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How to Sell a House by Owner in California

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If you are selling a home in California, you should know that it could be a really expensive ball game. This is because realtor commissions will eat big time into your profits. If you wish to avoid paying hefty commissions, selling your home by owner could be your option.

Are you contemplating selling FSBO? Then this article on how to sell a house in California by owner will serve as the perfect guide to get you started. We cover a detailed overview of the steps to be taken from prep and marketing to negotiation and closing. Let’s get rolling.

Step 1: Do necessary repairs and upgrades

FSBO sellers may want to get their homes inspected before listing for sale. Taking care of these issues upfront gives buyers peace of mind when they make an offer. But note that if you get a pre-listing inspection done, you will have to disclose every key finding to the buyer and if you have or have not addressed them.

There are several disclosure forms that homeowners in California need to fill up. There are many disclosures that FSBO sellers in California should be aware of.

Step 2: Stage and photograph

You will require professional photos for your listing and for this it will be important to showcase a clean and appealing house. If you hire an agent, he/she will organize photography and staging before listing your house on the MLS.

But if you are an FSBO seller, then this task falls on you. You might be in the process of moving or have moved out, in which case your house might be empty. But don’t leave it vacant. You may want to focus on curb appeal.

California home buyers prefer these things:

  • A backyard with patio furniture
  • Plants that lend your home a relaxing aura
  • Flexible spaces stages as a gym or home office
  • Ample light, so open up all curtains

Step 3: Set a price

When thinking about how to sell a house in California by the owner, the first question that will come to your mind would be determining a reasonable listing price.

Note that this could be a little difficult without a realtor but it is doable. You can go through some of the popular real estate websites to check what’s currently on sale. Narrow down your search by looking at homes in the same school district, with a similar number of bedrooms, and similar square footage.

Such a comparative assessment will make it easier for you to determine your home’s competitive price, of course, after adjusting more or less based on the unique features of your property.

Step 4: Market your property

As an FSBO seller, you will not have access to the MLS, so you will have to depend on your marketing abilities. You can ask your family and friends to spread the word for you. Facebook marketplace and other social media channels are also great options to advertise freely.

But if you need to sell a house quickly then you can even get your home listed on the MLS. You can use the services of a flat fee MLS company, which will charge you an upfront fee, or can even hire a listing service that will charge a percentage of the sales price to list your home on the MLS.

Step 5: Negotiate Offers

If you have followed the above steps diligently then hopefully your efforts will convert into you getting a few offers to say the least. However, not all offers are great.

As an FSBO seller, you will have to handle negotiating a contract you are content with. Price is a big factor, and so are other details of the contract like who will cover the buyer’s closing costs, the closing date, and the contingencies to be included in the contract.

After the first offer is made, sellers and buyers use counteroffer forms to continue negotiations. An agreement is seen as binding when both parties accept the final counteroffer.

Step 6: Close

After your contract is finalized, escrow opens. In California, real estate transactions are usually closed by escrow agents or title companies. Both parties can propose their preferable escrow but should agree on one to close the deal. Before the deal is closed, the below steps are likely to take place:

  • Home inspection
  • Home appraisal by a 3rd party independent appraiser
  • Final walk-through by the buyer

After all, this happens, all parties sign the paperwork and the title officially transfers to the new buyer.

This concludes our section on how to sell a house in California by owner.

Bottom line

Usually, the decision to go down the FSBO route is motivated by the urge to save on commission. While this is a feasible option, it has its risks, including the likelihood of your home selling for less than the market value.

If you need to sell houses quickly and without spending too much money, iBuyers and companies that buy houses as-is are also good options.

Real estate transactions in California tend to be more complicated compared to other states because of the strict regulations therein. So do the research and see what is the best route for you.

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