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If you’re no longer singing “Sweet Home Chicago” and are ready to sell your place in the Windy City, you have a lot to think about. How can you sell as fast as possible, and for as much money as possible? Read on for everything you need to know about selling your Chicago home at high speed, like a fastball thrown at Wrigley Field.
How fast can you typically sell a Chicago house?
Homes in Chicago are taking a long time to sell right now: a median of 87 days, according to February Redfin data. However, the number of days on market varies widely across the metro area. For example, the median number of days on market in Wilmette, north of the city, is just 37, whereas in the Loop, right in the heart of the city, it’s 106.
No matter where in Chicago your property is located, it’s important to recognize that home sales have slowed here. In fact, overall sales dropped by around 30 percent in the metro area in February versus one year earlier, according to data from Illinois Realtors.
If you’re worried about letting your listing gather dust for too long, there are some routes to a faster sale. However, the speediest route, iBuying, is not an option: Neither Offerpad or Opendoor, the two biggest names in the business, are currently buying properties here. Consider these pathways to a quicker closing instead:
- Sell for cash: There are plenty of companies that buy houses for cash in Chicago, such as Kendall Partners and Express Property Solutions. This is a particularly good route if your home is in need of major repairs that you don’t want to make. These types of companies are looking for properties they can turn a profit on, so be prepared for a quick but fairly low offer.
- Price aggressively: Buyers are rightfully concerned about how high mortgage rates will impact their monthly payments, so a lower price can do a lot to get them motivated. Figuring out the right price is a delicate balance, though. Find an experienced local real estate agent, and let them know that your main goal is speed. They’ll gauge the local market in your neighborhood to find the sweet spot.
- Be willing to bargain: Homes in Chicago are selling for slightly less than their list price, per Redfin, and more than 12 percent drop their prices before selling. So consider every offer you receive seriously, even if it’s not exactly the number you were hoping for. A recent Redfin report showed that more than 40 percent of Chicago deals included some kind of concession from the seller as well, so don’t be surprised if your buyer asks for you to cover some of their closing costs.
Selling your home in Chicago
With money tight and the economy in flux, many homeowners wonder: Can I sell my home without a Realtor? The answer is yes. There’s no requirement to hire a real estate agent, and many people would rather sell their house themselves than pay a commission to an agent. However, it pays — literally — to hire a pro anyway: Agent-assisted listings fetch an average of $105,000 more than “for sale by owner” listings across the country, according to the National Association of Realtors. Plus, agents can help you answer these crucial seller questions:
What should you fix before selling your home in Chicago?
If a buyer strolled through your place tomorrow, is there anything that might make them immediately head back out the door? While you don’t have to fix everything around your home before you sell it, try to see from a buyer’s point of view to identify glaring issues that could be turn-offs.
Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
Major upgrades tend to come with major costs, and shelling out for big renovations can be a big mistake. Supplies and labor are very expensive right now, and a project might take so long that you miss a good window to list your property. Instead, think about some cheap and easy ways to increase your property value.
Should you pay to stage your home?
Staging your home can make a big impact, especially if your place is either cluttered with too much stuff or totally empty because you’ve already moved out. Ask your agent for an honest perspective on whether a professional stager could transform your space into a home that will make buyers offer a higher price.
How should you price your listing?
Pricing a home is a hyper-local process. A two-bedroom condo in a walk-up in Lakeview is going to be priced differently than a similar two-bedroom condo in Hyde Park. Take some initial steps to estimate what your house is worth, but don’t just trust an automated online algorithm for your asking price. Work with your agent to review comps of recently sold properties in your neighborhood.
What do you need to disclose to a buyer?
Chicago is a huge metropolitan city, but it’s still in Illinois. And no matter how different the Windy City may feel from Peoria or Carbondale, Illinois home sellers need to complete the state’s seller’s disclosure form. It’s a fairly simple form explaining whether you’re aware of any problems with the drinking water, the boundary lines and other aspects of the property. In addition, if it’s part of a homeowners association, it’s smart to proactively request a copy of your HOA’s bylaws, past meeting minutes and additional supporting documentation about finances. Your buyer will want to review all of this material.
A seller doesn’t have to be present at the closing in Chicago. Instead, you can have a real estate attorney take care of all the final paperwork and fund transfers. Speaking of funds, there will be a lot of money changing hands, so you should have a complete understanding of how much it costs to sell a house:
Costs of selling a home in Chicago
- Realtor fees: Sellers cover the cost of paying both agents involved in a real estate transaction. Typically, each agent receives a commission of around 3 percent. On a $300,000 sale, that comes to $18,0000.
- Title insurance: Illinois sellers typically pay for the cost of a new title insurance policy for buyers. For reference, Chicago Title Insurance Company charges $1,950 for a policy on a $300,000 sale.
- Transfer taxes: If you’re selling in the city, you’ll split the cost of transfer taxes with the buyer, but you pay less. Sellers pay $3 for every $1,000 of value, while buyers pay $7.50. On a $300,000 sale, that’s a total of $900 for you. If you are selling elsewhere in the metro area, the cost may be different.
- Attorney fees: You aren’t legally required to hire a real estate attorney, but most sellers in Chicago do hire one. Ask for an estimate as you compare different lawyers, as fees can vary.
- Unpaid property taxes: Chicago property taxes are due in two installments each year. Depending on when you sell, you’ll need to pay your remaining portion of the tax bill.
- Concessions: If you agree to any concessions, you’ll also be paying a portion of the buyer’s closing costs.
Now that you have a solid understanding of the costs and key considerations of selling a home in Chicago, it’s up to you to decide what matters most: time or money. If you’re focused on selling as fast as possible, consider reaching out to a homebuying company. This option will move faster but pay less. If you can afford to wait longer, interview a few real estate agents to get a sense of the best time to list and their strategies for maximizing your profit potential.
There’s good news and bad news for Chicago home sellers. The good news: There isn’t enough inventory right now, so your listing will likely capture plenty of attention. The bad news: There aren’t as many buyers as there used to be, either, due to high mortgage rates and concerns about the economy.
Homes in the Chicago metro area have been spending a median 87 days on the market, according to the most recent statistics from Redfin. Some homes can sell significantly faster, especially in a particularly buzzy neighborhood, but some can also take longer. For example, in Wilmette the median is just 37 days, but in the Loop, it’s 106. If you sell to a cash-homebuying company rather than a traditional market sale, the process can go significantly faster.