Anyone sold their own home in California?

I’m thinking of selling my house and considering doing without a seller’s agent so I can pocket more money. I’m interested in hearing from people who have done this in California in particular because I assume the laws and procedures are different in other states.

I sold my metropolitan Los Angeles residence back in 1996 without the assistance of a broker or real estate agent. I had not done it before and still thought it was pretty easy. The hardest part was acquiring the forms necessary to do it. Filling them out was not difficult and in particular, creating the disclosure papers was a breeze because I knew everything wrong (and not wrong) about my place.

But a caveat. My place was in a desirable neighborhood and people would actually knock on the door or ask me if I was outside if my place was for sale. When I made the decision to sell I had a list of potential buyers. In other words, I never had to market my place. I think that’s important in making a sell-by-owner decision. If your place might take some effort to sell or you don’t have time to wait then a real estate person or outfit will have sales tools I did not need to make it happen.

Thanks for that. I do live in a fairly desirable neighborhood–it’s nor Beverly Hills, but people want to live here. And it is possible to list your home on the MLS and all the real-estate sites as an individual, which is how most agents and buyers search anyway, so that takes care of the marketing.

I’ll jump in since you’re not getting a lot of answers.

I’ve sold three houses on my own with no broker, but I’m in Texas. I simply quoted an amount and an interest rate to the buyer and we worked directly with a title company. The title company had all of the forms-- the homes were in three different cities so I used three different title companies. Each sale went off without a hitch. Not aware of any particular laws and procedures unique to Texas.

ETA: I owned all three houses outright. House #1 (my principal residence)- the mortgage payment is a substantial portion of my monthly income. House #2 (vacation home)- I carried the note for a few months, then the buyers paid it off. House #3 (rental property)- just got underway. Got my first mortgage payment last month.

My late husband and I sold our own place in California in late 2004. Of course the market was very hot and that made it pretty easy.

Steps we took:

Classed up the curb appeal to the max.

Spent an extensive amount of time looking at “comparables,” so we’d know how to price our property. The home was unique and to some extent, we just had to take a guess, but more on this later.

We threw up a website with a ton of pictures that we advertised in the local paper.

We joined a service (can’t remember which, sorry!) that allowed us to access the MLS.

Printed up a ton of fliers and put them out front for drive-bys.

Held open houses every weekend for 2 months.

As mentioned, the house was unique and was only going to be of interest to a certain type of buyer. It was a young person’s home, with tree house lofts in 2 bedrooms… stuff like that. But the kitchen was stunning as was the landscaping, and the home was very private despite being in a neighborhood.

We met with a very experienced realtor whom I knew from prior dealings and who said we could sell the house for a particular price. When we decided to do it ourselves, we upped the price by another $85,000 over the realtor’s estimate. The prospective buyers ended up in a bidding war and we sold it for another $10,000 over our asking price. So no regrets there. We figured we could always lower the price if necessary. The only caveat to this is that your home will need to appraise at an amount a prospective buyer’s bank finds acceptable for financing, unless it is an all cash sale. Ours appraised at the amount needed for our buyers, but in all candor, appraisals were a little more fast and loose back then.

We drew up our own contract (I was comfortable to do that as a paralegal), accepted a check for the earnest money and then turned everything over to the title company. Had I not felt competent to draw the contract myself, I’d have had an attorney specializing in real property do that part. Other than that, the process pretty much takes care of itself.

We also accepted a back-up offer, just in case.

We figured we netted more than $115,000 more by selling the property ourselves, between saving realtors’ fees and upping the asking price. We were prepared and able to be patient for the right buyers.

We were careful to disclose everything we were required to disclose. There was nothing wrong with the property, but there was a sun room that, despite being well built, was not permitted. We made sure the prospective buyers knew about this.

During open house periods, we always baked bread and put out nibbles. We also left people alone to wander through the house (within reason, and we put away the special keepsakes!). We also shut up, not offering information unless asked.

Hope this information is of use to you. Good luck! Mostly you just bite your tongue a lot and be prepared to ignore a lot of comments by people who don’t love your place.

From Aspenglow: “We threw up a website with a ton of pictures that we advertised in the local paper.”

Brilliant! Back in 1996 doing this was unavailable to me but nowadays I know enough HTML, etc. to do this. I’m glad I don’t have to but this would be a great way to show your property exactly the way you, not an agent, wants.

FWIW, an MLS listing is appropriate. But I think they are too limiting and rigidly formatted for adequate marketing. A specific web site can overcome all that.

I have’t done it myself, but I did help a friend who is not too comfortable around computers do it. I just used CraigsList and a free application called “Postlets” that allows you to easily create a professional looking ad. This was a second home in a resort area, so it had a specific type of clientele that would have been interested. Took us about 2 months to sell.