September 22, 2013

Cutting out the middleman in home sales

It's possible to skip the agent – and his fees – when you're selling a home, but know when to ask for help.

By ALEX VEIGA The Associated Press

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This house in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is for sale by owner. Historically, for-sale-by-owner sales accounted for 15 to 20 percent of sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. But for-sale-by-owner home sales made up a record-low 9 percent of sales in 2012.

The Associated Press

If you skip the appraisal, you can glean some insights on real estate websites that help walk sellers through the pricing process. At, the tool costs $40.


The first step in getting your home sold is to make would-be buyers aware that it's on the market.

Before the Internet, this often meant relying on a "for sale" sign in the yard and an ad in the newspaper. Now there are many websites that allow homeowners to post photos and descriptions of their home. Some cater specifically to for-sale-by-owner listings, including, and Other options include popular real estate portals and All allow homeowners to put up listings for free.

For $99, lists a seller's home in local multiple listing services plus key national sites, such as

Experts advise taking good photos -- you can look at listings for homes represented by agents as a guide. That typically means making sure interiors are well lit and exterior shots are taken on a sunny day with a good camera, said Colby Sambrotto, president of


Once you start receiving inquiries from buyers interested in visiting your home, it may be tempting to drop everything and have them come over. Experts suggest sellers resist that impulse, and set up a small window of time every week for buyers to drop in. That will make it easier to manage the visits, and create a sense of urgency among buyers when they run into others taking a look at the home.


Unless you're comfortable drawing up agreements on payment and closing terms, consider bringing in an attorney to help put the finishing touches on the deal. Another option is offering a smaller percentage of the sale, say 1 percent, or a flat fee to a real estate agent for their help in nailing down the last details of an agreement.

Of course, you can do it on your own. A basic agreement can be as simple as the price, how the buyer will pay (cash or a loan), and the closing date.

That's what Magelky did.

"It wasn't too complicated," he said. "It's intimidating, but once you get into it, it isn't really that tough."


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