Homes For Sale By Owner

homes for sale by ownerEveryone knows that finding perfect homes for sale can be stressful. Whether first-time buyer or seasoned veteran, the pitfalls of the realty market can trip up even the most prepared house hunter. Unwanted delays, nasty surprises and unexpected costs can derail negotiations at every turn.

There are no guarantees of plain sailing in the housing market, but the more prepared you are, the better able to weather the storms you’ll be. So take a look at our comprehensive, step by step guide. It contains invaluable tips for each stage, from early financial plans to getting ready to buy a house by owner:

 

  1. Work out your Budget
    • Check your Credit Rating
    • Choose your Mortgage
    • Shop Around for Lenders
    • Understand your Costs
    • Work out your Repayments
    • Get a Preapproved Loan

  2. Find your Home
    • Decide where you want to live
    • Have an idea of your ideal Home
    • Search for your Home
    • Compare RealtorWebsites at a Glance
    • Use Estate Agents
    • View a lot of Houses

  3. Buy your home
    • Make an Offer
    • Negotiate the Price
    • Inspect the House
    • Complete the Deal

  4. For-sale.com
    • Beautiful Houses
    • Testimonials

  5. Frequently Asked Questions
    • How do I find homes for sale near me?
    • When do most homes go up for sale?
    • What are foreclosed homes for sale?
    • Should I get a lawyer when I buy a home?
    • Which State has the cheapest homes for Sale?
    • How long does it take to buy a home?
    • Why is the home buying process so long?
    • What home buying costs are tax-deductible?

Work out your Budget

budget for your house by ownerKnowing how much money you have to spend is step one. Working out a realistic budget saves you seeing houses by owner you can’t ultimately afford and, more importantly, reduces the risk of financial overstretch. You should account for all of the costs incurred during the buying process and have a firm idea of what you are going to be liable for.

Check your Credit Rating

It pays to get a heads up on any issues that might prevent you getting a mortgage so you can deal with them before applying for a loan. You are entitled to check your credit rating for free once a year with the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) through AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure the details it contains are accurate and there are no false or fraudulent entries in your name. Pay off any outstanding debts that may cause problems with your rating.

Choose your Mortgage

real estate agent

There are lots of different types of mortgage so it’s important to pick the right home loan for you. Decide whether you want a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) or an adjustable rate one (ARM). FRMs are much more common and tend to have higher interest rates, but the rate is fixed for a period of time. ARM rates are lower but are aligned with nationwide interest rates so can go up. This means your repayments can significantly increase during the period of your mortgage deal. You are essentially betting on whether rates will rise or not.

There are also hybrid mortgages available with rates fixed for a period that then become variable. You can even opt for an interest-only loan. These are loans where you only pay the interest, and no money comes off the loan capital. This is essentially like paying rent except that if the value of your property rises you accrue equity that way.

With all mortgage types, you are usually required to provide a down payment (normally around 20%) but if you have a good credit rating some 100% mortgages are available. These tend to have higher interest rates attached though. In terms of the amount of money you repay over the life of the mortgage, it is better to have the largest down payment you can afford.

Shop around for Lenders

It makes sense to get as much information from as many lenders as you can. Each offers different packages and rates so do your research and find which home loan is best for you. You can approach thrift institutions, commercial banks, mortgage companies, credit unions and even the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae).

Employing a broker to find a home loan for you can save time and money as they have access to a wide range of lenders and can often find deals that are hard to discover. But of course you should check what their fees and terms are before signing any kind of contract.

Whoever you approach about a loan, make sure you ask the following:

Understand your Costs

Don’t forget to take into account the other costs associated with buying a house by owner. Additional monthly costs include property tax, which vary from state to state. Household insurance is also mandatory when applying for a home loan. You will rack up other charges too, including:

Some of these fees will have to be paid upfront while others can be added to the mortgage and paid off over time. You can negotiate with the lender about which are paid at the start and which get added to the home loan.

Work out your Repayments

repayments

Work out your monthly budget including all incomings and outgoings, no matter how small - these things add up. Decide how much you are able to afford to put towards a home loan on a monthly basis and therefore how much money in total you can afford to borrow for your house. Make sure you can comfortably afford the loan repayments each month. If you have a variable rate mortgage, it’s a good idea to leave some financial headroom in case interest rates rise. You don’t want to slip more into debt each month because you can’t afford higher repayments.

It is a good idea to obtain pre-qualification from your mortgage lender to see whether you qualify for a home loan, based on whether your debt-to-income ratio fits U.S. Bank guidelines for home loans. If you do qualify, the prequalification also provides a fairly accurate estimate of how much you can borrow. Prequalification can be obtained online with some lenders but be aware that they don’t perform a credit check, so it is not an official commitment from the lender.

Get a Preapproved Loan

All that remains is to get pre-approval for your mortgage. This involves the same process as a mortgage application - you give detailed information about your income and assets that is reviewed by the lender. If approved, the lender provides a commitment to lend a specific amount. The only difference between this and a mortgage application is that the final application specifies a certain property. Make sure you know how long your preapproval is valid for, as often they have a time limit.

Pre-approval shows that you are a serious buyer and allows you to move quickly when you find your dream home. Sellers will look more favorably on offers from those with preapproved loans, allowing you to negotiate on the price more and steal a march on competitors without preapproval.

Find your Home

find your home for sale by ownerWith the finance side of things locked down, the next step is to find your dream house. You have to think about what type of house you want, where you want to live and what amenities are crucial to you. You are going to live in this house for a long time so it’s really important to get the property that fits how you want to live. But bear in mind that, unless you have an unlimited budget, you may have to make compromises along the way.

Decide where you want to live

This is the most important step to finding the perfect home. There is a reason why people say there are only three things that matter when buying a house by owner - location, location and location. Though meant as a joke about house prices, it gives an insight into the most important factor in house hunting.

Make a list of your priorities and desires. Do you want to be near friends and family? How important are schools, proximity to work or having a spectacular view? Take a look at the average prices in areas you are interested in. Desirable locations are obviously much more expensive. It pays to have a couple of areas in mind so you can compare houses between different areas and see what your money gets in each. You may end up living in an area you hadn’t previously considered because your budget buys a much nicer house.

Have an idea of your ideal Home

How many bedrooms do you require? Do you need a garden? Once you have a list of things you would like, rank them in importance to you. If something is a deal-breaker, put it at the top of the list, If something is nice-to-have but not essential then put it lower down the list. This will help narrow down your search, is useful information to give to any realtors and helps clarify any compromises you may have to make.

Search for your Home

search portals real estate

Armed with information about budget, location and ideal home, it’s time to start searching. Thankfully, in the marvelous internet age, finding a house has never been easier. There are many websites to choose from, each with different strengths that help you sift through available properties. But are all homes for sale listed online? Though a few maybe aren’t, the vast majority are, so the internet is easily the best tool for finding a home.

The ability to filter houses by price, location, number of bedrooms and other criteria really helps to narrow down your search. Most estate agents put properties on multiple sites, but there are some that are exclusive to a particular realtor search engine, so it’s a good idea to search them all.

Here are some of the best realtor websites available in the US:

www.trulia.com

Trulia is a very well designed site with lots of useful features. You can view properties by photos, a list or by map location. There are reviews of local schools, recent price trends, crime figures and reports from local residents. You can find local estate agents and guides that cover all aspects of house buying so it is a source of useful information. You can even ask direct questions.

It is a little New York focused, with the ability to search for mortgage deals in the city and in Brooklyn but it does cater for other areas of the US too and has a mortgage calculator, handy for helping you figure out repayments. The site also has a mobile app so you can view it on the go.

www.zillo.com

This site has more than 100 million listing with Google Earth views of each property. Not all are for sale, but you can use the Zestimates feature to find an accurate idea of the estimated market value of each property. There is a strong online community where you can pose questions, the ability to search sale listings, home loan deals and estate agents. It has a handy mortgage calculator and even a section with design ideas for when you have moved into your new property. It also has a mobile app.

www.realtor.com

The listings on Realtor.com are updated every 15 minutes which means the 4 million listings or so are highly up-to-date. They have market summaries for different neighborhoods, the usual mortgage deal and realtor searches, a mortgage calculator and even a section dedicated to helping veterans find housing. With news and advice, it is also the official site of the National Association of Realtors so you’re sure to get up to the minute information.

www.homes.com

Homes.com is simple to understand and does the basics of homes for sale and places for rent very well. It shows recently sold home values, and has a directory of local professionals such as electricians and plumbers to help with any work. You can find local estate agents to help in your search and it has listings of foreclosed properties which can often yield a bargain.

www.forsalebyowner.com

This site takes a different approach by connecting buyer direct to the sellers, removing the real estate agents. The idea being that the lack of realtor fee gives savings to both seller and purchaser. There are loads of resources - guides and checklists - for both buyer and seller to help with the home sale process.

www.homefinder.com

Homefinder.com is a nicely laid out site with broker listings, rentals, foreclosure and new constructions. It has a number of handy guides, and professionals with whom you can chat directly. It lists auctions too for those who like the thrill of buying under the hammer. It is the search engine used by the Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. There is also a handy mobile app.

Compare Realtor Websites at a Glance

 

Mobile

App

Realtor List

Mortgage

Deals

Foreclosed

List

Auction

List

Price

Estimates

Mortgage

Calculator

Trulia

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

x

Yes

Yes

Zillo

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

x

Yes

Yes

Realtor

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

x

Yes

Yes

Homes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

Yes

Yes

Forsalebyowner

Yes

x

x

x

x

Yes

x

Homefinder

Yes

x

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

x

 

 

Buying

Guides

Direct Help

Direct

Sales

Veteran

Help

Design

Ideas

Local

Info

Professionals

Listings

Trulia

Yes

Yes

x

x

x

Yes

x

Zillo

Yes

x

x

x

Yes

Yes

x

Realtor

Yes

x

x

Yes

x

Yes

x

Homes

Yes

Yes

x

x

x

x

Yes

Forsalebyowner

Yes

Yes

Yes

x

x

x

x

Homefinder

Yes

x

x

x

x

x

Yes

 

Use Estate Agents

search portals real estate

Realtor agents often get a bad name. After all, don’t they just make the deal more expensive? That is one way of looking at it and if you feel that way then you can buy or sell a house directly. Forsalebyowner.com is just one of the ways you can find and broker a direct deal with prospective sellers. Newspapers and other classifieds will sometimes have direct house sales.

However, be aware that most houses online are posted by estate agents. If you refuse to deal with an agent you are cutting off a large portion of the market. Used correctly, agents can actually save you money, help to find the best available properties and even smooth the process of home-buying.

When you know which areas you are searching, it is a good idea to get a good, local realtor. They know the locale and have instant access to a lot of properties that fit your needs. Some of those properties will not been on the internet yet, so you can get ahead of other prospective buyers and see them first.

They are also a good buffer between buyer and seller. It’s often easier to have a 3rd party as go-between in negotiations. As they receive commission on the sale, they are also motivated to move things along. Although you might think commission incentivizes them to get the most money from the sale, actually they can help in getting the buyer to accept a lower offer. Spending a lot of time selling a property for a slightly higher value doesn’t raise the value of their commission very much yet costs a lot in terms of additional time spent. They would rather seal the deal quicker, even at a lower price.

View a lot of Houses

There is no way around this step. You are going to have to personally see a lot of houses. It helps to really understand the local market and you get a sense of the value of a property compared to others in the area. Visiting a lot of places also helps you narrow down exactly what you want from a house and set expectations as to what is available in your chosen location.

Here are some tips for viewing houses:

  1. Drive by the place. Before viewing a property, go and see the outside to see whether you like it. Sometimes the outside view is enough to make you realize that a house is not for you. It helps to get a good sense of what the neighborhood is like by driving around the local area. Preferably, do this both day and night to get a feel for traffic, noise and safety.
  2. Make a list of any questions or deal breakers you may have. Take this list into the viewing with you to keep your thoughts organized.
  3. Always take someone with you to a viewing, whether partner, friend or estate agent. It is much safer and also you have someone with a more objective perspective to see the place and swap opinions with.
  4. Check the property thoroughly. Peeling paint or tide marks on the walls can be signs of damp.  Look for loose tiles on the roof or any cracks in walls or floors which may signify structural damage. Turn on taps to check the plumbing. Make sure the heating works properly.
  5. Ask to see recent utility bills to get an idea of monthly costs in the property.
  6. Ask what fixtures and fittings come with the house. Do the carpets stay? The oven or white goods?
  7. Ask for receipts and guarantees for any work or modifications that have been done.
  8. Be friendly with the seller. It will help later on if you get to make an offer and will pay dividends during the negotiation process.
  9. Don’t talk too much about grand renovation plans in front of the seller. Most people are proud of their houses and won’t take kindly to you highlighting everything that is wrong or outdated in the property.

Buy your home

buy your home for sale by ownerOnce you are excited about a prospective home, it’s time to take things to the next level. Make sure that you are aware of the local laws and regulations related to home-buying in your chosen area and that you have firm grip on current prices and recent trends.

Make an Offer

The first step is to make your opening bid. Setting the price of your initial offer is determined by a number of factors. It comes down to basic supply and demand. How much do you want the house? How many other people want the house?

When considering your first offer, think about the list price and how it compares to other, similar houses in the area. Try and find whether the recent trends have been for houses prices to go up or down. You might also think about how long the property has been on the market. If it’s been there a while and the recent trend has been falling house prices, then it might be ripe for a low-ball offer. If it has just come on and other similar homes have been selling quickly then you might consider matching the asking price straight off the bat.

Negotiate the Price

It is unlikely that your first offer will be accepted. Usually the seller will make some kind of a counter offer. It’s up to you whether you want to negotiate further or whether to accept their counter. Bear in mind that there are other ways to achieve a better deal than just the house price. You can ask for specific fixtures and fittings, and even furniture to be part of the deal, for example. This is a great way to get value added without seeming like you are haggling too hard over the price.

Here is a handy guide for getting the best deal:

Inspect the House

There are a number of inspections that need to take place as part of the offer process, including termite checks, boundary surveys, title reviews, lenders appraisals, and structural inspections. These last two are particularly important. Most mortgage lenders will not lend money if the house is not worth the offer made so an appraisal has to be completed to determine the home’s value. If a house is structurally compromised and requires repairs, the structural inspection will reveal it.

Both Lenders appraisal and structural inspections can be leveraged to affect the price. You can ask that the cost of any repairs be included in any deal and, if the appraisal comes in low, it is a good time to get the asking price reduced.

Complete the Deal

When the inspections are all done and the final asking price is agreed it’s time to sign the paperwork. You’ll sign papers at the title company’s office and then the money gets exchanged. Do not part with any money until the paperwork is signed! The title company makes sure the seller has the title to the property and that there are no outstanding claims against it. If you wanted to be super-safe, you could hire an attorney at this stage to check through paperwork but most people don’t bother. Having a good realtor on your side should be enough.

Bring a bank check (not a personal one) to make the down payment. Make sure you have enough to cover any costs that you have not rolled into the mortgage. Get your lender to wire the rest of the money directly to the title company and they will pass it on the seller when the deal is complete.

For-sale.com

We hope our guide goes some way to demystify the process of home-buying for you. Here at www.for-sale.com we like to make things even simpler with an easy search that collates all offers from multiple websites, allows you to directly compare listings and makes sure you don’t miss out on any bargains. It’s essential to search as broadly as possible across many websites so you get the fullest picture of what properties are available.

Beautiful Houses

America has some of the best real estate in the world. Let’s take a look at five of the most stunning homes the country has to offer, from magnificent mansions to more compact living spaces.

Il Palmetto

il palmetto house for sale  il palmetto interior house for sale

This 1930s Italian Renaissance-style mansion is currently owned by Netscape founder, Jim Clark. With over 60 000 sq. feet, 10 bedrooms, two elevators and a 50 foot living room, expect to pay something in the region of $140M for this Palm Beach residence.

 

The Atelier 45th Floor Combo

NYC condo for sale  NYC interior condo for sale

This space consists of the entire 45th floor (nine apartments) of the Atelier condo tower in NYC's Midtown West area. A snip at $85M, the generous seller is throwing in a $1M yacht, two Rolls Royce Phantoms, and year-long season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Austin Home

Austin Texas house for sale  Austin Texas interior house for sale

Built in 1979, this stylish home in Austin Texas is set in two acres of beautiful gardens. It is listed at $4.5M and features some fantastic architectural improvements added throughout the years.

 

Urbana, Illinois

Urbana house for sale  Urbana interior house for sale

This futuristic late ‘60s house is a masterclass of open-plan living, making incredible use of the space available. With 3 bedrooms and situated near a golf course in Illinois, it was last on the market for a very reasonable $296,000.

 


 

Zanesville, Ohio

Ohio house for sale  Ohio interior house for sale

If you like your houses old, characterful and relatively cheap then it will please you to know that this property in Ohio was last listed for sale at $89,900. It features a classic brick exterior and beautiful woodwork throughout the house.

 

Testimonials

Here’s what some of our customers had to say:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find homes for sale near me?

All good home-finding websites have a means of searching within a certain location. Simply add a ZIP code into the search engine and specify the maximum distance away from this area.

When do most homes go for sale?

It is a rule of thumb that home sales tend to rise along with the temperature. Data from Realtor.com suggests that 50% of homes are sold in the summer months. But if you want a lower price it may be best to wait till winter.

Though it does vary in some holiday regions, home sales in January tend to have lower prices. Buyers making offers in November and December tend to get better deals. However, many sellers don’t list their homes later in the year, and pull their homes off the market in the fall. So you may get a better price late in the year, but you have a smaller selection of houses to choose from.

What are foreclosed homes for sale?

A foreclosure occurs when a homeowner doesn’t pay the mortgage, thereby forfeiting all rights to the property. If the owner doesn’t pay the outstanding amount owed, or fails to sell in short order, the property is sent to auction. If it doesn’t sell in the auction then the lender takes possession of it.

The benefit of buying a foreclosed property is that you could get a great deal. The lender doesn’t want to hold onto it and so you could get a bargain. However a lot of foreclosed homes need work as maintenance is often neglected.

Should I get a lawyer when I buy a home?

Most people are happy with a good realtor, but this can vary from state to state. If you are willing to pay the attorney fees for additional peace of mind then hire one at the end of the process to oversee the contract negotiations.

You should also get a lawyer if:

Which State has the cheapest homes for Sale?

The five states with the cheapest average home prices are:

Rank

State

Average Price

1

West Virginia

$88,900

2

Mississippi

$112,200

3

Oklahoma

$112,200

4

Indiana

$113,300

5

Arkansas

$113,800

             Survey conducted March 1st, 2016

 

How long does it take to buy a home?

This question is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. House buying times can vary wildly from sale to sale, especially if legal issues or damaged properties are involved. That said, the average homebuyer spends 30-60 days searching. It takes around 14-60 days from contract to close, and likely another 14-45 days or so before the first mortgage payment comes in.

The process can be extremely quick for some and take as little as 30 days total from start to finish but for others it could be months and months.

Why is the home buying process so long?

A house is likely to be the most expensive thing you ever buy. It pays to take your time and make sure that everything is legal and above board. It makes sense to find the right house for you and ensure that there are no hiccups along the way. House buying regulations exist to protect people from being ripped off.

What home buying costs are tax deductible?

taxe home for sale

The short answer is ‘not many’. Mortgage Interest and certain property taxes are the only deductible items on the list. You can deduct them in the year you buy your home with an itemized list of deductions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Though the advice in this guide is accurate at the time of writing, you should always obtain up to date legal advice before purchasing any home as regulations change over time and differ from state to state.