Friday, July 1, 2022 / by Laura Larson
In this guide, we’re covering all the key details of selling a home fast, including:
- Deciding if you’re ready to sell your house
- How to prepare for your home sale
- Creating a selling strategy
- Marketing and showing your home
- Mistakes to avoid
In the face of a still strong seller’s market, the prospect of selling for the top dollar may be too good to pass up for some. But the decision to sell shouldn’t be based solely on the market. You need to also consider the specifics of your needs and your financial situation. Here are a few things to consider.
Can you afford the cost of selling your house?
While most people focus on the 6 percent real estate agent fee, the cost of selling your home is actually more. It costs close to ten percent of a house’s selling price to sell your home. In addition to real estate commissions, you may also have to pay for:
Repair and renovation
- Home staging, photographs, and cleaning services
- Seller concessions
- Transition and overlap costs
- Potential tax bill
- Moving costs
Can you afford to buy a new house?
If you’re selling for top dollar, you’re likely to make a profit on your house, which depending on how much you profit, you could owe capital gains tax. You can delay the payment by reinvesting in another house, which kicks the tax down the road until you “realize” the gain. This is called a 1039 Exchange, and you should talk to your accountant about it before deciding to sell.
But even if a tax burden does not loom over you, you still need to consider the cost of moving into your new home. If you plan to buy a house instead of moving back into a rental property, as most home sellers do, you may find yourself in a high-intensity market where you need to make offers quickly. You’ll also need to consider closing costs on your new house, typically three percent of the purchase price.
And even if you don’t plan to buy, you still need to cover the cost of moving, which the average person spends between $800 to $2,200 to move in-town. While a cross-country move costs $4,000 on average.
Is selling your house the best option?
If you’re looking for certain interior features or more space, it may make more sense to renovate your current house. This is especially true if your home is valued on the lower end of your neighborhood market. Updating your home to your exact needs not only gets you the living space you desire but can also earn you a better return on your investment. Plus qualifying renovation costs are tax-deductible.
Have you sat down to consider exactly why you want to sell your house? If not, now is the time to get clear on what outcomes you want to achieve by selling your home, or if you can get the same outcomes through home renovation or other means, be sure to consider what fits your needs best.
A little preparation will go a long way in getting your house to sell quickly and for the best price.
Pre-listing preparation tips
Before your real estate agent puts your house on the market, you need to prepare it for potential buyers. Just like showcasing merchandise in a store, you need to showcase your home for wide appeal. Here are our best-selling tips:
Decluttering: This is your first step, and it’s a doozy for anyone who isn’t a minimalist. Decluttering your home means pulling all unnecessary items from shelves, table tops, counters, and other surfaces. You want your home to look as much like a hotel as possible.
Depersonalize your home: Though it may pain you, it’s always best to remove personal items like photographs and personal collections from your home. You want your house to be a blank canvas on which potential buyers can picture their future home.
Temporary storage: Where do you put the clutter you keep and your personal effects? Using a local storage company, ideally temperature-controlled is a great way to go so your stuff is completely out of the way for showings and home inspections.
Cleaning: Everyone loves walking into a clean, fresh-smelling home. Deep cleaning, which includes tasks like bleaching grout work, is your best friend. If it’s affordable, you can hire a professional cleaning company to get your home in the best shape possible.
Painting: If your home is painted in bold colors, you should consider repainting your home in neutrals. Hiring professional painters will cost between $1,200 to $3,900, while a DIY option is the cost of paint, supplies, and time.
Staging: Furnishing rooms to showcase their potential (and downplay their flaws) is called staging. You can stage your home with your belongings with or without the help of a professional. Full professional staging costs around $2,500 depending on where you live.
Curb appeal: The book is always judged by the cover when it comes to real estate. Having a well-kept lawn, tidy landscaping, and fresh-looking paint is a great way to make an inviting first impression.
Renovations: If your home needs renovations and it’s in your budget, paying for renovations can pay off big time. Adding a half bath or remodeling a bathroom, upgrading your appliances, and refinishing a deck are all smaller projects that can make a huge impact.
Photography: Getting amazing real estate photos and, ideally, having a 3D home tour attracts more buyers and tends to sell for higher prices. In a fast-paced market, buyers want to know as much as possible about a home before they go see it.
Find the right real estate agent for you
Working with a real estate agent is the easiest way to sell your house without selling to an iBuyer. Real estate agents tend to earn higher sales prices for their sellers when compared to other selling methods. Plus, they have intimate knowledge of the market and the process. They will know how to accurately price your home, how to market it effectively, and what types of upgrades are worth your investment to attract buyers.
Strategies for quick home sell options
There are a few ways to quicken the home sale process.
For Sale by Owner (FSBO): If you don’t want to sell with an agent, you can list the property yourself. We don’t recommend using For Sale By Owner (FSBO) unless you are already familiar with your local real estate market and the home selling process, including all the documents you need to sell your house. Those with knowledge can sell homes quickly and save money on agent commissions.
Sell to an investor: Another option is selling to a developer or a real estate investor. Both options mean you’ll be working with professionals— people who do deals like this every day. They tend to offer cash and have the ability to move quickly. But, you shouldn’t expect to get the very best price possible using this method.
Decide the right price to sell your home
Your asking price determines the group of prospective buyers you’re targeting, as buyers often search for homes within a specific price range. It could also signal the condition of your home, such as a house priced under market value might signal that it needs renovations, for example.
Pricing is dependent on the market. Real estate agents use real estate comps— comparable home sales— to price your home accordingly. The agent reviews recent sales of homes in your neighborhood. They will look at homes with similar square footage, lot size, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other features. The collection of comparable homes becomes the pricing gauge that determines what the market will bear for your house.
When pricing your home, you can include sales incentives to sweeten the deal. Consider leaving behind non-permanent fixtures like a pool table or hot tub. You can also include a home warranty subscription of at least one year, just be sure to use a reputable company.
A home priced too high compared to its fair market value, it’s unlikely to attract many buyers. Even if it does, buyers can run into problems with their lenders if the house doesn’t appraise for the amount offered by a buyer. If you overprice your house, you can always reduce your price to bring multiple buyers to the table.
Create the best listing description
A listing description accompanies your house’s photos and spec sheet on the MLS which then can be seen on real estate websites. Your listing agent should be able to write an excellent description of your house for the MLS. You can always review your agent’s other listings to see if they do a good job writing descriptions, or you can even write the description yourself.
Good listing descriptions include keywords that homebuyers are looking for, such as move-in-ready, for example. The listing should also include highlights of the home’s best features, such as:
- Fenced-in backyard
- Chef’s kitchen
- Farmhouse sink
- Wrap-around porch
- Hardwood floors
- Vinyl windows
- New siding/roofing/etc
Post your listing at the right time
Research shows that the best day to post your listing to sell quickly is Thursday. The reason behind this is that buyers are getting ready to view houses, typically viewing on the weekend, and with new listings tending to be seen first.
Your experienced real estate agent may have additional insight to share about when to list as well depending on your local market.
The more people who see your house, the more offers you’re likely to get. When you receive multiple offers on your house, you’re able to choose one that fits you best. That can mean opting for the highest price or the ability to close the fastest.
You can show your home in a few common ways. The most common is through private showings where the buyer’s agent walks the buyer through your house. This is usually easier for the buyer. You can also have an open house, where your realtor welcomes multiple buyers with and without agents into your house on a specific day and time. This is generally easier on the seller.
Online a video and 3D walkthrough of your house can accommodate people who cannot make an open house or are buying long-distance.
Incentivize potential buyers
There are a few ways you can incentivize buyers for a fast house sale which include the following:
Offer a furnished home
If you happen to be downsizing, including pieces of furniture in the deal might be a good incentive for buyers. Instead of listing furniture on websites and having to move it, you can consider making it an incentive.
Offering to pay closing costs for the buyer
Offer a bonus for a closing date
To help you get a home sell across the finish line, offer a closing deadline date with a small bonus for the buyer. If you need to close quickly for tax purposes, consider offering a seller’s credit to the buyer and even a bonus commission for the buyer’s agent.
Offer to buy down their interest
Lenders usually offer buyers an interest rate when they need a mortgage to purchase a home. If buyers want to lock down a lower rate, they can pay an upfront fee known as a point. Paying upfront can be referred to as “buying down the rate,” and you as a seller can offer this incentive to the buyer.
Mistakes to avoid when selling a home
There are many easy-to-make mistakes when it comes to selling your house. Luckily, they’re all avoidable. Here are common mistakes:
Setting an unrealistic price: Pricing accurately for your home, neighborhood, and market can be tricky. Realtors use real estate comps to price houses accurately.
Hiding major problems: Nothing will have a buyer breaking a contract or renegotiating faster than finding a hidden issue. Major problems also signal to buyers that other hidden issues may be present. Even buyers who include “as is” in their offer can still walk away when a major problem is uncovered. Always be upfront about your home’s problems in the seller’s disclosures.
Not preparing for the selling process: Fully preparing for the quick sale of your home takes time and planning. Skipping steps increases the likelihood of your home staying on the market longer than necessary and potentially lowers your sales price.
Not accommodating potential buyers: Making sure your home is accessible for open houses and individual viewings is very important. People do not want to buy houses sight-unseen.
Not having high-quality listing photos: Buyers scrolling through real estate apps are much more likely to review a listing that has eye-catching, high-quality photos. Photos taken with a smartphone on a sunny day can also work. The more buyers who show interest in your house, the more offers you’re likely to receive. Sure, it usually takes an investment of time and money to avoid these mistakes. But most often it’s worth it.