Tick tock! You need to sell your house, and you have 7 days to do it. Maybe it’s a job relocation, fire damage, bad tenants, divorce, costly repairs, or a late tax bill that got you to this point. Whatever the case, you’re looking for the fastest way to unload this property.
A week is a short amount of time to accomplish any major project, least of all a task as complex as selling a house. You can’t exactly put your home on Facebook Marketplace, leave the keys on the porch, and ask the buyer to Venmo you.
However, you aren’t the first seller to need a housing market express lane, and you do have options to improve your shot at a quick sale. These include:
- Sell your house to a cash buyer for a speedy deal and quick closing.
- Work with a top agent who has a track record of timely turnarounds.
Without further ado let’s explore each option more in depth so you can make this 7-day deadline a reality.
Option #1: Sell your house to an investor for cash
When most people set out to sell their home, they immediately start thinking they need to make the house look presentable and get a for-sale sign up. However, when you have only 7 days to spare, you might need to get a little creative. In your case, the alternative route of selling for cash may be a better fit for your goals.
By eliminating lender involvement, non-traditional buyers such as house flippers, buy-and-hold investors, and iBuyers (digital home-selling platforms) can make offers on properties quickly and close in days.
With this route, you never actually list your home on the market. You skip the process of staging and showing your home and go straight to requesting an offer.
The drawback, however, is that you’ll probably take a discount on price. An investor is buying the property for business reasons and has to consider their immediate profit margins.
Myles Daniel, a real estate investor in Greenville, South Carolina, explains why his company sees sellers choosing the route of a cash offer: “We usually get calls from people that need an immediate solution. They don’t have time to wait or hope for an offer in the future. They want to get cash ASAP. Other times, they simply don’t want to deal with the headache of repairs, showings, commissions, or anything else that goes along with selling in the traditional way.”
Sound similar to you? These are the steps you’d need to take to get a cash offer:
Step 1: Get a home value estimate
It’s smart to have at least a ballpark idea of what your home is worth before you get a cash offer, and you can get an estimate conveniently on the web in just a few minutes. Opt for a platform like HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator that incorporates specific details about your home to get a more precise estimate of value.
Step 2: Request a cash offer
Most investors will provide an email, phone number, or contact form where sellers can reach them on their website. However, contacting multiple house-buying companies can be time consuming and raise concerns about whether you’re getting the best deal.
Why we recommend Simple Sale
HomeLight makes this process even easier with our Simple Sale platform, the largest cash buyer network in the U.S. Just enter your address and answer a few questions about your property, and we’ll recommend the best matches for cash buyers seeking homes in your area.
Compare against an open market sale
We let our cash buyers compete for your home, so you can get the best deal. Alongside your offer, you’ll also get an estimation of what you could fetch on the open market with a top real estate agent’s help, so you can decide if the price is to your liking.
Close within 7 days
You have no obligation to accept the offer, but if it looks good to you, you can pick your moving date and get money in your bank account within 7 days. We estimate a home’s Simple Sale price to typically be 90%-95% of a home’s market value, but it could be less depending on its overall condition.
Step 3: Review the terms of the deal
Daniel explains the importance of combing through the contract to look out for red flags, such as misleading financing loans or confusing contingencies that could leave you in the lurch. “The best advice I can give is this: read through the contract and ask for an explanation on anything you don’t understand.”
Step 4: Coordinate on the lien search or inspections
Selling a house with a lien can be another obstacle to prepare for. The following are the most common types of liens that can disrupt a deal are:
- Materialmen lien: unpaid contracting work
- HOA lien: fees related to broken rules or overdue payments
- Department of Revenue Lien: overdue tax payments
Be sure to discuss your buyer’s policies on lien scenarios, as well inspections. While many cash buyers purchase homes as is, others may request a credit for repairs found in an inspection.
Step 5: Communicate your preferred move-out day
Unlike a traditional buyer, a cash buyer is often able to give you flexibility on the move-out date because they don’t plan to live in the residence. That means if you need more time to line up your next move, you can probably negotiate that. If you’re ready to jet, you may be able to hand over the keys as soon as the ink dries.
Step 6: Close in as soon as a week or two
Closing a mortgage is one of the many time-consuming steps in the home selling process. Data from Ellie Mae shows that as of January 2021, the average time to close a purchase loan is 57 days. Eliminating this step could allow you to seal the deal in as little as 7 days.
Ready to sell for cash? Know the pros and cons
When you enter the cash offer space, keep your eyes open for scams. Before you sign any paperwork, Daniel recommends vetting your buyer by “checking them out online and asking for reviews. It’s important to know that others in the community have used their services and been happy with them.”
Working with a third party, such as HomeLight’s Simple Sale program, can also eliminate this risk. To operate on our platform, real estate buyers must have verified proof of funds. We’ll also look into their transaction history and client reviews, and check to make sure they’re a good match for your home’s condition, location, and price point.
Finally, remember that the convenience factor of this option does come at a price: and it’s often from the seller’s wallet. An investor isn’t going to be bidding based on emotion or their dreams of living in the property. They’re making a calculated business decision, and in order to provide you with the conveniences of cash, they have to account for their business risk they take on to ensure that they’ll either make money on the deal as a flip or a rental.
Other buyers will have a “service charge” associated with the transaction, which can vary, but it’s essentially the price you pay in exchange for stress-free sale.
Option #2: Recruit a top agent and make your home irresistible to the market
If the cons of a cash sale appear to outweigh the pros for you, not to worry. The tried and true approach to selling your home fast on the open market is still a viable option — especially if you’re in a hot area for real estate.
According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights report, in Q4 of 2020 46% of agents said that the bidding wars in their market were alive, well, and increasingly abundant. Aimee Anderson, a top agent who sells homes 52% quicker than the average agent in the Raleigh area shares how for one listing she had “over 90 showings, 24 offers, and one that was 33k over the list price.”
All of this is great news if you’re ready to sell in 7 days. However, if you aren’t in a hot market, to sell fast you’ll need to price more aggressively and perfect your home presentation even more to increase your selling chances.
Here’s what selling fast on the open market will take:
Step 1: Find an agent who has low days on market average
When you’re pressed for time, finding a top agent who has a laser-focused strategy, precision pricing skills, and near-superhuman qualities is all the more important. In addition to knowledge of local market conditions, agents have many tricks up their sleeves to help put some hustle in your home sale.
Here are three tactics an agent like Anderson uses to get her clients a fast offer:
- Coming soon signs: placed out in the week or so before the first showing day to generate buzz ahead of time
- Strategic advertising times: showing the home at certain times of the day to increase intrigue from prospective buyers
- Holding buyers to swift deadlines: being clear and firm on the date that buyers need to have their offers in to convey a sense of urgency in the timeline.
In your search for an agent with these qualities, one metric to check is their typical days on market (DOM). DOM tracks the time between when a house is listed and when it goes under contact with a buyer. If an agent’s average DOM is lower than average, it’s a good sign that they price homes correctly to attract quick offers and come out of the gate with a strong marketing plan for their listings.
By the way, in addition to working with cash buyers, HomeLight can also introduce you to a top real estate agent in your market with a track record of fast sales.
Step 2: Get a pre-listing inspection to get ahead of repairs
A pre-listing inspection is an inspection the seller voluntarily obtains and pays for prior to the listing, which is becoming increasingly popular for homeowners seeking to avoid potential roadblocks later on in the game.
This step may seem like a pain, but it can decrease your odds of the dreaded closing surprises, which can come in the form of lingering repairs, requests, and re-negotiations when you thought the deal was done.
A pre-listing inspection allows you to either tackle necessary repairs in advance or account for any larger problems with the home into your initial price while disclosing it upfront to buyers. This strategy will put you one step ahead, so that when you’re in the home stretch, you can move towards closing day with confidence.
Step 3: Clean and declutter your heart out
Adopting a deep-clean, minimalist mentality is crucial to boosting your home’s selling appeal. Here are a few tips to get your house ready for the market:
- Declutter to make your house a blank canvas: Decluttering adds on an average of over $2,500 in value. In addition to getting rid of the clutter, it’s important to focus on depersonalizing your home so that potential buyers can see themselves in it. Consult Homelight’s decluttering plan to find an approach that will help you get deep in the declutter zone.
- Deep clean from top to bottom: Consult HomeLight’s deep cleaning checklist to get every room in the house sparkling. You’ll need to scrub, sweep, dust, and vacuum floors and surfaces to whip your house into selling shape.
If you’re overwhelmed with home prep, hire someone to help you. Many cleaning services offer deals or coupons to help you with your deep clean, and research from HomeLight shows that deep cleaning alone adds nearly $2,000 in resale value.
Step 4: Amp up your curb appeal
Making simple improvements to the exterior of your home will increase your chances of attracting an offer quickly. Here are a few of the top curb appeal items to tend to for an instant upgrade:
- Freshen up your front door. Opt for a dark grey, charcoal, or black hue, all of which have been shown to attract buyers and increase value.
- Do some simple landscaping. Mow the lawn, plant a few flowers, trim the trees, and clean up your plant beds.
- Pull out the power wash. Get rid of the last decades’ worth of dirt and grime to reveal your fresh-faced home exterior to the world. To avoid damage caused by power washing, be sure to do your research and use the proper nozzle or hire a pro.
Step 5: Price aggressively
With your agent’s expertise and analysis of market data, you can devise a pricing strategy that will boost your shot at getting an offer within your 7-day deadline. Without much breathing room to let your house linger on the market, your agent may recommend pricing the property slightly under market value with the goal of attracting multiple offers.
Step 6: Prioritize offers with fewer contingencies, faster closing dates
Anderson explains how “you need to look at every part of the offer” to identify the least complicated and contingent-dependent deal. The fewer the contingencies, the faster you will get to closing day. If you happen to receive a cash offer in this process — it will probably be your winning bid from a speed perspective. However, it’s important to remember that if your buyer has a mortgage, the sale timeline is still dependent on the lender involved.
Take your chances on the market, or stick with cash?
Your strategy for a successful 7-day sale will depend on your circumstances. If your timeline and needs indicate that selling for cash is the right route for you, be sure to properly vet your prospective buyers to get the best value possible. And if listing on the market seems like your best bet, communicate your goals to your real estate agent so they can tailor their strategy toward speed. Selling your home in 7 days is no easy task and could require some sacrifices, but you do have options!
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