For Sale By Owner checklist: 8 Steps for FSBO

  1. Price your home.  Look at recent sales.  Make sure your square footage is correct when comparing to recent sales.
  2. Get your home ready to sell.  Clean.  Declutter.  Stage.
  3. Put out a sign. $16 on Amazon.  Put your phone number, email and a website on the sign.
  4. Make an extra key and put it in a lockbox on the front door.  $23 on Amazon.
  5. Get a professional to take pictures.  Go a little further and get a walkthrough video and drone shots.
  6. Put it on Zillow as a For Sale By Owner.
  7. Find a company that will list it on the MLS for a flat fee.
  8. Schedule an open house through the MLS and Zillow.

How much do Real Estate Agents Make?

Check out my video explaining how commission works or check out info below!


Who pays real estate commission?

The seller pays the entire commission at closing or settlement (4-8 weeks after the home is under contract typically).  The commission is negotiated between the listing agent and the seller when the listing agreement/contract is signed to put the house on the market.  In our area 5-6% commission is typical but it is negotiable.

  • commission-picGenerally, the commission is divided four ways: to the listing broker, the listing agent, the selling (buyer’s) broker and the selling (buyer’s) agent. Once the listing agreement is signed the listing agent uploads the home into our MLS system.  The MLS is a system agents use and pay for to share listings.  The commission offered to the selling agent is shown in the listing of the seller’s home in the MLS.  So if it is a total of 5% commission then it will show 2.5% commission to the selling broker.  6% commission will show 3% to the selling broker.

    How is it split with the brokers?

    That depends on the agent’s agreement with their real estate broker and company.  Many companies start new agents at a 50-50 split and as you sell more your percentage increases.

    What other expenses are there for agents?

  • We are independent contractors/1099 employees so we pay self employment tax of 15.3% of our income.  Many experts recommend agents set aside 40% of our income for federal income tax, self employment tax and state income tax.
  • We basically are our own business so we have to pay for office supplies, computers, smart phones, cars, gas and any other expenses that are needed to be a successful real estate agent.
  • We often have to buy leads (Zillow, Trulia or or pay a referral fee of 25-35% of our commission if the lead is referred to us by a website.  (Here’s a fun fact:  realtors pay a lot of money to use the MLS system to market and research homes.  Zillow pulls listings from our MLS system that we pay for.  Then Zillow charges hundreds of dollars a month per zipcode to agents for leads that are captured using our listing information in our MLS.)
  • We have marketing costs.  If you are a listing agent you pay for professional photographs, marketing material, advertising and blasting out a lot of information to every real estate website.  For finding buyers we have to market to them.
  • We pay dues and membership fees to belong to the MLS and realtor associations.  Also, we have to pay a monthly fee to access the electronic lockbox on listings.
  • We pay money to the Real Estate Commission of Pa for our license.  We have continuing education classes that are required to keep our license active and we have to pay for them.
  • Health Insurance for self employed or business owners is very high.  It’s a big consideration when thinking of being a real estate agent.
  • Here’s the other expense to take into account.  Often homes don’t sell or fall through due to inspection issues, the appraisal is too low or (happened to me many times) the loan falls through.  So as realtors we spend a lot of time selling a house and we spend money (listing agent is more) and it did not pay off and actually costs us money because we don’t get paid unless we go to closing and transfer of the home happens.
  • For new agents it can take 6 months to a year before you make your first sale and make your first commission.

Any other fees?

NOT FROM ARTISAN REALTY!  Most real estate companies charge an administrative fee to both sellers and buyers.  It should be explained beforehand and they put it on the settlement sheet.  It can be $200-$600 depending on the company.  Artisan Realty does not charge this fee to buyers or sellers because we are a local, boutique real estate company that focuses on utilizing technology for our clients.

Note:  There are other options to sell your house:  For Sale By Owner, Discount Brokers etc…  I based the above on how it typically works.

Paperwork needed to make an offer on a house in Pennsylvania

Watch the video to go through the 5 forms needed to make an offer on a home in Pennsylvania:  Preapproval, Consumer Notice, Buyer Financial Information Sheet, Seller’s Disclosure & Agreement of Sale.  A brief description of each form and then a brief overview of going under contract.

There are a lot of buyers in the market looking for their first home.  They have lots of questions.  It’s no wonder with so much to consider…how much can you afford? how much cash do you need? how quickly do you have to make a decision? what is the best strategy to negotiate? when do you get the keys?  There is a lot of pieces to the home buying puzzle!


Area?  Consider your maximum commute to work.  If it is your dream home are you willing to make a longer commute?  Research school districts.  Schools are a big consideration in this area and they have a huge impact on resale values.  However, you may get a better deal in school districts that are rated lower.  If you have children go and tour schools & talk to school administrators ahead of time.  Property taxes.  Property taxes vary greatly by county and school districts and they have a huge impact on your monthly housing payment.  Consider property taxes when looking at areas.

How much can you afford?  Most likely you will be approved for more than you are willing to pay a month.  So take a close look at your budget.

If you are looking at a $300,000 purchase with an FHA loan & a 3.5% down payment your monthly payment will be somewhere around $2,000/month.  If your current rent is $1500/mo. then each month take that difference and put aside $500 in savings.  See how comfortable you are with the $2,000 payment each month.  Many people are surprised when they carefully look at their budget that they can find an additional $200-$300/month by doing this.

How much cash do you need?  The minimum amount of cash needed for most buyers to buy a home is 3.5% of purchase price.  This is an FHA loan and the seller can contribute up to 6% of the purchase price for your closing costs.  On a $300,000 loan that amounts to $10,500.  You’ll also need cash for inspections ($350-$1200) and an appraisal (about $450).  You can also get a gift for the down payment.  There are loans with 0% down like VA and USDA but you’ll need to speak with a lender to see what the requirements are.

Tax Advantages!  (I am not a tax accountant so consult your tax accountant for actual numbers)  You can deduct your property taxes and interest on your loan from your income taxes.  So, if you are paying $4,000/year in property taxes and $900/month of interest then you can deduct $14,800/year.  If your effective tax rate is 15% then that is a tax savings of $2,220/year.  Also, the principal of the loan is being paid down every month.  Why pay your landlord’s loan when you can be paying down your own loan every month?  Stop giving your landlord all your money!  Here’s more info from turbotax on this:  Click Here

Get Preapproved.  Talk to a lender about your credit score, income and debt and they can preapprove you for a loan amount.  You are not required to use this lender for your loan.  Once you are under contract on a home you can shop around for the best rates.  You want to talk to a lender ASAP to make sure there are no issues that would prevent you from getting a loan.  If your credit scores are low you can most likely clear those up in 6-12 months by paying down debts or getting your income up.

MLS Automatic Search.  Right away I like to set buyers up on an automatic search within their criteria.  Even if you are waiting 6 months to buy it’s a great way to get to know the market and what you can get for your money.  All I need is your price range, the area, minimum amount of bedrooms and any must haves.  You will get emails as soon as a new home hits the market or if there is a price drop.  Our MLS system is the multiple list service that realtors use to market and list homes for sale.  It is the most accurate information and homes hit this about a day or two before other real estate websites (Zillow, Trulia etc…)  I do recommend setting up an account on Zillow and the homes that catch your attention you should then save them and keep an eye on them.

As a buyer’s agent I am here as your advisor.  You are the boss and make all the decisions!  I’m here to help you make smart decisions.

Now is the time to buy!

Now is the time to buy!

Rates 3-16

As expected, the FOMC announced its first rate hike of 2017 and hinted at additional increases throughout the remainder of the year. This survey was conducted prior to the Fed’s decision, the release of the February jobs report all but guaranteed a rate hike and boosted the 30-year mortgage rate 9 basis points to 4.30 percent this week. Increasing inflation, continued gains in the labor market and the Fed’s intentions for further rate increases—all three will keep pushing mortgage rates up this year.