Okay, so with the market how it is these days, it makes me wonder.  Either a realtor is essential, or not useful at all, which one is it?  Well I’ve been toying with the idea of going the “for sale by owner” route, and in doing that, studying up on it.  I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you.  This is from HomeBuying.About.com.  Here just a few of the MANY tips, ideas, and information that they give:

The largest number of buyers are actively searching for a new home during the months of April, May and June.

Questions to ask Buyers when selling your own home

What is Your Overall Impression of This Home?

How Do You Compare This Home With Others You Are Considering?

What Do You Like Most About This Home?

What Do You Like Least About This Home?

What is Your Opinion of the Price?

How Do You See Yourself Living in This Home?

What Would It Take For You to Buy This Home Today?

Tips For Preparing Your Home For Showings/Open House:

Mow diagonally and edge lawn along driveway / sidewalks. Artfully manicured lawns are edged and tell buyers you pay attention to small details. Diagonally mowed lawns make your yard appear larger.

Yellow flowers stimulate buying urges. After a long winter, everybody is anxious to see the first signs of spring. Yellow tulips and daffodils induce feelings of happiness and contentment. Arrange containers in groups of three or five near the entrance.

Clean drapes, curtains & blinds and open every window. Send your window coverings to the dry cleaners or wash, dry and press. Toss blinds into a soapy bathtub for a quick wash. Get rid of all accumulated dust and spider webs. Crisp linens and a spring-time breeze through the windows invites the season inside.

Set out fresh-smelling flowers such as just-clipped lilacs branches or peonies. Why not flatter your neighbors and ask if you can borrow flowers from their yards? Natural scents are more appealing than artificial and trigger fewer allergies among those susceptible. Peony vases are designed to hold peonies upright, but wash the flowers first to avoid carrying ants inside. Clever home staging brings color and fragrance indoors.

Utilize towels, throws, pillows in light colors – yellows, pinks, pale blues, lavenders. Even if it means replacing items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents you can buy. In soft spring colors, they will light up a room. Layer towels on bathroom towel racks and place rolled wash cloths on the counters in a fashionable pyramid.

Offer an outside mat for cleaning shoes & put umbrella stand at entrance. No matter where you live, spring weather is often unpredictable. In some states, it can be 72 degrees one day and snowing the next. If it’s raining, give buyers a place to stash umbrellas and wipe their feet before entering your home. Some sellers lay down plastic runners across floors for protection, but that tends to ruin the effect of a glittering polish job.

Buy brightly colored helium balloons. Stationery and party-supply stores sell helium balloons for about a dollar each. So, there’s no reason not to pick up a couple dozen balloons to tie to your open house signs. Balloons build excitement and will get your home noticed by home shoppers.

Set out four-color flyers & financing options. Don’t skimp on your marketing materials. You want home buyers to select your flyer among the dozens they pick up. Color sells better than black and white. Show home buyers how easily they can afford to buy your home by giving them two or three financing options. The first thing on buyer’s minds when considering a home purchase is the monthly mortgage payment. Don’t make them guess.

Fill sink with ice to chill bottled water for guests. Put a couple dozen bottles of water in a sink of ice for buyers. You can also tape labels to the bottles, printed from your computer, with your phone number, a photograph and address of your home.

Set out treats, individually wrapped in cellophane & tied w/ribbon. Touring homes makes buyers hungry. Give them a snack. It will give buyers an opportunity to linger in your kitchen and marvel at its elegant appointments, which might otherwise be overlooked.

Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two.

Don’t turn on a commercial radio station – fill the CD changer so your music will be continuous

If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one sad buyer has said, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!”

Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.

The listing should contain the following specifics:

  • Property Address
  • Age
  • Square Footage
  • Lot size
  • Bedrooms & Baths
  • Sales Price

If Buyer is Interested in Home:

Reduce Your Closing Costs. Depending on your local area, there may be fees associated with closing that are customarily paid by the buyer such as title insurance, property taxes, recording fees or escrow. In a buyers’ market, you can ask the seller to pay those closing costs. Typically, those costs can add up to one or two percent of the sales price and are often paid out-of-pocket by buyers. Ask your agent if these fees are negotiable. Then ask the seller to pay them.

Make sure your buyer is prequalified by a lender to purchase your home.

If a buyer does not have an agent, you can offer to help the buyer write the purchase contract.

Accept an earnest money deposit that makes your buyer, as the expression goes, put money where the mouth is.

· Think about asking the buyer for a contingency offer, which is subject to finding your replacement home. If you are concerned that you won’t find a suitable home, making your offer contingent on it is one way to guarantee you won’t be homeless.

· On the other hand, the buyer might ask you for a contingency sale. Handled correctly, you can always bump the buyer out of the deal or force the buyer to remove the contingency if a better offer comes in.

Expect that you will write a counter offer. You don’t have to accept the buyer’s offer, and if it is too low, always counter; don’t walk away. Sometimes buyers want to test the water by poking in a toe.

If the buyer refuses to pay your price, you might want to sweeten the deal by offering to buy-down the mortgage for the buyer or offer to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs.

· The buyer will likely obtain title insurance, which again is a negotiable expense between the parties.

For peace of mind after the sale, it is a good idea to offer to pay for a home warranty plan for the buyer. This way, when every little thing breaks or malfunctions, the buyer isn’t calling you to fix it or blaming you for the failure.

How Can Two Offers on a Listing Happen at the Same Time? http://homebuying.about.com/od/offersnegotiations/f/050108_2-Offers.htm

I hope that these tips help a little.  If you are going to take on a venture like this yourself, you MUST have as much knowledge as possible, and there is so much out there, but this could get you started, and give you a source.  Good luck, and here’s to Le Dolce Vita!!!