Nowadays, a large part of selling a home happens online. In fact, 95% of homebuyers use online tools to search for their next house. So whether you’re partnering with a real estate agent or handling the sale on your own, using the Internet like a pro will get you the information you need to sell your home online.
As with any introduction, first impressions matter. The average online attention span is about eight seconds, so your listing really needs to grab a potential buyer’s attention with great photos and an enticing description. Despite this challenge, selling your house online or using online tools in the process lets sellers understand their home’s worth, reach potential buyers, find top-performing agents, and even sell their homes quickly for a competitive cash offer.
In this article, we’ll cover three home sale options:
- Selling with a top real estate agent
- Selling “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO)
- Selling to a cash buyer
- Developing a marketing strategy to sell your house online
We’ll give you some real estate marketing tips on how to prepare your house for online sale. And for even more great pointers, we caught up with Kurtis Becker, top realtor with Coldwell Banker in Kona, Hawaii.
Sell your house online with a top real estate agent
Most home sellers — 90%, in fact — partner with a real estate agent to help with their home sale. And although finding the best agent to sell your house might sound like a daunting task, there are online resources that have made finding a great agent easier than in your parents’ day.
HomeLight’s agent matching platform, for instance, matches sellers with potential agents who have a track record of success in their market. Sellers are empowered with information including how quickly agents have sold homes in the past and how much they sell homes for compared to area norms.
Agents keep up-to-date on the latest tech-enhanced trends in real estate to help their clients market their homes. Online listings need to grab prospective buyers’ attention, so they have to stand out. Top agents can arrange professional photography, drone flyovers, and 3D tours to give your house listing an edge over similar properties.
They’ll even create paid marketing campaigns. According to Becker, “most realtors will just put it on MLS and wait for the buyer to come to them.” However, Becker has found that including “online social media marketing, paid YouTube and Google ads, and specialized keywords” draw more attention to his listings.
- You get professional expertise from your top agent, including strategies that work best for buyers house hunting online.
- An agent who specializes in your area can provide insight on prospective buyers, neighborhood dynamics, and local real estate trends and highlight these in your online description.
- Top agents have access to the best inspectors and other professionals, so you’ll have peace of mind that your pre-sale inspection will be professional and thorough.
- Selling your house the traditional way by working with a realtor takes time. As of November 2021, the average timeline was 71 days from listing to closing.
- Your agent’s commission will come out of your sale profits.
Sell your house online as “For Sale By Owner”
The internet is a great resource for all kinds of information — including buying and selling real estate. Having easy access to online home selling resources has empowered and enabled homeowners to an unprecedented degree.
Because of this, some sellers opt to try their hand at selling their house online and forgo an agent, attempting “For Sale By Owner,” or ‘FSBO,’ for short. There’s a certain freedom that comes with being in charge of your entire sales process.
However, it’s not exactly a popular home sale method, and often for good reason. In fact, only 7% of recent home sales were FSBO. This is partially due to the time and effort it requires. FSBO is a big project, so only take this on if you’re truly ready for a challenge.
- You can still list on the MLS for great visibility.
- You have total control over the sale.
- You don’t have to pay a real estate agent’s commission, which averages around 6%, typically split evenly between the listing agent and buyer’s agent. However, as the seller you’ll still probably have to cover the buyer’s agent’s commission.
- Marketing your home is all on you. You’ll have to create eye-catching content and spread it across the Internet without a real estate agent’s help and expertise.
- FSBO takes a lot of time. Real estate agents earn their commissions by maintaining online listings, coordinating showings, and communicating with potential buyers. If you sell your house on your own, you’ll have to set aside plenty of time to dedicate to the sales process.
- You could lose money on your sale. On average, FSBO homes sold for approximately $260,000 in 2021 — much lower than the average price of $318,000 for agent-involved sales.
- You could put yourself at legal risk. A lot of documents in the selling process, such as a purchase agreement, are legally binding. Having an experienced, professional agent helps you avoid legal landmines. Consider working with a real estate attorney if you go this route.
Sell your house quickly to a cash buyer
The internet hasn’t only opened up the FSBO world. It also provides you with the ability to sell your house for cash directly to an investment buyer. This is a relatively new home sale method that accounts for a small but growing portion of real estate transactions. In the third quarter of 2021, direct buyers only accounted for about 1.6% of real estate sales in the United States.
Selling your house in this manner is a more streamlined process than a traditional sale, and you can often close in weeks rather than months. Traditional real estate sales involve finding an agent, staging your home, and vacating for showings and open houses. Investment buyers are looking for fast transactions and tend to pay cash for your home, sometimes sight unseen.
For people looking to cash out quickly, the Internet has enabled new, simple options. For instance, HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform helps you get a competitive cash offer quickly. It just takes a moment to answer a few simple questions about your home
Sometimes it can make a lot of sense to move quickly rather than going through the time and effort to find the highest possible bidder. In fact, according to a recent survey, 77% of sellers would consider taking 5% to 10% less for a faster and easier selling experience.
- It’s convenient since you don’t have to prepare your home for sale or showings. Some investment buyers will purchase your home without even visiting the property or sending an inspector.
- In some cases, you can sell your home entirely online.
- Direct sales can happen quickly, so it’s an intriguing option if you want to sell your house fast.
- Many direct sales happen without a real estate agent, avoiding certain costs.
- Direct buyers want a good deal. In exchange for a fast sale, you might have to settle for a lower price than you’d get from a traditional sale.
- There’s not much room for negotiation.
Develop a marketing strategy to sell your house online
If you decide to list your home FSBO, you’ll want to create a marketing strategy. Smart marketing includes keeping up with trends and creating a killer listing with stunning photos and a strong, detailed description of the house.
One of the biggest trends you’ll find is that online sales have led to a new and sometimes contactless method of real estate. In fact, in Becker’s experience, some buyers purchase homes without actually seeing the property in person. “They’re putting in offers online” he says, “but there’s a large percentage that aren’t even coming over” to see a house with their own eyes.
That means it’s more important than ever to smartly market your house listing. And an eye-catching listing starts with great photography. Realtors spend about 30% more time getting impressive photos than they spend on other marketing efforts. Your listing pictures need to excite and entice prospective buyers to learn more about the house. So spruce up your indoor and outdoor living spaces and hire a great photographer!
Once you have fantastic photos, you’ll need to write a captivating and creative listing description. Tell the house’s story and help your buyer picture themselves in your home. In Becker’s words, “you have to look at it through the buyer’s eyes and not your own.”
Selling your house online is a great and easy way to go!
Gone are the days of homebuyers driving through neighborhoods looking for open houses. Instead, they’re searching for — and finding — their next house online. And thanks to myriad online tools, it’s easier than ever before to sell your house online. Regardless of which sales method you choose, the Internet can help you sell more easily than you ever thought imaginable.
Header Image Source: (Pickawood / Unsplash)
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- "How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?," Josephine Nesbit (January 2022)
- "What's Happened to Our Attention Spans During the Pandemic?," Psychology Today (March 2021)
- "What Is an iBuyer?," nerdwallet (November 2021)