Selling a Home
How To Sell Your Home: For Sale by Owner
Disclaimer: We do not provide legal advice. This is only meant to give you a general idea of what goes into selling a home on your own. We always recommend you work with a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Arizona or hire a Real Estate Attorney to advise you.
FSBO is a method of selling your home without the involvement of a listing agent. In a FSBO scenario, the seller assumes the responsibilities that would normally fall to their agent such as pricing the home, arranging showings, and negotiating the deal.
In an agent-assisted sale, the seller typically pays a commission amounting to around 6% of the sale price, which is then split 50/50 with the buyer’s agent. That 6% is deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. By selling FSBO, a seller can eliminate the cost of the listing agent commission (so around 3%), though they may still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission.
Finally, a FSBO sale does not mean that a seller won’t need any professional assistance. Most people who sell by owner will need to hire an attorney to review and prepare key documents and make sure paperwork is filled out properly, such as the seller’s disclosures and purchase contract.
1. Address Needed Repairs
You should consider getting a home inspection prior to listing it for sale. Addressing any issues upfront helps buyers have peace of mind when making an offer. However, be aware that if you get a pre-listing inspection, you will be required to share relevant findings with buyers and how you did or did not address them.
2. Fill Out Your Disclosure Forms
Even when you sell a house For Sale by Owner, Arizona law requires sellers to truthfully disclose important facts about the property.
Sellers are asked to do this by filling out the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS) as thoroughly as possible and attaching relevant documents for the buyer. This may include warranties, invoices, and leases.
A good time to fill out your Arizona property disclosure is prior to listing your home so that you know it’s taken care of. If you use the Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract provided by the Arizona Association of Realtors®, disclosures are due to the buyer no later than three days after contract acceptance.
Arizona’s form will walk the seller through disclosing any known association fees, anticipated disputes, tax liens, or assessments affecting the property. The form also covers details about the property’s condition such as whether there have been any roof repairs, foundation cracks or settling, chimney or fireplace problems, or termite issues, among other items.
Depending on the age of your home, you also may need to fill out a Lead-Based Paint Hazards disclosure for residential sales.
It’s almost always advisable to engage the expertise of a real estate attorney to assist in this step in the process to minimize potential legal risk. According to Arizona’s disclosure form, “if you do not make the legally required disclosures, you may be subject to civil liability.”
3. Arrange for Professional Photography
Consider the benefits of getting professional photos to include in your listing. A professional photographer will take steps to shoot each room from the best angle. They will ensure optimal interior and natural lighting; and edit for the ideal brightness and exposure.
4. Market Your Home to Buyers
Listing on the multiple listing service (MLS) will get your property more visibility. As a FSBO seller, you can opt to have your property listed on the MLS for a flat fee, or you can employ a listing service that will charge a percentage of the sales price for services that include MLS access.
Keep in mind that when posting on the MLS, a buyer’s broker commission will be required, and the commission rate will need to be provided upfront upon entering into the MLS (an average of 2%-3%).
5. Negotiate Offers
As a FSBO seller, you’ll be responsible for negotiating a contract you’re satisfied with. Price is a major factor, as are other details of the agreement such as whether you’ll cover any of the buyer’s closing costs, when you’ll agree to move out, and which contingencies will be included in the contract.
Subjects that you will most likely encounter:
Buyers may ask for the offer to be contingent on other factors, such as the sale of their existing home or their ability to obtain financing. They are also likely to include a home inspection contingency, which is a stipulation in the purchase agreement that says the buyer can inspect the home, top to bottom, and then decide whether to move forward with the purchase. Finally, FSBO sellers should be aware of the home appraisal contingency which buyers often add as a protection if the appraised value comes in lower than the purchase price. A contingency-free contract is rare, but in a seller’s market, buyers are more likely to waive one or more to strengthen their offer.
Both buyer and seller will have costs to cover at settlement. Some of these costs such as title fees, escrow fees, and transfer taxes can be negotiated in many instances. A buyer may request that you pay a portion of their closing costs but in today’s seller’s market, it’s been more likely for sellers to either pay nothing or even ask that the buyer cover a portion of their costs as a condition of the sale.
Following the inspection, a buyer may ask you to make necessary repairs or for monetary compensation based on an estimation of what the repair is likely to cost. You can either accommodate the request or do nothing, but the buyer can choose not to continue on with the purchase if the results of the inspection weren’t satisfactory (unless they waived the home inspection contingency)
Closing dates can be subject to negotiation as well. Buyers may need longer to secure financing or sellers may ask for additional time to move out after closing. On the flip side, one party may ask for a quicker closing date to enable them to move faster if needed.
The earnest money deposit is typically a small amount of money that goes into an escrow account to show that the buyer is serious. The amount is negotiable, and it always goes toward the purchase price.
When buyers add contingencies to the contract, they are able to back out of the deal and get their earnest money back in certain circumstances, such as if anything unsatisfactory turns up on the inspection report. You’ll need to have a third-party account set aside to hold this earnest money until closing (such as a title company).
Remember that even if you come to terms with your buyer verbally at first, you’ll want to put the offer in writing using a residential real estate purchase contract. A purchase contract is a legally binding document that protects the interests of both the seller and the buyer by specifically outlining expectations prior to closing.
To reduce the risk of errors for your sale, hire a real estate attorney to review the contract for you; the attorney can also advise you on necessary steps in preparation for closing.
6. Complete Steps Towards Closing
After you go under contract with the buyer and finalize the details of the purchase agreement, escrow opens. Real estate transactions in Arizona are typically closed by Escrow Agents and Title Companies
In Arizona, either buyer or seller can propose their choice of escrow, but they must eventually decide on a company to go with. Before the deal is final, you can expect the following next steps to occur:
- Complete the home inspection, usually within five days to a week of signing the purchase agreement.
- Negotiate inspection items (if applicable).
- Complete home appraisal by a third-party independent appraiser (necessary if your buyer is using a mortgage).
- Negotiate appraisal results (if applicable).
- Buyer completes final walkthrough to ensure the home is in “broom-clean” condition, which means swept, vacuumed and free of debris and excess stuff.
- The buyer will also ensure that no damage has been done to the property since their last visit.
7. Close The Sale
All parties get together to sign mortgage documents, but all of the paperwork required to officially close the loan doesn’t have to be completed at that time. Most importantly, no mortgage funds are distributed to the seller on that day.
Arizona is “Dry Funding” State. Dry refers to the ink needing to dry before the deal is closed. The extra padding provides an additional layer of protection to ensure there aren’t any issues with the transaction.
Be aware that closing as a FSBO seller does not mean that you avoid all closing fees. Common seller closing fees include prorated property taxes and settlement fees.
Next Steps Will Likely Include:
- Attorneys review documents for errors.
- Clear title: resolve any title issues necessary to close.
- Transfer ownership of your home to the buyer at settlement.
- Funds are disbursed to the seller and other parties involved.
- Review your settlement statement for a complete list of fees and credits of the sale.
Reminders for Closing:
- Gather your title, loan documents, survey, insurance information, and any permits for renovations and have them ready for closing.
- You’ll also need your financial information for a final wire transfer.
- If you’ve agreed to make repairs based on the inspection, you’ll probably need to provide receipts to prove that the repairs have been completed.