has a part dedicated specifically to FSBO.  Agents can pay extra fees to get more pictures and more descriptions.  We are also able to get leads directly from the site letting us know when someone is interested in the property.  These sites are just not always up to date.
  • Full-Color brochures
    • In the information box as well as in the home, I like to use full color brochures that portrays all of the features of a home.  People driving by are able to pick up a flyer with all of the information about the house.  I choose to use full color because if the presentation is yuck before they even enter the house, they may think that it is yuck inside the house.  This is something that you are able to do if you have the resources.
  • Virtual Tours
    • For my listings, I offer owners the ability to have a virtual tour shot of their home, if they want this.  There is no additional cost to my client because it is part of my package.  If you wanted to hire a company to do this for you, the cost would be $100+.
    • Why?  This gives potential buyers the opportunity to "look around" your house before ever stepping foot inside.  They can get a feel if their furniture would fit or if the layout is what they are looking for.  Having this also gives us higher exposure rates on the websites that we use.
  • Open Houses
    • This is something that every seller is able to use to their advantage.  The differences between you doing it and us doing it are quite drastic.  We generally advertise it in the Sunday Dispatch as well as on our websites.  We let our buyers know where we are going to be so that they can come see the houses that we have available.  We generally have a Safety plan set up in case something doesn't feel right when a looker is in the house.  You would be opening your home up to strangers, giving up safety measures as well as opportunity for theft.
  • Yard Sign
    • Yep, we do this too.  A difference being that someone driving by would have to call us for a showing instead of walking up to the door and ringing the bell asking to be let into your home.  Most buyers don't do that if it's an agent's sign out front.  There is also recognition to company names on the sign.
  • Personal Websites
    • All of my listings go on my personal website  This gives anybody that is searching my site the ability to see what I have available on the market.  I also use Search Engine Optimization so that when a buyer may be looking by the number of bedrooms, price or neighborhood, your house would pop up as a possibility.
  • Neighborhood Mailers
    • Before my first open house, I send out invitations to the neighbors asking them to come in and take a look.  Some agents don't like the "nosy neighbors" but I embrace them.  This gives them an opportunity to know what is available in their neighborhood, but who better that may know someone that is looking for a home close to where they live?
  • Current Buyers
    • I email my current buyers each week with a little bit of information that may be helpful to them, and I let them know what houses I have available.  I already know that they are interested in buying, so why wouldn't I have them look at the ones that I am selling?
  • YouTube
    • Of course I have a YouTube channel.  Don't you?  I place my virtual tours here, informational videos as well as other helpful information about homes.  This is a great location to get people that are just searching through videos.
  • Social Media
    • I use these outlets to showcase my favorite features of different houses and get conversations going about them.  I also have access to something called SocialMLS that is an interaction on Facebook for me and my sellers that helps get the word out about their house and asks others to share the information.  Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinedIn.  You name it and I am going to use it to my advantage to get your home sold!

So I have given you some examples of what I do to get homes sold.  Hopefully this gives you an idea or two of things that you might be able to do to help yourself.  

I am going to go a step further and give you a couple of ideas that no other FSBO are doing that can make you stand out.  

  1. I hate nothing more than receiving an email from a FSBO saying that they don't want to use me to sell their home, but they would be more than happy to pay me a commission should I bring them a buyer.  I know absolutely nothing about their home, where they are advertising or any way for my buyers to get information about what they have to offer.
    • What you can do:  Create an information brochure that shows all of the features of your home, how to contact you and the price.  Next drive through your neighborhood and others around you and write down all of the agents that are selling homes in the area.  Mail them (you can get our information off of the internet guaranteed if you Google us) a copy of the brochure and a nice letter stating that you know they have listings in the area and would appreciate if they would keep your house in mind as well if they have a buyer that wasn't right for their house but wanted that area.  AND that you are willing to pay a commission to the buyer's agent if they bring you a buyer.  Now think of all those agents that are going to know about your house!
  2. Let the neighborhood know!
    • What you can do:  Use copies of those same flyers that you printed for above, and take them around the neighborhood.  I know that it's cold right now, but it's a great opportunity to be invited inside and chat with the neighbors to find out if they know of anyone looking to move into the neighborhood.  
  3. Have you told your friends, family and co-workers?
    • What you can do:  Use your own social media to let everyone know that you are selling your home.  Share pictures, features, upgrades, etc. and ask them to share it on their page also.  
If you need help putting any of these things into place, please feel free to contact me.  You can call or text me at 614-374-6353 or email me at  I am always willing to help!