Why does it feel like all the important things in life take forever to happen? We count the days to when our vacation starts (and ends). We find ourselves counting down our wedding day, birthdays, anniversaries, and everything in between. There are countdown apps for almost every life event, but why hasn’t someone made an app to count down the days until we close on a home sale?
From the moment your house is listed as “For Sale” until the moment you finish signing your name on the closing documents, closing is a waiting game… a long, drawn-out, never-ending, waiting game. At least that’s how it feels anyway!
Wouldn’t it be great if we could snap our fingers and our houses would sell in an instant? But, unfortunately, an instant sale is that elusive unicorn a homeowner usually only dreams about. One of Cumberland County’s top agents with 469 transactions under her belt, Kathryn Townsend, brings us back down to Earth and clarifies that a typical transaction can be wrapped up between 30 to 45 days.
Or… you could have a quick home sale.
What is a quick home sale?
First thing’s first, a quick home sale should not be confused with a short sale. A short sale is something a homeowner can attempt when they are in financial distress. The homeowner can ask their mortgage holder for a short sale, which would allow them to sell the home for less than they owe on the mortgage, and — depending on the situation — the lender might forgive the rest of the balance.
A quick home sale, on the other hand, is just a sale that goes quickly, which is often extremely gratifying for those who are counting the days. While the average time it takes to close on a sale ranges between 30 to 60 days, it’s possible to sell in as little as seven days. In this post, we’ll share what factors play a role in speeding up or slowing down a real estate transaction, and what options are available if you need a quick home sale.
Who can benefit from a quick home sale?
In a perfect world, all real estate sales would happen quickly, but there are some circumstances where a homeowner absolutely needs to sell quickly. The most common reasons include:
- Unexpected change of employment
- Military deployment or relocation
- Inheriting an unwanted house
- Change in marital status (a whirlwind romance or a messy divorce)
- Family health crisis
- Financial hardship
If you find yourself in one of these situations, a quick home sale may be a good or necessary option. But, first, let’s take a look at the factors that determine how quickly a home can sell.
Respondents to our Summer/Fall 2021 agent survey said move-in-ready properties are a top priority for many of their clients, so the condition of your home is going to play a huge role in how quickly it will sell. Not only does the house condition impact how quickly it sells, but it also affects the value of your home.
As a seller, you could sell your home as-is and not worry about making any repairs, but we’ll provide more details about this option in the next section.
Method of sale
There are a variety of ways you can sell your home, but not all of them are going to grant you the best results when you’re trying to have a quick home sale. So let’s take a look at your options:
Real estate agent: 30 to 60 days
Whether you’re buying or selling property, a real estate agent is generally going to be your best guide. They will walk you through the ins and outs of a real estate transaction. And if you’re hoping for a quick home sale, you need to choose wisely because not all real estate agents will conduct business at the same level of performance.
Top-rated real estate agent
A full-time real estate agent who has been in the game for a while will not only know the market like the back of their hand, but they’ll also have the right strategy to get your house sold quickly and at or above listing price.
“The timeline from meeting with the client and getting it on the MLS with photography and staging can be as little as three days,” Townsend explains. “Then, once it’s on the market, we usually have a strategy where we put it on the market on a Thursday, and we have either open showings or schedule showings to Sunday, and offers are due on a Monday with a response time to Monday night. So a house could be on the market for less than a week.”
The right real estate agent won’t let your home sit on the market and lose value. HomeLight’s Agent Match tool analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs. This free online tool uses average days on market data to compare agents on how fast they’ve sold homes like yours and find a top real estate agent near you who can save you time and money.
Average or part-time real estate agent
According to the National Association of Realtors, the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials estimates that there are over 3 million active real estate licensees in the United States. If you call your local real estate office and ask to speak to just anyone, chances are you’re going to meet your average agent. They may even be a part-time agent. They’ll have the knowledge necessary to get your house sold, but they may not have a strategy or the insight that an experienced top agent has to get your house sold quickly.
Selling “As-is” with a real estate agent
Using a real estate agent to sell your house in as-is condition can be a good call if you need to sell right away and don’t have the time or money to make repairs. If selling your house as-is is an appealing option, you’ll want to heed their advice about the listing price. You don’t want to run the risk of pricing too high if a lot of work needs to be done. However, buyers, at a minimum, will want a guarantee that the home is safe and livable before they move in.
iBuyer: 10 to 30 days
An iBuyer is a relatively new term, but the premise has been around for a while now. You’ve seen advertisements along the road, in the newspaper, or even on television where a company (or investor) will buy your house hassle-free and usually for cash. What price you might expect to get from an iBuyer will depend on factors like your home’s condition, age, and location. HomeLight has a network of hundreds of pre-approved instant buyers across the country as part of our Simple Sale platform. The Simple Sale tool will connect you with a quick cash offer and also compare your cash offer side-by-side with an estimation of what you could likely receive if your home were sold on the open market. Completing a home sale on a platform like HomeLight’s Simple Sale could take as little as 10 days.
FSBO (For Sale By Owner): varies
FSBO properties only account for 8% of real estate transactions, and for a good reason — it’s hard! A real estate agent can spend 20 to 200 hours per transaction, but since you’d be doing everything yourself, expect to spend twice as long getting the deal done. Even if you know the buyer, there’s much more to seal the deal than getting a wad of cash and then handing over the keys.
Along with choosing to sell your house on your own, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to make repairs or sell as-is. If you’re going to make repairs, that will impact how quickly the house will sell, but it will also impact the overall value.
FSBO homes sell for less than if you hire an agent, but they’ll sell for even less if it’s sold as-is.
I tell people that we set the listing price; buyers set the sales price. Properties in our area are sometimes going for $100,000 over asking. What we try to do is, most importantly, to not go too high.
One would think that if you want a quick home sale, you need to price your house low. But, don’t do that because, while your house may sell quickly, you could lose a boatload of money in the process.
“I tell people that we set the listing price; buyers set the sales price. Properties in our area are sometimes going for $100,000 over asking. What we try to do is, most importantly, to not go too high,” Townsend shares.
Along with pricing your house just right, selling your house for cash could speed up the sale significantly. Instead of a month or two, your house could sell within a matter of days because you don’t have to go through all of the steps in a “normal” closing process.
Your house could be move-in ready with all of the features that buyers want, but unless people know it’s for sale, it’s going to go unnoticed. So it’s important to be mindful of how you’re going to get the word out about your property. For example, suppose you’re going the FSBO route. In that case, you could use the internet, post ads in the local newspaper, post flyers at community centers, or even use word-of-mouth.
If you’re using an iBuyer, you don’t have to do any marketing because you’re reaching out to the iBuyer directly.
If you’re using an agent, they should have a tried and true marketing strategy that they can share with you. Not only will they go over their marketing strategy, but they’ll also give you some ideas about what you can do to get it ready for a fast sale.
“If there’s a dog there, I’ll have the seller clean the carpets and make any small repairs. Then, I’ll make sure they service the septic system and go around to do some simple staging,” Townsend says.
It doesn’t matter how much we try to plan for a quick home sale; sometimes, there are outside factors that we have no control over. These can include:
- Supply and demand (there are more houses for sale than there are qualified buyers)
- Economic health and job market (interest rates, employment numbers, and inflation)
- Nature (if your property is damaged due to a natural disaster)
- Demographics (more people renting instead of buying)
- Location (rural areas tend to sell more quickly due to limited supply)
Note: While you can’t foresee if these outside factors will be a problem for your quick home sale, an experienced real estate agent will be able to guide you through possible scenarios and what the best course of action may be. If you go FSBO, you’re pretty much at the mercy of fate.
Start a new chapter with a quick home sale
FSBO: Selling your home isn’t going to be a walk in the park; and, trying to have a quick home sale is even more challenging, especially if you’re going to do it on your own. Choosing to go the FSBO route might sound like the way to go if you already have a buyer lined up, but there’s still a lot of paperwork and legal issues that you can’t take the “just wing-it” approach. If you don’t have a buyer lined up, a quick home sale is even less likely to happen because you have to figure out a marketing strategy that’ll get your home noticed. Who knows how long that could take?
iBuyer: Now, an iBuyer is a viable option because a quick home sale is almost guaranteed. You can go on the iBuyer site (like HomeLight’s Simple Sale), enter details about your property, and then you’ll receive a no-obligation offer. It’s simple, fast, and easy — you don’t even have to worry about repairs.
Top Agent: A top-rated real estate agent is more than just the person selling your house. They have the connections, experience, and insight that can get your house sold quickly and for top dollar. While you may have to wait a little longer, a top agent can negotiate on your behalf to get you the best price possible. But you don’t have to wait to find a top agent. With HomeLight’s Top Agent Match tool, it takes just two minutes to match you with the best real estate agents who will contact you and guide you through the process.
Our data shows that the top 5% of agents across the U.S. sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average real estate agent. Not only will you have more money to bring into the next chapter of your life, but the experience won’t leave you feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Sounds like a win-win!
Header Image Source: (Eric Lysenko / Shutterstock)