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If you’re trying to sell your home, you’re probably anxious to seal the deal as quickly as possible. But a traditional real estate transaction can take a long time: The typical U.S. home spent a median of 31 days on the market before going into contract in May 2023, according to Redfin data. Add on the time it takes to secure financing and close, and you’re probably looking at double that.
Who has two months of their life to spare, though? If you’re moving on a tight timeline or need the proceeds to buy a new property, certainly not you. Luckily, it’s possible to speed up the frequently slow real estate process. Here’s a guide to selling your house fast, and whether speeding things up is a good idea.
Reasons to sell your house fast
There are a number of reasons why you might want to sell a house in a hurry. Maybe you inherited a home you don’t want, you’re getting divorced, your job is moving you to a different city or the home needs more repairs than you can deal with. Or perhaps you simply need the money.
However, selling your house fast can be a bad idea in some scenarios. If you sell very shortly after buying the home, for example, you’ll get hit with capital gains taxes on the proceeds. If the market is weak and you can’t make back what you paid for it, that’s also a good reason to hit the brakes. And you also shouldn’t sell your house fast if you’re underwater on the mortgage, a scenario where the balance on your mortgage exceeds the value of the home.
How to sell your house fast for more money
There are a few things you can do to hurry things along if you want to sell your home as quickly as possible. Options to consider include:
You can list your home for sale as-is — meaning you aren’t going to do repairs or updates on it, even if it’s not in the greatest condition. In return, you ask for less money for the home. This saves you time in getting the home listed, and eliminates potentially lengthy back-and-forth negotiations.
But also, the lower price tag on an as-in home tends to attract people who can pay in cash: Not just flush individuals, but real estate investors and professional flippers looking to buy a fixer-upper. Selling your home for cash saves a considerable amount of time, because the buyer doesn’t have to go through the whole mortgage approval process.
Along with individuals, there are homebuying companies — they often have names like “Cash for Homes” or “We Buy Homes” — that specialize in snapping up such properties. (They’ll purchase homes that aren’t as-is, too.) National and local options are available. With these operations, you’ll generally close in just a few weeks, or even less, and you don’t pay any agent’s commission, either. On the downside, these companies tend not to make the highest offers. After all, they need to turn a profit when they flip the home. Their big pluses are speed and convenience.
iBuyers are a digital variety of the local cash-for-homes company; they are real estate firms that purchase homes online, sight unseen. You provide them with your property information, and they use an algorithm to make an offer — often within 48 hours — that you can either accept or decline.
With an iBuyer, you probably won’t get as high of a price as you would with a traditional listing, but the process is usually smooth and fast. Selling to an iBuyer can take as little as a few weeks, start to finish.
As for net proceeds, again, you won’t have any real estate agent commissions to pay, but you also won’t get a top-dollar offer, either. In addition, iBuyers sometimes assess hefty service and typically only purchase homes in select geographical areas that meet certain criteria. As the housing market slows, many of the big players have dropped out of the game; Opendoor is the largest iBuyer still in broad operation.
Local real estate agents
In a hot market, the average number of days homes spend on the market in a traditional sale may already be very fast. In San Diego, for example, Redfin data shows that homes typically sell in just 11 days.
If you do choose to hire a real estate agent, be sure to put in the effort to find the right one for your situation — that is, someone who knows the ins and outs of your local market and appreciates your need for speed. An experienced agent can help you secure the best price for your home (within your timeframe) and make sure the sale goes smoothly but quickly.
Other tips to sell your house fast
After hiring an agent, get their thoughts on these strategies to help quickly attract offers:
- Price to sell: Pricing your home just below its market value can get people interested in making offers right away — and may even help you get a better price by starting a bidding war.
- Offer concessions: Seller concessions are an easy way to attract potential buyers, especially if you’re in a rush to sell. Consider offering to pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs to make the deal more affordable, for example.
- Make minor repairs: Many buyers are looking for a turnkey home that’s in mint condition. If there are minor repairs that need to be made or small updates that you can do to make your home more appealing, getting them done before you list can help you sell more quickly.
- Boost curb appeal: Your home’s exterior is the first thing that buyers will see, so don’t neglect it. Improve your curb appeal by mowing the lawn, adding colorful flowers and pressure-washing the walkway and driveway. Also, consider applying a fresh coat of paint on the front door and cleaning the windows. Most of these fixes are quick and relatively inexpensive.
- Consider home staging: Effective staging helps buyers see themselves living in your home, and can help you earn more money on the sale.
If you’ve decided against selling to a company or iBuyer, your next step is finding the right real estate agent. When you’re aiming for speed, it’s good practice to ask your candidates for references and their track record — in particular, in how many days their listings tend to spend on the market, says Kevin Bazazzadeh, founder of Houston-based homebuying firm Brilliant Day Homes. “Knowing their work history will tell you about their work ethic, and how they communicate and negotiate with clients,” he says.
Selling to an iBuyer or a homebuying company is the fastest way to go. Many provide cash offers in as soon as 24 hours, and fast closing times too. But you’ll likely receive a lower price than you’d make on the open market; in exchange for speed and convenience, you sacrifice a bit of profit.
Yes — an experienced local real estate agent who knows your market well can guide you to a smooth and fast transaction. Just make sure you’re clear when you hire them that speed is your top priority.