How to Sell By Owner

How to Sell By Owner

So ya Wanna Sell By Owner?

The Top 7.5 Things to Know

I cannot blame you!  Real Estate fees are a portion of your equity and who wants to give that up?  However…..some context.  A great real estate trainer and consultant once said that in every sale of every property:

“No one saves the commission; someone earns it”

So in this blog/doc/tutorial, I’m going to go over many of the details that will help you make the decision to go it alone or with me.  All truth, no punches pulled.

Here’s the Top 7 Things to Consider When Selling By Owner, with a BONUS 7.5 tip!

The Laws All Apply to You.  

Iowa real estate law and administrative rules are for all real estate transfers, made with a licensee, attorney or between two parties.  (some exceptions of course, but we’re dealing with the normal “arm’s length" variety).  Here's what might trip you up:

Non-discrimination law: actually federal law, you cannot discriminate against any protected class.  Know these!

Seller’s Disclosure of Property Condition And Lead-based Paint:  The seller’s disclosure is state-mandated and must be completed by the seller and given to a potential buyer BEFORE they see the property.  Be honest.  The lead-based paint document applies to homes built before 1978.  Failure to provide it or incorrect completion carries an $11,000 fine!

Pro tip: get an attorney.  S/he can get the forms and guide you through the maze of compliance requirements

Pricing is Crucial!

You’ll need to do a search of similar sales using your local county assessor’s site.  Keep in mind that every home is unique.  And you won’t see interior pictures.  Square footage, updates, etc. factor into this part-art and part-science of pricing. 

Over-price and no one will look or all you’ll get are low-ball offers from buyers who know it is overpriced.  Underprice and you lose money.

Pro tip: hire an appraiser and ask for a SALE appraisal.   (there are many types of appraisals.  The re-fi appraisal you got 3  months ago is not a sales appraisal)

Pre-inspect your home

Every home will have flaws.  Why not learn what issues your home may have and then fix them, in advance? I did this on my personal home’s sale and my process went much more smoothly because I had it inspected and the work done.  The work was---and usually is--- very minor and totalled less than $800.

Pro Tip: Hire a respected inspector!  Like your stager, do what they suggest regarding items of safety and material deficiencies.  Complete any deferred maintenance items,too.  Make the report and your invoices showing work, available to a buyer.

Marketing works and is more than a sign!

Your home is not only competing in general, but you’re competing with the serious and expensive marketing that the big dogs do every day!  How can you compete?  Let’s jump to the Pro Tips:

Pro Tips for Marketing:

Stage Your Home!  Hire a stager and do what she tells you!  Staged homes sell more quickly and for more money than those not staged!  Do this before photography.  And remember, you’re moving anyway, so now is a great time to pack stuff, get rid of stuff and freshen the house up.

Photos! Hire a professional real estate photographer to take 15-20 excellent pix of your freshly staged home. Consider adding a video tour/walkthrough and consider a drone series of overheads.  You’ll need these for your ads and website.  

Advertise and market your home!  This is the hard part.  You’ll need a website specific to your home, such as  Here, you place your photos and copy about your home. (stay in compliance with anti-discrimination laws!)  

On your For Sale sign, you’ll want this web address prominently displayed.

Consider advertising on Facebook.  Tell your friends via Facebook that your home is for sale and post your website address. (if your sale is due to a poor situation like job loss or dissolution, you may want to skip this step)

Showing your home

Assurance Claim: I am not making any of this up!  The situations alluded to here are real and happen to real estate professionals every day.

Just because your home is for sale does not mean every Jasper out there has a right to see it!  You live there and thus are in control of who sees it and when.  The world has creeps out there who want to snoop, stalk you, steal your stuff and worse!  Every. Day. in Des Moines, a Realtor gets a call from a criminal wanting to see houses or meet them in person.  We use an app that does an instant background check; you don’t have this app, so some steps are in order.  Let’s go to Pro Tips:

Pro Tips for Showing Your Home

Make an appointment!  Do not ever show your house to someone who just shows up and rings the doorbell.  

Demand proof of their ability to purchase before they set foot in your home (Realtors do this). You have every right and an obligation for the safety of you and your family, to know WHO is coming in and HOW they will pay for your home! 

Write down their license plate number.  If you cannot see a car, ask where it is.  

ASK for the order!  Think about it: a stranger came into your house under the guise of wanting to buy it.  Ask them to buy it!  It’s part of the process.  

Negotiate the offer

Your attorney will have a standard purchase agreement.  When the buyer says they want to buy, require the use of this document. Here is a partial list of items that are typically negotiated in a purchase agreement:


--earnest deposit

--closing costs

--close and possession date   

--inspection (if you had it pre-inspected you might be able to decline an inspection)

--items to stay or remove (play sets, built-ins, etc.)

Close the deal!

Congratulations!  All contingencies have been removed and the lender is working on the buyer’s behalf to close the sale.

Most of the work being done is done by your attorney and the lender.  The only tip here is simple:

When someone asks you for something, do it immediately! 

Some items might be:

--your mortgage info

--your abstract

--legal docs to prove you paid off a lien


This list is NOT ALL-INCLUSIVE!  There are about a million more details but Iowa law and admin rules specify what I can do for you without an agency agreement.  Do your research, get a lawyer and make a plan.  

If you have the time and ability, I know you can do this!  

Whatever your next move is, I can help with it, so don’t hesitate to ask!

July 2023