Need to Sell Your Home Quickly? 14 Strategies That Work

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Life can sometimes throw you a curveball and you suddenly need to sell your home quickly – like yesterday. Your mind starts to swirl with visions of moving boxes in search of a plan. But you’re not sure how or where to start.

Fortunately, we have researched the options and interviewed Doug Gardiner who is a high-performing real estate agent from Frederick, Maryland, and found 14 proven tips to help you sell your home quickly for the best results. “The [home’s] condition will always affect quickness and it will always affect timelines,” says Gardiner.

In order to sell your home quickly it’s recommended to:

1. Deep clean

Deep cleaning will encourage potential buyers to stay longer as they admire your home’s features versus any grime that indicates deferred maintenance. The fresh smells and shiny surfaces will sparkle, and using that extra elbow grease can potentially add close to $2,000 in resale value. Some examples of deep cleaning include:

  • Kitchen – Clean appliances (both large and small), counters, cabinets, sink, and floor
  • Bedrooms – Make beds, dust and vacuum floors
  • Living Spaces – Dust and polish furniture, vacuum floor
  • Bathrooms – Clean countertop, cabinets, sink, faucet, mirror, floor, and toilet
  • Other Areas – Dust and polish furniture, remove any pet items, sweep, mop, and vacuum
Try to get your home as show ready as you can. A good phrase to remember is that less is more. If you’re going to live in the house, and you’re trying to sell it, remember people don’t want to see an abundance of stuff.
  • Douglas Gardiner
    Douglas Gardiner Real Estate Agent
    Douglas Gardiner
    Douglas Gardiner Real Estate Agent at The Maryland Group of Long & Foster
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    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 15
    • Transactions 690
    • Average Price Point $330k
    • Single Family Homes 402

2. Declutter

A good strategy for depersonalizing your home is to remove clutter, which will give prospective buyers the opportunity to imagine themselves living there. They won’t be distracted by objects that fill up every shelf, wall, and cabinet. Their focus will be on the space available for their mementos instead of the perceived limited storage space based on the number of items that are on display. Types of clutter to remove include:

  • Collectibles or photos that overwhelm a room
  • Additional furniture that doesn’t fit in the space
  • Cabinets filled with extra dishes, mugs, and glassware
  • Extra books, DVDs, and toys (for children and pets)
  • Clothing that hangs on hooks outside of the closet

“Try to get your home as show ready as you can. A good phrase to remember is that less is more. If you’re going to live in the house, and you’re trying to sell it, remember people don’t want to see an abundance of stuff,” says Gardiner, who works with over 81% more single-family homes than the average agent in his market.

According to HomeLight’s Top Agents Insights Report, you can increase your home’s resale value by over $2,500 simply by paring down the number of items in your house.

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3. Focus on the right repairs

If you want to sell your home quickly, but think absolutely everything has to get fixed before you move, with a short timeline, it’s best to focus on the right fixes that buyers will notice when touring your home. Some of the most common repairs that can help you sell fast are:

  • Plumbing and sewer issues
  • Non-working appliances that aren’t safe
  • Outdated electrical switches and outlets
  • Heating and cooling systems that don’t function
  • Roof and structural repairs required for safety

Cosmetic fixes such as changing a countertop, which the buyer is likely to renovate later, aren’t usually necessary.

“A lot of time sellers want to always do too much, and it’s honorable. I think it’s a great thing that they want their house to be in great shape, but in these times where it’s hard to get things done, you have to pick things wisely as to what you want to have done,” says Gardiner.

4. Paint in neutral colors

Getting rid of a shocking pink or neon orange color and adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to freshen up a room. Buyers are typically looking for properties that are turnkey and won’t require immediate work by taking out a bold color that doesn’t work with their decor. Some examples of the most popular neutral colors are:

According to HomeAdvisor, painting the interior of your house can average $1,919.

5. Stage your home

According to a survey of top-performing real estate agents, more than half say professional staging helps to highlight the best features of a house, helping it sell quickly and increase its value by 1%-10%.

The best way to stage a home is to showcase how the space can be used effectively by defining it with furniture and objects that suggest a homey feel. The buyer should be able to envision how they can use the space, with a focus on the room as a whole not the distractions of clutter. The best ways to stage an area include:

  • Define the space, such as creating a dedicated work-at-home office
  • Choose items that add a cozy feeling such as books, flowers, and candles
  • Use neutral tones and add pops of color with pillows or throws
  • Freshen up the smell of your house with a neutral reed diffuser
  • Edit down the pieces of furniture to increase physical space

“You want to give the impression that your home is roomy and not cluttered,” says Gardiner.

6. Remember to have enough lighting

A home that is dark and uninviting will not encourage buyers to stay very long. In addition to having adequate lighting inside the home, you’ll also want lots of natural light. Natural light has been shown to boost moods and help people feel less depressed. Some of the ways to increase natural lighting include:

  • Remove heavy drapes that block light from coming through the windows
  • Get the windows to shine, clean both sides so light can brighten up the inside
  • Add reflective surfaces to your decor such as mirrors and glass
  • Reposition large pieces of furniture from blocking the windows
  • Use brighter neutral colors on your walls that help reflect light

7. Boost your home’s curb appeal

First impressions are powerful and set the tone for either inviting or turning away potential buyers who will decide to tour your home based on its curb appeal. According to HomeLight’s Top Agents Insights report, homebuyers pay 7% more for a house with good curb appeal versus a home with a neglected exterior. Some ideas to boost curb appeal include:

  • Well-maintained landscaping, not overgrown or withering
  • Front entry looks welcoming by being clean and uncluttered
  • Roof is in good repair with no moss or missing shingles
  • Eye-catching color in the yard, no weeds or signs of mildew
  • Pathways and driveway are clear of trash cans and debris

“There are a lot of people that are focused on the outside to draw them into the home — you’ve got to give yourself an opportunity. If outside does not look good, they might not even want to come to see it,” says Gardiner.

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8. Get professional photos

While amateur photographers can take photos that will show different rooms in the house, buyers won’t be impressed if they don’t present the home in the best light. In some parts of the country, professional photos have been shown to help sell homes up to 32% faster. Since the initial impression is crucial, buyers are attracted to photos that are inviting. Here’s what the professionals typically do:

  • Take photos in the correct order starting with the entryway
  • Use a wide-angle lens to capture more details of the room
  • Incorporate the right lighting to showcase a bright space
  • Use a tripod to make sure the camera stays steady
  • Adjusts for reflective surfaces that can highlight more areas

According to the home management platform Thumbtack, real estate photographers usually make $120 per hour on average nationwide.

In most cases, if you hire an experienced Realtor®, the agent will arrange for a professional photographer as part of their marketing efforts, and pay for the photos out of the commission they earn from selling your home.

9. Consider a video or virtual home tour

Video walkthroughs and virtual tours grew in popularity since the pandemic, and have become the next best thing to physically walking through the door. Buyers like the aspect of seeing a home up close by taking a 360-degree tour, without the need to drive anywhere. Instead of just showing a photo of the walk-in closet, the potential buyer can actually tour it and imagine their clothes all organized.

The best way to have an effective tour is to employ the following strategies:

  • Make sure the home is ready for its close-up and is neat and uncluttered
  • Start the tour from the front door and progress through each room
  • Highlight the features such as deep closets, updated kitchen, and view
  • Be transparent with any issues the house may have by disclosing them
  • Troubleshoot any glitches that interfere with a good user experience

The price can vary, depending on the size of the home, but virtual tour services typically start at $300.

10. Price your home competitively

Professional agents will tell you it’s crucial to set the right price in order to be successful when selling your home. Oftentimes, you’ll have a competitive pricing strategy that signals you’re serious about selling without going too low, depending on your urgency to sell. Also, underpricing could make buyers assume that your home needs extensive repairs.

One way to estimate your home’s preliminary value is by using HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator tool. Just answer a few questions about your property and you’ll receive a ballpark estimate in less than two minutes.

A more precise way to estimate your home’s current value and set a competitive selling price is to ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA). Last year, 54% of agents indicated some buyers were concerned about inflated prices and backed out of their purchase contracts.

11. Market your property online

Many potential buyers will shop online for their next home, and in some markets, two-thirds make offers on homes they have never seen in person. This means they depend on social media, compelling listing descriptions, photos, and tours to give them all the details. Since real estate is still experiencing a seller’s market, presenting your property effectively online is important for a quick sale.

“For example, with us, we’ll run Facebook ads and things like that, and ad programs and then we also have in our database of certain people that are looking for that kind of property. So we’ll focus directly on that,” says Gardiner.

12. Be flexible with showings

Because buyers are often excited to tour homes as soon as possible, being flexible with the timing of in-person showings is important. As it can take 10 to 25 showings to sell your house. Even with virtual tours, buyers who are serious will want to see the home in person. In addition to being flexible, your house has to be clean and presentable. Lastly, you’ll have to leave your home to give the buyers a chance to tour without feeling pressured. However, this temporary inconvenience usually encourages faster results.

13. Consider the timing of your sale

Timing is everything, and sometimes your need to sell quickly doesn’t always correlate with the ideal time of year for your area. If you have some flexibility and want to know the best time during the year to sell your home, consider using HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator for more insights. This free tool uses housing market data to suggest the best time to sell a house if you want to make the most money and which months are best to sell quickly.

14. Make the door and entryway a lasting impression

Before potential buyers enter your home, they are first going to notice your door and entryway. This will be their first close-up impression of the house, beyond your curb appeal, that introduces them to your decor and maintenance of the home. You definitely want that first impression to be memorable in a positive way. Some ways to achieve this include:

  • Find a door that complements the existing architecture
  • Keep the cutesy holiday decorations to a minimum
  • Make sure door hardware is clean and shiny
  • Match planters on either side of the door to create symmetry
  • Remove personalized items such as monogrammed accessories

Q&A: Additional expert insights to sell your home quickly

What makes a house harder to sell?

Sellers have to price a property based on what they have to offer. Often, sellers are willing to price the home correctly but aren’t willing to invest in adding curb appeal. Omitting this crucial marketing strategy can make it difficult to sell the house because it won’t attract buyers, according to Gardiner.

What’s the most common mistake sellers make that can delay a sale?

Gardiner explains that putting together too big of a checklist to get minor repairs done can delay a sale by six to eight weeks due to backlogs. A better strategy is to determine what absolutely needs to get done before listing. An experienced agent can help sellers determine the most effective checklist to prepare your home for sale based on the buyers in your market.

How long is too long if my house is not selling?

Selling timelines for your market will vary depending on local supply and demand, and the condition, location, and type of home you have. According to Gardiner, in today’s seller’s market, if a house is priced right, he is seeing sales within four to 10 days.

“I think in today’s market, if you have things that are going 30 plus days, with the way the market is right now, you need to really have a revamp or figure out what’s going on.”

The Simple Sale solution

Another option for selling your home quickly is receiving an all-cash offer through a service like HomeLight’s Simple Sale. Simple Sale is an online platform that allows sellers to request an all-cash, no-obligation offer for their home. Simple Sale has a network of cash buyers and investors. This enables Simple Sale to provide cash offers for an array of properties throughout the country.

Cash buyers don’t need a lender’s involvement to purchase a home, meaning they can move nimbly and quickly compared to a buyer who needs financing. With Simple Sale, you can skip the repairs and close in as little as 10 days, compared to the 30-60 days it typically takes to close with a financed buyer.

Conclusion: Takeaways for selling your home quickly

Your home’s condition and deliberately-refined curb appeal play a major role in how quickly you can sell your home. You can’t control the market, but you can take steps to improve your chances of a fast sale with a strategy that includes: 

  • Get your house in top shape – deep clean, declutter and do needed improvements
  • Market home for maximum impact – use social media and compelling descriptions
  • Make sure the price is right – don’t price too high or low for a competitive strategy
  • Give the best impressions – with inviting curb appeal, paint, and staging
  • Go professional with photos and video – make the best impression on shoppers

The best way to sell your home quickly and for the most money is to find a top-performing real estate agent that can help you. Try using HomeLight’s Agent Match tool to get you started, so you can move quickly to your next home.

Header Image Source: (Sidekix Media / Unsplash)