Selling a house is a complicated process. Most people don’t understand the ins and outs unless they have bought and sold a few times or are real estate agents. Selling a house fast takes the degree of difficulty to an even higher level. However, if you have the tools and knowledge necessary, it’s something you can accomplish.
The whole process usually takes months, but sometimes you just can't wait that long. Selling a house quickly creates a compressed timeline where every day needs to be as efficient as possible. This can create more stress, and you might not get fair market value, but sometimes home sellers just want (or need) to be done with the process.
If you're looking to sell your house fast, there are some things you need to know. Understanding some of the common reasons people need to sell quickly and how each situation should influence their course of action is beneficial.
You also need to understand what a fast sale means in terms of a realistic timeline. Do you need to sell in a month or a few days? Knowing your preferred timeline will influence your selling strategy.
The home selling process involves many steps.
Keep reading to learn how to get those steps done quickly.
Common Reasons People Need To Sell Fast
Real estate sales happen for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, someone is looking to buy a new house and sell their current property. Sometimes investors are looking to acquire a portfolio of properties, and other times, financial hardships force people to need to sell fast. The list goes on and on.
Below, we will look into some of the most common reasons people decide to sell quickly.
If someone doesn't pay their taxes, they can jeopardize losing their home. Sometimes financial hardships make it impossible to pay, and if that goes on for many months, the city collecting taxes may take the house.
This leaves the homeowner with two options:
When the past due tax bill is hanging over your head, sometimes the only solution is to sell your house fast.
Sometimes, the only feasible move is a fast sale if a home is in disrepair. Say, for instance, a natural disaster devastates a home, and the homeowner’s insurance doesn't offer enough to repair or replace it. It might be time to sell if the homeowner is left with a repair bill they can’t afford. They may also want to sell the house faster than usual, so they can get the cash out of it and find another home.
Loss In The Family
When a family member passes away, figuring out what to do with their home usually falls on their heirs. This might sound like a good thing at first, but it comes with many financial responsibilities some might not be ready for.
Some examples of these responsibilities include outstanding mortgage payments, deferred maintenance, and back taxes. If the heirs have homes, families, and other duties of their own, taking on all this work can seem daunting. Sometimes a quick sale to a cash buyer is the perfect remedy.
Change In Job Status
When an exciting new job becomes available to you, the future brightens up. However, sometimes this means you need to relocate. The traditional process of selling your home usually takes two months or more, and sometimes the new gig can’t wait for you that long. Cash buyers that can swoop in and take your house off your hands quickly might be appealing in this scenario.
Conversely, losing a job is one of the most trying times a person can go through. The financial uncertainty can be overwhelming. In these circumstances, financial hardship is usually part of the equation. After all, it’s hard to pay a mortgage with no income. The best solution might be to sell your house fast and build up your savings while looking for a new job.
How Fast Is It Possible To Sell A House?
If you find yourself in one of the above predicaments, you might be wondering, “just how fast can I sell my house?”. The first step is understanding how long it takes to sell a house the traditional way. Then, educate yourself on how to speed up the process.
In most cases, selling a house can take two months or more, with the following steps being taken:
These steps need to be truncated and sometimes eliminated for a house to sell faster. By speeding up the step-by-step process (more on that later) and being willing to accept less than top market value, you can shorten this timeline dramatically.
Depending on the nature of the deal, you can even sell your house in just a few days since many cash buyers can transfer funds quickly. In addition, they don't need to deal with a lender who can slow things down with things like loan approval and appraisal. If they waive an inspection as well, the process can go from start to finish in a manner of days.
How To Prepare The House
The cost of selling a house is measured in both time and money. Financially, you will usually incur expenses related to real estate agent commissions, home repairs, and closing costs, just to name a few. Some of these costs can be reduced or eliminated, but they are pretty standard for most transactions. However, expenses related to the way you prepare your home for sale can be significantly reduced with the right approach.
The right strategies can also save you time. For example, hiring a staging company might take a week, but staging the home yourself can take just a few hours. Here is a step-by-step approach to preparing your house to get it sold, saving you both time and money.
Step 1: Get Rid Of The Clutter
Potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home. Sometimes that means picturing where their furniture might fit. If you have a few pieces of furniture in a room to show how it might work, that’s great. The clutter will turn buyers off if the floors are covered with various chairs, ottomans, and other pieces. Get rid of excess furniture to show each room in the best possible light.
Remove family photos and other items that will remind home buyers of you, the current owner. It’s hard for them to envision their family in the home when constantly looking at pictures of yours. Your closets are your friends here, so use them to hide the clutter.
In general, less is more. A couch and a few tables for a living room are plenty of furniture to keep around. A bed, two end tables, and a dresser are all you need for a bedroom. Bathrooms should be clear of personal items, and the kitchen should have nothing but appliances on the counter.
Don't worry about the garage and attic in terms of clutter. Buyers want to see those spaces briefly to ensure they are there and not in disrepair. Also, you will need to put all that furniture decluttered from the house somewhere, and the garage and attic are the perfect hiding spots. You may also want to consider renting a storage unit to hold all of your excess stuff.
Step 2: Handle Quick Repairs
You are looking to sell your home fast, so lengthy repairs are not in the cards. That doesn't mean you can't do some quick repairs and upgrades. A full kitchen remodel isn’t going to happen during your condensed timeline, but a fresh coat of paint and new handles on the cabinets will impress most buyers.
Minor repairs like a broken blind or a squeaky door don't take much time and are worth getting done before you open the home for buyers to tour. More minor plumbing problems like a running toilet or a clogged sink drain should be taken care of as well.
More significant repairs like installing a new roof or furnace will take too much time for you to sell your house quickly. Instead, simply bake these items into the price. For example, if you know the home needs a new roof at the cost of $20,000, consider reducing your asking price from $250,000 to $230,000.
Step 3: Stage And Add Curb Appeal
Hiring a professional staging company is a great way to make sure your home appeals to
as many buyers as possible. Professional stagers have the experience and expertise to make recommendations that attract buyers and eliminate the things that will turn buyers away.
However, if your goal is to have the house sell faster than usual, this step might need to be skipped. Finding the right staging company, listening to their recommendations, and moving in all the staged furniture takes at least a week, sometimes longer. If you are in a hurry, consider doing this yourself, which might only take you an afternoon.
Beyond the previously mentioned furniture decluttering, look for ways to improve the look and feel of each room. Remove items from all surfaces for a clean, streamlined look. Clear out any toys or other household items that will distract buyers from the house’s main features.
Consider old, outdated items that are quick and easy to replace. New curtains, for example, are easy to install and can make a room look a little more updated. If you have a bedroom with a unique wall color that might not appeal to most buyers, consider a quick paint job using a neutral color with more mass appeal.
Step 4: Take Photos
Hiring a professional photographer is the best route to take if you have the funds to do it. For around $250, you can get professional photos that will show your home in the best possible light. Professional photographers understand angles, lighting, and other aspects of photography that make images pop. They also can edit photos in case there are imperfections or if you want to enhance them.
This doesn't take too much time either, as a professional photographer can usually take inside and outside photos of a home in under an hour. It’s well worth the cost and time.
If you want to take photos yourself, use the best camera you can find. You can use your phone if you need to, which isn’t the worst option given how camera phone technology has advanced recently. Pay attention to lighting and make sure pictures are bright and inviting. Also, shoot from the corner of each room to make sure the entire space is pictured, making the room look as big as possible.
Once you have your photos, you can do a lot to enhance them. Changing the brightness, adding filters, even cropping out a cloudy sky, and replacing it with a clear blue one is possible, depending on your photo editing skills. If your house is empty, consider using a virtual staging service that superimposes furniture over your photos to enhance the look and feel.
Step 5: Describe Your Home To Potential Buyers
The description of your home accompanies the photos online, in flyers, and every other marketing vehicle you will use to sell your house fast. Make sure it highlights the key features of the home. Anything that has been remodeled should be mentioned. Prospective buyers love to see things like “all-new, updated kitchen with high-end appliances” when perusing homes online.
Make sure the basic facts are mentioned, including the total square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the year it was built. You don't need every detail, like the square footage of the attic or the height of the garage, but make sure the core details are covered.
Don't be afraid to be creative with your description and go beyond the actual property. If there is a park nearby or a short walk to downtown, mention these things. It's all about painting a picture with your words to help prospective buyers envision themselves in the home.
Make sure you cover everything that needs to be said but don't drag on and on. Aim for somewhere between 100 and 200 words, depending on the amount of information you need to convey.
Ways To Get A Quick Sale
Now that you know how to prepare your home for a fast sale, let’s cover a few ways to go out and get one.
Selling a house for cash is usually the best route to take. Cash is faster than a sale with a loan because you don't have to wait for all the required lender paperwork that is required.
Lenders want to make sure buyers can afford to pay back the loan they are asking for. This means credit checks, income verification, review tax returns, and a slew of other steps. It also means having the house appraised to ensure it is worth the loan amount. After all, they may have to sell it if the borrower defaults on their loan.
With a cash sale, all of these steps are eliminated. There is no loan pre-approval, final approval, or appraisal to worry about. Needless to say, things move more quickly.
There are a few different places to look for cash offers, each with benefits and drawbacks.
Wholesalers are real estate investors who will agree to buy your house for cash and then attempt to find another buyer before the closing. This can move fast, but only if they find another buyer quickly.
Buy And Hold Investors
Buy and hold investors will purchase your property and then hold it until it appreciates enough for them to sell it at a profit. They can move quickly but will be looking to get the home for the lowest price possible, expecting a cash discount.
House flippers (as seen on TV) will buy your home, fix it up, and sell it at a profit. They often pay cash to get the best price possible. They are motivated to move quickly so they can begin renovations to increase the value of the house.
Ask For An All-Cash Offer
Once you determine the right asking price and find possible buyers, it’s time to request an all-cash offer.
To find the value of your home, look at the recent sales in the area and compare your property. Most houses won’t be exactly like yours, so you must adjust your price based on the differences. For example, if a home that sold recently is essentially the same as yours, except it doesn't have a finished basement and your home does, you may be able to ask for a bit more.
Reach out to the wholesalers, buy and hold investors and house-flippers and ask them to make you a cash offer for your house. They can be found online, and there are many options to choose from.
Don't tell them your asking price right off the bat. Let them make an offer first and negotiate from there. Many cash buyers know that their first offer is just a starting point, so don't be afraid to push back and ask for more.
Hire A Professional Agent With A History Of Quick Sales
Hiring an experienced real estate agent is a great way to set yourself up for success in any home selling situation. Real estate agents have different areas of expertise, so find one with experience in fast cash sales.
They can help analyze and navigate the local market in terms of cash sales and, if they are an experienced agent, will be able to get the most money in the quickest amount of time possible. This doesn't mean you can't sell your house fast without a real estate agent, but agent-assisted sales are much more likely to be successful.
Methods For Selling A House That Are Deceptively Fast
While there are several methods to sell your house fast, not all of them are good ones. Some opportunities might seem too good to be true, and usually, they are. Let’s look at some quick sale options that aren’t quite as beneficial as they seem.
A short sale is kind of a misnomer. Many people think the word “short” refers to a quick timeline. Actually, they are quite the opposite. Short sales take longer than regular sales because your lender needs extra paperwork and steps. The word “short” actually refers to the amount of money you will be getting for your home.
In a short sale, the bank has allowed you to sell your home for less than you owe on it to settle your mortgage debt. It’s a way to get cash for your home, but the amount will be way below market value, and the timeline will be extended. Usually, you need to be behind on your mortgage and facing foreclosure to be eligible for a short sale.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
Going the FSBO route might seem like an excellent way to save on real estate agent commissions. It can be a good option if you already have a buyer lined up and an excellent real estate attorney to help with the contract.
On the other hand, an experienced agent is more likely to get you top dollar for your home, so you will end up with less if you go it alone. In addition, you might save by not having your own agent, but you will still likely end up paying a commission to a buyer’s agent. In most cases, the savings don’t offset the additional money a real estate agent would get you for your home.
Auctions are another way to get cash for your home that seems appealing but have some strings attached. Many people think it’s a quick sale, but they actually take an average of 45 to 60 days to complete.
In addition, you agree to a minimum price you will accept before the auction begins. This is usually well below fair market value. While it is possible the auction attendees will get in a bidding war over your home and drive the price up, you also take the risk of having to accept the minimum bid.
There are many reasons homeowners might need to get their house sold fast, and there are a plethora of ways to do it. Usually, you are sacrificing money for time, as a quicker sale will rarely bring you the best sales price for your home. Do your research, beware of strategies that seem too good to be true, and make the best decision for your individual situation.