When the time comes to move, some tenacious homeowners in South Carolina are eager to take over the reins of their home sale and figure out how to sell a house by owner.
A house is typically a person’s largest financial asset, and the decision to sell solo is often understandably driven by a desire to save on commission fees and pocket more equity from a hard-earned investment.
In recent years, the hot South Carolina real estate market and a steep rise in equity added extra incentive to maximize profits.
Impulsive home purchases also weren’t unheard of during the pandemic, so maybe you haven’t owned your South Carolina home very long and are concerned about covering the cost of selling your house. As the market shifts, you may have new concerns about how much you can get for your home and the amount of your net proceeds.
With millions of homes sold each year, a modest portion of sellers — about 7% in 2021 and 10% in 2022 — choose to list “For Sale By Owner” (or FSBO — pronounced fizz-bow). Of those, 50% already knew the buyer of the home, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
While the method can work for South Carolinians, it does come with some risks. Selling a house is a pretty rare event for most people, so you don’t know what you don’t know.
In this guide to selling FSBO in South Carolina, we’ll cover what can be the most difficult aspects of selling by owner in the Palmetto State, including the steps that might be harder than you think. We’ll also provide a comprehensive overview of the full process to prep, market, and close on your home without the assistance of a real estate agent.
Note: Once you’ve seen what’s required, you can roll up your sleeves and get started with your FSBO sale. Or — in the event you’d prefer to work with a real estate agent — HomeLight would be happy to introduce you to highly-rated professionals in your South Carolina market who can help you command top dollar and provide a low-stress selling experience.
How does selling by owner (FSBO) work in South Carolina?
Disclaimer: While we’ve done our best to research laws, guidelines, or policies for FSBO sales in South Carolina, HomeLight always recommends that you look into the local regulations for your area and when in doubt, consult with a legal advisor.
FSBO is a method of selling your home without the involvement of a listing agent. In a FSBO scenario, the seller assumes the responsibilities that would normally fall to their agent such as pricing the home, marketing it to potential buyers, arranging showings, and negotiating the deal.
In an agent-assisted sale, the seller typically pays a commission amounting to around 6% of the sale price, which is then most often split 50/50 with the buyer’s agent. That 6% is deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. By selling FSBO, a seller can eliminate the cost of the listing agent’s commission (so around 3%), though they may still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission.
Buyers’ agents will expect compensation for the work they do to bring a buyer to a sale, such as arranging showings and helping to tee up and qualify the buyer. Plus, when a seller isn’t working with an agent, the buyer’s agent may end up carrying more of the weight to get the deal to the finish line.
Next: Consult our guide on who pays closing costs when selling a house by owner for more details.
Finally, a FSBO sale does not mean that a seller won’t need any professional assistance. In South Carolina, a real estate attorney is required to oversee the closing process. The buyer selects the closing attorney, but FSBO sales typically warrant legal and professional oversight of some kind to avoid an abundance of legal risk.
Most people who sell by owner will need to hire an attorney to review and prepare key documents and make sure paperwork is filled out properly, such as the seller’s disclosures. We’ll address what disclosures are required when selling a house in South Carolina later in this post.
Why sell a house by owner in South Carolina?
The top three reasons people cite for selling FSBO include: “did not want to pay a commission or fee” (36%); sold to a relative, friend, or neighbor (30%); or that the buyers contacted the seller directly (8%), according to NAR data.
To get a firsthand perspective on selling homes in South Carolina, we spoke with Kevin Richter in Charleston, a top-performing real estate agent who works with over 74% more single-family homes than average agents in the area.
We also spoke with Talia Gila, a top agent in Greenville, South Carolina, who sells properties 21% faster than the typical Greenville agent.
Richter says South Carolina FSBO sellers he encounters “believe that they can save money on commissions and make more money at the table.”
However, 2022 data from NAR shows that FSBO homes sold at a median of $225,000, signiﬁcantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $345,000. This NAR data contrasts the median prices among all FSBO homes (for which we have limited data) against all agent-assisted homes, regardless of distinctions like square footage. However, an independent study from 2016 to 2017 which does adjust for square footage also shows a significant price difference: FSBO homes sold for an average of 5.5% less than agent-marketed sales. Gila estimates that this disparity in price is similar in South Carolina.
As you can see, FSBO is a mixed bag. So, before we share our selling tips, let’s lay out some pros and cons to help you decide if this is the route for you.
Pros of selling a house by owner
- Ability to save on listing agent commission fees, usually around 3% of the sale price.
- You’re completely in charge and can manage the sale as you please.
- No “go-between” in your communications with buyers.
Cons of selling a house by owner
- FSBO listings tend to sell for less, statistically speaking.
- Unless the seller already has a buyer lined up, FSBO listings can take longer to sell. For example, according to Richter, FSBO homes in South Carolina can spend two extra weeks on the market.
- Managing all communications and negotiations yourself is time-consuming. Not having a communication buffer can be a downside if the buyer pushes back or says negative things about your property.
- You’ll be negotiating without help from an expert, which could mean leaving money on the table.
- Setting the listing price is challenging — you may be tempted to go too high. You could also risk under-selling with a low price.
- Marketing your home is time-consuming.
- You’ll still have selling costs, which may include transfer taxes and settlement fees. Not having agent representation could also lead to paying more in seller concessions.
- Without the help of an agent to guide you through the disclosure process, you may put yourself at legal risk to be held liable for potential future problems with your home.
- You’ll attract real estate agents who want to list your house instead of real buyers looking to purchase it.
In spite of the cons, we’ll help you navigate the challenges of FSBO if you’re committed to selling your South Carolina house without agent assistance. For some, selling a home FSBO is a challenge worth accepting, and success can be measured in more ways than one.
If they’re not going to price the house right or not offer any incentives to the buyer or to the real estate agent that brings the buyer, they’re going to face a hard situation of selling their house in a fast time frame.
Steps to sell a house by owner
Next, let’s review the FSBO process step by step.
1. Prepare your house for sale
Whether you’re selling with an agent or FSBO, at a minimum you’ll want to get your South Carolina home into respectable shape before any showings to increase your chances of receiving a fair price. Here are a few standard tasks to add to the list.
These efforts will go a long way toward impressing buyers looking for a home in South Carolina:
“Help people see themselves in your house as opposed to seeing you in their home,” says Richer, stressing the importance of depersonalizing the home by removing personal photos and items that might detract from the home itself. “I also recommend starting the great purge,” adds Richter. You probably won’t be taking all the possessions you’ve accumulated to your next house, so pack up belongings you don’t need and either donate them, have a yard sale, or throw them out.
Data from HomeLight’s 2022 Top Agents Insight Report shows that on average, “Buyers will pay 7% more for a house with great curb appeal versus a home with a neglected exterior.”
Some important curb appeal upgrades can include:
- Mow the lawn and pull weeds.
- Apply fresh mulch liberally.
- Upgrade your landscaping. Consider a new walkway, flowerbed, or shrubs. A few palm trees will appeal to buyers relocating from colder climates.
- Add a fresh coat of exterior paint, especially if extreme heat, humidity, or salty air in coastal locations have taken their toll on your home’s appearance.
- Install a new garage door if yours is looking old or not working properly.
- Place a fire pit in the backyard to create a cozy gathering place on South Carolina’s chilly fall nights
Richter recommends “adding that little touch of character to sell the lifestyle more than just the home itself.” He suggests a hammock in the yard or brightly colored Adirondack chairs to create a relaxing atmosphere for potential buyers coming to South Carolina to escape the hustle and bustle of the Northeast.
2. Do the homework necessary to set a competitive price
You’ve arrived at a critical moment in your FSBO process: setting a listing price. You don’t want to leave money on the table, yet you want to encourage activity on your listing.
Before listing a home, an agent usually conducts a comparative market analysis (CMA). This is a highly-detailed study of “comps” — similar homes nearby that have sold recently, are pending, on the market, or were previously listed but taken off the market. Some may have even been pulled off the market without a sale.
“Don’t rely on third-party websites to tell you how much your home is worth,” Richter cautions FSBO sellers. Even if you’re determined to sell your house by owner, he encourages sellers to meet with a real estate professional for a better understanding of the property’s market value.
Richter stresses the importance of pricing your home right the first time rather than listing for thousands over market value to leave room for negotiations. “You might miss your actual buyer,” he says. Potential buyers may not even consider your house because it’s out of their budget. And if you start too high and make price reductions, you could end up leaving money on the table.
Gila adds that FSBO sellers should list their home at fair market value, especially when competing with new construction in South Carolina that offers high incentives for buyers as well as real estate agents who provide Realtor® bonuses and buy-down interest programs or closing costs paid by sellers. “If they’re not going to price the house right or not offer any incentives to the buyer or to the real estate agent that brings the buyer, they’re going to face a hard situation of selling their house in a fast time frame,” she explains.
Without an agent, you’ll miss out on the complexity of a full CMA and the know-how to interpret it.
However, with a little time and money, you can set a competitive price yourself.
Conduct your own “CMA Lite”
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and research.
Start with an online home value estimate
As a starting point, look at several online estimators for your home’s value. HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator aggregates publicly available data such as tax records and assessments, your home’s last sale price, and recent sales records for other properties in the same neighborhood.
We also add a new layer of information to our estimates using a short questionnaire. Tell us a few details about your South Carolina, such as:
- How much work does it need?
- What type of home is it (single-family, condo, townhouse, or other)?
- Roughly when was your house built?
- Are you planning to sell soon?
Using these insights, we’ll provide you with a preliminary estimate of home value in under two minutes.
Whether you use Zillow, Chase, Realtor, or Redfin to get a home value estimate, think of any online home price tool as a first step (not your only source of truth) — and recognize that the data used may be limited.
Narrowly filter your search for comps
When you’re ready to find comps, you can choose from sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or Realtor.
You’ll want to filter your searches to the area very near your house (within blocks if possible) and with similar characteristics. If you’re not finding any comps, expand your search map.
You’ll also want to filter results by details like:
- Listing status (look at recently sold, pending, and active)
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Square footage
- Home type (single-family, condo, etc.)
Beyond the above criteria, the more houses you find with floor plans and an age similar to yours, the better.
Use a site like Zillow to collect your data
As an example, let’s take a look at how to filter your search for comps on Zillow.
- Navigate to Zillow.
- Type in your address. If a pop-up with your home’s specs appears, close it.
- Filter by “sold.” Yellow dots should appear on the map surrounding your house.
- Now, filter by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and check the box “Use exact match.”
- Next, filter by home type.
- Next, select the “More” box. Here you can specify square footage, lot size, year built, and — crucially — the “sold in last” (time period) category.
- Scroll down and select to view houses that sold in the last 30 days.
- If you find there are not many results in your area, try expanding to 90 days. However, the further back you go, the less relevant the comps.
- If necessary, click the plus or minus buttons to widen the search area.
- Once you’ve collected data for sold houses, revise or restart the search to view active and pending listings, as well.
Invest in an appraisal
If you want to reduce guesswork further, top agents recommend paying an appraiser to provide a professional opinion of value for your home. An appraiser will combine recent property data, research of the surrounding market, and information collected from a walkthrough of your home to determine an appraised value. The cost of an appraisal in South Carolina ranges from $250 to $425 — well worth it to avoid possibly over- or underpricing your house by thousands.
Gila emphasizes the importance of an appraisal to sell a house by owner in South Carolina because the market has slowed with rising interest rates. Buyers aren’t paying well over asking price as they often did in the last couple of years. “To make your home competitive with the rest of the homes and the rest of the inventory, I recommend doing so,” she says.
However, Richter cautions FSBO sellers that private appraisals may differ from bank appraisals. “I tend to see that those come in much lower than actual market value,” says Richter. “Meet with a couple of professionals to get the best possible market analysis and valuation of your home,” he advises rather than relying solely on an appraisal even if you want to try the sell-by-owner route.
Make sense of the research
Compare your home’s features against the nearby comps you collected. Hopefully, the houses you studied give an indication of an appropriate price range for your home. From there, you can make dollar adjustments based on characteristics that add value (patios, curb appeal, an extra bedroom) versus detracting from it (a busy street, deferred maintenance, less square footage).
Consider the differences and similarities of comps with the appraised value of your home to choose a price that will encourage activity (too high and it may seem out of reach to many buyers), but will also maximize your profit.
Since basements are uncommon in South Carolina due to the state’s high-water table and humidity, increase your house’s worth with a “FROG,” but not the kind that croaks. “You can really add to the value of your home,” says Richter, explaining that the acronym stands for “finished room over the garage.” Unfinished storage areas also tend to up the price, but on the other hand, a garage converted into living space may be less desirable to some buyers looking for extra storage capacity.
Richter says properties in the greater Charleston area may require the additional expense of flood insurance, so selling a home located within a flood map could be difficult.
3. Photograph your home
Listing photos are powerful, either pulling in buyers for showings or keeping them away.
To give your listing an edge, consider hiring an experienced real estate photographer. While they may charge as much as $140 to $180 an hour, Richter says professional photos can make or break a deal.
“You capture an actual image of the home versus just a couple of snapshots. It makes a huge difference,” says Richter. He also recommends drone photos to showcase the surrounding area.
Since most buyers begin their house hunting online, Gila says high-quality photos make the all-important first impression that “can literally open the door for the buyers to come see it.”
But if you do go the DIY route, make sure to:
- Use a good camera with a wide-angle lens.
- Pay attention to lighting.
- Include a photo of every room.
- Take multiple pictures of living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms.
- Try shooting different angles.
Review our guide on how to take quality real estate photos for further guidance.
4. Create a detailed, compelling listing
Along with stellar photos, you’ll want to craft an informative and compelling listing. Leverage both the listing description (a paragraph or two highlighting key features) and the property details to show potential buyers all about your home and what makes it desirable.
Tell a story with your description
Draw in potential buyers with a powerful listing description that tells a story about your South Carolina house, including details like:
- Your home’s most unique and desirable features, like a breakfast nook or sunroom
- Recent upgrades like a kitchen or bathroom remodel or new roof or HVAC system
- High-end appliances, materials, or finishes
- Outdoor features like a pool or patio
- Neighborhood features and amenities
- Nearby parks, walking trails, restaurants, and attractions
- Historic significance and vintage architectural styles such as Colonial, Georgian, and Victorian
- New energy-efficient windows that reduce utility bills
“Don’t just sell the house — sell the area, the schools, the location, and proximity to hospitals,” Richter shares his thoughts on writing an effective listing description. “If you are providing information and insights just based on what the house has, you’re selling the lifestyle short,” he says, noting that details should be included if your home is in a great retirement destination like Charleston.
Lastly, and this is crucial: specify in your description whether a buyer’s agent will receive a commission from the proceeds. Most agents don’t want to show their clients properties from which they’d receive no commission. You can decide not to offer a buyer’s agent commission, but recognize that doing so could limit your buyer pool as buyers’ agents typically expect to be compensated for their efforts.
Don’t skimp on the property details
Aside from writing the description, you may be prompted to enter information like:
- Age of the home
- Square footage
- Architectural style (i.e., split-level, rancher, craftsman)
- Appliances included
- Exterior building materials
- Flooring types
- HOA fees
- School zone information
- Lot size
Many real estate agents and potential buyers really do read this “fine print” on your listing — so include accurate details, and plenty of them.
Provide HOA or flood insurance specifications if they apply to your home. “Those things really can equip a buyer with the information they need to make a decision,” Richter advises. Otherwise, the deal could fall apart if buyers can’t afford the additional costs.
5. List your home online
It’s finally time to post your South Carolina home online. While you can create FSBO listings for free on popular search sites, you’d have to painstakingly post site by site, and your listing wouldn’t reach the majority of buyers and agents.
To give your home the most exposure, pay to have your home put on your local MLS (multiple listing service) — a platform agents use to share properties with one another as well as major real estate sites. Posting there will feed your listing to buyers’ agent databases and to common sites buyers use.
Only licensed real estate agents and brokers who are MLS members can post to the MLS. However, you have two options to gain access: paying an agent to post for you or using a FSBO platform online.
Pay an agent to list your home on the MLS
A local agent may be willing to list your house on the MLS for a flat fee, without any other involvement in your real estate transaction. If you decide to go this route, make sure you ask whether the fee includes updating your listing if necessary.
Use a FSBO platform with an MLS option
There are a variety of paid websites that you can use to list your South Carolina house online as “for sale by owner.” These sites offer packages ranging from about $100 to $400 for just a listing, or a larger flat fee of $3,000 to $5,000 that includes any number of additional professional marketing services.
Some of these companies display their rates on their websites, but others won’t quote a fee until you input your address or select an area of the country. A few examples include:
It’s important to note that most of these companies serve FSBO sellers nationwide, which can cause challenges if the assisting representatives don’t understand the local market trends in your South Carolina neighborhood.
Be prudent when selecting a flat fee MLS company. In South Carolina, your MLS listing must be constantly updated with changes in a timely manner or you could incur fines.
Whatever you choose, read the fine print carefully: some sites may have hidden fees or even take a percentage off your sale — a detour you’d rather avoid on the FSBO route.
Not willing to pay for the MLS?
If you’re determined to save money by foregoing the MLS, creating a free FSBO listing on Zillow might be your top option. You can post videos and unlimited photos, and get fairly wide exposure via Zillow and the Zillow-owned Trulia.
6. Market your home
Now it’s time to spread the word about your South Carolina home.
Experienced agents like Richter and Gila know that posting a home on the MLS is just the beginning of the marketing phase. A successful home sale requires a deliberate and targeted marketing plan to reach the right buyers and attract the best offers.
Gila emphasizes the significance of an expert marketing strategy to generate as much traffic as possible, especially with the real estate market slowing down. “You now have to make your listing unique and work hard to sell it,” she says.
Here are some of the steps you can take to market your home:
Place a nice FSBO sign by the road
Consider getting a custom yard sign rather than purchasing a generic one you write on with a Sharpie. You can order a custom sign on a site like Vistaprint with your contact information, plus a stand, for as little as $25 plus shipping. Note that some MLS providers may have rules about whether you can post a FSBO yard sign while your home is on the MLS.
If your home is listed on the MLS in South Carolina, you won’t be able to place a FSBO sign on your front lawn. Instead, you’re required to have a sign from the broker who listed your house on the MLS. If you used a flat fee service, ask for a yard sign to borrow or purchase.
Share on social media
Share your home across social media — and ask your friends to share, too.
Richter emphasizes the power of social media marketing to help cast a wider net and reach buyers in unlikely places. “It has a huge impact because you want to be in as many places as possible,” he says. “Buyers can be impulsive. They may not even be looking for that type of house, but then see that picture of the kitchen or the backyard or whatever the thing is that draws somebody in.”
Hold an open house
Try these strategies for a successful open house event:
- Share details on Facebook and Nextdoor.
- Update your MLS listing with the open house details (if you’re able to as part of paying the flat fee), or update your DIY FSBO listing.
- Place open house signs at nearby intersections.
- Tidy up the house before potential buyers come through.
- Pass out info sheets with the address, bullet points about the house, your contact info, and perhaps one photo.
- If you can, collect visitors’ info — then follow up later to ask if they have any questions.
Find more expert tips for how to hold an open house at this link.
7. Manage showings
If your marketing is successful, your next step will be to show the home to prospective buyers. Welcome to the busiest phase of the home sale process. According to Gila, a major reason some FSBO sellers switch to an agent is that they underestimated the time, energy, and expertise needed to manage this crucial step.
“When people see homes in person, they feel more connected emotionally,” says Gila. This is a critical stage because buyers become motivated to put in offers when visualizing themselves living there.
Communication may be a significant problem for FSBO sellers if their contact information is not readily available online or agents representing potential buyers can’t reach them to make an appointment. “Make sure that you have the systems in place so that people can contact you,” Richter advises. You won’t have many showings if buyers or their agents can’t get hold of you.
To manage the logistics of showings:
- Respond to inquiries ASAP.
- Set end times if you need to fit many showings in one day. This will also create a sense of demand and urgency for buyers to place offers.
- Remove or secure valuables.
- Make sure the home is clean and tidy for showings.
- Follow up with buyers’ agents after showings to get their feedback.
Should you be present for showings?
If you’d rather not be present for every showing, consider using a lockbox with a code to let buyers’ agents enter the house. This is standard industry practice among agents. To ensure you’re working with someone legitimate, use Google or sites like arello.com to check their real estate license number.
With unrepresented buyers, plan to be on the property for the showing. During a showing, we recommend you:
- Point out a few highlights of the house.
- Let buyers look without hovering.
- Be prepared to answer questions.
- Avoid the temptation to tell all — let the house and listing do the talking.
“In the perfect world, buyer and seller should never meet,” says Richter. There’s no need to be present if a licensed agent accompanies the buyer. Gila adds that potential buyers may feel uncomfortable providing feedback with the owner standing right in front of them.
While you shouldn’t share too much information if talking to an unrepresented buyer, in South Carolina, Richter says it’s better to over disclose when it comes to your home’s condition. “A lot of ‘for sale by owner’ sellers get into hot water by under disclosing,” he notes.
8. Evaluate offers, negotiate a deal, and make disclosures
You’ve got your first offer — congratulations! Before signing anything, Richter says, “It’s important to open a dialogue with the buyer’s lender to verify they do in fact have the ability to purchase that home.”
Buyers may get pre-approved for a mortgage at the click of a button on a website, but might not have submitted the documentation. Or their employment or financial situation might have changed, thus affecting their ability to get a loan. “With our current climate of changing interest rates, that same pre-approval from a month ago may not be valid today for the price of their home,” Richter adds.
Without carefully vetting the buyer, the sale could go up in smoke if you accept an offer from the wrong buyer who can’t obtain financing. “You’re accepting a massive potential for the house to fall through and come back on the market. And then when that happens, I tend to see people lose money at the closing table,” explains Richter.
Here are key considerations when considering an offer on your South Carolina home:
- Vet potential buyers by requiring a mortgage pre-approval letter or proof of funds.
- Require everything in writing.
- Remember you can counter-offer and negotiate.
- Thoroughly read the purchase contract and make sure you understand it.
- Look for a good real estate attorney. (See the next step!)
- If there’s a home sale contingency, contact the agent selling the home to see where they are in the process.
Property condition disclosure
Since South Carolina is not a “Caveat Emptor” or “buyer beware” state, a residential property seller is generally required to disclose the condition of the home to the buyer. Sellers must disclose known defects and problems with the home in a written disclosure statement before both parties sign the purchase contract.
Whether required by law or not, some sellers may prefer to provide the disclosures before an offer has even been presented so that a prospective buyer is more informed beforehand and less likely to withdraw from a deal later on.
In an agent-assisted sale, your listing agent would likely provide you with the required disclosure form(s). However, as a FSBO seller, you can obtain the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Statement from the South Carolina Real Estate Commission or online at eForms.
What will you be asked? In South Carolina, you can expect to disclose any significant defects or issues you’re aware of concerning:
- Water supply and sewage system (water quality and pressure, type of water supply and disposal systems, pipe materials)
- Roof and structural components (age of roof, roof leaks and repairs/modifications, gutters, foundation, slab, fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves, floors, basement, windows, driveway, storm windows/screens, doors, ceilings, walls, sheds, garage, carport, patio, deck, walkways, fencing, modifications to structural components)
- Plumbing (pipes, fixtures, water heater, disposal, softener, plumbing components)
- Electrical system (wiring, panel, fixtures, A/V wiring, outlets, switches, electrical components)
- Appliances (range, stove, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, dryer, other appliances)
- Built-in systems and fixtures (fans, irrigation, pool, security, lighting, A/V)
- Mechanical systems (pumps, garage door opener, filtration, energy equipment, safety)
- Heating and cooling systems (components, age, type of systems, fuel source)
- Wood-destroying insects, dry rot, or fungus (wood problems, termite/pest treatment and coverage, pest infestations)
- Zoning laws, restrictive covenants, building codes, land use restrictions, encroachments, and government notices (violations or variances, historic designation, easements, party walls, shared driveway, private roads, released mineral rights, issues affecting the title like legal actions or liens, room additions or structural changes, problems caused by fire, smoke, or water, drainage, soil stability, atmosphere or underground problems, erosion, flooding, wetlands, flood insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claims, features such as green energy, recycling, sustainability, or disability, manufactured housing titled by the Department of Motor Vehicles)
- Hazardous conditions or environmental contamination (mold, methamphetamine production, lead-based paint, lead, asbestos, radon or methane gas, formaldehyde, corrosion-causing sheetrock, storage tanks, other hazardous or toxic materials)
- Rental or other lease contract (lease terms and problems, property management company, outstanding tenant charges)
- Meter conservation charge (utility financed or leased property, delinquent charges for gas, electric, water, sewer, and garbage)
- Homeowners association (HOA) (addendum required, HOA fees, common area expenses, access, and problems, resale or rental restrictions, special assessments, restrictions for visitors and animals, assigned parking, regulation by the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act, transfer fees)
If in doubt about a problem with the home’s condition, most top real estate agents would recommend you disclose it. In South Carolina, if you know of an issue and choose not to disclose it, and that defect is later discovered, you could be held liable for damages, court costs, and attorney fees. If a new problem occurs after completing the disclosure form, you’ll be required to correct the statement and may have to make repairs.
Richter shares this story about a client he represented who purchased a FSBO home. The seller claimed that a roofing company repaired the roof. The sale went through, but water poured into the house after the first big rainstorm. The new homeowner took the seller to court when a neighbor revealed that he had fixed the roof himself. “My client ended up winning because he had improperly disclosed information that he knew about that was provable and he ended up having to pay a substantial amount of money to my client for his dishonesty,” says Richter.
9. Close the sale — with professional help
Time to button up that deal.
South Carolina is one of several states that require a real estate lawyer at closing. An attorney must supervise the closing process including title search and commitment, recording deeds and other documents, escrow procedure, and disbursement of funds.
In South Carolina, the buyer chooses the closing attorney and pays the fees. But it’s a good idea to invest in the services of an experienced real estate lawyer as you close one of the biggest and most complex deals of your life. By doing so, you’ll minimize your legal and financial risk, plus simplify the process for yourself.
“If you don’t hire a professional to represent you, at least have a consult with an attorney about the contract,” recommends Gila. She encourages all FSBO sellers to engage a lawyer to explain the terms of the contract including the conditions and buyer’s demands.
Richter agrees that it’s important to hire your own attorney “so that you have somebody protecting your interest if there are any disputes down the line.”
Real estate attorney fees can vary depending on location and how much help you want or need. In South Carolina, they generally average $300 per hour — well worth it for professional guidance in closing one of life’s largest legal transactions.
Real estate agents may refer their clients to top attorneys they’ve worked with in the past. But if you are selling by owner, ask your family and friends for referrals or search online for a real estate lawyer in South Carolina on Lawyers.com and FindLaw.
FSBO mistakes to avoid in South Carolina
On your FSBO journey, watch out for these major pitfalls:
- Missing out on the MLS.
- Forgetting or refusing to pay the buyer’s agent commission.
- Over- or under-pricing.
- Letting your house sit on the market too long.
Don’t make the mistake made by some FSBO sellers in South Carolina of letting home inspection issues delay or even kill a deal. “Have the pre-inspection done so that you can be ahead of any potential issues,” Richter suggests. Rectify problems ahead of time so the buyer’s home inspection goes much smoother, thus leading to a quicker and less stressful sale.
Richter leaves sellers in South Carolina considering FSBO with this final piece of advice: “Commission is negotiable. If they feel like it’s more valuable to have somebody else handle all the stress and all the connections and all the things that come along with the process, but they don’t want to pay the full commission, negotiate it. You have that right as a seller.”
“Price it right and do not be greedy,” Gila says. “Work with a professional because if you’re not doing that for a living, you probably don’t understand the best way to sell a house,” she advises FSBO sellers in South Carolina.
Alternatives to selling by owner in South Carolina
If you decide you don’t want the hassle or pressure of FSBO, you’ve got other solid options.
Enlist the help of a top-rated real estate agent
Ultimately, the services and price gains you can get with an experienced real estate agent may put more money in your pocket than FSBO. A proven agent is also better equipped to help you achieve your selling and moving timelines.
Richter shares an experience with a client in Charleston who unsuccessfully tried to sell his house by owner to save commission. He placed a sign in the yard and took some photos with his cellphone, but after spending about 40 days on the market he turned to Richter to sell his home. “Then I stepped in. Brought my drone. We did a virtual 3-D walkthrough. We did a social media blast,” says Richter. A top agent helped the FSBO seller-turned-client sell the home at a price that greatly exceeded his expectations.
Gila shares a similar story in South Carolina’s upstate region. She was in touch with an owner who tried to sell his house by himself for a few months, but without any success. He took his home off the market and made some changes Gila recommended like replacing worn carpet and painting the kitchen. With professional photos, a 3-D tour, social media marketing, and competitive pricing, the home received an offer the same day that Gila listed it at an even higher price than he had asked for when selling by owner.
“The most important thing is really to look at your net and if you are netting, even after paying commission, more than what you even thought you were going to be selling for,” says Gila.
Interested in such expertise? HomeLight’s Agent Match platform can connect you to top-performing agents in your South Carolina market. Our free tool analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs. It takes only two minutes to receive your matches.
Request a cash offer to buy your South Carolina home
If you’d like to skip the sale prep altogether — plus avoid paying agent commissions — you can opt to sell your home “as-is” to an all-cash buyer instead.
For a low-stress experience, consider requesting a cash offer from HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Tell us a few details about your home, and in as few as 48 hours, we’ll send a no-obligation all-cash offer your way. If you decide to accept the offer, Simple Sale sellers have the ability to close in as little as 10 days.
Without leaving the Simple Sale platform, you’ll also be able to compare your cash offer to an estimation of what your home would sell for on the open market so you can make an informed decision.
Ready to sell your South Carolina home?
Unless you already have a buyer lined up, selling a house by owner in South Carolina requires a significant investment of time and effort. You’ll need to pull your own comps, capture excellent pictures, create a listing, market the house online, field inquiries, host showings, negotiate, and close the deal. And that’s after preparing the house itself.
You also have to consider that FSBO listings tend to sell for less than agent-assisted sales. An experienced agent who knows the area can make recommendations for targeted upgrades to help you maximize your sale price and get a premium offer. This can help to offset or, in some cases, more than make up for the cost of commission — while saving you time and headaches.
If you choose to go FSBO, you should have a good idea now of what to expect from the process. Otherwise, our internal transaction data at HomeLight shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for as much as 10% more than average, and we’d be happy to introduce you to some of the best agents in your South Carolina market.
Header Image Source: (Leonel Heisenberg / Unsplash)