Looking to sell a house fast? You’re in luck. Right now is the perfect time to list if time is of the essence. Reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that low inventory, low-interest rates and continued job growth have created a seller’s market throughout most of the U.S.
With the ball in the seller’s court, selling fast is practically guaranteed, right?
Not quite. When it comes to selling real estate, many things, such as fluctuating market conditions, the current buyer pool and unanticipated contract delays are out of the seller’s hands.
Cindy Bunch, the #2 seller’s agent out of over 4,000 in the Lawrenceville, Georgia region, says: “You can want to sell fast, but you’ve got to pay attention to the facts of the market and be aware that the market changes. It goes up and it goes down. It’s not a permanent fixed line in any direction. Neither the seller nor their agent can control the market.”
Short of selling your home to an investor for pennies on the dollar or turning the property over to the bank in lieu of paying off the mortgage, there is simply no guaranteed way to sell your home fast.
But don’t despair. You’re not stuck sacrificing excessive equity to sell your home fast. With careful planning, the right real estate agent, a short escrow period written into the contract and a little luck, sellers can have their home off of their hands within six to eight weeks.
While you can’t control all aspects of your home sale, here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do to increase your chances of selling your home in record time.
Don’t: Try to Sell a House Fast on Your Own
Cutting out the realtor fees with an FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sale is tempting. In a seller’s market, you’ll find eager buyers and opportunities for multiple offers even if you don’t list with an agent.
But going it alone is a bad idea, especially if you’re looking to sell your house fast.
For starters, you’ll likely get less money from an FSBO sale than an agented sale, even after you deduct the average 6% realtor fees.
As Bunch notes, “The National Association of Realtors research shows that the typical home sold with a real estate agent sells for 14-16% more than the average FSBO.”
Recent numbers from the NAR indicate that agented home sales netted an average of $55,000 more than FSBO home sales.
Plus, selling yourself requires a major investment of time that you may not have if you need to sell fast. While you’re packing and cleaning up to move, you’ll have to take photographs, research comps, get an appraisal, create and finance a
third-party MLS listing, craft and execute a marketing plan, and show your home to potential buyers.
Things get even more complex once you’ve lined up a buyer. You’ll need to: handle negotiations and renegotiations; work with the buyer, your buyer’s agent and your buyer’s lender; fill out multiple forms; hire a lawyer to produce and review contracts—the list is endless.
And all that work (think time, effort and money) may be for nothing if the sale falls through and you need to start all over again.
Do: Partner with a Stellar Agent
There’s a reason it takes multiple classes and upwards of 100 hours to get a realtor’s license in most states. Selling a home is a complex proposition.
A top real estate agent, who closes multiple sales weekly, can help you navigate all the ins and outs of the process—from determining an asking price to signing the final contracts.
Full-time agents have their fingers on the market’s pulse and are aware of its shifting condition on a daily basis—information that FSBO sellers won’t have.
They’re also plugged into a network of realtors that provides access to a ready-made pool of buyers the moment you’re ready to sell.
That’s why financial expert Dave Ramsey, who’s had a real estate license for 30 years, would hire an active, professional agent rather than opt for an FSBO sale.
Once you’ve lined up your buyer, your agent becomes your advocate to handle any renegotiations or contract disputes that might cause a sale to drag on if handled by an inexperienced seller.
Don’t: Overprice Your Property
Chances are your home is the most valuable thing you own—so it’s natural to want as much money as you can get for your property when it’s time to sell. And if you’ve upgraded your home with expensive features, you may want to tack additional dollars onto your asking price to recoup your costs.
But asking for top dollar or more is guaranteed to slow down your sale.
According to The Washington Post, how long a home lingers on the market is directly related to overpricing. Overpriced homes will get few to zero showings and will likely go for 30 days or more without an offer.
As the days without an offer tick by, you’ll end up reducing your price anyway and scare away a chunk of buyers who’ll see the reduction as a red flag that your home has major flaws.
That price reduction will also attract another subset of buyers—ones who recognize the price lowering as a sign of desperation. These buyers are looking for a bargain, so they’ll come with low-ball offers that you’ll be tempted to accept just to get your home sold fast.
Do: Price (Just) Under Local Comps For Sale
If you need to sell your house fast, you don’t have time to test the waters with an asking price that’s at or over current comps. Instead, it’s best to set your asking price at just under local comps.
For her sell fast sellers, Bunch recommends listing at three to five percent under the property’s current market value. In a seller’s market, a home priced with this “on sale” strategy will generate multiple offers, leading to a bidding war which will push up the final price.
The actual digits in your asking price play a big role in how fast you’ll sell, too.
Have you ever wondered why retailers list products on sale for $19.99 instead of $20? It’s because that one cent reduction makes buyers feel like they’re getting a good deal, and there’s nothing consumers like better than a bargain. This same philosophy applies to real estate.
According to NAR research, buyers were more attracted to homes priced at $199,000 than to the rounded $200,000. Their data suggests that this “just below” pricing strategy may result in a final selling price that’s up to three percent higher than homes listed with a rounded number.
But not everyone agrees with this strategy. Some real estate experts suggest that pricing just below a rounded number can remove your home from pricing brackets in online searches. Meaning that buyers looking for a home in the $200-275K range will not see your home priced at $199,000.
It all boils down to your home’s category and the types of buyers interested in it. For those selling a starter home to first-time buyers, a just below bargain strategy is the way to go. But if you’re selling a luxury property, then you’ll need your pricing strategy to match the value of your home.
With some solid data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index Calculator as a starting point and the guidance of a top-notch agent, you’ll find the best pricing strategy for you.
Don’t: Make it Difficult for Buyers to See Your Home
If your home is priced right and your stellar agent has spread the word, you’ll quickly be inundated with requests for showings from buyers’ agents. Once that starts to happen, it feels like you’re getting an unending stream of unexpected guests that you want to impress.
Showing a home that’s clean and uncluttered is key to attracting the best offers fast. And making yourself scarce during those showings is just as important.
When sellers ask Bunch if they can be present during showings, she gives them this advice: “Buyers attach easier when they feel they are potentially looking at a home that they might live in rather than a seller hanging in the background which demonstrates more that it’s their house.”
Since you’ll need time to get your home in show-ready condition and time to vacate, it’s natural to put restrictions on showings.
Some sellers offer only a limited window for appointment-only showings, require a day’s notice in advance of all showings, or refuse to allow a professional lockbox on their home. But excessive restrictions like these are guaranteed to reduce your chances of selling fast.
The harder you make it for potential buyers to see your home, the fewer offers you’ll get and your house will stay on the market longer.
Instead of setting guidelines based on your own convenience, you’ll need to focus on a strategy designed to bring the most foot traffic through your home if you want to sell fast.
Do: Be Ready to Show Your Home ASAP
Did you know that buyers only look at a median of ten homes before making an offer on a property?
If your home isn’t available for showing when buyers are out looking with their agents, you’ll miss out on offers. Those potential buyers will simply skip your home and make offers on the properties they were able to see.
Yes, it’s a pain to keep your home clean and uncluttered for weeks—especially if you’re still living in your house. It’s also inconvenient to drop everything and vacate your home for a showing on short notice.
But that’s exactly what you need to do if you want to sell fast. Real estate experts say you’ll need to show your home at least 10-20 times before you find your best buyer or even get any offers at all.
So increase your odds of receiving multiple offers quickly by making it incredibly easy for buyers to view your home. Allow the installation of a professional lockbox to make it easy for buyer’s agents to access.
Keep your home neat and organized so that you’ll only need an hour or two to straighten up before any last-minute showings. And find yourself a nearby park, restaurant or coffeehouse where you can hang out while your house is being shown. After all, if you’ve done the work to sell your house fast, you’ll only be inconvenienced for the few weeks it takes to receive and accept your best offer.
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