If you’ve ever been in a situation where you need to sell a house fast, you know how frustrating it can be. Day after day, you hope the perfect buyer will come along and make a great offer.
Fortunately, there are ways to speed up the sale of your home, without sacrificing profit. In this episode, I’ll give you 6 tips to sell your home as quickly as possible, in any real estate market.
How to Sell a House Fast in Any Market
I’m sure you know that real estate markets vary drastically depending on where you live. I relocated from central Florida to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013, and am still experiencing real estate sticker shock!
For instance, according to Zillow.com, the median home value in the San Francisco metro area is $688,600. The median for the Orlando metro area is just $161,600. Spending $500,000 on a home in central Florida buys you a mansion on a lake, while you’d be hard-pressed to find something habitable for that price on the San Francisco peninsula.
In most of the U.S., real estate values have generally rebounded from the lows we saw in 2011. Plus, rising rents and cheap mortgage rates are pushing more renters to consider becoming homeowners in many markets.
So, if you’re considering selling your home, it may be a good time. But before you put out the “for sale” sign, follow these 6 tips to make sure you sell as quickly as possible–and for the best price:
Selling Tip #1: Improve Your Curb Appeal
Nothing is more important than a first impression. So consider what a potential home buyer may think as he or she drives up to your property for the very first time.
Walk out into your street and look–and I mean really look–at your home to see its shortcomings. Is it attractive, clean, and well-kept, or does it need maintenance that you’ve been putting off?
After you’ve been in a home for a while, it can be difficult to see it objectively. So take suggestions from a real estate professional, friends, or prospective buyers about how to make it show better.
When your home is on the market, it’s critical that your landscaping is well-groomed and your lawn is mowed 24/7. Plus, your driveway, exterior porches, and exterior walls must be clean, too.
If you put money into cleaning up the outside of your home, I can guarantee that buyers will be more likely to take a tour of the inside. Curb appeal is what draws buyers in, helps maintain their interest, and sets your home apart from the competition.
Remember that unless you’re willing to discount a home’s price well below market value, prospective homebuyers generally won’t want to buy a house that needs a lot of work.
Selling Tip #2: Make Upgrades
So how much should you spend to upgrade your home before selling it? Well, remember that the return on investment, or ROI, on home improvements is generally less than 100%.
Let’s say your home is worth approximately $200,000, and you spend $30,000 to remodel the kitchen. Many people mistakenly believe that the home is now worth $230,000. That’s dead wrong.
While a remodel certainly adds some value, it’s like buying a new car that depreciates in value the moment you drive it off the dealer’s lot.
So, while I recommend making small upgrades–like replacing the kitchen sink faucet or updating an old water heater–I don’t suggest doing any major remodels. If you have a sorely outdated kitchen or bathroom, you’ll generally come out ahead by discounting the asking price, so a buyer can choose their own finishes.
The vast majority of buyers make a purchase offer that’s contingent upon receiving a satisfactory report from a certified home inspector. Why? Well, most home lenders require it, and also may require additional inspections–such as a termite report–depending on the state where you live.
So, don’t try to ignore necessary repairs that would be a red flag to a home inspector or a mortgage company. These include major problems–such as an outdated electrical system or a leaky roof–as well as minor ones, such as sticky windows and leaky faucets.
If you don’t address needed repairs, you risk a potential buyer walking away when problems turn up on a home inspector’s report. Depending on the wording of your contract, the buyer could walk away, or require you to complete the necessary repairs within a certain period of time, in order to go through with the purchase.
See also: Should I Short Sale My Home?
Selling Tip #3: Depersonalize Your Home
After you improve your curb appeal and make necessary upgrades and repairs, it’s show time, baby!
The best way to get your home ready to show prospective buyers is to depersonalize it by removing family photos, quirky art and collectibles, and vibrant paint colors. Your goal is to create a soothing space that allows buyers to visualize their own family and lifestyle in the home–not yours.
Don’t take it personally, but no one likes your pet accessories, over-stuffed closets, movie collections, and clutter, except you. Simplify and neutralize your home as if it were a model home, because that’s exactly what it is while it’s on the market.
If you have to rent a storage unit to de-clutter and remove excess trinkets and closet junk, it’ll be worth it. Then it will also be easier to freshen up the paint on interior walls and tone down any bright colors with off-white or beige.
Make your home like a clean, welcoming, blank canvas that any buyer can visually paint their own dreams upon. I know it won’t feel like your home for a little while, but once you sell your house and move into your next place, you can decorate any way you like.
Selling Tip #4: Price Your Property Competitively
Choosing the right listing price is one of the most important tips for selling your home quickly. If your home is priced too low, you’ll obviously leave money on the table, and if it’s too high, you’ll get few offers and watch it get stale on the market.
Many times, sellers try to sell property without hiring a real estate professional, because they believe it will save money in the long run. As a former Realtor, I can tell you that the good ones will save you both money and time.
Since a real estate agent is paid a percentage of your selling price, it’s in his or her best interest to price it perfectly. They want to earn the highest commission possible, but they also want to earn a commission within a reasonable amount of selling time.
Real estate pros know the local market like the back of their hands, and will review comparable sales to make sure you set a realistic price. While you might be tempted to start with a high listing price to see what happens, overpricing can be a bad strategy.
After a home sits on the market for an extended period of time, many people will assume that it hasn’t sold because something is wrong with it. Agents and buyers may mistakenly assume that an old listing can’t pass inspections, or that it has a poor interior layout.
So, don’t let your home become a stale listing because it’s overpriced.
Selling Tip #5: Hire a Professional Photographer
Most homebuyers start looking for a property online or in local home magazines. That means you need to have great images that accentuate your home’s best features and selling points.
After you’ve improved curb appeal, made necessary upgrades, and depersonalized the interior spaces, consider hiring a professional photographer to take high-quality images, in the best light.
These great images will inspire buyers to come to your open houses or request a tour. Make sure you or your Realtor post the listing online, using a free home buying site like Zillow.
Selling Tip #6: Choose the Right Time to Sell
Historically, spring is the most popular home-buying season. The weather is good, and families with kids can make a smooth transition during the upcoming summer break. So while serious home buyers will shop year-round, consider having your property spruced up and ready to sell by March or April.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a leg up on the local competition–and will attract as many buyers as possible, for the right price.
For exclusive money tips not covered on the Money Girl podcast, click here and sign up for the free Money Girl Newsletter! To connect on social media, you’ll find Money Girl on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, or email me at email@example.com
Also, if you’re not already subscribed to the Money Girl podcast on iTunes, that’s how most people get the show. Subscribing is always free, and makes sure that you’ll get each new weekly episode as soon as it’s published on the web. There’s also a huge archive of past articles and podcasts, if you type in what you want to learn about in the search bar at the top of the page.