Jim McConnell
Smith & Associates Real Estate

For Sale By Owner Help Kit

The information in this For Sale By Owner "Help Kit" is designed to assure a quick and successful sale of your home. There is no cost or obligation to you.

The recommendations and checklists in the program are the result of years of experience helping owners sell and move. I offer it to you based on my Core Value of "Get by Giving." Studies show that more than 7 out of 10 owners eventually choose a broker to help them sell, or to help their buyer sell.


Table of Contents:

The Decision to Sell Your Own Home/Common Mistakes Sellers Make

Real estate transactions are more complex than ever. Make sure that you are prepared.

Writing Effective Ads

Tips on how to make the phone ring with more buyer calls. Like supply and demand, the more     buyers you have for something, the more it could sell for.

Answering Inquiries

Tips on how to convert ad calls, sign calls and internet inquiries into showings.

Preparing Your Home For Showing And Sale

Tips on how to present your home in the best light to prospective buyers, and information to have ready to answer buyer questions.

Pricing Strategy Analysis

A series of questions designed to help you arrive at an attractive market price.

Vendors to Call

A list of who you will need to call to complete a sale and what each vendor does for you.


A list of things to look out for to avoid legal entanglements.

Security Tips

You will soon have strangers in your home. BE CAREFUL!

Guest Registry

How to keep track of who sees your home, so that you can follow up and capture that "right" buyer; also, security considerations.

Reasons why selling yourself can be more of a challenge than you think

An honest overview of what it takes to sell your home by yourself in today’s market.

The Decision to Sell Your Own Home

Selling your home yourself depends on your personal preferences and how much time and energy you’re willing to invest in your home sale.

Industry experts advise against owners selling their own homes, citing that an experienced Realtor® can find the right buyer, the best price and often prevents costly and time-consuming problems that may arise during the transaction. NOTE  - Not every real estate agent is a Realtor® that abides by the Realtor® Code of Ethics.

Many sellers choose to market their homes themselves and pay a flat fee to have a professional handle the paperwork. Some services will negotiate counteroffers, handle paperwork, contracts and the correspondence between appraisers, lenders and insurance providers.  Some real estate offices provide marketing assistance, writing up ad copy and pricing your property.

Home sellers need to be prepared to do a lot of the work, like holding their own open house. You will need to be outgoing and comfortable answering endless questions about your property. You will need to accept that strangers are going to look in your closets, cabinets, under your sink and etc.

Common Mistakes Sellers Make

* Repairs or decorating that may need to be done prior to presenting your home for sale vs repairs that are to be done after you find a buyer are important decisions and may affect your asking price for your home in addition to requiring contracting and scheduling the work, which takes time and planning.

* Are you going prepare the contract yourself or are you going to  have an attorney prepare it for you? Either way, you need to have a copy ready for a buyer to sign on the dotted line at a    moments notice.

* Select a title or escrow company before putting your home on the market so that the company can take delivery of the contract and the buyer’s earnest money check. Too many sellers are simply not prepared to sell their home and more than a few seriously interested buyers have    just gone on down the road while an unprepared seller was searching for a lawyer or a title  company when they should have been handing a signed contract and check to the escrow agent.

* What is a competitive price for your home? Are you informed enough on values in your       neighborhood and local sales trends. Pricing a home accurately is the most important step in selling your home in the shortest amount of time, for the highest profit. Do you need the assistance of a professional appraiser?



  1. List all of the best features of your home and pick the top 5.
  2. Use an attention-getting opening statement about the home.
  3. Less is more. Include some facts about the house (bedrooms, baths, price, etc.) but keep it brief.
  4. Use words that appeal to all of the senses.
  5. Focus your copy on the items on your top 5 list.
  6. Avoid exaggerating the features of your home that you like best, as they may not be the features the buyer likes best.
  7. Include your name, phone number, email address and web site.
  8. Use quality photos to show the best feature of the house vs. the standard front shot.
  9. End with a call to action: “For a private showing, call 727-555-1234 today.”
  10. According to the Newspaper Association of America, here are the top things a buyer wants to know about a property:
  11. Location
  12. Price
  13. Type or style
  14. Square footage
  15. Bedrooms
  16. Bathrooms
  17. Lot size
  18. Amenities
  19. Garage size
  20. Phone number



1. To generate more inquiries, don’t put everything about your property in the ad. This gives the
reader a reason to call and find out more.

2. Remember your objective in handling inquiries is to cause the caller to want to see the house.
You can’t sell a house over the phone.

3. If you are running an ad in the paper, make sure you are available to handle inquiries during peak response times, especially evening and weekends. Always put your phone number on your yard sign, so that drive-by shoppers know how to contact you for showings. If you are running an ad on the Internet, respond to email inquiries with an invitation to call for a showing appointment.

4. Always thank the person for calling about your house. It’s a polite and friendly way to start a

5. Always trade names with the caller, and ask for their phone number, so that you have a record of who inquired for follow up.

6. The caller will usually ask you questions about your house right at the beginning of the call. Always give a direct answer to a direct question and then, to keep the conversation going, ask a probing question of your own.


Q: How many bedrooms does your house have?

A: We have three bedrooms. How many were you looking for?

7. Invite questions from the caller by asking, “What can I tell you about the house?”

8. Before agreeing to an appointment for a showing, always ask the caller, “Have you been prequalified by a lender in my price range?” This will avoid getting tied up in a contract with a buyer who cannot afford your home.

9. Before agreeing to a showing, always ask the caller if they have to sell their present home first in order to buy yours. Studies show that 7 out of 10 buyers are really lookers who cannot buy until their home is sold, and their home isn’t even on the market yet.

10. Set the asking price comparable to similar homes in your area which have sold recently.



Secure all necessary legal documents and use them to protect yourself from fraud. 

Both the purchaser and lender will require satisfactory proof that you have a good title to the property.  Buyers and lenders will want a satisfactory survey including all easements, rights of way and encroachments. 

Have current tax information available.

Have all utility bills available. 

Have information about your insulation type and thickness available. 

Have the age of Heating/Air conditioning system and appliances available.

Have all warranties on roof and appliances available.

Check your property with a critical eye. Buyers will look for faults which could cost them money to remedy.

Clean up, fix up and paint. You have only one chance to make a good first impression, so lavish time, money and energy on curb appeal. 

Rearrange the furniture to create the most open space. If you have too much furniture, remove some and store it. Six very important words: No clutter, no clutter, no clutter!

Turn off the TV. Play soft music. Open the shades and turn on the lights. Check the thermostat to make sure that the house is at a comfortable temperature.


Keep children and pets out of the way during showings.

Keep the house immaculate at all times, since showings are not scheduled events. Remember that you are competing against professionally decorated builder’s model homes. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. In the bathrooms, towels should be fresh and clean, sinks and baths scrubbed, and the floor freshly cleaned. In the kitchen, make sure all dishes are put away and counter tops and sinks cleaned.

Turn off the TV. Play soft music. Open the shades and turn on the lights. Check the thermostat to make sure that the house is at a comfortable temperature.

Get every buyer’s name and phone number for follow up. Almost no one buys a home on the first visit.

Give all family members assigned jobs in advance that will go into action when a short-notice showing is scheduled. Everyone must know their duties and carry them out, so that you don't end up banging into one another trying to get everything done quickly.

Open every window covering. All drapes, curtains and blinds should be positioned to let in   maximum light. Buyers like a house to be "light and bright," so accommodate them! Turn on as many lights as possible.

Make sure the house smells good. Baking cookies, often recommended, may be overdoing it, but pet odors, smoke, or greasy cooking odors definitely will not work! Air out the house just before the scheduled showing, but close the windows (unless it is a perfect day) before they arrive.

Make sure Fact Sheets are available and easily accessible (The dining room table is an ideal place for them)



  1. Is the local market rising, falling or staying even?

        RISING          FALLING           STAYING EVEN


  1. Is my opinion of value based on actual neighborhood sale prices?

        YES     NO

  1. How many homes in the area are competing against mine right now? _______


  1. How does mine compare?

         PLUS      MINUS     EVEN


  1. Have any neighborhood homes been on the market too long?

        YES NO

        If YES, Why?

        PRICE     CONDITION      OTHER

  1. Is my home consistent with larger or smaller homes in the surrounding area?

        LARGER     SMALLER


  1. Are my financial needs influencing my asking price?

         YES     NO


  1. Is my original purchase price influencing my asking price?

        YES     NO


  1. Am I willing to price it right and stand firm?

        YES     NO


  1. Are the benefits of moving important enough to price my home at market value?

         YES     NO




Home Inspector

DG Inspekts

Glenn Fricke


The home inspection is often the point where sales fall apart.  Savvy buyers will require an inspection. They are likely to find some (hopefully minor) repairs needed. Sellers who have a home inspection before putting their home on the market can prepare to pass a buyer’s inspection. Or you could just hope a silly buyer shows up and buys “as is.”


Mortgage Lender/Broker

Cardinal Financial

Nick Stabile


You may find an interested buyer that has not been pre-qualified for a mortgage, delaying their ability to purchase your home. Have that buyer contact a reputable lender to be sure they can qualify to purchase your home.


Home Warranty

American Home Shield

Geoff Davis


You're more likely to sell a house with a home warranty than you are without a warranty. Offering a home warranty with the purchase can increase a buyer's confidence in choosing your home. A home warranty will garner interest in your home, especially from first time buyers who might be concerned about future repair expenses.


Title Company

First American Title

Danya Shankwitz


Typically the seller pays for the owners title insurance policy and the buyer pays for the lenders title policy if they have financing to purchase to property. This is because the seller is proving the buyer that the title is "free and clear" and the buyer is doing the same for the lender.


From accepted contract to closing, these are some of the vendors that are a necessary part of any successful closing. Please feel free to use any of my trusted sources listed above.


CAVEATS (How Not To Get Sued) 

Seller’s disclosure completed

Escrow account set up

Use a legal purchase/sale agreement

Use the services of a reputable title/mortgage/escrow company

Pull all permits

Follow all rules for signage and marketing

Make clear in writing what is and is not included

Have survey done

Maintain consistent/regular communication with all parties involved

Avoid discrimination

Use a certified home inspector (Home Inspectors are not required to be certified)

Invest in a home warranty

Document all communication in writing

Hire an attorney who specializes in real estate

Keep all documents 

Hire a Professional Real Estate Agent


For Sale By Owner Security Tips


* For your own safety never set an appointment with anyone to see your home unless they  have given you their name & phone number and you have called back to verify that number. An easy way to do this is to say “Let me check with my husband/wife for the best time and I’ll call you back.”  Even if you are not married.

* Never let potential buyers know your schedule. Don’t ever tell them when you won’t be home, when your spouse won’t be home, when you pick up the kids, when you work, when you will be away on vacation, etc.

* Never give a caller information about your home’s security, such as deadbolts, security system, and so forth.

* Always have a back-up plan when you allow strangers into your home, especially if you have children. Have a neighbor look out for you until the lookers have gone.

* Never let a stranger into your home without seeing some identification. If the person says he/she is a real estate agent, ask for a business card and call his/her office to verify the information if you don’t recognize the person.

*  Keep a log of everyone who has looked at your home. Get their name, telephone number, address, car description, tag number and any additional information that could be helpful in  the event of a future burglary. All of these people could be suspects.

* If you make a flyer to advertise your home, don’t include any information that might breach security.

* Remove from sight all valuables including guns, jewelry, silverware and collectibles.  Recently there was an incident in South Florida where a couple was going around without a real estate agent and stealing things from the homes that they visited. The couple was able to steal over $150,000 worth of valuables.  We screen all potential buyers through a through pre-qualification process before we let anyone into a listed home.

* Store all medications in an inaccessible area. Prescription medications are one of the top targets for thieves during open houses and during showings.

* Never leave strangers alone and watch their every move while they are in your home.





Phone Number(s):____________________________________                                                                              Address:____________________________________________

E-Mail Address: _________________________________ Are you pre-qualified?_____

Do you currently own or rent a home?_______

When do you want to be in your new home?_______ 





Phone Number(s):_________________________________     Address:___________________________________________

E-Mail Address: _________________________________ Are you pre-qualified?_____

Do you currently own or rent a home?_______

When do you want to be in your new home?_______ 





Phone Number(s):_________________________________     Address:___________________________________________

E-Mail Address: _________________________________ Are you pre-qualified?_____

Do you currently own or rent a home?_______

When do you want to be in your new home?_______   





Reasons Why Selling Yourself Can be More of a Challenge Than You Think

There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With. Here is a list of some of the people with whom

you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to sell your home ‘on your own’:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value


Exposure to Prospective Purchasers—recent studies have shown that 89% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 20% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?


Leverage the Buyers agents.  87% of all home buyers use a real estate professional. 8% of home buyers purchased a newly-built home. Meaning 5% of all buyers did not use a real estate professional. It is important to target REALTORS who have buyers and offer them incentive to show your home. Otherwise you will be targeting only 5% of all buyers out there.

Selling By Owner has become more and more difficult. The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people Selling By  Owner has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

  • The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981. In fact, For Sale By Owner sales have dropped 5 percent in the last 10 years, down from 13 percent in 2005. The reasons vary for Selling By Owner; the most common reasons are that sellers didn’t want to pay a commission or fee (48 percent); they were selling to a friend, relative or neighbor (21 percent); or they were contacted directly by a buyer (18 percent).  As For Sale By Owner sales have gone done over the last decade, the use of a real estate agent has increased; 89 percent of sellers used a real estate agent - up 1 percent from last year and 5 percent from 10 years ago.
  • The founder of ForSaleByOwner.com used an agent to sell his home.


Just one of the benefits you will see from working with a Realtor®

One of the biggest benefits is EXPOSURE! One recent listing had 5,284 views on-line in the first seven days that it was on the market and these ads brought a buyer on Day 4 of the listing.While we can’t guarantee that every home will sell this quickly, the results of the number of on-line views is not unusual. You will receive a similar report each week that your home is listed by Jim McConnell and Coldwell Banker Realty.   Coldwell Banker Realty is #1 in on-line marketing!

Today’s real estate process is complex and requires expertise. 

You can rest easy now that every step of the transaction is being professionally managed and overseen by an experienced agent. Working with a Realtor® allows you the peace of mind knowing that the people that look at your home can actually buy it. Jim pre-screens viewers to be sure that they are qualified buyers.

Statistics show that Sellers often net more money at closing when represented by a Realtor® than when selling their home themselves. Isn't that the bottom line? How can you walk away from the closing table with the most money that the market will allow?

Still unsure? Ask about a 30 Day Listing.

We are so certain that you will quickly see the benefit of working with an experienced Realtor® that Jim is willing to offer you a 30 Day Listing. This is a full service listing and if, at the end of 30 days you are not happy with our results we will walk away and let you sell your home yourself, take it off the market or hire a different agent. All at No Cost to you.


You Net More Money when Using an Agent. Many homeowners believe that they will save the real  estate commission by selling on their own. Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells  for $210,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $249,000. Although you’d pay a commission, you will still put more money in your pocketAt the end of the day, what you net matters.


Bottom Line: Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with me and see what we can do together to sell your home faster and for a higher profit.


We 100% rescpect your choice to sell your home yourself. If you happen to need help along the way, please know that you have a friend in the business. 



Still unsure about working with a Realtor®?

Ask about our 30-dau Listing Agreement