How to sell your home fast

September 29, 2018 - 5 min read

In this article:

Of course you want to sell your home fast — selling a home is a pain, and you want to get it over with.

  • A competitive price is key to a quick sale, but (fortunately) not the only factor
  • Consider the competition, and find ways to beat them
  • Incentives to agents and buyers can help seal the deal

Follow these tips to get an edge on your neighbors and sell your home fast.

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Price keenly

Arguably, the single most important factor when you want to sell your home fast is the price. The more competitively you pitch against other homes on the market, the quicker the sale.

Related: How reliable are online home value estimators?

However, you’re not in the business of giving away money unnecessarily. You need only undercut all other sellers if you’re absolutely desperate for a quick sale. At the other end of the spectrum, you can waste everyone’s time by choosing a ridiculously high price because you couldn’t care less whether you sell your home or not.

Chances are, you’ll want to pitch your price somewhere between those two extremes. You want a quick sale, but not at any cost. In other words, you want to optimize your price and selling time.

Your home’s market value

In all but exceptional cases, your home’s market value is determined by how much other, similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood. In the jargon, these are “comps,” short for comparables. You look at comparable homes nearby that have sold recently and compare them to your property.

You need to know actual sale prices because those can be very different from asking prices. Check public records or use an online service. Adjust each individual comp to take into account differences between it and your own home. You’ll add or knock sums off your property’s value according to many variables including:

  • Number of rooms
  • Square footage
  • Condition
  • Size of yard
  • Views
  • Desirability of your street and neighborhood
  • Amenities in the home — HVAC, remodelings, fittings, fireplaces, types of flooring and so on
  • Amenities nearby — How close to park, schools, large employers, stores, etc.

Related: What’s my house worth? (4 ways to find your property value)

If you choose a good real estate agent (more on doing that to follow), he or she should have an intimate knowledge of your local market and be your go-to advisor regarding price. However, it’s not a bad idea to have a figure in mind and do your own homework. If you and your agent don’t see eye-to-eye, hash it out, look elsewhere, or go FSBO (for sale by owner).

Understand that FSBO transactions involve a lot more work than you expect in order to save on part of the commission.

Pick a good real estate agent

A great estate agent can be a huge asset when you want to sell your home fast. But an ineffective one can be a drag, doing little while expecting a lot of commission income.

Related: How to hire the best real estate agent to sell your home

How do you tell the good from the bad? Well, the best way is to ask friends, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations. Get details beyond, “She was pretty good.” You’re looking for one who is:

  • Proactive — It’s not your job to be constantly chasing up his inaction
  • Local — Local knowledge, a local network of professional contacts, a local database of motivated would-be buyers ... they’re all vital
  • Price appropriate — You don’t want someone who specializes in high-end homes when yours is modest, or vice-versa
  • Professional, reputable and ethical — Check for complaints online and with your state’s real-estate licensing authority
  • Compatible — It’s great to have personal chemistry with your agent (no, not that sort of chemistry)

It shouldn’t be that hard to find someone who ticks all those boxes. You’re looking for a competent professional, not a Nobel prizewinner.

A good agent can help you sell your home fast

Pick a decent agent, and you should have a head start in your race to sell your property. A full-service agent should:

  • Use expertise to help you find that optimal price that gets you a quick sale without giving the place away
  • Access lists of prospective buyers and those of her professional network to drive viewings
  • Market your home effectively — Advertising, online promotion, lawn sign, open house, viewings ...
  • Close — knowing how to negotiate and close deals
  • Give you advice on cost-effectively staging your home for a quick sale
  • Hold your hand throughout the process — From appraisal and listing to closing

Related: Can you fire your real estate agent?

Be sure to monitor your agent’s activities closely. No matter how carefully you screen yours, you can end up with a dud. And you need to fire one of those pronto.

Sell your home fast yourself

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reckons that, in 2016, 8 percent of homes were sold by their owners without the involvement of an agent. Many of those, no doubt, wished to avoid the hefty commissions real estate agents charge.

Related: Your complete guide to FSBO transactions

The NAR goes on to report, “The typical FSBO (for sale by owner) home sold for $190,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales.” Perhaps the intention in quoting that statistic was to suggest homeowners lose money by not employing an agent.

But it’s probably more complicated than that. It may, for instance, be that those with more expensive homes also value their own time more highly and can afford to spend more for representation.

Sell your home with a discount service

If you think your only options are making your entire life about selling your home in order to FSBO or paying through the nose for full-service representation, you’re wrong. For a flat fee, many brokers will allow you to list your property in the local multiple listing service (MLS).

Related: Do discount brokerages really rebate 1 percent to the buyer?

Other brokerages market your home for as little as a 1 percent commission, and still others offer kits to help you advertise your home online, with signage and on the MLS. It depends on the time-versus-money commitment that works for you.

Stage your home beautifully

If you want to sell your home fast, you’ll need to make it attractive to buyers. And that means making it look as close as you can to the homes you (and buyers) see in glossy home-decor magazines and home-makeover TV shows.

Staging checklist. Your home must be:

  • Clean, neat and odor-free
  • Have curb appeal — the whole package (building and yard) must look as attractive as possible from the street
  • Neutral — paint over vibrant colors in neutral tones. You can add accent colors in rugs, cushions, throws and pictures
  • Clutter-free — pack up your knickknacks and put them in storage
  • Feel spacious — store bulky, oversized pieces of furniture to make your home feel bigger. If necessary, rent more size-appropriate alternatives

Related: How to stage your home yourself

If you’ve any budget left over, make your home feel more modern with some inexpensive upgrades. These might include new light fittings, replacement cabinet handles, under-cabinet lighting, new faucets in the kitchen or a bathroom. Don’t go crazy! You want each such improvement to add more to the value of the property than it costs.

Be realistic

In some markets, your home will take time to sell, almost regardless of how competitively it’s priced, how good your agent is or how beautifully it’s staged. All of the tips listed above should see it sell faster than others, but not necessarily outright fast.

In other markets, homes sell quickly even if they’re expensive, being marketed by useless agents and look horrible. The advice above should get you a better price but it won’t necessarily reduce your time to closing.

So take time to understand the dynamics of your local market. And adjust your expectations accordingly.

Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you

Peter Warden
Authored By: Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Peter Warden has been writing for a decade about mortgages, personal finance, credit cards, and insurance. His work has appeared across a wide range of media. He lives in a small town with his partner of 25 years.