How To Sell Your House By Owner In Massachusetts (2024)

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how to sell your house in massachusetts

In This Article

As of January 2024, the average home cost stands at an impressive $572,900 in Massachusetts. With traditional realtor fees averaging around 4%, homeowners are looking at $22,916 in commissions alone.

FSBO property sales can be challenging which is, of course, why so many property owners tend to use realtors. Cash buyers offer an alternative solution to those not wanting to list with a real estate agent. 

For those up for the FSBO challenge, here’s our expert guide:

How to Sell a House By Owner In Massachusetts

1. Determine a Price for Your House

Setting a competitive price for your home is crucial for success when selling a property, whether it is by FSBO or not. 

The primary function of your listing price is to generate interest in your property, think of it as a magnet for potential buyers. To determine your listing price, you could conduct a comparative market analysis. Your price needs to reflect the current market conditions, the property’s location, size, and any unique features or upgrades.

ℹ️ Top Tip! Remember that your listing price is not the same as your final sale price. It is simply used to attract buyers to your listing.

Pricing Accuracy

It is important to set an accurate listing price. Setting your home’s price too high can lead to an extended period on the market. A listing that becomes stale is one of the biggest threats to achieving a timely sale.

Generally, there’s minimal risk in setting your home’s price slightly lower or precisely at the market value. Doing so can significantly increase foot traffic and the number of offers you receive. If you’ve priced your home too low, the market often corrects through multiple offers, driving the sale price to its true market value. 

This strategy is particularly effective in a seller’s market, which MA currently is, where you have the leverage to price your home up to 10% above the market rate to capitalize on demand.

2. Establish the Best Time to Sell Your House

Timing can significantly impact the sale process. Generally, the spring and summer months see a higher demand in the Massachusetts real estate market, potentially leading to a quicker sale and possibly a higher sale price.

In terms of pricing, the best month to sell your house is June. Our research shows that Massachusetts house prices hit a peak in June, every year. 

For quicker sale times, May, June, and July, all have quicker median days on the market. For the past three years, properties have been on the market between 18-22 days in these months compared to highs of as much as 33 days in winter months. 

If speed is a more important factor to you than sale price, you could also consider seeking a cash buyer through a private investor or company such as Moss Home Solutions instead.

3. Get Your House Ready for Market

To make your Massachusetts home appealing to buyers and maximize offers, focus on key preparations:

Declutter

Clear clutter and remove personal items to help buyers picture themselves in the home.

Minor Repairs

Fix any small issues like leaky faucets or holes in walls to present a well-maintained property.

Neutral Paint

Apply neutral paint colors to open up spaces and appeal to more buyers.

Deep Cleaning

A comprehensive cleaning, including windows and carpets, enhances the home’s appeal. Consider hiring professionals for the best results.

Lighting

Replace any burnt-out bulbs and open curtains to brighten spaces with natural light.

Curb Appeal

Improve the first impression with maintained landscaping, fresh flowers, and a clean exterior.

Home Staging

Professional staging can significantly impact sale speed and price by showcasing your home at its best. A Redfin study showed that homes sold quicker and for more money when professional photography was used in the listing, highlighting the importance of high-quality visuals in attracting interest.

What to do if my home is in a distressed state?

If you own a property that is in a state of disrepair, for example as a result of poor maintenance, floor damage, or a fire, then you may find prospective buyers will struggle to get a mortgage for it. 

Costly repairs on a property you intend to sell may not be a high priority or just too costly. For these scenarios, the best step to take would be to sell to a cash buyer. Generally, investors and many cash buyers will be prepared to take the property as seen, therefore saving you from any large scale clear ups or repair work.

4. Put Your Home on the Market

To successfully navigate the process of selling your home by owner in Massachusetts, effective marketing is essential. Here are streamlined tactics to ensure your property stands out and captures the attention of prospective buyers:

Invest in Quality Photography

Securing the services of a professional photographer can dramatically enhance the appeal of your listing.

Write an Engaging Listing Description

Start with a compelling headline and use descriptive adjectives to spotlight your home’s features. Emphasize distinctive elements such as energy-efficient fixtures or unique flooring to make your property stand out.

Utilize the MLS for Broader Exposure

Listing your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) greatly extends its visibility. This approach distributes your property across numerous real estate platforms, significantly enhancing its exposure to potential buyers.

Leverage FSBO Platforms

Use FSBO sites to access their extensive traffic, enhancing your home’s exposure. Choosing the right platform is essential for attracting serious buyers. Alternatively, you could consider looking for a cash buyer which would speed up the process.

Display an Attractive Yard Sign

A well-designed yard sign can catch the eye of local passersby. Include key contact information for inquiries. Some services offer customizable signs as a cost-effective marketing tool.

5. Organize Home Viewings

Organizing home viewings is another important step in selling a property as it allows potential buyers to connect with all your home has to offer. Here are some different ways of sharing your home with prospective buyers:

In-Person Showings

Facilitate potential buyers’ visits by being flexible with schedules, ensuring your home is pristine and well-presented, and highlighting its unique features during tours.

Open Houses

Open houses serve as an efficient platform to engage multiple buyers simultaneously, fostering a competitive atmosphere. Promote these events across various channels, stage your home to enhance its appeal, and collect feedback to refine your marketing and pricing strategies.

Incorporating virtual tours alongside traditional showings and open houses provides a complete, accessible view of your home, broadening its appeal to distant or busy buyers. 

Viewings will be an important tool when selling your home as an FSBO. For those who don’t wish to go through the hassle of open houses or multiple viewings from potential buyers, you may wish to consider selling to an investor for cash as this can remove the need for so many viewings as they will often buy the property as it is.

6. Review and Negotiate Offers

When you receive offers on your home, particularly in a vibrant market, navigating through them meticulously is key to a successful sale. Here’s how to effectively review and negotiate offers when selling a home in Massachusetts::

Prepare for Multiple Offers

While the offer price is crucial, consider other elements such as:

  • The strength and type of the buyer’s financing (cash, conventional, FHA, VA loans) can affect the reliability of the offer.
  • Buyers may propose different closing dates. Align this with your moving plans or purchase of another property.
  • Offers may include conditions like passing a home inspection, the buyer obtaining financing, or selling their current home. Understand how these can impact the sale.

Negotiation

Be open to negotiating terms. Sometimes, a counteroffer on your end can lead to a better deal that meets both parties’ needs.

Consult Professionals

Engage with a legal or real estate professional to grasp the implications of each term in the offers.

7. Close the Sale

Finalizing the sale of your home is a multifaceted process that demands attention to detail to ensure everything proceeds smoothly. Here’s an expanded view of what closing the sale entails:

Home Inspections

Typically initiated by the buyer, inspections can uncover any issues that might need addressing before the sale can proceed. Be prepared to negotiate repairs or credits based on the findings.

Appraisals

Lenders often require an appraisal to confirm the home’s value matches the sale price. A significant discrepancy can necessitate renegotiation of the sale price or terms.

Final Walkthrough

This is the buyer’s last chance to verify the property’s condition and ensure agreed-upon repairs have been completed. It usually occurs just before the closing date.

Legal Guidance

In Massachusetts, while not mandatory for FSBO sales, hiring an attorney can provide invaluable assistance with the legal complexities of real estate transactions, ensuring contracts are in order and rights are protected.

Discussing Closing Costs

Closing costs are an essential aspect of the sale that both buyers and sellers need to understand and negotiate. These costs can significantly affect the final amount that changes hands and include:

Title Search Fees

To ensure the property is free from encumbrances or liens and can be legally transferred.

Transfer Taxes

Levied by the state or local government for transferring the property’s title from seller to buyer.

Attorney Fees

For legal services provided during the transaction, including document preparation and review.

Other Potential Costs

Depending on the agreement, these may also include inspections, real estate commission fees (if applicable), and various other administrative fees.

How to Sell a House By Owner In Massachusetts

Navigating the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) process in Massachusetts demands a thorough understanding of the state’s specific real estate procedures and legal obligations, as well as what paperwork is needed to sell a house. 

To ensure a smooth and compliant sale, use our table to see what you’ll need before selling:

Requirement Description
Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Sellers must disclose any known defects, including structural issues and hazardous materials like lead paint.
Lead Paint Disclosure Required for properties built before 1978, informing buyers of any known lead paint.
Septic System Regulations (Title 5) Properties without municipal sewer need a septic inspection to meet state codes before sale.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Compliance with state laws on detector locations is mandatory, requiring certification from the local fire department.
Water Resource Protection Additional regulations may apply for protecting water resources, including private water system standards.
Disclosure Forms Mandatory property disclosure forms cover conditions and defects that could impact value or safety.
Clear Title The property must be free from liens or disputes, potentially requiring a title search and resolution of issues.
State-Specific Laws and Regulations Sellers should understand all legal requirements affecting contracts, negotiations, and the closing process.
Mandatory Energy Assessment Some sales may require a home energy assessment to evaluate and improve energy efficiency.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Certification Certification confirming compliance with safety standards is required before closing.

Pros and Cons of FSBO in Massachusetts

Selling a house in Massachusetts without a real estate agent comes with advantages and disadvantages, let’s take a closer look:

Pros

Savings on Commissions

The most significant advantage of FSBO is the potential savings on realtor commissions. Typically real estate commission in MA is 4% of the sale price. 

Control Over the Sale Process

Sellers have complete control over pricing, marketing, and negotiating offers. For those who like a simple process, this is a big advantage.

Speed of Getting on the Market

Listing a FSBO property is often quicker than with a realtor as there is more flexibility in scheduling and direct control over the listing.

Cons

Market Access

Without an MLS listing, reaching potential buyers can be challenging.

Legal and Procedural Knowledge

Sellers need a good understanding of the legal and procedural aspects of a real estate transaction.

Take Longer To Sell

FSBOs can take longer to sell due to the seller’s limited access to marketing as well as a lack of networking capabilities. Inexperience can also cause delays.

With that in mind, you should also be aware that selling an FSBO property is also time-consuming, and can be a hugely stressful process. If you are looking to sell your home as quickly as possible, you could also look into selling your home to a company, such as Moss Home Solutions, who can pay cash and close in as little as a week.

Don’t Always Get Best Price

FSBOs often settle for a lower sale price due to limited market exposure and fewer competing offers, which can result in accepting a lower bid.

Realtor vs. By Owner in Massachusetts

The following table compares crucial differences between selling your home with a realtor and selling it by owner (FSBO) in Massachusetts, focusing on aspects such as exposure, expertise, and costs.

Aspect Selling with a Realtor Selling By Owner
Exposure Extensive, through MLS, professional networks, and realtor marketing strategies. More limited, relying mainly on personal networks, FSBO websites, and social media.
Expertise Benefit from professional guidance, market insights, and negotiation skills. Necessitates self-directed research and learning to navigate the sales process.
Effort Realtor oversees the sales process, including marketing, showings, and paperwork. Seller is responsible for all tasks, from marketing to closing negotiations.
Expense Involves paying commission fees, typically 5-6% of the sale price. Costs include marketing, possible listing fees, and legal expenses, but no commission.
Market Knowledge Realtors provide current market trends, pricing strategies, and buyer behavior insights. Sellers must independently gather and interpret market data for pricing and negotiation.
Negotiation Realtors handle negotiations, leveraging their experience for potentially better deals. Sellers negotiate directly, which can be challenging without prior experience.
Legal and Paperwork Realtors ensure compliance with legal requirements and manage complex paperwork. Sellers must navigate legal documents and compliance on their own or hire legal help.
Time to Sale Professional marketing and networking can lead to faster sales. May take longer due to limited exposure and negotiation challenges.
Access to Qualified Buyers Realtors can screen potential buyers, ensuring only serious offers are considered. FSBO sellers handle screening, which can be more time-consuming and less efficient.
Closing Process Realtors coordinate the closing process, smoothing out potential last-minute issues. Sellers are responsible for managing the closing, which can be daunting without experience.

Sell a House by Owner for Cash in MA

Selling to cash buyers can be an efficient option for owners with rental properties or homes in poor condition. 

Massachusetts cash home buyers, such as Moss Home Solutions, typically offer a quicker closing process without the need for financing or home inspections. iBuyers represent another avenue, offering instant cash offers based on fair market value, though they have specific purchase criteria.

Usually, ibuyers will assess the property’s location, condition, repairs needed, and value of comparable houses sold in the area recently. They will then give you a fair price that works for both parties. Once a price is agreed, the sale can be completed in as little time as 7 days. 

People that may wish to consider using a cash buyer include:

Organisationally Challenged

Individuals who find themselves with a persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions which has left their house overwhelmed.

Disrepair

If the home requires a significant amount of work, many prospective buyers will struggle to get a mortgage, removing as many as 90% of the market, and meaning you can only sell for cash. For those that don’t have the funds to repair the property, a cash buyer also offers an easy solution.

Financial Distress

For owners that require a cash injection quickly, for whatever reason. Cash buyers don’t need to go through a mortgage process so can close sales in as little as 7 days. 

Cash buyers offer a reduced risk of deals falling through because of finance issues, and they often avoid the lengthy showings of traditional sales. Cash sales are usually a more direct negotiation process that keeps the situation simple and stress-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much tax do you pay when you sell a house in Massachusetts?

Unless you qualify for a tax exemption or deferral, capital gains tax will be due on the sale of your property. Federally, the tax is from between 15% and 20%. State tax on property in MA is between 5.2% and 12%.

Do I need a lawyer to sell my house in Massachusetts?

While not required, it’s highly recommended to ensure all legal aspects are correctly handled.

Sold Secrets

Selling your house by owner in Massachusetts is a viable option that can save you as much as 4% which equates to tens of thousands in realtor fees. Accurately pricing your home, preparing it for sale, effectively marketing it, and navigating the legalities of the sale process will help you successfully sell your home FSBO.

Remember, while selling your house by owner may require more effort on your part, the potential financial savings and control over the selling process make it a worthwhile endeavor for many homeowners.

Make selling your home easy. We buy properties in any condition for cash, read more about what we do here.

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