Whether you need to sell your house fast to move for a job, help a family member in need, or trade-up into a bigger home, we’ve built a 10-step plan for selling your home in record time:
- Choose the optimal time of year to list your home.
- Hire a real estate agent proven to sell homes fast.
- Start decluttering your house asap.
- Invest in a deep clean — and keep it clean.
- Price your home at or slightly below market value.
- Conduct a pre-listing inspection.
- Go neutral, neutral, neutral.
- Stage the key rooms in your home.
- Crank up the curb appeal.
- Run a strong digital marketing campaign.
- Consider selling to a cash buyer to expedite closing.
1. Choose the optimal time of year to list your home.
If you have the luxury of picking a date to list your home, choosing the right month organically speeds up your home sale and increases your overall profit. Across the nation, spring traditionally ranks as the best time to sell your home. According to the Mortgage Reports, homes listed in the first weeks of May sell on average 18.5 days faster and for 5.9% more money than any other month.
However, HomeLight’s deep dive into transaction data reveals the best time to sell your home truly depends on your market. For example, in San Diego where the sunny climate entices buyers to purchase homes all year round, February leads as the top month to sell your house fast. Use HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator to check days on market trends for your area. Then ask a top local agent about the optimal time to list.
2. Hire a real estate agent proven to sell houses fast.
To sell your home fast, you need to work with a top real estate agent with proven experience selling properties quickly. Depending on your market, these top real estate agents can sell homes anywhere between 10% to 50% faster than the average agent — that’s a huge difference.
Find the fastest selling agent in your area with HomeLight’s Agent Finder. Our system analyzes over 27 million transactions to match you with three top real estate agents who boast low average days on market.
When you interview your top three matches, let them know, “selling my house fast is my main objective for my home sale.” Then ask them questions on their experience selling homes fast like these:
- What sets you apart from other agents when it comes to transaction speed?
- What would your marketing plan for my home look like?
- How long do you expect pre-listing activities to take?
- Does your service fee include staging?
- If I choose you, what’s the first step to getting started?
“My first recommendation is for that seller to immediately shift into pretending like they’re a buyer and secret shop around their own home,” responds Tim Houk, a top-selling real estate agent in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Walk your neighborhood and look online. It really helps give you perspective on what’s trending, how updated homes look, and how the paint schematic has changed.”
3. Start decluttering your house ASAP.
The moment you feel the tiniest inkling you want to sell your home, declutter. Seriously, start decluttering even if it’s one drawer at a time. Houk shares:
“This often can be the biggest step for people. Where are they going to put this stuff? Do they have to go through 20 years or 10 years of family heirlooms to make that happen? I find that if we’re way behind schedule, it’s usually because the decluttering was more cumbersome than they thought.”
HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report for Q1 2019 reveals decluttering costs an average of $486 and adds $2,584 in value — that’s a 432% ROI. Here are our top tips for expediting the process:
- Set benchmark goals: Create a plan to declutter room-by-room with deadlines to stay organized.
- Ask for help: Friends and family help speed up decluttering, offering objective eyes on what you should keep and what you can toss.
- Pack as you go: Knock down two birds with one stone and pack everything that is non-essential to your daily life for the next few months (yes, that includes the Margaritaville machine).
- Place “maybes” in storage: Rent a storage unit for your “maybes” to get them out of the house. The average cost of a storage unit ranges from $60 – $180 per month — enough to motivate you to face up to those “stay or sashay away” decisions.
- Call in the pros: If you’re hoarder adjacent, consider bringing in professional organizers to assist. Fee structures vary, but you can expect to pay $50 – $90 an hour for these services.
4. Invest in a deep clean — and keep it clean.
91.34% of real estate agents agree that deep cleaning is an essential home improvement project that truly adds to your bottom line (an estimated $1,728 increase!).
“People take notice when they’re walking through your home. If it feels clean and well maintained, it gives a sense of joy. If you go into a dirty home, it creates a sense of confusion… If this home is super cute but they haven’t kept it clean, then have they maintained it?” Houk remarks.
Use HomeLight’s exhaustive house cleaning checklist for a room-by-room guide to cleaning, plus product recommendations and links. Maintain your home’s cleanliness with a weekly cleaning list and improved organization systems, especially for kid’s toys. The cleaner you keep your home, the less preparation you need for buyer showings. The sooner buyers can see your home, the quicker they can make offers.
5. Price your home at or slightly below market value.
Your home’s fair market value is the amount your house is worth based on the current status of the real estate market in your area and the condition of your home. To sell your home fast, it’s essential to price your home at or slightly below this value. Overpricing is one of the biggest mistakes sellers make, leading their house to sit and grow stagnant on the market.
“We know that the longer a home stays on the market, the less attractive it becomes in the eyes of buyers. Buyers have a short span — if your home’s been on the market for a while, they may not see it. They’re looking for the new, fresh inventory. So it’s important to get that pricing right the first time especially in the buyer’s market,” Houk shares.
To find your home’s fair market value, your real estate agent runs a comparative market analysis of comparable homes sold in your neighborhood in the past 2-3 months. Your agent will then set a listing price at or slightly below this number, taking into consideration online pricing benchmarks (listing websites filter by specific price ranges).
In a strong seller’s market where prices are trending upwards, underpricing your home is another optional pricing strategy for a fast sell, encouraging buyers to bid up in order to lock it down in a competitive market.
6. Conduct a pre-listing inspection.
With a pre-listing home inspection, you can discover your home’s condition before buyers come knocking. A typical home inspection takes a few hours for an average-sized house, plus 3-4 days for the report. When you complete this step before buyers’ offers roll in, you shorten the window between the offer and closing: you cut out the time needed for inspection, the time needed for repairs, and the time spent on home inspection related negotiations.
7. Go neutral, neutral, neutral.
Any real estate agent will tell you the key to selling your house fast is to make it as neutral as possible so it appeals to a wide range of buyers. Start by depersonalizing every room, removing photos, collections, religious objects, and sentimental items. As much as you love your family, friends, and pets, these items block buyers from visualizing themselves living in your home.
Next, paint your walls a neutral color like light grey or beige. Expect to spend a weekend and a few hundred dollars tackling the job, but trust us — it’s well worth the effort. Houk shares a recent example of just how big of a difference fresh paint can make:
“One of my properties the other day was this beautiful home on the lake. The homeowners freshened up the paint to such a degree that everybody who walked in the front door just said, ‘wow, this house is immaculate.’ It’s forty years old, but just how well they’ve maintained it, it really stands out in the eyes of the buyer.”
8. Stage these key rooms in your home.
A recent case study of over 4,200 staged homes reveals that staged homes sell on average 73% faster than their un-staged competitors. Strategic staging makes your home look bigger and brighter, as well as more contemporary to attract buyers. At a minimum, stage your living room, master bedroom, and kitchen: the three most important rooms according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
9. Crank up the curb appeal.
Beautiful curb appeal attracts buyers like bees to honey. Get buyers buzzing to arrange viewings to help sell your home fast. Data from HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey reveals curb appeal is the number one way homeowners can boost the marketability of their house.
Houk encourages sellers to tend to their lawn, plant new shrubs and flowers, and lay fresh mulch, sharing: “when a client gets out of the car, before their feet hit the ground, the first thing they’re going to notice is the landscaping.”
Along with landscaping, here are some easy ways to give your home’s front a facelift:
- Pressure wash your driveway and home’s exterior walls.
- Clear leaves and debris from your lawn.
- Blow snow off your driveway and walkway.
- Build a stone paver walkway.
- Line your walkway with solar lights.
- Paint your door an accent color.
- Accessorize the entry with a welcome mat and wreath.
- Clean or replace your mailbox.
- Beautify your driveway with a plant or stone border.
10. Run a strong digital marketing campaign.
“Your first showing is online. Before buyers have even gotten to the home, they have a certain feeling about how the home looks. The pictures need to tell a story,” Houk states.
Nail these digital touchpoints to make your listing stand out on the web:
- On point listing photos and descriptions: Professional listing photos are a must. Pair your pics with well-written, creative listing descriptions that highlight your home’s best features.
- Strong social media marketing: Advertise your listing on Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, and any other platform your Realtor has a large following on. Pay to promote your posts, targeting the buyer demographic in your area.
- Short and sweet e-blasts: Email buyers’ agents a digital flyer with photos or a video tour of your home and a link to your single property listing website. Include basic information such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and special features, along with a call to action encouraging them to arrange a showing with your agent.
11. Consider selling to a cash buyer to expedite closing.
When speed is your priority, cash is your friend. According to Ellie Mae, the average time it takes to close on a purchase loan clocked in at 45 days as of Feb 2020. That essentially adds another month and a half to your selling timeline. If your home attracts multiple offers, and one of them is from a buyer who can pay cash, make sure to weigh the value of that as you select a bid.
However, according to the National Association of Realtors, 86% of recent homebuyers financed their purchase, so cash buyers on the open market are going to be a rare find. Alternatively you can tap into HomeLight’s vast network of cash buyers across the country using our Simple Sale platform to sell your home in as little as 7 days.
Header Image Source: (Digital Marketing Agency NTWRK / Unsplash)