How to Beat the Odds and Sell Your House in 5 Days Flat

Life is always one event away from major change. A job relocation, financial problems, divorce, new baby, family death, or other pressing motivation could mean you need to sell your house at a moment’s notice — let’s say, 5 days flat. Is this type of lightning-quick sale possible?

As of May 2020, properties took an average 26 days to sell, according to data from the National Association of Realtors — so if you’re able to get an offer in a fifth of that time, you’ll be overcoming some pretty steep odds. However, it’s not unheard of for properties to go under contract in 5 days or less. Some houses sell before they officially hit the market.

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“For a quick sale, the most important thing is making your home the home that everybody wants to buy. That’s it,” advises Lisa Hudson, whose team Toril Sells Houses sells 69% more single family homes than the average agent in Bonney Lake, WA. “Real estate is like psychology. It’s being strategic about the psychology of launching your home and making sure it garners a lot of interest.”

Hudson shares that to get buyers to want your home and want it now, you need to perfectly execute its pricing, marketing, and timing. We’ve rounded up the hottest tips for hitting all these notes, so you can secure a lightning-speed sale in 5 days flat:

  • Work with an agent who moves homes like no other
  • Find out what a cash buyer would offer
  • Price your home with precision
  • Draw eyes with out-of-the-box marketing
  • Connect to your non-local buyer pool
  • Declutter using your garage as storage
  • Add some color to your curb appeal
  • Pair pre-listing home inspection repairs with a home warranty
  • Motivate buyers with a limited time offer
  • Share the floor plan with a layout or 3D tour

Now let’s dive into each tip!

An agent who can help you sell a house in 5 days.
Source: (Ben White / Unsplash)

Work with an agent who moves homes like no other

When you need to sell your house in 5 days, don’t gamble a trial run with a subpar agent. Invest time in researching and interviewing candidates, so you choose an agent you trust can sell your home fast without compromising on sale price. Read reviews on agents anywhere you can find them and take notice on comments noting speed. 

Next, see what the numbers say. Agents are natural salespeople — but review their performance stats to get an unbiased read on their skillset. HomeLight makes this step easy by crunching numbers like average days on market and total sales to match you with the three best agents for your home type and selling objectives.

Choose your sun among stars by interviewing the top three candidates over the phone. Here’s a rundown of what to ask:

What’s your average days on market compared to the market average?

Days on market (DOM) is the number of days between the day a home is listed on the MLS and the day it’s sold or taken off the market. If you want to sell your home in 5 days, it’s essential you partner with an agent who consistently moves homes faster than standard for their market.

Ask the agents you interview how their DOM stacks up to the competition and what they attribute their record to. If the average DOM for your area is 65 days and the agent’s is 70 days, that’s almost 9% higher than average — move on to the next one. You’re seeking an agent whose record hits far lower than average.

How many properties similar to mine have you sold recently?

Agents accustomed to selling homes like yours — similar in size, neighborhood, and property type — have refined pricing and marketing strategies for your buyer pool. Ask the agent how quickly their most recent homes sold and if there’s anything they plan to do differently to sell yours even faster.

How much web traffic does your average listing receive? How many impressions do your social media posts get?

Your home’s digital presence is everything. According to the National Association of Realtors, 76% of buyers found their home on a mobile device, and 93% of buyers use the web in the search. Your agent should prove their digital marketing savvy with real client examples, web traffic data, and quantifiable impressions (likes and shares on social media!)

Find out what a cash buyer would offer

If you need to sell your house in 5 days, there’s a way to bypass the formalities and fanfare of the traditional real estate process: sell your home to a cash buyer. Direct-buyers like iBuyers, buy-and-hold investors, and flippers purchase your home “as-is,” speeding up your sale by cutting out:

  • Pre-listing preparation (cleaning, decluttering, staging, and home improvements)
  • Showings
  • Open houses
  • Home appraisal
  • Home inspection (depending on the buyer)

Direct-buyers offer different cash packages varying in offer amount, process, fees, and closing timeline. Pay close attention to the fine print and beware of bait and switch tactics; an iBuyer may offer you a price close to listing, only to drop it significantly after their home inspection.

Avoid scams by going through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform, where we’ll introduce you to the highest bidder from our network of pre-approved buyers to help you make an informed decision. This tool also compares your top cash offer with an estimation of what you could sell your home for with a real estate agent, so you can move forward one way or another free from “what ifs.”

A notebook used to sell a house in 5 days.
Source: (Payton Tuttle / Unsplash)

Price your home with precision

Precise pricing is imperative when you’re up against a tight deadline. Price your home too high, and buyers won’t rush in with offers. Price your home too low, and you unnecessarily sacrifice thousands of dollars.

Hudson recommends that your listing agent reach out to the agents of any comparable homes as soon as they enter escrow to find out what they’ve sold for before the information is available elsewhere.

Armed with the most recent sales data possible, your agent can create an ultra-accurate comparative market analysis and pinpoint the best price for your home. Hudson demonstrates how this tactic recently helped her sell a home in less than 5 days:

“There was a house down the street that was similar, but needed more work and was a tiny bit smaller, that was listed at $525,000 and received multiple offers. I found out that they were in escrow for $540,000. So knowing what was going on in the neighborhood, we decided to list $579,000. We received two offers well over list price for sale in the market.”

A potent pricing strategy that nearly guarantees offers in 5 days is to price your home below market value. Buyers carefully watching the market will jump at the opportunity to purchase a home priced below the competition. If you receive multiple offers, you can use them as leverage to spark a bidding war, driving the final sale price well above the listing price.

This strategy works best in a seller’s market where home prices are holding steady or trending upwards. If there are significantly more homes than buyers in your market, you’re less likely to receive multiple offers and may conclude your sale with a lower than ideal price.

Draw eyes with out-of-the-box marketing

Get buyers talking about your listing with unique marketing strategies. Marketing that inspires buyers to laugh or dream helps them connect with your property and motivates them to share your listing with others.

“Recently, we had a house for sale on a street called San Francisco Avenue, so we made a scavenger hunt of items you’d see in San Francisco for everybody who came in,” shares top real estate agent Liz Donnelly, who sells 68% more single homes than the average agent in Ventura, CA.

“We handed them a piece of paper with items like the Golden Gate Bridge and Rice-A-Roni — there were probably 10 things. We put one thing in each room, so everybody had to go into every room while they looked at the house.”

And the winning prizes? Chinese takeout boxes filled with chocolate covered fortune cookies and Donnelly’s business card! Donnelly promoted the event to her network of agents and received double the average open house attendance, maximizing the listing’s exposure and contributing to the home’s quick sale.

Get creative with these buzz-worthy marketing tactics:

  • Promote your listing by celebrating an oddball holiday like National Donut Day. Share donuts at your open house or highlight the best donut shops close to your home on social media.
  • Highlight your home’s lifestyle with short videos for social media posts or stories. Show off the renovated basement in a selfie style tour, create a no-bake dessert tutorial in your gorgeous kitchen, or shoot GoPro footage of a bike ride from your home to a nearby trail.
  • Host a moving garage sale the day before you list and kill two birds with one stone: your clutter and your home marketing. A moving sale is a great way to start spreading the word on your soon-to-be home for sale.
  • Share your home’s ties to fame to local news outlets for heightened exposure. Was your home featured in a movie or TV show? Were any of the previous owners famous? Is your home historical due to its age, architecture, or location? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then research the connection and pitch your listing story to local radio stations, tv news programs, newspapers, and magazines.
A city where you can sell a house in 5 days.
Source: (Robert Bye / Unsplash)

Connect to your non-local buyer pool

A savvy agent knows how to target out-of-area buyers, so your listing reaches as many prospects as possible the day it hits the market.

“We have a lot of buyers who work in Santa Barbara, and since Barbara’s far more expensive to live in, they choose to buy in Ventura,” shares Donnelly. “And very recently, we’ve had a lot of people inquiring about our homes who are anywhere east of us, say like Pasadena area, Los Angeles, or even south Orange County, who find that they can telecommute now that they don’t need to go into the office.”

Donnelly calls buyers’ agents in these areas when her listing goes live to jump start interest. Your agent can also reach out of town buyers by:

  • Promoting your listing posts on Facebook within a 15-mile radius in the region out-of-town buyers often come from
  • Adding location hashtags to social media posts, for example #losangelesrealestate and #santabarbararealestate
  • Emailing listing details and a virtual tour to real estate agents in target areas

Declutter using your garage as storage

Though not the most glamorous task, decluttering speeds up your home sale like no other. And HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report reveals that reducing clutter can add over $2,500 to your home’s value.

When decluttering, remember that buyers want to envision the rooms with their belongings in them, not yours, so the more you remove, the better. Stage key pieces of furniture to showcase the room and leave the rest up to the imagination.

Take your office for instance: clear all items off your desk, hide away yoga mats and miscellaneous items, pack up any other visible items you won’t need this month, and leave only the desk, chair, and standing lamp.

For a quick, cost-free turnaround, skip the storage unit and pack out your garage instead.

“I always tell sellers that your garage can be packed to the gills with boxes. It can be stacked to the roof with boxes. It does not make you a penny more or a penny less,” Hudson shares.

A spotless home with moving boxes in the garage signals to buyers that you’re ready to move as soon as a deal closes. If you run out of space in the garage, boxes in the basement, attic, closets, or temporary storage shed works well too.

Add some color to your curb appeal

Whether a buyer is pulling up your listing online or pulling into your driveway, your home’s exterior is their first impression of your home — you need to nail the curb appeal. Paint your home’s exterior a neutral color to appeal to the most buyers possible. Then dial up the energy with colorful accents that draw buyers in like bees to a flower.

Donnelly attributes her most recent 5-day sale to the seller’s colorful, yet tasteful curb appeal (pictured below):

“They went with a gray house and they chose a cranberry red trim color for the shutters and the front door. I wouldn’t have thought of that combination, but it actually looks really nice. Then they painted one part of their house a white and the rest of it gray, so it really pops.”

A house that sold in five days.
(Source: Mark Corcoran / Upmarket Photo, Courtesy of Liz Donnelly)

Consider these easy opportunities to douse in some curb appeal color:

Pair pre-listing home inspection repairs with a home warranty

When you pair pre-listing home inspection with a complimentary home warranty, you assure buyers that your home is free from costly hidden issues. The more confident they feel about your home’s condition, the faster they’ll submit an offer.

With a pre-listing home inspection, you learn your home’s condition before you go to market to tackle necessary repairs on your own terms. With the inspection and repairs complete, your sale can close faster, cutting out back-and-forth negotiations over the inspection report.

Throw a cherry on top with an included home warranty. A home warranty costs on average $300 to $500 and covers emergency expenses that arise from appliances, electrical systems, HVAC units, garage doors, and other home systems for the first year after the closing date.

Gym equipment given with a house that sold in 5 days.
Source: (Delaney Van / Unsplash)

Motivate buyers with a limited time offer

Include a freebie with your home for buyers who offer in the first 5 days to incentivize those interested to act quickly. If the freebie is particularly grand, it may even attract media attention like this $1.4 million condo in Costa Mesa including a Tesla Model 3. Between the sweetener and the press attention, your listing wins even more exposure.

Here are some enticing inclusions:

  • Gym equipment
  • Whiskey collection
  • Fully stocked gameroom
  • Car
  • Furniture
  • HOA fees for the first year
  • Electric bicycles
  • Outdoor entertaining setup

Share the floor plan with a layout or 3D tour

Instead of overloading buyers with dull hallway photos, show off your home’s flow with a traditional or 3D Matterport floor plan.

“Matterport lets you as a consumer click through with your mouse as if you’re walking through a house, so you can basically look at every little corner of it,” Donnelly explains, sharing she always includes a Matterport or a professionally drawn layout in her home listings.

In a recent Matterport survey, 90% of buyers stated they’re more compelled by listings with 3D tours, and 55% of buyers said they would be open to purchasing sight unseen if provided with a 3D tour.

Get the recipe right and a 5-day home sale is possible

With the right strategies, you can sell your home in 5 days or less. The key to success is preparation, so invest time and effort into planning the sale. If you’re going the traditional route, find the absolute best real estate agent for the challenge. Likewise, if you’re selling instantly to a cash buyer, do your due diligence to secure the best price and terms.

Header Image Source: (Erik Mclean / Unsplash)