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You need to move ASAP and would prefer to sell your house fast with a Realtor®. But you’re not sure where to begin your search for someone qualified. Plus, your house could use some TLC. The garage is overflowing, your bathroom hasn’t been updated since the early 2000s, and your living room carpets aren’t the freshest. Trying to decide where to start, and which areas to prioritize, makes your head spin.
Thankfully, with a great real estate agent by your side, you can keep your to-do list short, your plan laser-focused, and your negotiations decisive to make a quick sale and get on with the business of relocating.
To get started, use this guide featuring the insights of top Los Angeles real estate agent and Realtor® Justin Bonney, speaking from 18 years of experience. We’ll walk you through working in sync with a savvy Realtor® who will help you sidestep hurdles — whether it’s a buyer who gets cold feet or the all-too-common temptation to overprice your home.
Let’s cover the following steps on selling fast with a Realtor’s® expertise (keep in mind — Realtors® are real estate agents who’ve taken the extra step to become members of the National Association of Realtors):
- Check your Realtor’s® stats: Do they sell homes fast?
- Create a communication plan
- Fast-track your listing preparations
- Invest in professional photos
- Price competitively to attract quick offers
- Keep your schedule flexible to accommodate showings
- Sweeten the deal with incentives
- Stream a virtual open house
- Know when cash is king
Check your Realtor’s® stats: Do they sell homes fast?
“Outside of marketing and negotiating, the most critical job of a good Realtor® is to make sure timelines are met and everybody’s doing what they need to,” says Bonney. “One hiccup can cause a chain reaction that can push back a sale, just like in a concert when someone goes off-key. It’s my job to correct any problems quickly and get things back on track.”
When you need the Realtor® with the keen ability to sell your house fast, their past transactions and information available online will tell you a lot about whether they can deliver. Here’s how you can check to see if your agent is up to the task:
Average days on market:
Days on Market (DOM) is a real estate term for the amount of time between when your house goes on the market and when it goes under contract with a buyer, an event that switches your listing status from active to pending.
DOM doesn’t account for the period it takes to close the sale; however, the metric offers a strong indication of whether a house was priced correctly and adequately marketed to reach buyers. As an agent sells homes, they will accrue enough transaction history to demonstrate a favorable or weak DOM average for their listings.
To understand how your agent’s DOM stacks up against other agents who you might hire, first check your local Realtor® association for your area’s days on market average. Then, ask your agent for their average to compare — remember, lower is better!
Making this calculation even easier, at HomeLight we surface information about an agent’s days on market within the context of the broader market on their easily accessed HomeLight profile. For example, in the case of Bonney, who we interviewed for this article, we know that he sells homes in 48 days on average, or 34% quicker than the average LA agent, thanks to his public HomeLight stats.
To prevent your house from languishing without offers, you want a real estate agent known for low days-on-market averages.
Awards for selling fast:
Each year, HomeLight announces the top 5% of real estate agents across the country based on verified housing market data through our HomeLight Achievements program. We release three types of awards, one of which is “Sells Homes Fast.” Our “Sells Home Fast” badge is awarded to the top 5% of agents in a given area based on average days on market for seller-side transactions. If an agent has earned this designation, it will appear on their HomeLight profile under “Achievements” — so this is another great indicator that an agent has the chops to move your property quickly.
Where they sell homes:
Drill down at a granular level to see whether your agent has sold a high volume of homes near you. A concentration of transactions in your part of the city or better yet — your neighborhood — indicates a heightened level of expertise that could translate as stronger area connections; an innate understanding of what buyers near you are looking for; and market trends including months of inventory and price per square foot for housing in your ZIP code.
An agent knowledgeable about your area will also be able to help you highlight location perks such as a great school district, local coffee shops, proximity to walking trails, commuter routes, and more. HomeLight makes it easy to see the location of an agent’s past sales with a “Transactions Near You” feature on our agent profiles along with a coordinating transaction map.
Create a communication plan
When you’re selling your home, radio silence from your agent can kick your anxiety into overdrive. Make sure you and your real estate agent are on the same page when it comes to communication. Do you need daily updates? Weekly? Or do you just want to hear from him when there’s an offer on the table?
“I let my clients know what’s going on every few days,” shares Bonney.
“With no communication, imagination takes over. And that’s not a place any of us wants to be.”
Fast-track your listing preparations
With a looser selling deadline, it makes sense to tackle bigger home improvement projects with the goal of maximizing value. You might install updated countertops, replace that sagging fence, or put in new flooring. However, renovations cost not only money but time. Talk to your Realtor® about what your home needs; however, keep the estimated length of your project in mind:
|Kitchen remodel||6 weeks|
|Bathroom remodel||4.5 weeks|
|New roof||5 days|
|New siding||2 weeks|
|Wood flooring||1 week (+3-5 days for wood to settle)|
|Exterior house paint||1 week|
Source: HomeAdvisor data collected from thousands of users / homeowners nationwide
In addition, rising material prices in 2021 have hiked remodeling costs to the tune of 35% for some popular selections, while shipping and permitting delays have added weeks to most renovation timelines. When in doubt, stick to these quick projects that will whip your house into a marketable condition in quick order:
Declutter, donate, and dump
Bonney views decluttering as priority number one when prepping to sell a home. It’s so critical that he delivers boxes to clients’ homes as soon as they sign with him. Not for moving, but to motivate them to pack up knick-knacks; books and magazines; photos; and other items that make rooms feel cramped and messy.
When time isn’t an issue, a pre-move garage sale can be a great way to declutter and earn a little extra cash. But a fast sale calls for a quick purge. Donate items you don’t need to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other organizations. If you still have a ton of excess stuff that’s not fit to give away, rent a dumpster. A 10-yard dumpster holds 10 cubic yards of junk, the equivalent of 50 to 70 33-gallon trash bags or three truck loads. For more help picking a dumpster, consult this handy guide from Budget Dumpster.
Paint tired walls with neutral color
Play up your decluttered interior with a fresh coat of neutral paint. If you don’t have the time or money to paint your entire house, Bonney suggests focusing on a few key areas that buyers will see first when they pass through your home. “Just painting that beat-up hallway and some of the walls right around it will brighten the place and make it look cleaner, even if the house needs work,” he says.
Ask your Realtor® about which areas of your house are in dire need of paint and skip the rest. Then head to Home Depot for a versatile neutral like Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (98% of top real estate agents nationwide say buyers prefer neutral tones over bold ones, according to one HomeLight survey). Pick up these supplies, and knock out the job in a weekend:
- painter’s tape
- paint tray
- drop cloth
Concentrate on curb appeal
First impressions matter, especially when you’re aiming for a fast sale. Invest in a few quick and easy curb appeal projects can transform your front yard and exterior from drab to dazzling in a weekend:
- Trim overgrown shrubs and tree branches — or, if things have gotten out of hand, hire a landscaper to do it for you. (Your agent can probably recommend someone.)
- Rent a pressure washer to make grimy walls, driveways, and walkways sparkle. Home Depot rates start at about $27 per hour for a basic model.
- For the perfect finishing touch, grace your front door with a couple of potted plants. Add a splash of color with red or pink geraniums.
Refresh rather than replace flooring
Rather than add at least a week or two to your timeline with a full flooring replacement, refresh your flooring so that it shows well without the hassle.
For carpets: Rent a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner from Home Depot for a quick 20-minute shampoo per room, with pricing as low as $33 per day.
For other types of flooring: Give linoleum, vinyl, or other types of flooring a deep clean for the best impression with buyers. A guide from Molly Maid, a professional cleaning service since 1984 that performed 1.7 million cleaning services in 2020, recommends the following steps:
- Vacuum to remove loose debris.
- Sprinkle baking soda.
- Mop the floor with a mixture of hot water, one cup of vinegar, and a few dashes of dish soap.
- Use a scrub brush for stubborn dirt!
Invest in professional photos
Phone pics won’t cut it when it comes to showing off your home online. These days, the internet is the first place people go to search for a house. In fact, recent data from NAR indicates 51 % of buyers found their homes online. So make sure your photos impress viewers with professional real estate shots that capture the right angles, lighting, and details.
“Professional photography is crucial — those photos are out there for everybody to see,” says Bonney. “Most of our buyers are flipping through their phones at 500-miles an hour. If you’ve got crappy photos of your home, they’re moving on.”
In addition to posting those gorgeous professional shots on listing sites, be sure to share them on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. You never know which of your friends might be looking for a house or know someone who is.
Price competitively to attract quick offers
No matter how amazing your home looks, it needs to be priced to sell in line with the market. Spot-on pricing becomes doubly critical when you need to sell fast. Otherwise, you’ll deter buyers who would otherwise be interested but recognize that you’re overpriced. You can start with a home value check from a tool like HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator.
However, you’ll need to go a step further to ensure accuracy. To set a list price, put your trust in your real estate agent’s comparative market analysis, which uses the sale price of nearby homes to determine how much buyers would pay for your house today. If anything, consider pricing a little under market value —in turn, you may get offers faster and even stoke a bidding war.
Keep your schedule flexible to accommodate showings
Let’s face it: Giving up a lazy Sunday afternoon or scrambling to get the family out of the house at the end of a busy weekday so strangers can scrutinize it isn’t fun. But the payoff is usually worth the sacrifice. Let your real estate agent know if there are days and times that won’t work for you — and how much advance warning you need to plan for a showing. Your agent should also help you determine if — and when — it makes sense to schedule an open house. The more flexible you can be with showings, the better your odds of selling your home fast.
Sweeten the deal with incentives
Who doesn’t love a bonus or freebie? Research from NAR shows that 46% of sellers rely on incentives to entice buyers. Deal-sweeteners are especially helpful when a timely sale is a must. You could offer to pay for a home warranty or provide credits to cover remodeling and repair expenses.
Or perhaps throw in your leather sofa or Plasma TV to clinch the deal. (These items are non-realty sales concessions, so you’ll need a contract addendum stating that the furniture has no value as far as your home’s sale price.) If you offer a financing concession, like helping your buyer with closing costs, be aware that Fannie Mae guidelines do cap the amount you can cover.
Stream a virtual open house
A virtual open house isn’t just a static video of your home — it’s a live, interactive event. Just like during a traditional open house, your Realtor® will be on-hand to guide viewers through your house and answer questions. A savvy agent will rehearse ahead of time and be ready to wow viewers with details about your property and neighborhood.
Your Realtor® can also advise you on the best options for streaming your event, whether it’s through social media via Facebook or Instagram Live, or a video-conferencing platform like zoom. You might decide going all virtual is ideal. Or maybe you’ll opt for a mix of online and in-person events. Either way, virtual open houses are powerful marketing tools that can help you sell your home fast.
Know when cash is king
Maybe you’re in a hurry to move out of state to be close to your grandkids. Or perhaps your house isn’t moving as fast as you’d hoped because it needs some serious TLC. These are just a couple of examples of when a cash offer might be a foolproof path to a speedy sale.
With a cash offer, you may not receive your dream price. During the past 40 years, cash buyers have paid 12% less on average than a buyer getting a mortgage, according to one study. However, it also costs a lot of money to sell your home the traditional way; a 2021 study we conducted put those costs at an average $31,000. And with cash, you cut out the lender’s involvement, shortening your closing timeline.
Work with your Realtor® to connect with cash buyers
Your agent may know investors eager to plunk down cash for properties in your area. In addition, they could help communicate to buyers interested in your home that you’re likely to be motivated by cash.
Request a cash offer through Simple Sale
In addition, take a look at HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Through Simple Sale, HomeLight provides you with an all-cash offer for your home “as is.” You can skip the repairs, prep work, and open houses and go straight to receiving an offer. Sell your home in as few as 10 days or when you’re ready with no financing contingencies that could trip up the sale.
Get the house sold fast with an expert’s help!
We won’t sugar coat it: Selling a house is rarely easy, even when the market’s on your side. Keeping your house tidy for weeks on end and letting buyers enter for viewings can be stressful, to say the least. It’s tricky to strike the balance between making your home marketable and overdoing it on prep. A tight deadline only adds pressure.
In these scenarios, a top real estate agent who knows the area, understands the market, and sees your home with an objective lens can make all the difference. If you need a recommendation for someone with a history of fast sales, HomeLight would be happy to introduce you to some qualified candidates. Alternatively, you can always request a cash offer to speed things along.
Header Image Source: (Monkey Business Images / ShutterStock)