How to get the most out of selling a house as-is
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .
When preparing to sell your home, it can feel overwhelming to think about getting the property into pristine, show-ready shape — especially if you’ve been putting off a laundry list of repairs. Instead of investing more money before you list it, you can consider another option: selling a house as-is.
What does it mean to sell a house as-is?
Selling a house as-is means that a buyer will get the property in its exact, current condition without any additional repairs or upgrades.
Most real estate transactions involve some back-and-forth bargaining — a buyer might request a $2,000 credit if a home inspector identifies a serious plumbing issue, for example — but a property with the “as-is” distinction means that the seller isn’t going to address any changes to the home’s condition. What you see is what you get, in other words.
Broadly speaking, properties listed as-is tend to be priced lower, since the buyer will likely have to spend additional funds on renovations and improvements once they have the keys to the house.
Why would someone sell their house as-is?
There are two main reasons to sell a house as-is: to save time and to save money.
Let’s say you need to relocate for work and unload your old home as quickly as possible. Hiring a contractor to complete a project is going to seriously delay your listing. If there’s enough demand out there from buyers and you know you’ll get offers, selling it as-is can help speed up the process.
You might not have the cash to pay for a project, either. There are already plenty of costs that add up when selling a house, and a home in disrepair can raise those expenses further. For example, if the roof is in desperate need of replacing, you may need to shell out around $8,995 — not to mention more money to address leak damage to rooms underneath the roof. Selling a house as-is allows you to skip those expenses.
Or sometimes selling as-is seems just the most practical course. Say you inherited your parents’ place. It’s quite dated, and you figure any buyer is going to drastically remodel it anyway, if not tear it down completely and start anew. And since you have no costs to recoup — anything you get for the house is gravy — there’s no sense in investing a lot to fix it up. Just take the money and run.
How much do you lose selling a house as is?
It’s hard to set a specific percentage on the amount you could lose on an as-is sale. According to the resource platform iBuyer.com, home offers may be from 75% to 95 percent of what they would be had repairs or renovations been made.
However, much depends on the condition of the residence. And how hot the local real estate market is. In a strong seller’s market, the offer price gap typically found between an as-is sale and a regular sale dwindles — or disappears completely; buyers can’t be choosers. Location counts for a lot too. If a home is on a prime piece of property or in a highly desirable neighborhood — especially one that doesn’t see openings often — its condition matters less. People will want it for the land, and will be willing to pay for the overall real estate package.
Alternatives to selling a house as-is
Yes, you could sell to an iBuyer, an online company that makes a quick cash offer for your home, often within one day. They don’t negotiate their offers, which are generally on the low side, but they do pay fast.
If there’s not an iBuyer in your market (they don’t operate in every state), you could also get a near-instant cash offer from a local “we buy homes for cash” real estate company. Again, it’s often not the highest bid, but these companies often cover closing costs for sellers.
Is it a good idea to sell your house as-is?
Selling a house as-is isn’t necessarily bad or good. It does come with potential upsides and downsides:
- Fewer costs – While some sellers pay to stage their homes and spruce up curb appeal, selling a house as-is means less pressure to make a property look perfect. That translates to less of a ding on your bank account.
- A faster path – Rather than waiting for repairs to be finished, you can immediately put your house up for sale and start showing it.
- Smoother closing – Assuming your buyer has the funds (or access to a loan), you’ll be able to go to contract — and eventually, closing day — without a lot of contingency clause negotiations.
- Lower selling price – Sure, you’ll save money on the front end by skipping the repairs. But you can’t expect to price a property the same way you would if you’d improved its condition. In return for the convenience, you have to acknowledge the bargain or fixer-up nature of the house, and price it accordingly.
- Fewer interested buyers – You might not get a big crowd or as much interest, depending on how hot your market is. The “as-is” designation can be a red flag and cause some buyers to assume the home has major problems at worst, requires a lot of upgrades at best.
- Potential mortgage approval/appraisal challenges – If the buyer is financing the purchase, their lender will mandate an appraisal of the property. And they will insist that a home not have structural, safety or health issues before they can lend money on it. If the home’s in poor shape, they may not approve as big a loan, either, leading to an appraisal gap between the asking price and the mortgage sum — which somebody is going to have to make up for, or else the deal’s off.
How to sell a house as-is
If selling your house as-is feels like the right choice for you, follow these four tips for a smooth and successful sale.
1. Be upfront that it’s as-is
Make it clear from the get-go — in listings and ads — about the as-is condition. And that you won’t do repairs or address problems. And keep on repeating it in negotiations, and put it in writing, in the purchase and sale agreement.
2. Remember seller’s disclosures
Be aware that selling a house as-is doesn’t excuse you from disclosing known defects. For example, if you know there’s a mold problem or a crack in the foundation, you’re legally obligated to inform the buyer. If you misrepresent the condition of the property, you can be held liable for issues.
Nearly all states across the country have laws in place outlining what homesellers must disclose. More than a few states have also created specific disclosure forms or paperwork that sellers must complete and supply to buyers. As part of these laws in many places, real estate brokers and agents are also required to disclose any known defects.
“Known” is the operative word, for both agents and sellers: You’re usually responsible for disclosing information that’s within your personal knowledge and not required to go digging for problems. Still, if there’s a possibility of serious defects, you might order a pre-listing inspection to identify them. This survey by a home inspector can help with setting a fair price tag on the home, too.
3. Keep it as clean as possible
You might not be able to invest in any major upgrades, but let’s not scare the horses, either. You can still maintain a tidy home. Keep the yard mowed, surfaces clean, beds made, dishes put away and as much clutter as possible stored and hidden. You might make some cosmetic fixes, just to improve curb appeal. Be ready for viewings at all times.
4. Think about how low you can go
Know what your bottom price is going to be, and be ready to make a quick counteroffer. A real estate agent can help you negotiate, advising on what’s a to-be-discarded lowball offer and what you might compromise on.
Speaking of compromises: Even if you list “as-is,” some buyers will want a home inspection, and they’ll try to re-negotiate based on what the inspection turns up. If it’s not that big an expense, iIf just a thousand or two stands in the way of a deal, you can always relent and agree to make the repairs. Or, trim your asking price accordingly.
Finding a trusted agent to sell your home as-is
It might be tempting to try to sell your house on your own to avoid paying any commission fees to a real estate agent, but you should still consider enlisting a professional with a track record of successfully helping others sell as-is. An agent can help you set a price that accurately reflects the value of the home. If you’re looking to save, consider negotiating the commission below the standard 5-6 percent or working with a discount broker.
When you’re looking for a fast or low-hassle sale and don’t have a stash of funds to put toward renovations, you might choose to sell a house as-is. However, while you don’t have to lose a large percent of home value, you will probably have to price the property for less than if you were willing to make strategic upgrades and repairs. And the “as-is” status could scare off some buyers, who see the term as synonymous with “bad shape” or “run-down.”
Buying a house as-is comes with extra work (if you’re making the repairs yourself) and extra money to pay to transform the property into something that feels like a dream home. That can sound a bit daunting, but it can make your future brighter: If you manage to buy a fixer-upper in a real estate market where home values are surging, your investment will appreciate. When it’s time to sell, you may be able to earn a sizable return.
If you’re thinking about buying a home as-is, there are a few key questions to ask:
- How much will you need to invest in addition to the sales price?
- How much more would you have to pay for a home that’s move-in ready condition?
- How will you finance the home and any major improvements?
Before pricing your home, assess the condition of the property and what needs to be repaired. Then, do some research and look for comparable homes in the same size and in the same neighborhood that have been recently listed and sold. This can give you an idea of how much your house is worth in its current state and what you can reasonably ask for. Also, consider the state of the local housing market at the time of your sale.
Investing in remodeling efforts that have a reliable return on investment (ROI) can be a wise choice before selling a home. Often, this effort will result in attracting more potential buyers and a higher selling price. According to the home improvement site Angi, some of the top projects for ROI include replacing your garage door (93 percent ROI), minor kitchen remodels (73 percent ROI), and siding replacement (69 percent ROI).
You might also consider renovating your home if selling it in its current condition will not bring in enough to pay off your mortgage.
While there are laws in place across the country surrounding seller disclosures, the law is less clear on what specifically constitutes “as-is” condition. “As-is” is not, strictly speaking, a legal term — that is, it’s not defined in any legal code. Rather, it’s a contractual term, commonly used in formal transactional agreements between two parties. In real estate, it conveys that the seller makes no warranties, guarantees or representations about the property’s condition or the working order of its features; will do nothing to change that condition or features; and that the buyer accepts these terms in purchasing the property.
While not a law, “as-is” does carry some legal weight: It’s meant to relieve the seller from responsibility or liability for failing to disclose any problem with the property and to remove any legal recourse the buyer has if they do discover any defects, post-sale. But it only absolves sellers from unknown or hidden issues. “As-is” sellers still have to meet their state disclosure standards, and they can be held liable if they willfully misrepresent the property’s condition or conceal evidence of problems.