Selling a house is a nerve-wracking undertaking. In fact, a recent Daily Mail report says that selling a home may be more stressful than bankruptcy, divorce or the death of a loved one.
Now, throw in the fact that you need to sell your house fast because of a new job, financial hardship, or otherwise unexpected life upheaval?
Well, the Pressure. Is. On.
But making rash decisions in haste could leave you second-guessing and kicking yourself over your sloppy decisions down the road. If you want to sell your home both quickly and with confidence, you’ll need to know all of your options so you can make an informed decision that best aligns with your current circumstances and goals.
Let’s review your choices so you can look back on the experience of selling your house fast with no regrets. You’ve got options so we’ll cover a lot of ground, including the ins and outs of how to:
- List your house with a top real estate agent in your area who has a proven track record of selling homes quickly.
- Compare cash offers from instant buyers for a no-fuss transaction you can close within days.
- Take matters into your own hands by going the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) route.
- See if you qualify for a short sale in the event that you’re underwater on your mortgage.
- Get buyers bidding on your house by selling it at auction.
Now, we’ll dive into each of these paths one by one so you can decide which one is right for your individual home-selling needs.
Selling your house in a pinch? Watch this video:
Calling all real estate agents
Did you know that 89% of home sellers use a real estate agent to list their home? To navigate a process involving hundreds of documents and tons of back-and-forth communications, most sellers elect to have a real estate agent assist them.
Why list your home for sale with a real estate agent?
Listings represented by agents generally sell for more money. In 2017, homes sold with the assistance of an agent went for 30% more (at an average $250,000) than homes sold by owner (an average $190,000).
The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report states that homes listed with agents sell for a median 98% of the final listing price and net sellers an average of $43,100 in equity.
What does an agent do to help you sell the house fast?
Note that the speed at which your home sells depends on a number of factors, such as how many homes are currently for sale in your market, the health of the general economy, and mortgage interest rates. In 2017, homes sold on average in as quickly as 3 weeks—in 2012, it was 11 weeks.
However, a real estate agent is there to understand your needs and then tailor their services to your end goal in any market—using the levers you can control. Specifically, the job of an agent is to guide the seller through necessary house preparations and repairs, price the home correctly, set up home stagings, execute a marketing blitz to promote the listing, negotiate with the buyer, and take the deal through to the final closing paperwork.
These efforts bring serious buyers to the table as efficiently as possible to fetch an offer for your house at fair market value.
Having an agent of your own also means having an advocate on your side who can handle delays and prevent mistakes. Not only will an agent help you avoid time-wasting missteps during escrow, they’ll help you choose which offer to accept to guarantee a smooth and fast transaction.
Make sure the agent you work with is proven to sell homes fast
If you’re on on a tight deadline, its reasonable to worry about whether a real estate agent will work at the right pace. That means not just any old real estate agent will do. You need to partner up with an agent who has a track record of selling homes just like yours quickly in your area. These hyperlocal experts know what makes buyers tick and how to secure a fast sale in negotiations.
If you need to find an agent with a history of fast-and-furious transactions, HomeLight actually crunches average days on market performance data for the agents in your market to match you with a professional proven to sell homes faster than their peers.
Tell us more about your needs, and get the chance to speak with one of our live concierges who help match you with local agents that sell homes fast and have the stats to show for it. (Sounds better than hiring your cousin George who does real estate as a hobby, right?)
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We analyze millions of real estate transactions to find you a real estate agent that will sell your home faster and for more money.
Real estate expert Ambreen Faruqi, the #1 agent in homes sold in the Queens, New York, area advises, “For selling really quickly, cash offers are always the best, but they’re also lower offers. You can make more with a buyer who gets a loan and maybe wait only two or three weeks more.”
Compare cash offers for an instant sale
An exciting new job opportunity opens up but there’s only one problem—it’s across the country and you’ve got this ball-and-chain called a house weighing down your mobility.
You’d rather not dilly dally with home prep, showings, and stagings, and simply need a fast out. While most sellers are focused on commanding the highest price for their home and choose to list it the conventional way with the help of an agent, a sudden life change can make selling your house for cash instantly an attractive option, even if it means taking a price cut.
In your market alone there may be more than one iBuyer (instant home buyer) that would throw their hat in the ring to purchase your house. You have buy-and-hold investors that purchase rental properties; fix-and-flippers renovating tear-downs at scale for a profit; and high-tech, venture capital backed companies who’ve entered the space in recent years.
Different investors provide varying cash offer packages—while one may be able to offer you better pricing, another could waive the home inspection or promise a faster closing. Some also only purchase homes in a certain price range or in good selling condition. It would take a lot of time and legwork to contact different direct buyers and shop around for the best cash offer. But if you take the first offer that comes your way, you might take a steeper discount on your home’s fair market value than if you’d done the homework.
To make this whole process easier, HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform collects all the available cash offers for your house in one place so you can compare the options among our list of pre-approved iBuyers and make an informed decision. With this tool you can also compare the benefits of a cash offer against an estimation of what you could fetch for your house the conventional way on the open market. Start now by reviewing your offers!
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I need to sell my house fast, is FSBO the way to go?
Selling your home yourself means you can avoid losing 5-6% of your equity toward paying your real estate agent’s commission. Plus, in the event that you’re putting your house up for sale in a seller’s market, finding a buyer won’t be too challenging.
Now, if the buyer has their own agent who can handle the transaction, does a seller really need their own? If you want a fast sale, yes.
The buyer’s agent is exactly that—the buyer’s agent. If closing quickly isn’t a priority to the buyer, the agent will cater to her client’s needs during closing and put your desire for a fast sale second.
Aside from being your advocate, your agent will know all the tips and tricks for a fast sale from pre-listing through closing.
Out of all homes sold in 2016, only 8% were FSBO sales. And of those sales, only 54% were interested in selling fast. Those who do sell their homes fast typically do so because their buyer was a friend, relative or neighbor—and in that case, they are selling at an average 56% discount ($160, 300, compared to $250,000).
If you are set on selling yourself, you’ll need to get educated on all the closing documents you and your seller will need to successfully complete the sale. And you’ll need to arrange for an attorney and title company to help you complete the transaction.
Without an expert to keep track of all the intricacies of the transaction, you cannot necessarily count on the sale to go quickly or smoothly.
Should I short sale?
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.
Short sale agent Brad Wallace, who ranks in the top 9% of 8,627 agents in the Philadelphia area says, “They call it a short sale, but it’s the furthest thing from a short sale. The quickest short sale I had was probably about four months, and I’ve had short sales that lasted over two years.”
Not only will a short sale take a lot longer to complete, most sellers aren’t even eligible to short sell their homes. You 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.
Getting your home sold quickly is just one of the benefits of an auction sale:
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, and doing so may just be a smart choice if you want to sell fast. Getting your home sold quickly is just one of the benefits of an auction sale.
While you will know the exact date your home will sell thanks to the auction option, this may not be as quick as you’ll think. According to Forbes, auctioned homes take an average of 45 to 60 days from listing to close.
Selling at auction is risky because you have limited control over the final sales price. As the seller, you set the minimum bid you’ll accept, typically at 10-15% below current market value (auction experts advise this to generate more interest among buyers), but after that, it’s up to the accept the final bid. Competing buyers may bid up the price over the market value or you may be stuck accepting that minimum bid offer.
Not all properties are ideally situated for auctions either. The NAR advises that sellers self-test the market, their home and their financial situation with the Two-Thirds Rule to determine if 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. After all, the last thing you want is for your home to sell for less than you owe.
Selling your house fast: You’ve got options!
With careful planning and the right help, sellers can rest assured that they won’t sacrifice too much of their profits for the sake of speed. Now that you know your options for selling a house fast, it’s just a matter of selecting the best one for you. Selling your home fast may be scary, but it can be done.
Article Image Source: (Toine Garnier/ Unsplash)