When it comes to selling your home, chances are that you want it to sell as fast as possible. My husband and I were sure that our home would languish on the market for a few months before selling, but it turns out we were able to get it under contract in a matter of days — without even listing it.
Of course, things could still fall through. It’s not done until the final papers are signed on closing day. But this experience has taught us a few things about selling fast.
List with an agent
“List with an agent who has a cultivated pool of ready and waiting buyers,” suggests Linda Brincks, a real estate consultant at The Raines Group in Columbus, Ohio.
Even though our home wasn’t listed, we had talked to a real estate agent already, and she had a few buyers waiting in the wings. She knew we would list with her, and when a client came looking for a specific house, she asked if we would be willing to show — even though we weren’t entirely ready to put our home on the market.
We decided to go for it, and this buyer loved our home and put in an offer on the very day he looked at it. Having an agent to direct clients to our home, and having an agent to help us understand our local market (and the fact our neighborhood is heating up) provided us with an advantage. We didn’t even have to list our home to get an offer!
Brincks suggests that, once you have an agent, you listen to him or her. “Remember, agents do this day in and day out,” she points out. “They are aware of what appeals to buyers, as well as how quickly or slowly the market is moving at the time you list.”
Another home in our neighborhood sold at about the same time as ours. However, there was a big difference. Our neighbor’s home had been “for sale by owner” for almost a year. The home only got interest and sold after she listed with a real estate agent. It went within three weeks with the help of a real estate agent.
Of course, hiring a real estate agent means higher costs for you, and a lower profit, if you sell for more than you paid for your home. If you have time to wait, and the ability to do the legwork associated with selling on your own, you can come out ahead with for sale by owner. However, if you want the home to sell fast, and if you want someone else to take care of marketing and paperwork, you have a better chance with a real estate agent.
The next thing to do is price your home appropriately. “Pricing high to make sure you don’t leave money on the tale can backfire,” says Brincks. “You are better off pricing near where your home will eventually sell and aiming for competing offers.”
Research home prices in your local area. We looked at a home around the corner from us, of a similar size and layout, and priced our home $2,000 higher initially, since our home has upgrades that the other home doesn’t have. We ended up coming down a little in our pricing to make the deal work, but the original pricing meant that we weren’t dismissed out of hand.
Be realistic about home prices in your area. In some cases, factors like foreclosures and short sales can drag on your home’s price. You also need to be realistic about the fact that you might not be able to sell your home for what you owe. It’s important to be willing to negotiate on price if you can. You might need to pay money to make the sale happen, if you are serious about selling your house fast.
We were fortunate to sell our home for more than we owe, but, even so, once closing costs are figured, we are going to need to pay some money to make this deal happen. But, since selling fast is our priority, we are willing to do this. Figure out what you are willing to do to make a fast deal. Weigh the pros and cons, and decide whether or not it’s worth it to pay to have done with the home sooner.
Make the home look good
One of the most important things you can do if you want to sell your home fast is to make it look good. “Prep your house so all maintenance items are handled before you ‘go live,’” suggests Brincks.
You should deal with cosmetic issues inside and outside your home to give a favorable impression. We’ve hired a service to care for our landscaping for years, so our curb appeal is good. However, inside, I needed to touch up some paint on the walls, and I did so quickly.
Don’t forget to clean your home as much as possible, and get rid of clutter. Some experts suggest clearing countertops of everything to help them look bigger than they are. You want to present your home in the best light so that buyers can see that it’s “worth” what you want them to pay. Meridith Baer, the founder of Meridith Baer Home, the world’s largest home staging company, offers some quick and dirty tips on staging your home to help it sell faster:
Remove personal photos. “People have a hard time imagining themselves in your home, so make it easier for them.” The less personalized your home, the more likely a buyer is to put him or herself in the home and see it as “theirs.”
Paint your front door. A fresh-looking front door sends the message your home is well cared for. You can even paint it a bold, unexpected color to make it look as though you regularly care for your home.
Use appropriately-sized furniture. Consider removing large items, or items that appear to clutter up the home. Baer says that a bedroom sitting area can even help, if the room is big enough and the furniture small enough.
Add fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten the home and add a touch of elegance that raises the perceived value of the home.
With a little effort, it’s possible to sell your home fast, no matter what constraints you have on you.