Home Seller’s Checklist For Sale By Owner

The current median price of a house in Houston, TX is $340,000 in November 2023 and if you are going to sell your house with a realtor you are likely going to pay $20,400 in commissions to help you walk through the sales process of your property. That is a lot of money for that hard earned equity you built up in your house. Realtors can bring value to help you navigate some of the “norms” of selling your house and the complicated legal requirements, local regulations and deadlines to meet. That being said there are lots of websites out there, like this one, that can help you navigate the process and get you on your way.

J&A Home Buyers is based in Katy, TX so most of the information we are giving you in this document is intended to help Texas home owners. If you are from another state this process will likely also be similar but there will be a few changes to fit your state. J&A Home Buyers buys houses direct from sellers like you, with no fees or commissions and we also have a number of realtors on our team that help us list properties. That being said we have the expertise in house to help you on your journey to sell your house and tap into that hard earned equity.

FREE FSBO Checklist - Easy Way to Sell

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowing what paperwork is needed is a must for Texas
  • Two ways to price your property is an appraisal and a CMA
  • Pull Title and get a survey to make sure you won’t run into issues selling your house when under contract
  • Some repairs can be done for less money if you follow the pointers in this article
  • Pricing and Marketing your house will be key in brining more prospective buyers

Pre-Listing FSBO Paperwork

Paperwork is something that can be very local in a real estate transaction. We have put together an article that walks you through where to find all of the paperwork you need to sell a house in Texas. This includes things like seller’s disclosure, lead based paint, wire fraud, mud disclosure, HOA etc. These are the core documents you will need to provide when a prospective buyer reaches out to you to make an offer.

Beyond the core paperwork there are a number of things we recommend you do to help you make your sales process more seamless.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

A local realtor can help you get an estimate of what your house is worth. No need to be ashamed, it is not a big effort to run a CMA for you. We have several realtors that can run you a free report with no obligation. Texas doesn’t require that a sale price be reported to the public so realtors have a wealth of data from houses other realtors have sold. This should give you a solid starting point of what your house is worth.


A home appraisal is typically ordered by the buyer’s lender once they have a house under contract to purchase. Appraisers are different than realtors because their only job is to evaluate the worth of a house and they are hired by banks to protect the banks interest. Realtors guide seller’s and buyers through the entire process of the transaction. An Appraiser’s report will go into much more detail and this is typically better recognized to be the true value of your property. An Appraisal might cost $500-$800 and you may want to look into having one done before you list your property so that you start with the right price. Starting with the wrong price can lead to underselling your self or having your house sit on the market too long which may lead people to think your house has a problem with it and low ball you.

Home Inspector looking at the siding on the outside of a house and taking notes on an ipad for his inspection report.

Home Inspection

Typically a buyer will order a home inspection when the house is under contract. That being said Home Inspection reports are typically the number one tool to negotiate down once under contract. If you want to beat the potential buyer to the punch you may want to order a home inspection prior to listing your house for sale. You can focus on fixing up some of the items prior to listing and this should help you later.

It is important to note that Texas requires sellers to disclose issues with the property on the seller’s disclosure. Even if damage like flooding occurred before you owned the property, you still need to disclose this. If you are doing an inspection the safest way to avoid being held liable down the road is to disclose your inspection report that you did along with the receipts of the work you paid to have repaired. The buyer will still likely order their own inspection but this will give them a sense of confidence you are being transparent and may help you reduce negotiations avoid liability down the road.

Mortgage Payoff Statement/ Seller Net Sheet

Ask your lender for the mortgage payoff statement to figure out how much you own on the property. This will help you fill out a Seller’s Net Sheet and determine how much money you would walk away with when selling the property.

Preliminary Title Report

Before you can sell your property, you will need to pick a Title company you want to work with. They can help you pull a preliminary title report to make sure the title to your property is free of any liens, back taxes, or other restrictions that may interfere with the sale of your property. If you have any unexpected problems it is better to find out before you get a buyer under contract or they may get cold feet and you are left finding another buyer. That can be a lot of work and a lot of money to advertise.


Ask your title company to order a survey of your property. This will map out your lot as it is recorded and show if your building or neighboring buildings are crossing any property boundaries. If this does happen it’s not the end of the world but it is certainly easier to work through these discrepancies prior to a signed contract rather than loose a potential buyer once you are under contract.

Professional photographer taking a picture of real estate for a listing with a nice camera.


I know this may seem like an unnecessary expense with how good smartphones have become but I can assure you this is the best $200 you will spend as you prepare to sell by yourself. A professional photographer knows what corners and angles to take the pictures to make the rooms look larger and brighter. They also have great editing skills that makes your house feel much more inviting. Don’t forget where you are saving money without paying a realtor, this is well worth the return. As realtors, we often pay for these photos out of our pocket to help us sell the house faster.

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Pre-Listing Repairs

What work should you prioritize to listing your house? Your house does not have to be perfect and a home inspector will always find some issue with a house, even if it is a brand new construction. Also keep in mind that home inspectors use today’s code for houses that were built decades ago. If your house was built in the 80s code was very different back then and it may have been up to code. Here are the top things to look for. Regardless of the condition of your home you can sell as-is. If you have concerns about the condition of your home be sure to reach out as we specialize in some of the hardest repairs needed.

Keep in mind that when you price your house to match your appraisal and CMA reports you will need to have similar finishes as the comparable properties. Here are a few tricks to get you ahead of the game. As you work on renovations, keep in mind that boring sells better than creative or unique. Stick to what everyone else is doing and don’t re-invent the wheel.


Check that both your AC and your heat are working in all rooms. If you have an inspector coming then ask them to measure the temperature coming out of each air duct. Sometimes air may work ok but a specific room may face challenges getting air circulation. While your at it make sure you keep a new air filter in place.


Look for cracks in your foundation on the outside of the house and along bricks. Houston, TX has a lot of clay soil which is known to shift and can cause foundation problems. Other signs of foundation issues are windows and doors not closing properly or dry wall cracks on the inside of the house. If you see one of these call a foundation company out to do a survey of your property.

Roofer with a nail gun putting on new shingles for a roof.


Look at all of your ceilings to see if you see any signs of a leak. The next time it rains take a look in your attic to see if you see any signs of leaks. Replacing a roof can be expensive however not all leaks require you to replace a roof. The most common leak is flashing damage which can be just a few hundred dollars. If a roofer does tell you to replace the whole roof call a couple more to see if they recommend the same and ask all of them if there were any hail storms in your area. It is possible your insurance may cover the expense!


Look for signs of leaks or drips in the house. Also look at your water heater to ensure that there is no water in the pan. If you see any issues call a local plumber to help you. Beyond problems with your plumbing you may want to consider changing out a few fixtures to make your house look more modern. We recommend that you look at pictures of other houses listed for sale around you to see what is popular for similar aged homes. Just changing the fixtures can go a long way but also look at the sinks and showers to see if your neighborhood has a high demand for renovated sinks and showers.


If you have any “problem” circuit breakers this is the time to get them replaced. You can also buy a GFCI Outlet Tester for pretty cheap to make sure everything is wired and working correctly. Similar to plumbing above we recommend you look at the light fixtures being used in other homes being sold on the MLS around you. If your light fixtures and fans are out of date or if new houses have canned lights etc. you may want to evaluate a few updates to make yours comparable to the ones listed.


Although cosmetics may be seen as “nice to haves” this is typically what drives an offer to come over asking price. That being said cosmetics can add up really quickly to be an expensive spend. As you pick your cosmetics look at what other houses are using around you and stick to boring neutral colors. The word “unique” is something you want to avoid when someone sees your house.


Take note of the shape and build of cabinets near you. If yours are similar you might get by with just a good paint job on your cabinets and new hardware. Also look at your counter top to see how it compares.

Flooring & Paint

These go a long way when selling a house. Take a look at your flooring to look for scratches or cracks. Inevitably paint will get marks from people brushing up against it or your kids putting their feet up on the wall 🙂 You may not need to replace all of your flooring or repaint the whole house. Find the rooms that need the work and replace the flooring their first. Keep in mind that living spaces and the Primary Bedroom are the main areas of attention. For paint, if you already have a neutral color, you can often pay someone to come in and fill the holes from your picture frames and do touch up paint for about 1/3 of the price to do the whole house.

Light Bulbs

Whenever your lights burn out we typically run to the store and grab what is available. Over time you will notice your house is filled with light bulbs that have a different color (AKA Temperature). This leaves some rooms looking darker or dirtier than others and can make a prospective buyer feel as though something is wrong. We recommend you replace all of your light bulbs for ones with a similar color and lumens. We also recommend you drive to your local store as some stuff online will be out of the normal in terms of color or brightness. If you buy from a local Home Depot or Lowes your likely going to be safe with your color picks.

Pricing and Marketing

Congratulations you did a lot of work to get to this point! How do you get your property in front of as many eyes as possible to get some people to see your house and start making offers? We put a more detailed article together on this giving you some of the step by step tips for Texas home owners. You will use the appraisal and CMA in this process but if you are still in doubt don’t hesitate to reach out.

Summary And Final Thoughts

Selling your own house can be a good bit of work and if it is your fits time it may seem a bit overwhelming because you are learning how everything works each step of the way. Doing the proper prep work goes a long way when selling for sale by owner. The benefit is your neighbors won’t know what you sold your house for and you can pocket the fees and commissions for yourself.

If you are looking for alternative options we would like to give you a no obligation offer to purchase your house. J&A Home Buyers is a local home buyer that buys houses on the MLS but also direct from sellers. If we buy direct from you we will not charge you commissions or fees and we will pay the title insurance fees putting more money from our offer directly in your pocket. If you sell to us you can skip all of the steps in this article and follow our simple four step process. We can close at your speed even as fast as seven days.

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