It’s safe to say all home sellers would prefer to sell in a matter of weeks rather than months, but for some, selling a house fast is more of a need than a want.
“The main reasons people usually rush a sale are they need the money in order to make their next move, they can’t afford to keep their current house, or they can’t afford to lose any more money on their current situation,” says Kevin DaSilva, a Los Angeles real estate agent who completes 20% more sales than the average agent in his area.
In today’s shifting housing market, it typically takes a little over three months to sell a house from list to close. That doesn’t account for any pre-listing preparations such as making repairs, cleaning, decluttering, and staging the property.
If you don’t have the flexibility for this timeline, including the average 50 days you’ll spend waiting for a financed buyer’s mortgage to be processed, you’ll need to get creative with your plans.
Thankfully, you do have options:
- Request a full cash offer through a platform like Simple Sale, slashing your closing timeline to as little as 10 days or the move-out date of your choosing.
- List your property with a top real estate agent who can help secure a quick offer and, as much as possible, create a clear path to settlement.
This guide provides a complete overview of the top ways to get a quick offer, sign a deal, and get out of a house that’s no longer serving you.
Option 1: Request an all-cash offer for your home
When it comes to “sell my house fast” solutions, an all-cash offer from a house-buying company ranks at the top. That’s because when listing a home on the open market, the process is almost always slower and you face a number of unknowns.
When will you get an offer?
Statistics from the Federal Reserve show that homes currently spend a median of 50 days on the market, up from a recent low of 31 days in May 2022.
“It has climbed every single month since May,” says DaSilva. “As more homes come on market and more homes don’t sell, I see it continuing to climb.”
A house in rough condition will also take longer than average to sell. A traditional buyer who’s planning to live in the home will prefer that it be move-in ready, and they may need the house to meet certain minimum property standards in order for it to appraise.
How cash solves this: You can request an offer online and get a response in as few as 24-48 hours. Some cash buyers make a preliminary offer subject to change after an assessment. Others make firm offers on the spot.
Will the buyer pay cash or be prequalified for a home loan?
Data from 2022 indicates 78% of recent buyers financed their home purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Even if you do zero home prep and attract a buyer in record time, a seller has little to no control over when a buyer’s loan will close. Expect this step to take 30-60 days before you get paid.
How cash solves this: When you request an offer from a legitimate house-buying company, you can expect to receive a full cash offer without a need for lender involvement.
Will the inspection, appraisal, or loan underwriting cause delays or worse?
According to NAR’s 2022 Realtors Confidence Index Survey, the top three recent causes for delayed settlements include issues related to the buyer’s financing (22%), appraisal issues (20%), and home inspection issues (11%). These issues can also be the reason that contracts get terminated, leaving the seller to secure a new offer.
How cash solves this: Cash nixes potential problems that could arise with a home loan (there is no loan!) as well as eliminates the lender-ordered appraisal. Your home may be inspected by a buyer whether you sell for cash or not, but direct home buyers typically purchase homes “as is” (at a discounted price) and typically don’t expect sellers to make repairs.
“It’s all about the convenience factor,” says Daniel Close, a real estate investor in Kentucky with 15 years of property investing experience. “I compare it to paying more for a gallon of milk at the gas station — you get in and out quicker and easier. At the grocery store, you won’t pay as much, but it takes longer and is a little more of a hassle.”
How does selling for cash work?
When you sell your house for cash, you can expect the process to go something like this:
- Make contact: A seller contacts an investor or company that buys homes in their area and provides some basic information about their home. However, some companies will proactively reach out to sellers about buying their home.
- Receive a preliminary offer: In as little as 24-48 hours, the seller will receive a preliminary offer that may be subject to change after a house assessment.
- Have your home assessed: The company schedules a walkthrough or exterior inspection of the house to evaluate its condition, usually within a few days’ time.
- Get a firm offer: The company makes a firm offer, which you can accept or decline. Most of these companies will not alter their price, so negotiations are off the table.
- Closing begins: If you accept the offer, you and the company will each sign the contract, and closing will begin.
- Title clearance: The cash buyer will wait to ensure that the seller is able to convey a clear title before paying for the property. If any liens are discovered, some house-buying companies will assist sellers through the next steps.
- Payment is disbursed: The seller receives payment quickly, typically within seven days to a few weeks. This can vary by company, and sellers who work with a house-buying company often enjoy flexibility in selecting a move-out date that works for them.
For further details, we recommend reviewing our complete guide on the process of selling your house for cash.
Pro tip: Find out what your home is worth before you request an offer so you can better determine if it’s a price you’re willing to accept. Input your address into HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator to get a preliminary estimate of value in under two minutes. For better accuracy, request a comparative market analysis from a local real estate agent, who can also help advise you on the options to sell your house fast.
Who buys houses for cash?
Some cash buyers are individuals with sufficient funds to pay for a home with cash. But when you list your home, it’s hard to predict whether your offer will come from a cash buyer or a buyer prequalified for a home loan.
For the certainty of cash, consider working with a house-buying company (think of these as your We Buy Houses / cash-for-homes operations). Today, property owners in certain markets may have the option to sell their home to an iBuyer (instant homebuyer) such as Opendoor, Offerpad, or RedfinNow.
Here are a few signs that would indicate your house would be a good candidate for a specific type of cash buyer:
|Your house is outdated but in a great school district or location||House flipper||In the right location, your property could appeal to house flippers who are looking to rehab properties and re-sell them.|
|Your property would make an attractive rental||Buy-and-hold investor||Check out what similar properties in the area are commanding for rent and consider whether you’re located near any hotspots like universities or shopping.|
|You live in a newer development where iBuyers are available||iBuyer||In major cities across the country, tech-enabled real estate companies called iBuyers purchase homes in good condition using algorithmic pricing tools.|
Where can you get a cash offer?
Not sure how to find a cash home buyer in your market? If you’re looking for a fast, easy home sale, consider HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Through Simple Sale, HomeLight provides you with an all-cash offer for your home.
You can skip the repairs, prep work, and open houses and go straight to receiving an offer. In addition, we’ll compare your Simple Sale cash offer against an estimation of what you could realistically fetch on the open market with the help of a top agent, so you can make an informed decision while weighing your selling priorities.
Nathan Butcher, a top real estate agent in Los Angeles, recently worked with a family that wanted to move from California to Idaho. They knew they could get top-dollar for their home, but they were under deadline for the house they wanted to purchase, so they needed to sell quickly.
“I advised them on how long it would likely take to sell on the open market vs. how long it would take to sell with HomeLight’s Simple Sale, and let them make the decision,” says Butcher. “The HomeLight offer was within their range and was faster, so they elected to go that route.”
Common reasons people sell for cash
When your goal is to sell as quickly as possible, you could be facing any one of these common scenarios where a lengthy sale process could cause enormous stress and financial strain.
Even if your mortgage company has already initiated the foreclosure process, you can still sell your home independently prior to your scheduled auction date. But depending on how behind you are on payments, you may only have a month or two to get the job done before the house is auctioned.
Need to move
Maybe you weren’t actively looking, but then your dream house hits the market. Or perhaps you are suddenly faced with a relocation and time is of the essence. If you need to act fast to snatch up a new property or switch ZIP codes but can’t afford to take on two mortgages indefinitely, achieving a quick sale is a must.
Bad renters can turn an investment sour. In a recent purchase of a home “wrecked by tenants,” Knoxville, Tennessee, real estate investor Jeff Shipwash describes how “the home would not qualify for any type of traditional financing, so that eliminated the majority of the owner’s buying pool.”
Missouri investor Noah Brockmann bought a house from a woman who lived in Louisiana and inherited a property from a relative in St. Louis. “She didn’t have any need for the property, didn’t want to make a trip up here to sell the house, and just wanted to get rid of it in the quickest and easiest way possible,” he says. “We closed in 17 days, and the owner was very happy to not deal with the property anymore.”
A major foundation repair that requires a fix involving hydraulic piers can cost an average of $8,000, but can easily exceed $10,000. Rather than let a problem like that fester and threaten your home’s structural stability over time, you could sell the house quickly to someone who can afford to address it. Keep in mind, though, that a large problem such as foundation cracks will raise red flags in an inspection, resulting in a price discount.
Even as remote work increases post-pandemic, many companies are still asking their workers to come into the office part-time. When you need to sell your house fast for a job relocation, the pressure of adhering to a start date and straddling two locations can make the process tricky.
Selling a house is often a big step toward a fresh start after a divorce. Until the home is sold, mortgage payments will come due and the home will need to be maintained, which can cause additional tension and financial strain. As such, many people going through a divorce are looking for a fast way to sell their home and move on to the next chapter.
“Once they have the settlement agreement, sometimes one spouse has already moved out for whatever reason and the other spouse can’t afford to keep the home themself,” explains DaSilva.
Water intrusion and flooding inflict catastrophic damage on a home, and a home with a history of water damage can be harder to sell. It’s also expensive to fix, with the average water damage insurance claim exceeding $11,000. For someone who doesn’t have the cash to make costly repairs, selling the home quickly with the proper disclosures may be the best option.
Similar to water damage, destruction caused by a fire is difficult and costly to undo. A significant fire will destroy your home down to the ductwork and Sheetrock. The average cost to restore a home that has experienced fire damage is $11,900, but can be as high as $50,000 or more. If you don’t have adequate homeowners’ insurance or the upfront money to make repairs, the only type of buyer willing to take on your property may be an investor who can pay cash and plans to gut it.
Job loss/loss of income
In the event that your primary source of income has dried up, you may find yourself unable to cover your mortgage and other house-related expenses, at which point a quick sale seems like the best way to dig yourself out of a financial hole.
If you’ve incurred unpaid property taxes or income taxes, the government may place a tax lien on your property, which means they can lay claim to your home until the debt is paid. If you don’t have the liquidity to pay the tax burden, you may need to sell quickly to get the cash to cover the balance.
Maybe you love the look and layout of your home, but the surrounding area has made it a less than desirable place to live. For instance, if crime rates have skyrocketed or a high-traffic commercial building is under construction nearby, you might be eager to unload the property and move on. This was one of the most commonly cited reasons in NAR’s 2022 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers that people recently decided to sell their homes.
“Recently, we helped a seller who was approximately $150,000 behind on his property,” shares Cody Richards, owner of Full Circle Homebuyers in Utah. “He was facing foreclosure and didn’t have any means to pay off that debt prior to the auction date. We stepped in, made him a fair cash offer, and helped him sell the property within one week. Instead of losing the property, he was able to get $80,000 in his pocket and walk away happy.”
Option 2: Work with a top agent to speed up your sale
Maybe you need to sell fast, but don’t love the idea of sacrificing any of your home value to do it. At the end of the day, listings represented by agents sell for more money. According to the NAR’s 2022 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, homes recently sold with the assistance of an agent went for a median of $345,000, while the median price of homes sold by owner was $225,000.
Butcher, the Los Angeles real estate agent, points out that even if a seller opts to go the for sale by owner (FSBO) route, nearly all prospective buyers will be working with an agent anyway.
“In that case, the non-represented homeowner is at a disadvantage,” he explains. “The buyer’s agent will negotiate, and the homeowner may not know how much their home is worth or about all of the pitfalls that may happen. With an agent on your side, you’ll be protected throughout the negotiation and inspection process.”
However, if you choose to work with an agent, you’ll need to accept that the buyers you attract aren’t guaranteed to pay cash. In addition, you should find an agent who can and will do everything in their power to execute a speedy sale. In that case, experience and a history of successful sales are must-haves.
What do you need from your agent?
If you’re on a tight deadline, it’s reasonable to have concerns over whether a real estate agent will work at a fast enough pace to sell your home. That means not just any real estate agent will suffice. To give yourself the best shot at selling quickly, partner with an agent who has a track record of selling homes like yours quickly. For that, you can look at data for their average days on market (DOM) and their transaction history.
Days on market (DOM) tracks the time between when a house is listed and when it goes under contract with a buyer. If an agent’s average DOM is lower than the area average, it’s a good sign that they price homes correctly to attract quick offers and come out of the gate with a strong marketing plan for their listings.
HomeLight’s agent platform tracks average DOM and how agents in your area stack up against their competition. Agents awarded with HomeLight’s “Sells Homes Fast” badge are among the top 5% of agents based on average days on market for seller transactions.
Experience in your area
An agent with hyperlocal expertise will be able to better highlight the perks of your home to interested buyers. They’ll also have heightened familiarity with real estate in the area and what types of upgrades would help your house sell for more (and which ones would be a waste of money).
The best way to tell whether an agent’s experience aligns with your locale is to look for a concentration of past transactions close to your home. HomeLight includes a “Transactions Near You” feature on each of our real estate agent profiles so you easily can see where an agent does the most business.
Familiarity with your property type
An agent who has had experience selling homes like yours will be better positioned to enable you to sell faster. HomeLight helps to find agents who have successfully sold properties in your area, so you can benefit from their local knowledge and expertise. Each agent’s profile will show how many homes he or she has sold in your community.
At HomeLight, we analyze more than 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you. We would be happy to introduce you to a top-rated agent near you whenever you’re ready to sell.
More tips to sell fast
Even if your agent is a total superstar, there’s a lot you can do as a seller to boost your chances of a fast sale:
Clean and declutter
“First things first is presentation,” says DaSilva. “Cleaning and decluttering the home are two things that are most rewarding.”
If you’re going to show a messy house, you might as well request a cash offer, because you’re not going to get the best price. Gone are the days seen during the pandemic homebuying boom of just throwing a house on the market without any focused preparation and still getting a premium value for it.
“Buyers have gotten significantly pickier,” explains DaSilva.
To meet buyers’ heightened expectations, you want to create the illusion of space by removing shoes, boxes, and stacks of items from your floors. Relocate bulky furniture and move any clutter that won’t fit into storage spaces. If it won’t fit in a closet, the basement, or the garage, send it to storage. Countertops should be clear of anything not intentionally placed. At the very least, your home needs to be tidy and organized when the showings start.
If you don’t have the time to mop the floors, vacuum, dust, and get your surfaces sparkling, then consider hiring a service to do the job. For an average investment of $200-$400 to clean a three-bedroom home with two baths, you’ll likely see a sizable return on investment.
Spruce up your curb appeal
The look and feel of a home’s outdoor spaces are more important to buyers than ever now that the number of remote workers in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2019.
In fact, having a backyard/outdoor space was one of the top reasons buyers cited for wanting to purchase a home in 2022, according to our Buyer and Seller Insights Survey for End of Year 2022.
For such reasons, moderate landscaping and outdoor improvements can reap significant returns when selling. Top Agent Insights for New Year 2022 found that buyers will pay an average of 7% more for a house with great curb appeal compared to one with a neglected exterior. Agents estimated that spending $3,467 on curb appeal improvements will boost resale value by around $11,718, a 238% return on investment.
Follow these yard care basics to help your house sell faster:
- Mow the lawn and edge around your driveway and plantings.
- Pull large weeds and apply weed killer to any unwanted plants sprouting up through cement cracks, being careful to avoid healthy flowers.
- Spread fresh mulch around any plant beds that need it.
- Clean up your front entryway with a bucket of soapy water to remove cobwebs and grime from your door, entry lights, and mailbox.
In summary, skip any excessive projects that would cost you time, but don’t neglect your outdoors.
Pick the right time to list
Timing can have an impact on how quickly a house sells, and will vary depending on the location. Some housing markets see intense seasonal changes based on when parents start looking for homes, popular times for vacation house-hunters to arrive, or shifts in the weather. In Butcher’s California market, he says the fastest time to sell is mid-February through June, while the slowest-selling period is during the winter holidays.
Let’s say you don’t want to prolong the sale process, but you have a bit of flexibility as to when to put your house on the market. Enter your address into HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell calculator to find out the fastest time to sell in your market based on local housing market data.
Watch out for these 3 ‘sell my house fast’ options
Certain routes to selling your home may sound like a shortcut, but aren’t what they seem. Here are a few options to avoid:
The main thing you need to know about short sales is that the “short” refers to money, not time. Selling short means that your lender has agreed to allow you to sell your home for less than you owe on it. As a general rule, short sales take a lot longer to finalize than a regular sale.
“In my experience, short sales can take up to two years,” says Butcher. “I think it’s the worst option if you need to sell fast.”
Not only will a short sale take a lot longer to complete, most sellers aren’t even eligible to short-sell their homes. You likely need to be financially underwater, behind on your mortgage, and facing foreclosure. Even if you’re eligible, your lender (or lenders, if you have debt on the property with multiple entities) does not have to agree to a short sale. So if you want to sell your home fast, a short sale is definitely not the way to go.
Selling your house solo is possible — but it’s not very common. According to NAR’s 2022 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, only 10% of recent sellers went the FSBO route. It tends to be an option people choose when they already have a buyer lined up.
Of those who did go it alone, 50% already knew the buyer of their home before the transaction. If this sounds like you, you could strike up a deal with your buyer with the help of an attorney to draft and finalize the paperwork.
Keep in mind, though, that you could sacrifice price by doing this. According to NAR data, the typical FSBO home sold for $225,000 compared to $345,000 for agent-assisted home sales, indicating that the expertise real estate agents bring to a sale often more than makes up for their cost.
“It’s easy to think that you would be the best person to sell the property, as you know it inside and out — but more often than not, it will result in a slow sale at a lower price than you could have achieved,” says Keron Howe, CEO and co-founder of Property Nation, a real estate investment company based in Florida.
If you think auctions are only an option for desperate sellers and banks unloading foreclosure homes, you’re mistaken. Any homeowner can sell their house at an auction. However, there are trade-offs.
While you will know the exact date your home will sell, the auction route may not be as quick as you’ll think. A home can be sold at auction in as little as 21 days, but it can take as many as 45, according to a real estate auctioneer website.
Selling at auction is risky, too, because you have limited control over the final sales price. Competing buyers may bid up the price over the market value, or you may be stuck accepting that minimum bid offer.
And not all properties are ideally situated for auctions. NAR advises that sellers self-test the market, their home, and their financial situation with the Two-Thirds Rule to determine whether an auction is the right option. One of the major factors is that your home needs to be carrying a lot of equity — up to 25% — to see any cash from an auction sale.
When you need to sell fast, you do have options
Selling a house has a reputation for being overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming. But fast? Not so much.
That said, you don’t have to leave your selling fate to chance. Whether you decide to request a cash offer or work with a top agent who can meet your deadline, you now know your main options for selling a house fast. All that’s left to do is pick a path.
Header Image Source: (GJS / Shutterstock)
- "Weekly Real Estate Monitor Residential and Commercial Markets," National Association of Realtors® (March 2022)
- "How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Foundation?," Fixr (October 2021)
- "Homeowners Insurance For Water Damage," Forbes Advisor (March 2022)
- "Top Agent Insights for New Year 2022," HomeLight (January 2022)
- "2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers," National Association of Realtors®, Jessica Lautz et al. (November 2022)