Sell your house, move long distance, and start a new job all at once. Hear that? Oh, it’s the sound of the stress richter scale imploding.
This is an exciting time no doubt, but before you can tackle work projects with gusto and become besties with your coworkers, you’ve got to deal with this ball and chain (erhm, the house you enthusiastically bought a few years ago), head on. That’s not to mention the million planning details that go into pulling off a challenging move.
Real estate experts who know how to get a home on and off the market fast recommend a game plan (which we’ll lay out here) to sell your home for a job relocation tailored to your timeline with efficiencies built into every step of the way.
Don’t sweat: there’s a new city, incredible career opportunity, stinky communal office fridge and desk with your name on it all waiting for you…you just need to get there in time for your start date.
Ask your employer about job relocation assistance
If your new employer hasn’t mentioned relocation benefits, now’s the time to ask about them!
Put on your negotiator hat, and get ready to talk numbers. According to an Atlas Van Lines survey of 408 relocation professionals, 9 of 10 companies reimburse or pay some relocation costs for their employees.
What’s included in a relocation package? You may have options, including coverage for:
- Costs of travel
- Shipment of belongings to your new residence
- Professional movers
- Temporary housing/rentals
- Costs associated with selling your old home and buying a new one
- It’s unlikely—but some employers pursuing high-level recruits will even offer to buy your house after getting an appraisal of its fair market value
Start by inquiring about what’s available for relocation assistance, and negotiate a package just like you would your salary. Accepting your new position doesn’t have to be contingent upon relocation benefits, but you can include them in discussions about compensation.
Even if your employer doesn’t have a formal relocation policy, bring a proposal to the table with specific dollar amounts for what your move is likely to cost. This is when calculating your anticipated moving expenses is a good idea, especially if your employer is offering any assistance upfront.
Moving costs vary drastically depending on how much stuff you have, the distance of your move, which moving services you need, and the time of year. According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the cost of a full-service move can range between $550-$12,000.
Use this online moving costs calculator to get an estimate, and keep track of every expense and receipt associated with the move (this will also come in handy for tax season, and we’ll explain that more below).
If your turnaround time is tight, you may have extra leverage with your employer. Do your research and get an offer from your company in writing.
Schedule out movers for your job relocation the moment know your start date
Once you’ve agreed to a start date, you’ve got a hard moving deadline to meet. The earlier you can schedule out professional moving help, the better (now’s not the time to try and DIY all the heavy lifting). Movers book up fast, especially in the summer months.
According to move.org, the best interstate moving companies are:
- Best Interstate Moving & Storage, whose reps act as your advocates as you navigate between different companies within its network
- Allied, which is known for its in-home moving estimates and customer service
- northAmerican Moving Services, which stands out for its online experience (and has good customer service, but it’s not as strong as the first two, according to move.org)
When you interview movers, be sure to ask them about their liability coverage (what happens if they damage any of your belongings?) and check their license here.
Decision time: How will you sell your house so you can relocate for a job?
Remember when you were a wee little renter and could just break a lease, pick up your stuff and go? Ahh, those were the days.
You’ll be glad, though, to get that nice windfall of cash from your home sale, once you get past the logistical challenge of selling it on a tight timeline. To do that, you’ve got a couple of options:
1. Hire a top real estate agent with a reputation for speed
If you’re in a hurry, a real estate agent with a proven record of selling homes quickly can be a godsend.
The top 5% of real estate agents sell homes at least 10 days faster (and for $100,000 more) than the average agent, according to HomeLight data. That’s because they can read the market, price a home to sell, whip a home into shape, and bring buyers to the sale through their massive network.
HomeLight gathers real estate transaction data to identify these top performing real estate agents all over the country based on their actual transaction history.
Carey Lambert, a top real estate agent with more than 20 years of experience in the Greater New Orleans area, says that sellers on short timelines have to focus on issues that are likely to turn buyers off immediately and fix them up for showings.
“Homes are very personal to people,” she says. “They may like loud colors whereby the market doesn’t. It doesn’t respond well to that, so things of that nature, I would go through with the homeowner and try to remove any objections that might be in the home,” to get the home sold fast.
Ready to find your real estate rockstar? Just enter the address of the house you’re selling, and we’ll crunch the numbers and match you with two to three top agents who are objectively proven to successfully sell homes in your area similar to yours faster than other agents in the same area.
Find an Agent Who Sells Homes Fast
Need to sell your house quickly for a job? HomeLight identifies real estate agents who are objectively proven to sell homes like yours faster.
With an agent managing the logistics of your sale, you can focus on getting packed and ready for your big move.
2. Sell to an investor for a quick buyout
Marketing, staging, showings… you look at your calendar and think, there’s no time for any of that!
If you’re operating on a crazy two to three week timeline (or tighter!) to get to that new job, you’re looking for a fast, no fuss home sale. In that case, you could sell your home to an investor and potentially close in days.
Companies like Opendoor, Offerpad, Redfin and even Zillow now buy property directly from homeowners (then fix them up and put them back on the market).
In general, you should expect to get less on your home than you would if you were to sell the traditional way with a top real estate agent. You’re trading a cut to your bottom line for the guarantee of speed and convenience, but in the case of selling for a job relocation, this might be a deal you’re gladly willing to make.
Tips for speeding up your home sale
Get the price right so your listing doesn’t linger
It’s important to work closely with your agent to price your home. Agents have deep knowledge of how other properties are selling in your neighborhood as well as buyer preferences and other area characteristics like schools, restaurants, and walkability.
The first thing they’ll do is prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA), which looks at similar properties around your home to determine an initial asking price. A CMA will include data points like:
- Your location, taking into account factors like major freeways and railroad tracks that divide neighborhoods
- Sales data for properties sold within the last 6 months to 3 years, (Lambert looks at sold homes, active listings, properties under contract, and expired listings when she puts together CMAs for her clients)
- Size, particularly focused on homes that are within 200 square feet of your home’s size
It’s critical to price your home right from the get-go if you’re in a hurry. Overprice, and you might see your home languish on the market for weeks. Price it correctly, and you’ll create a sense of urgency among buyers and avoid the dreaded price reduction months down the line—after you’ve already moved.
Lambert notes that buyers who are looking at multiple properties will know if yours is overpriced.
“Price it to sell,” says Lambert. “Don’t play around. If you want to be in the market, you have to be in the market.”
Thoughtful pricing is key to speed, efficiency, and getting what you ask for.
Get rid of the clutter to sell fast (and so you have less stuff to move)
Buyers who come in for showings won’t be thrilled to trip over piles shoes in your entryway or to find stacks of old magazines on your kitchen counter and baskets of unfolded laundry in your bedroom.
Clutter hides the awesome features in your home that you want buyers to see. In fact, a messy house is likely to turn off buyers and cost you a significant amount off your sale price—the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that a step as simple as cleaning and decluttering could up your asking price by 3-5%!
Yes, your home contains your personal belongings. But that doesn’t mean everything you own needs to be on display. The key, especially when you’re short on time, is to focus on decluttering a little bit in all open areas and storage spaces. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make a list. Go room by room and write down 3 to 5 tasks to tackle in each.
- Come prepared with garbage bags (for trash) and boxes or bins to fill with items you wish to keep or donate. Don’t be afraid to toss items you don’t want or need (hello, 5 years’ worth of magazine back issues) as well as expired food, toiletries, and household products.
- Use your decluttering process as an opportunity to start packing.
- Make use of drawers and cabinets. Put knick-knacks and personal items, such as cosmetics and kitchen gadgets, neatly out of sight.
- Turn on a great podcast, playlist, or binge-worthy TV show.
Countertops, mantles, coffee tables, and shelves tend to collect clutter. Even if these spots are filled with decorations or meaningful items, trim down to give the impression of more minimal decor.
Call in professional cleaning pros if you need them
Even if you don’t have time to make major upgrades to your home before it goes on the market, a little bit of elbow grease goes a long way. Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to clean! Again, if cleaning isn’t your favorite pastime, keep in mind that a little bit of effort can have a big impact on buyers.
“A home doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, but it does have to be clean,” says Lambert.
Before you start, collect any supplies you need, including paper towels, sponges, a mop, and products for special surfaces like granite or wood. From there, make another room-by-room list of tasks to tackle. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Scrub down surfaces—countertops, shelves, and on top of and inside kitchen appliances and your refrigerator.
- Freshen up bathrooms, including toilets, sinks, and tubs, with disinfectant, and use glass cleaner on mirrors and shower doors.
- Empty all trash cans.
- Wash linens and small rugs.
- Tackle dusting, vacuuming, and mopping last and in one fell swoop—otherwise, you’ll have to circle back on the dirt and grime you uncover as you deep clean each room.
If you’re on a really tight timeline and devoting a day or two to cleaning doesn’t make it onto your to-do list, bring in a cleaning service. Ask your real estate agent for a recommendation — they are likely to have a long list of trusted professionals who can make your home spotless and showing-ready in no time.
“You never go with the cheapest person,” Lambert says. “You want quality when it comes to marketing your home, you definitely want quality. We need expediency in a short timeline, definitely. You can’t always get good, fast, and cheap. You may have to pay a little more, but it will be worth it in the long run.”
You can also ask friends and neighbors for a referral or, if you can’t find anyone, use one of the following trusted online resources:
Houzz connects homeowners with more than 2 million professionals for projects ranging from painting to landscaping to tree removal. At the time of writing, there were more than 21,000 house cleaning services available across the country. When you visit Houzz’s website and navigate to the cleaning services page (under the Find Professionals heading), you’ll enter your location and the radius in which you want to search. From there, you can narrow down to specific services—rug cleaning and floor polishing, for example—read reviews, and get contact information for service providers. If you need exterior cleaning or companies that specialize in carpets and upholstery, you can search for those, too.
- Angie’s List:
One of the hardest parts of hiring professional services is knowing that they’ll do a good job. Angie’s List has more than 10 million verified reviews of service providers in areas like roofing, plumbing, and landscaping. To read reviews from real customers and connect with companies listed, you’ll have to sign up for a free account.
Stage key spaces to get a quick offer
Thoughtful staging helps buyers see your house as their future home. With limited time, focus on staging a few key spaces.
You don’t necessarily need to bring in a professional stager to do this for you. Talk to your real estate agent about whether this is right for you and to get a recommendation if you decide to move forward.
Highlighting the best elements of your home and having beautiful listing photos can result in your home selling more quickly and for more money.
Tend to your curb appeal to attract buyers
Lambert notes that while staging matters and cleanliness is critical, sellers should always start with the home’s exterior. Tidy up overgrown landscaping, fix up peeling paint, and clean porches—anything that is visible from the front of the house.
“Usually buyers will go do a drive-by first,” she says. “The home has to look great from the outside.”
Tackle any issues that would come up in the home inspection head on
The next step is to address any mechanical issues that may come up during an inspection, like servicing the air conditioning and heating systems.
Consider getting a pre-inspection before you list your home to address any issues that could pose a health or safety risk. You will have to disclose the results of the inspection to buyers, but it could save you from lengthy repair negotiations between contract and close.
Clever packing tips for a speedy move
Packing for a weekend trip is hard—packing your whole house for a last-minute move is even harder! But not to worry.
Once you’ve done the work of decluttering, cleaning, staging, and selling, packing is the last big checklist item between you and your move. Here are a few ways to make it easier:
Get rid of anything you don’t need
Depending on how long you’ve lived in your house, you’ve likely collected a lot of “stuff.” When you decluttered, you probably threw out old magazines, broken appliances, empty containers, and tchotchkes that you no longer want—great work! Now it’s time for another round of purging anything you don’t need. Less stuff equals fewer things to pack, which is a win-win.
As you start to pack, divide your belongings into keep, donate, and toss piles. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to things you haven’t used in years, forgot you had, or have outgrown. You have a few options for what to do with your donate and toss piles:
- Call a junk removal service.
These companies will come to your home and take out everything from bags of trash to old furniture to broken electronics and throw away or donate these items. You can find providers on Houzz—make sure you ask how much the service costs, what they will collect, and get a written estimate.
- Donate items to local organizations.
The Salvation Army will pick up from your home. Habitat for Humanity collects furniture donations, or you can take a truckload of goods to Goodwill. Call your local library and schools for book donations. Take old linens to your an animal shelter. A quick Google search of “where to donate X” will likely give you options for local charities that accept donations.
- Hold a yard sale.
An old-school yard sale, complete with handwritten signs posted around the neighborhood, can be a great way to get rid of usable items you simply don’t want to pack or haul to a donation center. You can also list your belongings on sites like Craigslist or use apps like Letgo.
Instead of adding to a dumpster, consider recycling. Take items to your local recycling or refuse center, and recycle your old electronics at home and office supply stores or by sending them back to manufacturers.
Set up a packing station
Designate one room in your house for packing—the guest room or an empty corner of your living room, for example.
Collect boxes in various sizes, packing tape, markers, and supplies like newspaper and bubble wrap, and keep these items contained to your packing station.
Label and stack full boxes in this space as you go. This way, you won’t be tripping over boxes all over your house, and you’ll always know where to find those Sharpies.
Use materials you already have on hand
You don’t need to buy dozens of cardboard boxes or plastic bins that you’ll just toss when you unpack in your new home. Use items you already own:
- Stuff soft, bulky items like bedding and pillows—anything that won’t break, really—in giant trash bags, which can then be wedged among larger items in your truck.
- Wrap dish rags around pots and pans before placing them in boxes, and use towels around lamps and artwork and in lieu of moving pads.
- Fill dresser drawers with clothes, and pack in suitcases and duffel bags.
Hire packing help as needed
Professional packers can be lifesavers if you have a lot to pack and very little time. Like hiring a cleaning service, it’s best to ask for a referral from someone you trust or use a comparison service that provides independent reviews of several companies. Here are a few to try:
- Thumbtack: Like Houzz and Angie’s List, Thumbtack connects individuals with professionals offering everything from photography to dog walking—and, of course, packing services. Enter your desired service and your ZIP code to get free estimates, see prices, read a few of Thumbtack’s 3 million customer reviews, and schedule appointments.
- Move.org: Most major moving companies also provide packing (and unpacking!) services. If you’re going with a professional mover, you can add packing into your package. Move.org reviews and compares moving companies based on what they offer, customer service experience, and cost, and you can request a free quote directly from the reviews.
You can expect to pay between $20 and $50 per hour per mover for packing services—up to $400 hourly. If you’re in a hurry, this is likely to be a worthwhile investment so you can devote your energy to other tasks.
Tax Advantage of the Job Relocation Tax Breaks
It’s true—moving can impact what you owe Uncle Sam, in a good way! If you hire an accountant to file your taxes, make sure to tell them if you’ve moved in the last year so they can determine whether you’re eligible for certain deductions and exclusions. If you do your own taxes (more power to you!) here’s what you need to know.
Capital Gains Exclusion 101
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) won’t require you to pay taxes on up to $250,000 of capital gain from the sale of your home—up to $500,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. You qualify if:
- You owned your home
- You used it as your primary residence for at least 2 of the past 5 years
- You haven’t already used the benefit on a home sale in the last 2 years
If you sell your house and make less than $250,000 ($500,000 if you’re married), you likely won’t need to report the sale on your taxes. If you live in a more competitive market where home selling prices are much higher, you can exclude up to the threshold. You’ll then pay taxes on the remaining profit from the sale.
Even if you don’t meet all three criteria for the capital gains exclusion, you may still be eligible for a reduced exclusion when moving for a new job.
This will likely apply if your new job is at least 50 miles farther from your home than your old job and you changed jobs while you still owned your home and used it as your primary residence.
The IRS provides a worksheet to help you determine the exclusion for which you are eligible.
Selling Your Home Fast for a Job Relocation
When you need to relocate quickly for a job, your top concern is balancing speed and efficiency with getting the best deal. And if you price your home right from the get-go and prepare your space to attract the best buyers, you’re more likely to have a smooth sale.
Sell your current home at lightning speed without compromising your profits or overspending on the move itself—new job, new city, new home, here you come!