Want to sell your home yourself? There’s something to be said for an independent sale—most notably, saving yourself a realtor’s commission. But it’s important to be prepared and understand what you’re getting yourself into, to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.

1. Keep it all business.

Selling a home, especially one you’ve lived in a long time, can be an emotional process. Even though you’ve made the decision to move on, selling can bring out sentimental attachments to even the most mundane items in your home. But to make sure you get top dollar for your property, you need to take all the emotion out of it. Take a step back and look critically at your home and how it might appear to others. Take a good look through the real estate listing sites, and note how uncluttered, neat and stylish the most attractive listings appear. Before putting your property on the market, simplify your rooms as much as possible, removing unnecessary furniture, knick-knacks, papers and personal items. (Storage pods can be a big help here!) Remove excess furniture and accessories. If your home looks a little outdated, renting some new furniture or accessories from a staging company can be a good idea. Also, remember that making minor but noticeable repairs and a fresh coat of paint can work wonders! Pro tip: Have your most direct, outspoken friends come over and make suggestions. A fresh, objective eye can often identify potential improvements that can be hard to see ourselves.

2. Do your homework.

Before deciding on a price, spend time researching the market in your area. Make a list of similar properties to yours, keeping in mind location, curb appeal, lot size, school district, taxes, number of rooms, outdoor space, upkeep, style and finishes. You may even want to go check them out in person. How do they compare? Are there easy updates that could make your listing more attractive? Keep track of original sale prices, how long properties stay on the market and any changes to the price or listing. Then calculate the per-square foot price of your comps. This should help you pinpoint a reasonable target selling price. Keep in mind—this is another area where it’s important to think with your head, and not your heart.

3. DIY doesn’t mean it’s free.

Yes, going the For Sale By Owner route saves you money in realtor costs, but it’s important to remember you’ll still have to make an investment—in both time AND money—in order to sell your home. This investment can come in many forms, including home updates, professional cleaning,  landscaping, storage, staging and marketing. At a minimum, marketing your home will likely include hiring a professional photographer. This may seem like an indulgence, but given the extreme popularity of searching for a home online, getting the right photos is essential to making the sale. Marketing may also include designing and printing a sell-sheet, creating a web site and for-sale signage and hosting an open house or two.  FSBO or DIY real estate is also a substantial time commitment: You will need to be available to show the house, answer questions from potential buyers, host open houses and get the word out through your own personal networks, in addition to cleaning out and then maintaining a spotless home. If you have a flexible schedule, this may not pose a problem, but it can be tricky for 9-to-5 workers, so be honest with yourself about how much time you have to devote to the sale, and recruit help as necessary.

4. Get your legal ducks in a row.

In real estate, just as with any legal transaction, it’s absolutely key to get the details right. That’s why finding the right attorney to help you through the process can make all the difference. Attorneys can help you prepare all the documents you need to sell your home, including sellers’ disclosures and agreements of sale, and can help guide you in any negotiations or issues that come up during the sales process. Bottom line—you want to extract as much value as possible from your property AND be protected, and an experienced real estate attorney can help you do just that.

Legalty Services has years of experience helping DIY-ers get the deal done right. If you’re interested in selling your home yourself or buying without a realtor, contact us today to find out how we can help.