There’s a lot of advice floating around out there, and you’ll probably hear from friends, family, or neighbors about the best way to sell. Unfortunately, not all of that advice is good or accurate. When trying to sell your house fast, myths that may have once been common wisdom may be getting in the way of a quick and valuable transaction.
We broke down some of these common misconceptions and myths by speaking to experienced agents about what really works when it comes to selling a house fast in today’s market, and what doesn’t.
If your house has been on the market for a while and you’re tired of trying to sell, read on to see if you might be falling prey to some of these ‘sell your house fast’ myths!
We are seeing a record low inventory, but we are also seeing price reductions. Not every property gets multiple offers or sells overnight.
- Rick Ruiz Real Estate AgentCloseRick Ruiz Real Estate Agent at GK Properties
- Years of Experience 20
- Transactions 1176
- Average Price Point $238k
- Single Family Homes 978
“Every listing means a bidding war, regardless of the home’s condition”
Myth: With housing shortages in nearly every region of the U.S. and with so many motivated buyers, you can almost guarantee that listing your home will bring an immediate bidding war and a strong likelihood of selling for well over the asking price, even if your house is dated or needs work.
Truth: While most agents will agree that the market has changed quite a bit in the last two years, this doesn’t mean that every house listed will automatically have multiple buyers vying for it. According to HomeLight’s 2021 Q3 agent insights report, top agents say that entering 2022, there has been a decline in bidding wars as the housing market stabilized.
There are still specific factors that can impact a home’s value, and you can’t necessarily get away with avoiding all repairs or improvements.
Veteran Las Vegas agent Rick Ruiz, who sells properties more than 49% faster than the average agent in his area, says that while bidding wars aren’t uncommon these days, not every house will get multiple offers or sell overnight. “We are seeing a record low inventory, but we are also seeing price reductions,” he says. “Not every property gets multiple offers or sells overnight.”
Ruiz says that while a house doesn’t have to be in perfect condition to sell, it’s important to remember that most buyers are still going to be going through a mortgage lender, and those lenders may have certain requirements that must be met to finance the sale.
“Safety conditions are key,” he says. “A house must have a functional heater and air conditioner, and the exterior of the home needs to be in good condition. When the appraiser comes in, if they find something that a seller isn’t willing to cure, that can delay time on the market.”
For Pennsylvania agent Cathy Wanserski, who works with over 68% more single family homes than the average agent in her area, decluttering and fresh paint are two of the main things she advises sellers. “You can’t just do nothing to a house and expect it to sell in a day,” she says. “Sellers still have to declutter, and while you think it might be okay to have different colors of paint in every room, it really should all be neutral.”
The takeaway: Don’t assume that a hot market means an immediate sale, or that you can skip out on any required repairs, cleaning or updating the home.
“Open houses are a thing of the past”
Myth: The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant open houses went by the wayside, and nowadays, most buyers prefer to do their house hunting online.
Truth: Depending on the market in your area, open houses can still be a viable way to bring buyers in, and can even help streamline the selling process.
Wanserski says that even though many buyers are choosing to shop primarily online, she still hosts open houses for her listings. “It’s a good way to pick up buyers in this market,” she says.
Ruiz agrees, noting “I know if I put a new listing up on a Friday, I’m likely to have a lot of people wanting to look over the weekend, so why wouldn’t I have an open house?”
Ruiz says that open houses can help streamline things and can provide more access, allowing the seller to also potentially be able to avoid having multiple individual showings. “It creates efficiency,” he says. “We notice a lot of people, especially buyers, who feel more comfortable going to an open house and being able to see the house for themselves without having to set up a showing. And it can both qualify and disqualify buyers, since they get a chance to come in and look around, see if the house works for them.”
The takeaway: Open houses are still a thing, and depending on your area, you may want to see about having your agent host one or two to see if it hastens your home sale.
“For sale by owner (FSBO) can save you money”
Myth: If you sell your house on your own, you won’t have to pay that real estate agent commission, which can save you thousands of dollars!
Truth: According to data collected by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the average FSBO listing sold for nearly $60,000 less in 2020 than agent assisted sales. Selling on your own might seem like a good idea, but hiring a reputable agent may mean more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
That agent commission can seem like a big chunk of money when you get ready to list your home, which might tempt you to go the FSBO route. All you have to do is put up a few photos online and stick a “for sale” sign in the front yard, right?
Selling a house successfully takes a fair amount of work. First, you’ll need to assess your home’s value. You could go online and see what those free valuation calculators say, but those aren’t necessarily accurate for your specific house (more on that later) and listing your house for the wrong price could slow down your sale by weeks or even months.
Then you need to market your home, highlighting what buyers might be looking for. Ask yourself, do you even know what buyers in your area are looking for? Oh, and if you want to do an open house, that’s on you. So is setting up showings, negotiating the sale, and lots and lots of paperwork.
And while you might save money on the listing agent commission, unless you and your buyer agree to do the transaction without an agent at all, you’re probably still going to have to pay their agent’s commission.
Sounds kind of daunting, doesn’t it?
Before you decide to sell your house yourself, make sure you fully understand the process and what it involves. You might save money on the agent commission, but you’ll have the added stress and responsibility of doing all the legwork yourself, and you could end up making less money on the sale. Working with an agent not only helps reduce the stress of selling, it can actually mean more money in your pocket, even after paying commissions.
The takeaway: There’s a reason why most sellers opt to go with an agent – FSBO doesn’t always mean a big savings!
“That online automated valuation you found for your house is accurate”
Myth: Trying to figure out what your house is worth? Just plug some basic information into one of the many online valuation sites out there to determine your home’s value!
Truth: Automated valuation models (AVMs) estimates can vary widely, as each site may use different data methods to estimate what a house is worth. While valuable for getting a sense of home values in your area generally, these valuation models don’t always take into account any unique aspects of your property, such as neighborhood, proximity to schools or amenities, and home improvements.
This is where help from an agent can make all the difference. Before listing your home, your agent will most likely provide you with a comparative market analysis, or CMA. They will review data from homes that recently sold in your area, using the sales from those houses most similar to yours to calculate a proposed listing price.
An experienced agent also understands how to tweak the sales price based on less tangible factors, such as walkability or if the house is on a busy street. “Too many people are overpricing their listings, which creates unrealistic expectations,” says Ruiz.
While you should never confuse an online valuation with a CMA or an actual appraisal, if you want to at least get an idea of your home’s value when you start thinking about selling, HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator can be a good place to start.
It not only uses multiple sources to gather information for a home value estimate, it includes a questionnaire that allows you to provide more detailed information specific to your property, which can help you find out a closer estimate on what your home is really worth. From there, we’ll connect you with a top local agent in your area to start the ball rolling.
The takeaway: Online valuations can vary greatly, so you shouldn’t rely solely on these numbers when determining your listing price. Some, like HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator, thread the needle by analyzing local real estate data and using the information you provide about your unique home.
“One real estate agent is as good as another”
Myth: Finding an agent is as simple as doing a google search in your area. Experience levels tend to be the same across the board, and just about any agent will do.
Truth: Not all agents are created equal, and as a seller, you want someone with expertise in both your particular housing market and the type of home you’re selling. For example, a condo might be marketed differently than a single family home, so having an agent who specializes in a particular type of property can be a big advantage.
You’ll want to talk to a few different agents in your area, and treat it almost like a job interview. Does the agent know your neighborhood? How many homes have they sold this year? Are they readily available to talk to you, or does it take them a while to respond to emails or texts?
These are all things you need to consider before choosing an agent, because hiring someone who doesn’t have the level of experience you need can affect how long it takes to sell your house.
You also want an agent who is willing to be honest with you about what your home is worth, and can give you accurate data on what kind of price to set. An agent who is new, or doesn’t know the market, might be a “yes-person” who goes with whatever price a seller wants, as opposed to someone who will help you list your home to sell quickly.
Ruiz says that if a house isn’t selling, overpricing could be the reason behind it. “Sometimes an inexperienced agent might take on a listing that is priced outside of the market,” says Ruiz.
When shopping for an agent, HomeLight’s Agent Finder is one way to streamline the process. You’ll connect with agents who know your area and are willing to go above and beyond, all at no cost to you. The process is as quick as a few keystrokes on your computer, and you’ll receive agent matches in just minutes!
The takeaway: Hiring an experienced agent is probably the most important part of the selling process if you want to sell your home fast.
“Professional photos are a waste of money”
Myth: Your smart phone has a perfectly good camera, it’s easier to use it for pictures, and buyers don’t really look that closely at photos anyway — do they?
Truth: With more and more buyers doing at least their initial house hunting online, good photos can make a huge difference in bringing in top dollar for your home.
“First impressions are still everything,” says Ruiz. “And due to people now being comfortable purchasing remotely, that’s an even bigger catch. If you have sub-par photos, you aren’t going to interest anyone.” He adds that sellers not only need professional photos, they need a strong online presence that includes 3-D tours and floor plans.
Wanserski says that sellers also need to keep in mind that once a listing is on the MLS, they often trickle down to other sites, and having good photos is one of the best ways to showcase the home remotely.
Amateur photographers also forget about another important thing: proper lighting. “Lighting is something I always discuss with sellers,” says Wanserski. “If there isn’t good lighting, a buyer might not be interested.”
The takeaway: Get those professional photos if you want your home to sell quickly!
“An empty house sells faster”
Myth: An empty house not only helps give buyers an idea of how they can put their personal stamp on a new home, it shows that the house is ‘move in ready’ and they don’t have to wait for the seller to move out.
Truth: Again, this will depend on your market, and the type of home you’re selling. Some types of properties do sell faster if they are vacant, some don’t. And the type of buyer you’re attracting can also be a factor.
“If it’s a luxury listing, it’s better to stage the home,” says Ruiz. “But if the house is at or below market value, vacant usually helps. We have a lot of investors buying right now, and they know they can rent the house out quickly if it’s empty.”
Sellers should also keep in mind that when it comes to a closing date, a low-inventory market can mean they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to vacating the house. “I would say that sellers can write their own ticket in regards to when they want to close,” says Wanserski. “Sometimes as a condition of the sale, we can allow the seller to stay in the home free of charge for a couple months.”
The takeaway: As long as your house is clean and uncluttered, you probably don’t need to worry too much about it being completely empty before you list it.
“List your house in spring or summer for a quick sale”
Myth: Selling in spring or summer has long been considered the most optimum time to sell, as that’s when the kids are out of school and families are most likely to move.
Truth: While this used to be true, seasonality doesn’t seem to affect home sales as much these days.
Says Wanserski, “Our 2021 spring market started in January, and ended earlier.” She adds that while spring is often a good time to list, as there can often be an influx of buyers, the holidays definitely shouldn’t be discounted. Buyers will sometimes start their house hunt during the holiday season, with the anticipation that there might be less competition for homes.
Ruiz explains, “Seasonality is now out the window. We saw no seasonality at all in 2020, it was actually busier around the holidays. Here in Las Vegas, we already had people moving here for the climate and it being a tax-friendly state, and now that more people can work remotely, it’s created an exodus from crowded metropolitan areas like the Bay Area or New York City.”
According to an NAR report, there were nearly four offers on every home sold during the month of February in 2021, and homes were selling within about 20 days. Low housing inventory in most regions means that buyers are shopping year-round, which is good news for sellers.
The takeaway: While selling in spring or summer is never a bad idea, winter weather doesn’t mean your house won’t sell right away.
“Selling to an iBuyer means less money for you”
Myth: When you sell to an iBuyer, you’re immediately losing a huge percentage of your potential sale, not to mention removing any possibility of a bidding war.
Truth: While it is true that you won’t attract a bidding war with an iBuyer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re walking away with less money. Selling to an iBuyer can mean a much faster sale, and you don’t have to do costly repairs or updates to the property. Plus, iBuyers often offer close to market value for your home, though depending on the company you work with, fees may vary.
You’ve probably seen the ads on television and online about entities that buy homes for cash, and dismissed them as one of those “too good to be true” deals. But the iBuyer market has grown extensively in recent years, and has become a viable option for many sellers.
Programs like HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform offers a quick sale on your home, without the hassles of a traditional agent-assisted sale. HomeLight maximizes your sale with a competitive offer, and you’ll be able to sell your house in a matter of weeks, not months. We also buy your house ‘as-is’, meaning you can skip the prep work and repairs.
Maybe you need to sell your house fast so you can relocate for work, or maybe your house needs work that you really can’t afford. Selling to an iBuyer can save you time, as well as money on expensive repairs.
The takeaway: Using an iBuyer can be a quick and easy way to sell your house.
The final takeaway
While much of the real estate advice you receive can be helpful, don’t blindly adhere to myths and misconceptions that could cost you time, money, or the entire sale. A top real estate agent can help you dispel some of these real estate fables, and keep you on track for the fast home sale you want and deserve!
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