Friday, October 8, 2010

How to sell your house by owner: Top Paid Resources

*You are reading Part 5 of How I Sold My House By Owner in 3 weeks, so you can too!
All 5 easy, descriptive steps are listed & linked at the end of this post.

1. For Sale By Owner sign, Open House sign ($15 & $7, hardware store)
2. Info Tube ($15, hardware store)

3. Professional printing for home for sale Flyer (see Flyer here) $30
4.  Local Paper Ads
Here's the deal. I live in a city of many older conservative people. I decided to give this effort all that I had from the beginning. As much as it killed me, I spent $99 to list the home in the local paper for 30 days (including their website). It was killer to spend $56 each weekend for an Open House Ad, but I learned the hard way that wasn't bringing buyers to my Open Houses. When the local paper messed up & didn't run my Ad one weekend, only 2 people came. They didn't come 'til the last few minutes because they saw my sign on their way to another open house nearby. I hope your paper charges less! 

5. $500 to the friend who's referral led to the sale of our home. 
I used Facebook to advertise my house for sale (status updates, links, photo album)
To reach the largest local audience, I sent a message to every local friend offering them $500 if their referral led to the sale of our home by owner. Unlike say, $50 or $100, $500 is enough incentive for friends to spread the word on your home (give them links to your website, photo album, etc and suggest they share it via facebook, twitter, blogs, & word of mouth).
We didn't end up having to give $500, because it was our flyer in the infotube that got the buyer into our home. It would have been worth $500, not to have to pay 6% to a Realtor.

*Another resource I didn't have to use, but planned to use if my 14 day FREE trial at ran out before my house was sold (which it didn't!) is , where you can get an MLS# for a flat fee. This significantly increases your home's visibility. The catch is, you will want to consider offering to pay a buyer's agent 3% commission. Still better than 6%.

Step 1: Before the For Sale Sign hits the front yard
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to sell your house by owner: top FREE resources

*You are reading Part 4 of How I Sold My House By Owner in 3 weeks, so you can too!
All 5 easy, descriptive steps are listed & linked at the end of this post.
Now that you've cleaned & cleared, taken photos, and created a website you can make all of that work for you in advertising. Here are the top free resources I used for selling my house.
1. (free)
(Free 14 day trial. The house was sold before it expired!)
These 2 can work together:
Using "create a craigslist ad" feature on, you can create a professional real estate for sale ad that looks like this:
You can also use & to announce Open Houses.

The PHOTOS we had available were key in drawing potential buyers in to see more of the home through these online ads. See the Photos step here, if you missed it.

The key to my successful online ads was keeping them current.
I logged in & re-posted my ad weekly, updating anything that needs to be updated regularly.
The weekly re-posting was tricky; having to delete the previous ad or change something about the title & content to manipulate the system. It was worth time & energy because most buyers are going to focus on the first few days listed on the site. Keep these things in mind when posting & managing your online ad(s): CURRENT, ACCURATE, ENTICING.

3. Kodak Gallery (MOMMY) PHOTO CARDS. (50 FREE)
You may remember this post, where I mentioned these cards which are intended for moms to have easy access to their contact info for playdates, etc. There are no restrictions as far as photo or content, so I used a photo of my home, website across the front.
And the back included important info regarding the home: address, price, a few key features, contact info for showings.  
Concise. Appealing. Essential.
I was able to hand these out to people that came in for a showing, giving them easy access to contact info. I also kept them in my wallet to hand to those that may be looking themselves or know someone in the market for a house. Easy. Accessible. FREE! Get yours here.
4. Flyer 
Using "Pages" on my Mac I chose a flyer template with tear-off tabs on the bottom for posting on bulletin boards at local businesses. I simply inserted text & photos & printed them. You can do this all at home. 
I chose to have them printed locally in high quality to increase appeal which cost around $30. 
But you may have a perfectly adequate printer at home. Here's a glimpse at mine.

I kept a stack of flyers on display using a plate stand when buyers came through the house. We filled the info tube that was attached to our yard "for sale by owner" sign with these flyers too. Be sure to replenish. The buyers of our home were led to us first from the flyer out front. They had it in hand when they entered for the first time.
I also asked to post them in public areas, frequently visited by people that may be looking for a home in our price-range.

Also FREE:
Official Documents.
Real Estate sales documents vary state-to-state. I was able to download & print the necessary forms (sellers disclosure, offer form, purchasing contract, etc) from my state's website. Check with a local title company if you're unable to locate those forms online for your state. 
Have the seller's disclosure & offer form out at every showing & open house. 
I sent each potential buyer home with a business card, flyer, & offer form. 

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How to sell your house by owner:

*You are reading Part 3 of How I Sold My House By Owner in 3 weeks, so you can too!
All 5 easy, descriptive steps are listed & linked at the end of this post. was integral in the sale of my home in less than 3 weeks.
It allows buyers to tour my home online & gather most desired information at their convenience.

This post will tell you how to create YOUR own home website too for FREE or $10: your choice.

I used a FREE blog platform to create & manage
I chose, which is user-friendly.
Theses instructions refer to using The concepts can be adapted & used on your choice of website platform.
All of the ideas can be translated to one of the other blog platforms as well.

Here's a screenshot of

You'll need some time.
While it's easy, you want to be sure to publish accurate & thorough information & photos before you advertise the site.
1. the web address.
For simplicity sake, I chose to pay $10 for publishing my site as a ".com" 
(for FREE you can publish as "".) I highly recommend spending the $10 to increase the chances that buyers will remember the address & for other advertising purposes (signs, business cards, flyers, online & newspaper ads, etc.)
I suggest using your address as I did "". It's simple & tells them both your physical & web addresses.
To nix the ".blogspot": Go to Blogger Settings, Publishing, choose Custom Domain.
Check availability. Pay $10 & you've got your domain for 12 months.

2. Header
Take a look at mine above.
Using a photo editing software, select a stellar photo of your home (I suggest the front view or front door, unless it's hideous & or FAR less attractive than say, your living room or kitchen.) I used Picasa which is free here. A catchy phrase, just your address, or both works for the text on the photo. Before it said SOLD, it read: "for sale by owner"
To insert as the header: Go to Design tab, Edit Header, Choose & Upload Image, select "instead of title & description", Save.

3. Pages (Posts)
Page #1 is a Photo slideshow. Visit Step 2 if you haven't.
I used FLICKR for free here. Once it's created, go to Play Slideshow, Click on Embed, Copy Code & Create a new post, Edit HTML tab & Paste the code. Publish Post.
Page #2 : General Info & Features. (including main home info, a few highlighted features, price & contact info)
The following pages are rooms. Each page has at least one photo of the room & includes a list of the most attractive features of that room.
Beyond rooms, I included a page that is formatted much the same way you'd see a Realtor's site with exact dimensions, materials, etc. It's more official. This is important for making the site appear professional to those that are into that sort of thing.
*You want to reach everyone. It only takes one buyer & they may not look or think a bit like you do.
Finally, I included a page with a map & nearby retail stores. I also included links to the school district's website & the city's website. For that added "imagine your life here" touch.
To be sure posts appear in the order that you wish, you can manipulate the time/date of publishing of each post: post options (below the white box where you enter your post text, post date & time, set date & time.

*Visit my home's site anytime for reference. 
Feel free to copy my format and text, on one condition: GIVE CREDIT when it's due! You can simply state the source for your text or your inspiration by linking to

*Speaking of credit: I was inspired by this site when creating 

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to sell your house by owner: PHOTOS

*You are reading Step 2 in How I Sold My House By Owner in 3 weeks, so you can too! 
All 5 easy, descriptive steps are listed & linked at the end of this post. 

Photos can make or break your sale before you've ever had contact with a buyer.
Even the retired people that came to my house had visited the home's website first.
(make yours in Step 3).
Good photos were integral to the sale of my house (the buyers saw several homes after mine and kept coming back to our website to view our photos & it won!)
Before you start clicking, here are some tips that made my photos a hit.
Thanks to STEP 1, even the pantry was photo-worthy.
I highly recommend you finish STEP 1 before publishing photos, first-impressions can't be re-done.  
Grab a good digital camera. (This is the time to borrow a friend's or better, ask the friend to come by & take a few snapshots if s/he’s got a knack for it.)

1. Find the best angle to flatter the space.
Don't shy away from getting down low or stepping up high for the sake of the shot.
High ceilings? Crop down & shoot slightly up. 
  • Be sure to get floor to ceiling in your shot. Chopping the space negates the high ceiling effect.

I snapped the photos of my bedrooms midway through an abdominal crunch! Yep. I got down on my back, crunched up, & stayed as still as possible while I snapped.
Hey, it’s the best way I found to get the magnitude of a room from the doorway!

2. While you've Cleaned & Cleared in STEP 1, consider removing excess furniture from a room just for the photo. I removed something(s) from the floor of each of our bedrooms (chair, ottoman, toy organizer, etc) before photographing. It was worth the extra energy to exude "spacious".
    3. Aim to photograph your home's best assets.
    Buyers want to see the kitchen, main living space, and bathrooms. 

    4. Bad photos are worse than no photos. 
    • If you can’t get a good photo of it or it's not picture-worthy, leave it out. 
    If you missed STEP 1: click here
    If you want to start at the beginning of our journey, read here, here & here.

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      Wednesday, September 29, 2010

      How to sell your house by owner: before the "for sale" sign

      This is Part 1 of How I sold my house by owner in 3 weeks so you can too!
      You may want to follow the personal journey starting here.
      This is not to downplay the job of a Realtor. If you have the time and tools, you may be able to keep the 6% of your home's sale for yourself like we did.
      Confidence is very important starting this journey. I talked about a big reason for mine here.
      I had Realtors calling & knocking on my door explaining the odds were against me selling, telling me my price was too high in comparison, and insulted me with "when you're ready to sell it, give me a call". Here's a little glimpse of how many homes are for sale within 3 miles of my house. Red dots represent homes for sale. 
      Looks like a pubescent face, right? Directly in my neighborhood there are handfuls of homes for sale by Realtors that were for sale for a long while before mine was & are still for sale now, after mine is sold.
      Our house sold by owner in 3 weeks for more per sq. foot than the comparables & we kept every bit of the money! Sound good to you?
      This is how I did it, so you can too!

      We took 3 days to clean out the house.
      Room by room, we got to bare essentials.
      The bottom line is buyers want to see space, not stuff.
      Clothes, furnishings, toys, etc were divided as follows:
      Keep the minimum for use now,
      Store what’s necessary for later,
      Give it away because it’s rarely used or has run its course.

      You may wish to hold a garage sale, or list big items on We were working with limited time so it made most sense to donate, keep an itemized list, get a receipt, & use it as a tax deduction. Be careful to evaluate the time vs. your true need for $ from the items in question. Is it worth the time & effort of a garage sale that may end in $150 at best? Is it better to sell high value items on & donate the rest in the interest of time & for the sake of getting started on selling & showing the house? Either way set realistic time limits & stick to them.

      The space you’re selling should invite the potential buyer to imagine their stuff there.
      Pay careful attention to counter, closet, wall, & floor space (limiting furnishings, toys, & storage); less is more.

      Don’t forget the pantry, bathroom, & kitchen drawers. Toss rarely used and expired toiletries, organize utensils & clear junk drawers.
      This works better for you too. You’re moving, which means you’ll be packing. The more you toss or donate the less you have to pack & unpack.
      Think: they’re buying the life-style this home offers.

      One of the first couples to tour my home, had already looked at the home’s website (more on that in step 3). When they came in they were discussing where their own furnishings would fit. This is a good thing.

      Think: hotel room or vacation rental: welcoming, but generic. Most importantly, you don’t walk in & feel like an intruder. Rather you are free to make yourself at home.
      (This is in large part done by the previous step. Opening closet doors & seeing empty shelves & hanging racks create just the “imagine yourself here” image you want for potential buyers.)

      Replace ALL owner-specific artwork & decorations.
      This is the time to bite the bullet and paint that owner-specific hot pink wall! You want to sell, and the buyer may share your great taste in homes but may be turned off by your choice of navy blue & green in the bedroom because they have all girls. You want to make it as neutral as possible to keep from turning away buyers.
      Your goal is limited furnishings not zero furnishings. Let’s say: fill 1/3 of the shelf or main wall. Choose furnishings to scale that highlight the space the home offers.
      My mantle was filled entirely with family photos, and because it’s a central focus of our living space it needed something to appropriate scale to highlight the great space.  I scored clearance items that filled in the gaps.  You may borrow generic items too if needed. Tasteful seasonal d├ęcor is the way I went because it was fall & those colors are warm & welcoming. (see Step 2: photos)

      Some thrifty decor ideas: bowls of vibrant colored produce (lemons, apples, pears, artichokes) on bare kitchen counters, bargain blooms on tabletops, a pumpkin on a coffee table (in season).
      We had several people, including a Realtor, assume we had the home professionally staged. I even had interested buyers question if it was for sale furnished. This is a good thing.
      Consult my photo album for more ideas.
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      Monday, September 27, 2010

      How I sold my house in 3 wks, so you can too!

      The top FREE resources used. 
      The top paid resources used.
      I sold my house by owner in less than 3 weeks. 
      We got what we wanted for it, buyer paid all closing costs. And we saved the 6% commission. 
      Think you're up for it? 
      I'm happy to share how I did it, so you can too!
      This series includes a 5 Step process (links found below)
      For introduction sake, here are a few key players I had sitting around in my house:
      1. Computer
      3. Sharpie markers
      4. Sprayway glass cleaner, Disinfectant wipes, Swiffer dusters, paper towels
      6. Plastic storage totes & garbage bags
      7.Willingness to let go of what I don't need
      8. TIME
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      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      If He said He would, He will

      This time I wasn't afraid to get my hopes up.
      No matter who said, "it's unlikely" or pointed out the odds are against me,
      this time I let myself believe in it as though it was secure.

      I gave it everything I could, even if it could end up in vain.
      And when I looked around me and saw evidence to the contrary, it only compelled me forward.

      Because I heard the voice of God. 
      It sounded just like the last time I heard Him.
      It sounds a lot like your parents' voice.
      You know the "even if I don't like it, as much as I may want to reason it away or deny I know it..IT IS"?
      Truth is good that way. Absolute.
      If He said He would do it, He will 
      If He's done it before, He CAN do it again. 
      It's more than optimism.
      It's faith; "the evidence of things hoped for, the certainty of what we do not see." Heb 11:1

      I love what The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says about the providence of God
      "[In His providence] God attends not only to apparently momentous events and people but also to those that seem mundane and trivial...Indeed, so all encompassing is God's attention to events within creation that nothing...happens by chance"
      We have experienced this providence, this attention to mundane & trivial just recently.
      You may notice something missing from the top of my sidebar.
      The house is no longer for sale, it's sold. 
      In less than 3 weeks, for sale by owner.
      Especially considering there are handfuls of houses for sale in my neighborhood by Realtors that were on the market for a while before we started selling ours & are still on the market now.
      The price, the method, the timing, it all came under scrutiny.
      Understandably so.
      But, we heard God's voice. We were obeying until He gave us new instruction that was just as clear as the first.

      We put our house for sale not knowing where we'd live when it sold.
      We set our sights on Virginia being the perfect place for our family to spend the next many years. Though it's been years since we visited & even then it was brief.
      For months there wasn't a single job available there, so we had every reason not to put all of our eggs in that basket.
      Still, we did. Even resigning from his secure job here in TX, before he had another job secured.
      We heard God's voice and His promises were etched on our hearts.

      It was the most backwards, spontaneous, unconventional thing we've ever done.
      But we heard God's voice. We trusted His words to us and His promises became our security.

      We were still surprised by the way He Divinely weaved the details together, even as they are still unfolding.
      We got the call for the offer on the house moments before entering a meeting with the VP of the company that Dan will now be working for in Virginia.
      The offer on the house was for what we wanted, closing costs paid by buyer & the closing date provides ample time for Dan to finish up his current job with integrity.
      Virginia proved to be a collection of the things we'd been wishing we had here in TX for the past five years and more.  Oh, much more.
      (image above is a glimpse at our new region)
      I promised God His faithfulness wouldn't be lost on me.
      So this is my encouragement to you if you are considering following the unlikely Word that God has spoken to your heart: He has already gone before you! He said He would.
      Trust. Obey. Believe. You won't regret it.
      Need a little more encouragement?
      Get it here.
      There, you'll find some scripture & encouragement to hold onto after the jump!
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      Friday, July 9, 2010

      Friday Finds....the BEST chocolate cake

      THE best chocolate cake

      So here's the deal, I'm not a dessert person.
      And if I'm going to have sweets, which is extremely rare, it's going to be fruity.
      (lest you think I'm a health nut, let me assure you, I make up for it by eating more than I should in the savory dept.)

      But when my friend Angela told me she'd made the best chocolate cake, I knew those words meant something. She, like most gals, is a dessert person. And her mom happens to be a fantastic baker-a talent she's passed on to her daughter, I must say. I can see why she is so convinced.

      Believe me, believe her, believe all the people that write in to comment on this Barefoot Contessa cake, called Beatty's chocolate cake,

      The secret ingredient is 1 cup of freshly brewed, hot coffee.
      It's moist, it's rich, it's fudgy, it's cake-y, it's everything you want from a chocolate cake.
      Plus, it's easy to make.

      Here's the recipe.
      Here's a video of Ina making it.
      Here's the frosting recipe that I used.
      Okay, go make it.

      It's worth the extra time at the gym. It will make your family happy. It will impress your dinner guests. It's will cheer up your friend.
      It will become the cake that you make that everyone wants you to bring to this or that function. Promise.

      Couple of notes:
      The picture: I took a fantastic picture of a great slice of cake with the center frosting showing & looking so delicious. Somehow I erased it from my SD card as I was importing it. This photo is of the last piece, which isn't nearly as picturesque as the other. Just saying.)
      Carter added the sprinkles, which I wouldn't have added. He wanted to help & I was too afraid to have him dump more of this or that into the mix, since I was testing to see if this really was all it's cracked up to be. Sprinkles were safe
      Lastly, Wegmans happens to make a VERY close second to this cake, I just felt too guilty not saying anything about their Ultimate Chocolate Cake. Wish they'd publish the recipe. I guess that wouldn't be good for business though, would it?
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