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Do-it-yourself shack selling

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Paying sales commissions to a Realtor can eat up large chunks of your home equity.

So many homeowners are selling their house by themselves.

In fact, 20 percent of houses in the US sell without a Realtor, according to the American Homeowners Association in Washington.

Even Realtors, such as Lou Hrono of Re/max Associates in Medford, Mass., admit there's almost nothing they do that homeowners can't do themselves.

The problem is that when sellers list their properties, they're often too emotionally attached to it, says Mr. Hrono.

Most ask too much money, he says, and their houses sit on the market for months with little interest before the owners finally break down and hire a Realtor.

Others may not be flexible enough about showings or may not be willing to clean the place up to make it presentable when potential buyers come through. Another downside of selling your house yourself comes when you find a new house to buy before your old one has sold. "For sale by owner has a heck of a lot less weight [with those sellers] than a reputable Realtor," says Daryl "Jess" Jasperson, president of Re/Max International in Denver.

If you do manage to find a buyer for your home, you'll need a lawyer to handle the paperwork, but that costs a lot less than a Realtor's commission.

Some other points to consider when listing your house yourself:

*Make sure the price is competitive with houses for sale in your neighborhood. Adjust the price when the neighbors across the street list theirs for less.

*Don't overlook the value of putting a sign on the lawn. More than half of all sales start with a buyer driving by.

*Advertise in the regional metro paper on Sunday, and hold some open houses.

*Check out these for-sale-by-owner Web sites: www.homeshark.com, www.owners.com, www.ired.com, www.homescout.com, and www.byowner.com


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