Completing a home sale in just five days is lightning-fast in the often slow-moving world of real estate. The advent of iBuyers and instant online offers has made super-speedy deals more possible than ever. And it’s helped that, in recent years, housing demand has far exceeded supply.

But now the marketplace is changing. The historically low mortgage rates seen at the start of 2021 are gone, replaced by a sudden and steep interest-rate surge. It makes you wonder: Is the era of quick sales over?

Is selling a house in 5 days possible?

In short, yes. Sales in five days and even less time are still possible, partially because we still have a continuing inventory squeeze in most metro areas. Buyer demand is simply greater than the amount of homes for sale: In effect, we have a seller’s market, which means available homes tend to get snapped up quickly.

But it can depend on your definition of “sell.” Getting and accepting an offer within five days is absolutely possible, and that would mean your house is technically no longer for sale. (It may also mean you have underpriced the house; more on that later.) But closing, and actually conveying the title, within five days? That’s much trickier.

Cash offers

If you are in a big rush to unload that home, the fastest way to sell your house — in just five days, or maybe even less — is to forego the traditional home-sale process in favor of an iBuyer, or another company that buys homes for cash. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 26 percent of all existing home sales in April 2022 were all-cash transactions.

Many iBuyers will make you a cash offer within 24 hours or less. Opendoor, for example, provides an offer within minutes, and assures sellers that they will “get paid in a matter of days.”

But a same-day offer, and even a same-day acceptance of that offer, may not equate to actually closing in five days, cash in hand. Some iBuying companies require inspections or other in-person visits, which slows things down (and may result in the original offer being lowered or withdrawn). And some states actually have minimum time requirements for closing: If you’re selling a home in Florida, for example, the iBuyer Offerpad specifies that all homes will require at least 15 business days to close.

The biggest pro of selling your home at lightning speed is, of course, getting your money at lightning speed as well. This is especially helpful if you need the cash from your sale to put toward a new home. Cash deals are able to move more quickly because they eliminate the need for lenders, and lender approvals.

However, like all businesses, cash-offer companies need to make money to stay afloat. They will likely resell the house, and they have to earn a profit on that resale. That means their offers, fast though they may be, are likely to be well below what you could get in a non-rush sale. If your goal is to get the best price regardless of timing, you’re probably better off following the traditional sale route.

Cash transactions, like all transactions, should be carefully reviewed. It may behoove you to get an appraisal before making any deals, so that you have a solid sense of what your home is worth.

Hire a good agent

If you opt for a traditional sale, strategies regarding how to sell your house quickly can vary. One central key to quick traditional sales is the use of a knowledgeable local real estate agent — someone with recent and successful sales in your specific area. When interviewing agents, ask them for a sales plan for your home and a list of their recent sale history, including original listing price, final sale price and number of days on market.

Before placing your home on the market, consult with your agent to see what the competition looks like, how many days local homes are remaining on the market, what percentage of owners are getting full-price offers or more and how the market has evolved during the past few months. Go look at other homes for sale and weigh how much competition they present to your home. And be sure to let the agent know that speed is of the essence — that may affect how they choose to list and/or market your home.

Price under comps

In a truly raging seller’s market, owners may be able to get both a quick sale and full market value because so little inventory is available. However, it may be smart to price your home below recent comps to generate a lot of interest — effectively trading a higher price for a quicker sale. A discounted price may even bring in a flood of offers that push the final sale price well above the original asking figure.

Tips for a quick sale

If you’re selling your home as-is, you don’t need to worry about looks. But if you’re not, think of listing your home like a job interview — you’d dress appropriately for the occasion, right? It’s the same idea. You want your property to make a good first impression. These tips can help move things along:

  • A fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Use neutral colors that make it easy for buyers to see the place as their own.
  • Curb appeal counts. Plant some flowers, mow the lawn — make it welcoming.
  • Tidy up: Clean out closets, basements and attics, and declutter the home in general. This will give the appearance of more space, plus there will be less to move.
  • One frequently overlooked detail that can help speed a sale? Make a list of the home’s major repairs, upgrades and improvements. When was the HVAC system installed? The hot water heater? What about the roof? Provide receipts if you can, and also a list of any guarantees that will transfer to the new owner  — it will definitely be appreciated.
  • And finally, consider concessions. Seller perks can encourage buyers to move quickly, like a willingness to pay certain closing costs, make necessary repairs, move out ASAP and more.

Bottom line

Speedy home sales, with immediate and even multiple offers, are possible. Online iBuyers and other home-buying companies typically provide cash offers in a day or less. However, their offers may be low and you may not get cash in hand within five days, so be sure to weigh whether you really want to sacrifice price for speed. Even if you opt for a traditional sale, the market’s lack of inventory is still forcing buyers to act fairly quickly.