Selling a House ‘As Is’ in Washington State
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Valerie Kalfrin Contributing AuthorCloseValerie Kalfrin Contributing Author
Valerie Kalfrin is a multiple award-winning journalist, film and fiction fan, and creative storyteller with a knack for detailed, engaging stories.
Caroline Feeney Executive EditorCloseCaroline Feeney Executive Editor
Caroline Feeney is HomeLight's Executive Editor / Director of Content. With 7 years of real estate reporting and editing experience, she previously managed content for Inman News and co-authored a book on real estate leadership. The Midwest native holds a master's from the Missouri School of Journalism and was formerly a real estate contributor for Forbes.
At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.
Selling your Washington home “as is”? Whether you’ve got a fixer-upper or recently inherited a relative’s home, you’ve likely decided that the goal is to skip repairs, get a fair offer, and move on.
“Some people have a lot more time and energy to engage and make the best of the sale, and some people don’t,” says George Graham, a top real estate agent in the Seattle, Washington, area. An as-is home sale often indicates that the home has some “big-ticket items” that won’t pass the required inspection or appraisal, he adds.
Listing a house “as is” may attract lower offers and limit your prospects, and it doesn’t always prevent buyers from trying to negotiate savings.
However, in today’s real estate market, Washington sellers may be pleasantly surprised by current prices. Graham, for example, recently sold a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Olympia that went for roughly 47% above asking price, despite having uncooperative tenants.
Let’s take a closer look at how to sell a house in Washington State, your options for getting an offer, and what to expect from the process.
Fast facts about selling a house ‘as is’ in Washington
|Median sales price in Washington State||$638,000 (March 2022)|
|Median days on market for Washington||4 days|
|Disclosures||Seller Disclosure Statement. Individual counties may have additional requirements.|
|MLS has field to mark a listing “as is”?||Not in Northwest MLS, the largest MLS in the region; agents instead will include “as is” in the property notes.|
|Is a real estate attorney required?||Real estate attorneys are not considered essential for closing in the state of Washington, but it may be advisable to hire one.|
|Real estate transfer taxes?||1.28%|
Sources: NWMLS March 2022 market snapshot
What does ‘as is’ mean in real estate?
“As is” is a type of home sale where it’s understood that no improvements will be made to the property. When selling a house “as is,” the seller is choosing not to entertain requests from buyers to complete repairs or provide a credit for fixes.
An as-is sale may also indicate that the functionality and longevity of certain components of the home, such as a stove on its last legs or an older roof, is not guaranteed.
When selling a house “as is,” the general condition of the property should already be accounted for in the purchase price of the home to the best of the seller’s knowledge.
Graham says he frequently calculates the after-repair value (or ARV) of an as-is sale to arrive at a list price. Investors typically offer no more than 70% of a property’s ARV for a house they plan to flip. So if a property needs repairs, subtract those estimated costs from that 70%.
Which types of homes are sold ‘as is’?
Homes sold “as is” often need some work or may be cosmetically outdated. It’s not a label you’re likely to put on a listing in pristine, move-in-ready condition. “As is” sales often attract investors searching for their next flip or buyers seeking a bargain, perhaps on a home in a great location with lots of potential.
A property Graham sold in Olympia, Washington had 1,299 square feet of livable space on a lot of 7,200 square feet. Because it was built in 1984, Graham said he figured repairs and updates would cost at least $100,000.
The owner of the Olympia property needed to sell because he’d moved out of state. Unfortunately, he hadn’t drafted a proper lease agreement or screened the tenants thoroughly before they’d moved in, Graham says. Once they stopped paying rent, he had more of a headache than an investment.
The seller knew that the attic and crawlspace insulation had been upgraded, but the tenants, although not hostile, wouldn’t allow anyone inside to photograph the interior.
The agent had dealt with such situations before and also estimated evicting the tenants would cost the buyer about $5,000 through the local courts. He listed the home for $175,000.
After six days on market, the property sold in cash for $258,000 with more than 10 offers. The seller “was skipping all the way to the bank,” Graham says.
In another as-is situation, Graham worked with a skilled investor who had completely demolished the interior of a home, planning to remodel it. Then a family member fell ill, forcing him to abandon the project. “He had a pretty good idea of what he thought it would take to finish the project, so we priced it accordingly.”
The listing process itself is “really no different from any other,” Graham says. The key is making sure that potential buyers have a clear idea of what’s happening with the property. With the Olympia house, for instance, “The buyer understood it was a sight-unseen situation.”
What problems do you have to disclose in Washington State?
Selling a house “as is” in Washington State doesn’t mean sweeping known problems about the house under the rug.
A good time to fill out Washington’s Seller Disclosure Statement (colloquially called Form 17) is prior to listing your home or requesting an offer so that you know it’s taken care of.
Material facts or defects
According to the document, the seller must disclose any existing material facts or defects based on their knowledge. The form will walk you through documenting what you know about any boundary disputes, easement agreements, and restrictions recorded against the property.
Main home systems
You’ll also be prompted to fill out information about the sources of the household water and sewage system, plus any structural issues such as a roof leak within the past five years, any basement flooding, the age of the house, and any remodeling with or without permits.
Washington State also has a disclosure regarding any lead-based paint on the property.
Some counties have additional disclosures, Graham says, such as a right to farm in rural areas and a noise disclosure for homes within a certain proximity of a military base. Washington has three air force bases: Camp Murray and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, both near Tacoma, and Fairchild, near Spokane.
No matter what method you choose to sell your home, it’s required to make these disclosures to the best of your ability. However, Washington does allow certain exceptions for sellers who haven’t lived in the home, such as a property transfer related to foreclosure, inherited property, property gifted to family members, or homes transferred between spouses or domestic partners in connection with a dissolution of the relationship.
If you’re unsure of how to answer the disclosure, your agent can help, as Graham did with the seller of the Olympia property.
Review your options to sell ‘as is’ in Washington State
The main options to sell a house ‘as is’ include:
List ‘as is’ with the help of a real estate agent
A great real estate agent will provide assistance throughout the process of listing and selling a home “as is.” An agent gives simple presentation tips to improve marketing, helps to set an appropriate price that reflects the home’s condition, and works to find a buyer willing and eager to buy your home in its current state.
Sell directly to a cash buyer
Someone needing to sell their home “as is” can also work directly with a property investor or house buying company rather than list. We Buy Houses operations buy “as is” at a discounted rate and generally seek out homes in need of significant repairs. These companies can help sellers cash out quickly and many will cover a seller’s closing costs in full.
Steps to list ‘as is’ with the help of a real estate agent
Find an agent willing to list the home ‘as is’
Your choice of real estate agent always matters, but especially when selling a property “as is.” It’s important to find the right match. You’re looking for an agent who doesn’t shy away from listings that need a little TLC and maybe has a strong network of investor connections.
Your agent should also be willing to go the extra mile on marketing. Considering 80% of Americans say they would prefer to buy a move-in ready home, an “as is” sale likely has a reduced buyer pool from the start. Look for an agent who:
Graham recommends working with an agent who has experience selling these properties, especially to flippers and investors. “If you’ve worked with flippers, you sort of understand how they think. It’s good to be able to talk about the after-repair value and what it’s going to cost to get an eviction completed — to be able to speak the lingo a bit.”
Sees a home’s potential
An experienced agent also will be comfortable communicating the property’s potential and handling any reassurances either side needs. He recently spoke with a possible client about selling a home that had fallen into arrears since her divorce. Squatters have moved in, and the bank is threatening foreclosure.
“I told her, the market’s been so strong for so long; there’s still equity in that home,” Graham says. “If you put it on the market and we can sell it for you, you still have about $25,000 from our estimation for what you could walk away with versus letting it go back to the bank.”
Advises on easy fixes
Graham will look for items that a seller could do easily to make the property financeable, making it more attractive to investors. “A lot of these guys like to put a renter in to carry the project until they get permits,” he says. “If we can make it financeable for them, then that gives them more options.”
He recently sold a 1950s house with a subdividable lot where the seller did such fixes, such as putting carbon monoxide detectors on each level and securing the hot water heater, which cost about $2,500.
Consider a pre-listing inspection
A pre-listing home inspection is the same as a standard home inspection except that the seller pays for it before listing their home on the market. It may sound like a counterintuitive step for an as-is sale, but getting the inspection results upfront can illuminate any issues that could impact the value of the home and inform an accurate pricing strategy.
If a buyer requests further deductions to the price based on their own inspection, you may be able to point to how the estimated cost of certain repairs was already baked into the list price.
Graham says if he can tell a home is in good condition, he’ll recommend a pre-listing inspection to use in his marketing. More often than not, however, he typically doesn’t. The sellers frequently don’t have the money to spare. “Most people let the buyers do their due diligence,” he says.
Because the market is so hot, the investors that are buying these properties are making really good money right now on these projects. They’re willing to spend more. We’re often surprised by what somebody is willing to pay for these places. We’ll pencil out what we think are numbers that work, and then we’ll find out that we’ve even exceeded those numbers. There’s just a lot of competition.
- George Graham Real Estate AgentCloseGeorge Graham Real Estate Agent at John L. Scott Inc. Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 25
- Transactions 1065
- Average Price Point $364k
- Single Family Homes 940
Price to reflect ‘as is’ condition
The median sale price for homes in Northwest Washington State hit $638,000 in March 2022, a 16.4% increase over the year prior.
While an as-is sale can net a lower price than regular listings (about 2.7% to 5.4% less because of a home’s condition), the current seller’s market has made that gap disappear in many instances, Graham says.
“Because the market is so hot, the investors that are buying these properties are making really good money right now on these projects. They’re willing to spend more,” he says. “We’re often surprised by what somebody is willing to pay for these places. We’ll pencil out what we think are numbers that work, and then we’ll find out that we’ve even exceeded those numbers. There’s just a lot of competition.”
Unsure what your home is worth in today’s market? Start with a free online price estimate from HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator (HVE).
Our HVE combs public data including tax records and assessments and pulls recent sales records for other properties in your neighborhood.
Using a short questionnaire, we also factor in specifics about your home such as the property type and described condition. Input your address, and we’ll provide you with a preliminary home value estimate in under two minutes.
Do ever-so-light preparations
Even for as-is home listings in Washington State, Graham typically recommends sellers spruce up a bit so the property shows well in photos. “Some people have financial resources; some have time resources.”
If you have neither, that’s OK. But the following tasks will usually increase the amount buyers are willing to pay:
|Light home prep when selling ‘as is’ in Washington||Description||Estimated value-added|
|Deep clean||Scrub bathrooms, mop and vacuum floors, and address any odors.||$1,700|
|Declutter||Clear surfaces and pare down messy rooms. Consider renting a dumpster for a house with a large excess of belongings.||$2,600|
|Paint||Touch up chipped or peeling paint to help meet minimum property standards.||$4,200|
|Curb appeal||Scatter fresh mulch, pull weeds, and trim shrubs||$11,700|
Sources: HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights surveys for Q1 2019 and Q1 2022.
Graham is working with a family whose elderly relative is planning to move into assisted care. She has a high-maintenance property of a couple of acres that’s become overgrown. Even though he knows he’ll likely sell to a cash buyer, he’s asked the family to help the house and grounds pass a bank appraisal to give an investor more options. That means removing the rotting wood from the deck, installing a sturdy railing, and trimming back the blackberry bushes.
Photograph to show potential
Your home listing warrants professional photography no matter what type of condition the property is in. A professional photographer will take steps to shoot each room from the best angle, ensure optimal interior and natural lighting, and edit for the ideal brightness and exposure.
A high-quality camera with a wide-angle lens is also essential to showcasing entire rooms rather than half or three-quarters of what’s there. For these reasons and more, professionally photographed homes can sell up to three weeks faster and bring in up to $11,000 more than their houses marketed without professional photos.
Your real estate agent will almost always arrange for professional photos as part of the listing process.
“People appreciate lots of pictures. We try to take pictures of everything we think might be pertinent that they might want to see,” Graham says. This includes the hot water tank, the furnace, the electrical panel, the roof — key pieces for investors.
Because the MLS limits how many photos he can post, Graham says he’ll provide a Dropbox link to additional pictures for interested buyers.
Highlight the surrounding area
A home’s location will be important to buyers seeking out a home with potential. Mention in your as-is listing if your home is close to any of the following:
- Major roadways
- Major sports teams
- Major airports
- Shopping and commerce
When listing the Olympia home that Graham sold without being able to access the interior, he provided a map of the address in an established subdivision, showing its proximity to scenic Tumwater Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall and landmark near the state capitol. The listing also mentioned easy access to the freeway.
Include ‘as is’ in the listing
Unless you explicitly mention that your house is being sold “as is,” buyers will have no idea of your intentions with the listing. Other common descriptors mentioned in as-is listings in Washington can include priced to sell or “investor special.”
To balance the focus on as-is condition, work with your agent to craft a property description that highlights the best features of the home. With the Olympia property, Graham noted the tenants weren’t cooperative but weren’t hostile, and that the attic and crawlspace insulation had been upgraded, based on the buyer’s recollections.
Understand buyers may still negotiate
Listing “as is” provides no guarantee that buyers won’t try to negotiate savings on their purchase, even on an asking price you felt was already reduced to reflect the home’s condition. One of the best defenses you can have is an agent who takes a hard stance to prevent a deal from going south for the seller.
“The key is to price it right to begin with,” Graham says. “Do the proper calculation just like an investor would. Make sure there’s a healthy room for profit right out of the gate.”
He ensures he has all available relevant documents, such as the title report, disclosures, and any contingencies, and communicates with the buyers’ agents to get as many bids for the sellers as possible. Because of his competitive market, he also will stipulate that the earnest money is nonrefundable to keep interested investors from bailing at the last minute.
“Investors think differently than a regular buyer would,” Graham says. “They don’t have any qualms about walking away from earnest money if they feel like it doesn’t pencil out. … If they get excited about a project, they start bidding, and then, all of a sudden, they think, Maybe we overbid on this. We want to make sure that we’ve got some good earnest money, nonrefundable if possible, so if they do default, there’s no question that earnest money is on the line.”
Be aware of minimum property standards for certain loans
When you place your home on the market, it’s hard to predict if your top offer will come from a cash buyer or a buyer pre-qualified for a home loan.
But if you do end up working with a financed buyer, be aware that different mortgage types (such as conventional loans or government-backed FHA, USDA, or VA loans) have different minimum property standards. These are standards related to the overall condition of a property which will play a role in the willingness and/or ability of a lender to finance a buyer’s loan.
Before properties can be financed, their value and condition is typically examined by a state-licensed, independent appraiser contracted by the buyer’s mortgage company.
If you’re unsure whether your home will meet appraisal requirements, you can start by taking a look at the FHA minimum property standards. If your house complies with FHA, then it complies with most other lenders’ requirements.
Prioritize a cash offer if you receive one
On occasion, conventional lenders may even finance a fixer-upper property sold “as is,” and it’s not impossible to finance a fixer-upper with an FHA loan. However, if you’re selling a house “as is” — especially one that needs heftier repairs — you may want to consider accepting a cash offer if you receive one. Cash eliminates the lender-ordered appraisal as well as the time it takes to close on the buyer’s loan, creating a faster and clearer path to settlement.
An all-cash sale made the Olympia property easier to move, Graham says. He noted in the listing that there were no rehab loans and no financing involved. “The house wasn’t financeable, and we couldn’t get an appraiser in there anyhow.”
Pros of listing a home ‘as is’:
- Save time and money on prepwork
- Possibility of reducing negotiations from the inspection
- Solution for out-of-state owners and inherited homes
Cons of listing a home ‘as is’:
- Limited buyer pool
- Expect lower offers (unless you get lucky in a hot real estate market)
- Negotiations and repairs aren’t always off the table
Steps to sell directly to a cash buyer
Now that we’ve covered the general process of listing a home “as is,” let’s discuss the alternative of working with an investor. While the process varies from business to business, the steps to selling your home to a house buying company typically goes something like this:
- Decision: A homeowner decides a traditional listing isn’t for them. Perhaps their house needs a lot of work or they do not want to host any showings or open houses. They’re concerned about finding a buyer willing to purchase their home “as is” in its current state.
- Contact: A seller contacts a company that buys homes in their area and provides some basic information about their home.
- Preliminary offer: At this stage, some house buying companies will provide a preliminary offer that is subject to change after a house assessment.
- Assessment: The company schedules a walkthrough of the property to evaluate its condition, usually within 24 to 48 hours.
- Firm offer: The company makes a firm offer (usually within 24 hours, sometimes on-site after the walkthrough) which you can accept or decline. Most of these companies will not negotiate on price, so the offer is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.
- Closing: If you accept the offer, you and the company will each sign the contract and closing will begin. Some companies offer a large deposit or moving cost assistance, and a few may even pay for the home upfront.
- Payment: The seller receives payment quickly, typically within seven days to a few weeks. This can vary by company, and sellers who work with a house-buying company often enjoy flexibility in selecting a move-out date that works for them.
If you aren’t sure where to get a cash offer, consider Simple Sale, a solution from HomeLight. With Simple Sale, you tell us a bit about your home, such as whether it’s a single-family or condo and how much work it needs. From there we’ll provide you with a full cash offer to buy your home in as few as 48 hours.
No need to call the roof inspector or drain your savings to replace the HVAC. HomeLight will provide an offer for homes in almost any condition.
Sell when it’s convenient
Want to get out right away? Or need a little more time to pack? Either way, we’re flexible. Pick a move date that works for your schedule within 30 days of closing.
Close with certainty
Cash buyers don’t need a lender’s involvement to purchase a home, meaning they can move nimbly and quickly compared to someone who needs financing. With Simple Sale, you can close in as little as 10 days, compared to the 30-60 days it typically takes to close with a financed buyer.
Curious to know more about the Simple Sale experience? Hear it first hand from one of our valued clients in the video below.
Additional We Buy Houses Companies in Washington State
Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the leading companies that purchase homes “as is” for cash in Washington State and information about each.
I Will Buy House
Established in 2015, I Will Buy House largely focuses on properties in Washington State. Just type your address into the home page for the company to research. It promises a fair cash offer within 24 hours and can close within 10 days, or on the date that you choose.
Locations: Anywhere in Washington state and in the Puget Sound area
Fees: Sellers do not pay closing costs. I Will Buy House covers them.
Reviews: I Will Buy House has been BBB accredited since 2020 and holds an A rating. Although there are only 16 customer reviews, they rank the company with 5 out of 5 stars, citing the “professional and personable” staff and a “seamless experience.”
One person wrote: “Halfway through the transaction, my family and I caught COVID … [The company] took care of everything and kept the process moving smoothly even while I was out of commission. He and his team are quick to respond, good communicators, and solid teammates to have in your corner.” The company’s website also has several starred reviews from Google.
Established in 2003, Express Homebuyers makes all-cash offers for homes in 28 states, including Washington. The company says it buys houses for cash from Seattle to Spokane and south to Kennewick. It says it will make you a no-obligation, all-cash offer over the phone within seven minutes and buy your home within seven days.
Locations: Express Homebuyers is based in Springfield, Virginia, and is highly active in Virginia, Baltimore, and the Washington, D.C., area. However, it does have several “top states” where it operates out West, including Washington, Colorado, and California.
Fees: Sellers do not pay closing costs. Express Homebuyers covers them.
Reviews: Express Homebuyers has been BBB accredited since 2004 and has an A+ BBB rating. Customer reviews are largely positive with an overall rating of 4.82 out of 5 stars on BBB. They praise the company as “very professional” and say they thought their homes sold for a fair price. “They were easy to work with, kept all of their agreements, and completed the transaction quickly and efficiently,” one person wrote.
Homevestors / We Buy Ugly Houses
Part of HomeVestors of America, We Buy Ugly Houses is the largest professional house buying franchise in the U.S. Since its launch in 1996, the company has purchased over 100,000 homes. It specializes in buying distressed properties for cash, enabling sellers in tricky situations to close in as few as three weeks. We Buy Ugly Houses is known for its bright yellow billboards and branding featuring caveman Ug Lee. Review our overview on the operations and history of We Buy Ugly Houses for a more in-depth look at the company.
Locations: We Buy Ugly Houses has 800 independently owned and operated franchisees nationwide, several in the counties around Seattle and Spokane.
Fees: Sellers pay no closing costs. We Buy Ugly Houses covers them.
Reviews: Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, We Buy Ugly Houses holds an “A+” BBB rating. 2021 reviews from customers speak to the company’s high level of professionalism and describe the service as “honest,” “trustworthy,” and “fair” with “no games.” They express being relieved at not having to show the home and how easy the process was overall. However, reviews of individual franchises vary so be sure to do your own research on your local We Buy Ugly Houses franchise.
Pros of selling ‘as is’ to an investor:
- Save money on home preparations.
- Sell fast — receive an offer in as little as a few days, and close in as quickly as one to two weeks later.
- Skip repairs. Most house-buying companies purchase properties in “as is” condition, even those that need major repairs.
- No staging. No repeated showings. No open houses.
- Arrange for a flexible move-out date.
Cons of selling ‘as is’ to an investor:
- Offers are likely to be lower. Investors typically pay 70% of what they estimate to be the home’s after-repair value.
- Sellers won’t have room to negotiate. Most cash buyer offers are going to be “take it or leave it.”less
- Although many home-buying companies are legitimate, some are not. It’s always a good idea to be vigilant about possible scams.
How much will you make from an as-is home sale?
There is no simple equation for calculating how much you’ll net from an “as is” sale. If you list on the market with an agent, you’ll need to account for the cost of agent commissions (around 5.8% on average) and other closing costs such as title fees and taxes, but are likely to field higher offers from buyers and see more competition for the home.
“The buyer pool is significantly bigger if they can offer financeable terms,” Graham says. “A lot of people can’t get a property there.”
However, part of assessing a seller’s property includes presenting alternatives. Graham’s brokerage, John L. Scott Real Estate, will loan homeowners a percentage of the list price interest-free for a year to handle necessary repairs and get their homes market-ready.
“Sometimes people think they have to do an as-is sale when they don’t necessarily,” he says. “A lot of times when I walk into these places, the recommendations to meet an appraisal are not that far to go… But if that’s just not possible, we have some good options for them.”
Different types of investors and house-buying companies also offer varying amounts for homes, largely dependent on their exit strategy. While fix ‘n’ flip investors usually pay around 70% of the home’s after-repair value, buy-and-hold investors who plan to rent out your property may be able to pay more. In addition, investors are often willing to cover a seller’s closing costs which can add up to around 1%-3% of the sale price. HomeLight’s net proceeds calculator can be helpful for running through some possible selling scenarios and estimating your take-home pay.
Ready to sell your house in Washington State?
While every home sale is different, you should now be familiar with the general process of selling a house “as is” in Washington State. Next, you can begin to weigh which method will work best for you.
“Just make sure that you’re listed with an agent who can carry the conversation,” Graham says. “So that you can really package the project in a positive light, have them see the potential, and be able to handle some unique objections about squatters, tenants, or maybe some uncommon things you would not run into with a regular sale.”
Whether you choose to list “as is” with a real estate agent or work with a direct home buyer, a home doesn’t have to be in perfect condition to sell — so long as you provide disclosures as necessary, set the right price, and know what to expect going in. Whenever you’re ready to take the next step, HomeLight would be happy to assist with your real estate needs. Connect with a top agent near you or get started with a cash offer from Simple Sale.
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