Is there anything you can do as the seller to make sure your home sells as quickly as possible? Absolutely! If you can accommodate one or all of the following tips for a quick sale into your process, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how fast everything unfolds, and how soon you get access to your money. Even if only one or two of these tips is realistic for your current situation, it can make a big difference to the overall timeline.
Consider Timing, If You Can
Sometimes you don’t have a lot of options around exactly when to sell your home. If you are moving because of a new job and you need the money to buy a new home where you’re going, or if there’s a divorce involved — or any number of other life circumstances — then you may need to list your home as soon as you know you need to sell it.
But if you do have some wiggle room in terms of when to list, then consider putting your home on the market in either the springtime or the summertime. These are typically the best seasons in most markets to try to sell a house because buyers tend to be thickest on the ground — both because of the weather (it’s a lot more convenient to drive around looking at houses when there is no snow, ice, or rain to contend with on your journey) and because buyers with kids in school are already going to be thinking about how to make the transition easiest for their kids. Most parents would prefer to start their children in a new school at the beginning of the school year, when everything is relatively new, which means that ideally, they’ll find their new house well before autumn.
If you can’t wait a season or two to list your home, that’s perfectly fine, but sometimes holding off until you know buyers are going to be ready can really pay off for you. And it also gives you time to tackle the tasks you’ll need to complete in order to get your home in perfect condition for selling.
Rent a Storage Unit ASAP
For most sellers, the most painful part of the sales process happens before the home ever hits the market. Preparing your home for sale means cleaning, decluttering, repairs, more cleaning — it’s a lot of work, and just when you think you’re almost finished, something else emerges that you need to tackle.
One of the most difficult tasks for sellers is the decluttering and cleaning. Even if you’re a neat freak with the most impeccable decorating taste around, you’ll still have to rearrange your home so that it doesn’t look like it belongs to you at all — and any random seller could picture themselves filling your kitchen with their appliances and your bedroom with their furniture. No matter how lovely your home looks today, you’ll need to remove some of the furniture and all of the personal items in order to facilitate a fast sale.
For most people, renting a storage unit makes the most sense: You can store items big and small in the unit, access it whenever you want, and feel confident that your things are safe and sound in a climate-controlled environment.
Make All the Small Upgrades Upfront…
Chips in the paint. Scuff marks on the floor. A loose board on the deck or a missing spindle on the staircase. There are probably several small repairs that you’ve been meaning to make for so long that your brain doesn’t even register them when you look at your house — and there’s no time like the present to take care of all those picky details that you never got around to finessing.
Buyers want to be assured just by looking at your house that there are no big issues lurking underneath the surface. Buyers who feel safe about a home are buyers who are willing to make an offer on a home, maybe even for above asking price just to make sure they’re seriously considered. Ceiling stains and chewed-up crown molding aren’t necessarily signs of a bigger issue, but the more pristine everything looks on the surface, the safer qualified buyers will feel about putting an offer on your house.
… And Think About the Big Ones
When it comes to the larger, more expensive upgrades and repairs you could make to your home before selling, you really want to be strategic. It probably doesn’t make sense to renovate your kitchen, for example — you probably aren’t going to see a full return on that investment.
But there are some larger upgrades and repairs that you probably want to at least consider. If your roof is 20 years old or your furnace is about to fail, those are both issues that will be raised during the home inspection, and many buyers will rightfully dig in their heels and ask you to fix them or at least contribute to the cost of fixing them. If you’re not sure whether an issue should be addressed before you list the home, talk to your agent, and seriously consider getting an inspection so that you know about any potential roadblocks well before they arise.
Get An Inspection
We’ve already discussed how a buyer who feels safe about your home is going to be more likely to make a reasonable offer — and what better way to help a buyer feel safe than by ordering a pre-sale inspection and making the results available to buyers at the open house or any showings you have scheduled?
A home inspection is likely going to be part of the sales process no matter what, especially if the buyer is receiving financing from a lender — lenders want to know that the home is in good condition and that there won’t be any unknown issues suddenly emerging that could render it uninhabitable (and possibly compromise the repayment of the home mortgage loan). Getting an inspection before the sale might seem redundant, but if you already know what the major issues are — and have fixed them — before an offer ever comes to the table, this can help speed along the sales process, and it will almost certainly eliminate the time it takes to get those issues resolved by hiring a contractor, plumber, electrician, or someone else to fix it.
Clean It Throughly
Some sellers neglect cleaning because they think that most buyers should be able to see past any dust and clutter to the “good bones” of a house and use their imagination to see themselves there. Ask yourself for a moment which home you’d rather occupy: One that’s pristine and clean, or one where layers of dust and the whiff of animals are present everywhere?
First impressions matter, and buyers can feel uncomfortable in a house without being able to pinpoint exactly why if the floor feels sticky or there’s a weird odor in the air. If a fast sale is really your goal, then your house has to be clean — spotless, even — for each and every buyer who sees it in person, and for the photos, too. A clean home will be appealing and enticing to many, many more buyers than a semi-clean home will, and the more buyers are interested in your home, the more offers you’ll generate, and the faster you’ll be able to sell.
Make a Plan for Pets
Showing a house or hosting an open house can be hazardous for pet owners and their pets. On one hand, you want to make your home available to the widest possible pool of qualified buyers to facilitate a quick sale — this means being able to vacate at a moment’s notice when a buyer wants to stop by to look at your house, and it probably also means hosting an open house at some point during the sales process. The fact of the matter is that any buyers walking through your house don’t know your pets, might not necessarily like animals at all — or could have some very real allergies to animals. Furthermore, opening and closing doors can be problematic for pets; even if you post signs asking buyers to please not shut Fluffy in the bathroom, they may accidentally close the bathroom door out of sheer force of habit, trapping poor Fluffy inside.
Staging Can Matter
In many markets, staging is considered a must — but in others, it’s more of a nice-to-have. Staging can make a big difference in terms of the speed of a sale; it can help buyers feel as though the house they’re walking through is already theirs (or is ready for them to move into immediately).
The Price Must be Right
If you want to sell your home quickly, there’s one thing you absolutely should not do: Test the market through pricing. Consider again the fact that most buyers find their homes online, and then think about the methodology of finding a house online — buyers plug in a range of bedrooms and bathrooms, a neighborhood or ZIP code, and a price range, then start searching. When you test the market, you’re missing out on an entire pool of buyers who might be qualified to buy your house and even eager to buy your house, but don’t see it because you’ve priced it out of their range.
A better strategy, especially if there are lots of qualified buyers in your area, is to price your home realistically and talk to your agent about other ways you can make it more appealing. Obviously, you don’t want to under-price your house, but the biggest reason why homes linger on the market is because the seller is being unrealistic about the price, so if you’re serious about a fast sale, make sure the price is right, and don’t let your ego get in the way.
There are all kinds of incentives you can offer to buyers, from a key piece of furniture that helps tie the home together included in the sale, to offering to pay closing costs, or even more creative options — a year’s worth of free pizza delivered every week, for example. Not every buyer is going to need or want incentives, but there’s such a wide range of opportunity here that it’s very possible to sweeten the deal without incurring a lot of extra costs.
This is another good topic to discuss with your agent, who has likely used incentives before and can weigh in on which ones tend to work really well for buyers in the area, and which ones tend to fall flat. Get their opinion on whether to offer an incentive and, if so, which one to offer, then make sure it’s broadcast to your buyers so they know about it.
Work With the Right Agent
Ask potential agents what their strategy is around selling a home quickly and listen carefully to their responses. If an agent thinks the market will take care of you, be wary; it usually takes more than just relying on a hot market to get a house sold fast — and markets are shifting from a seller’s market to a more balanced market in a lot of the country, so that might be an outdated playbook, anyway.
Selling a home fast can be beneficial to both sellers and buyers in many ways. If it’s one of your top priorities when the time comes, ask your agent lots of questions about how to make it happen, and then cooperate with their suggestions, and you’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised by how fast you go from listed to under contract.